Notes from the MN Farmers Union 5-29-12
Notes from the Minnesota Farmers Union Tuesday May 29, 2012
Rep. Peterson participates in dairy call w/ MFU
Rep. Collin Peterson took time last week to participate in a conference call with MFU members who are involved in dairy to discuss proposals that are currently going on with the farm bill. Of most interest is the fact that MILC is going away and being replaced by a voluntary margin insurance program. The program is also designed to scale down production when the market is over supplied. The latter is probably what has caused the most debate within MFU. Read more about farm bill here: http://www.ag.senate.gov/issues/farm-bill . MFU will continue to visit with members about the dairy portion and other parts of the bill and relay our thoughts and ideas to Congressional offices.
Farm bill update
Indications are that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would like to bring the farm bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee to the Senate floor and would likely be debated during the week of June 4. Chairwoman Stabenow said in an interview this week that she’s confident that 60 senators – enough to prevent a filibuster – are ready to support the bill. Discussion remains about how many amendments will be allowed to be brought up for consideration while the bill is on the floor. That determination is very important, for controversial and divisive issues could delay or derail the bill. Meanwhile, on the House of Representatives side, farm bill hearings have concluded and now timing for a markup of their farm bill is being considered. Early estimations place the date sometime in mid- to late June. MFU is supporting a proposed amendment to cap individual farmers' crop insurance premium subsidies at $40,000; this was actually a change to the MFU policy adopted this year.
DNR outlines wolf season details, seeks public comment
Minnesota’s first regulated wolf hunting and trapping season will be conducted this fall and winter. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public comment on details of the proposed season. Consistent with state law, the state’s first regulated wolf season will start with the beginning of firearms deer hunting on Saturday, Nov. 3. The DNR is proposing to split the season into two parts: an early wolf hunting season coinciding with firearms deer hunting; and a late wolf hunting and trapping season after the firearms deer season for those with a specific interest in wolf hunting and trapping. A total of 6,000 licenses will be offered, with 3,600 available in the early season and 2,400 in the late season. Late season licenses will be further split between hunting and trapping, with a minimum of 600 reserved for trappers. The target harvest quota will be 400 wolves for both seasons combined, and will initially be allocated equally between the early and the late seasons. The early hunting only season will be open only in the northern portions of Minnesota where rifles are allowed for deer hunting. It will start on Saturday, Nov. 3, the opening day of firearms deer hunting. It will close either at the end of the respective firearms seasons in the two northern deer zones (Nov. 18 in Zone 1 or Nov. 11 in Zone 2), or when a registered target harvest quota of 200 is reached, whichever comes sooner. The late hunting and trapping season will begin Saturday, Nov. 24. It will close Jan. 6, 2013, or when a registered total target harvest quota of 400 in both seasons combined is reached, whichever comes sooner. The late season will be open statewide. While Minnesota’s wolf population of approximately 3,000 animals likely could sustain a much higher harvest rate, this first season is designed to provide information on wolf hunting and trapping interest and success rates that will help inform the design and implementation of future seasons, Merchant said. The proposed season is consistent with the goal of the state’s wolf management plan to assure the long term survival of the wolf and address conflicts between wolves and humans. Typically, about 80 farms have verified wolf depredation complaints each year. Over the past several years, an average of 170 wolves have been captured or killed each year by federal trappers in response to verified livestock depredation. About 70 wolves have been trapped and killed so far this spring following verified livestock damage complaints, primarily on calves. Wolf hunting licenses will be $30 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. Nonresidents will be limited to 5 percent of total hunting licenses. Wolf trapping licenses will be $30 (limited to residents only). A lottery will be held to select license recipients. Proof of a current or previous hunting license will be required to apply for a wolf license. The application fee will be $4. The DNR is required by law to take public comment prior to implementing a wolf season. While decisions about whether to have a wolf season and when to start it have already been made through the lawmaking process, the DNR is seeking public comments on remaining details, many of which are outlined in this announcement. The complete proposal is available on the DNR website. Given how soon the season must be put in place, the DNR will only take comments through an online survey through June 20.
NFU on TPP
President Roger Johnson issued the following statement recently in anticipation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations that will take place in Dallas on Saturday: “NFU supports fair trade that mutually benefits all nations involved and allows agriculture to compete on a level playing field. NFU strongly supports the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment (TRADE) Act, which requires that all trade agreements include provisions that ensure other countries have environmental, food safety, health, and labor standards equal to or greater than those in the United States. “The United States must be able to write a farm bill that provides family farmers and ranchers with an ample safety net under any trade agreement. Time and again the World Trade Organization has denied us the right to protect farmers and ranchers because of the structure of our trade agreements. It is critical for the survival of family farms and rural America that we are able to write a farm bill that helps farmers in times of need, when prices collapse and disaster strikes.
MFU donates to Second Harvest
MFU President Doug Peterson recently presented Rob Zeaske, Executive Director of Second Harvest Heartland, a check for $10,000 from the Farmers Union partnership with Feeding America. The state of Minnesota raised over $10,000 to help hungry Minnesotans. Or more information on Second Harvest check out: http://www.2harvest.org/site/PageServer
Franken on road signs
U.S. Sen. Al Franken claimed victory recently in his campaign to head off costly federal regulations mandating new reflective road signs across America, even before the old ones have worn out. The Minnesota Democrat said the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has shelved the new rules at his urging, saving Minnesota communities between $55 million and $76 million in replacement costs. "I'm glad the Obama Administration listened to the concerns of communities across Minnesota and decided to eliminate these unreasonable deadlines, giving them more control over their budgets and their road signs," Franken said. The FHWA announced that they will instead allow municipalities to upgrade the signs when they are already scheduled to be replaced. This is an issue many MFU members had asked us about, especially township officers.
Syngenta settles atrazine suit
From MN Ag Connection: Syngenta has settled atrazine litigation in the U.S. The company and its attorneys for several community water systems have agreed to settle litigation related to the herbicide atrazine in order to end the business uncertainty and expense of protracted legal proceedings. The proposed settlement agreement which requires court approval was filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on May 24, 2012. Under the terms of the agreement, Syngenta expressly denied liability and the plaintiffs acknowledged that they are not aware of any new scientific studies relating to atrazine. The total cost of the settlement for Syngenta is $105 million, which will be charged to the income statement in 2012. The charge is partly covered by provisions and the impact on earnings will be approximately $0.5 per share. Syngenta says it will continue to market atrazine as part of its comprehensive corn herbicide portfolio enabling growers to achieve optimal weed control.
Rukavina, Kath announce retirements
Two strong friends of Minnesota Farmers Union have announced their retirements from the legislature; Rep. Tom Rukavina and Rep. Kory Kath. Rukavina was a staunch defender of MFU policies and a great advocate for township rights. Kath also served on the agriculture committee and attended MFU events, both will be missed. Keep track of election filings here at this link they close next week: http://candidates.sos.state.mn.us/
File now for SWCD!
Minnesota citizens interested in influencing natural resources issues at the local level are encouraged to run for supervisor of their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). SWCD supervisor positions are filled through general elections on November 6. Individuals who wish to be on the ballot in 2012 must file for the election between May 22 and June 5. Interested citizens should file a Minnesota Affidavit of Candidacy (available from the county auditor), along with a $20 filing fee. All candidates for state and local offices must state on the Affidavit of Candidacy that they are eligible voters, will be at least 21 years of age when assuming office, and will have been residents of their nominating district for at least 30 days before the general election. Supervisor candidates must live in and file from a nominating district. Candidates are elected at-large on the ballot*. SWCD Supervisors are not paid a salary; however, they do receive compensation for attending meetings and are reimbursed for expenses. More information on the filing process can be obtained at the Minnesota Secretary of State web site, www.sos.state.mn.us. Persons interested in finding out what nominating district they live in and which supervisor positions are open for election should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District office. A directory of SWCDs is located at http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/directories/SWCD_Dir.pdf .
OATF seeking members
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is seeking members to fill eight scheduled vacancies on the Minnesota Organic Advisory Task Force (OATF). Authorized by Minnesota Statute, the OATF advises the Commissioner of Agriculture and the University of Minnesota about policies and programs that will improve organic agriculture in the state. Minnesota is a leader in organic farming in the U.S, with more than 700 certified organic farms and more than 200 organic processors, according to MDA estimates. Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson says this growing agriculture and food sector needs and deserves support from public institutions like the Department of Agriculture and the University. Members from the following categories or sectors are needed: Two farmers using organic agriculture methods; one organic processor; one organic wholesaler and/or distributor of organic products; one member of the University of Minnesota faculty; one member representing a nonprofit producer organization (such as MFU); one member representing the interests of the public; and, one member representing the interests of consumers. All members must be residents of Minnesota willing to serve a one-year term. Half-day meetings are held three or four times per year; members receive reimbursement for travel. Task force vacancies are filled through the state's Open Appointments process. The application form is available online at www.sos.state.mn.us (click the Open Commissions/Appointments icon) or by calling the Secretary of State's office at 877-551-6767. Applicants should specify the category/sector they represent and submit a cover letter with their applications. The deadline to apply is June 26, 2012. Members will be appointed by Commissioner Frederickson in consultation with the University of Minnesota.
CWD found in farmed deer herd
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health recently announced that a farmed red deer from a Ramsey County herd tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The brain stem from a two-year-old female red deer was submitted for testing at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, where preliminary results were positive for CWD. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory today confirmed the positive test. The Board of Animal Health has placed the herd under quarantine and is working with the owners to determine the herd’s future. The red deer died on the farm on May 10. The animal was tested for the disease as part of Minnesota’s mandatory CWD surveillance program, which has been in place since 2003. Farmed cervidae producers in Minnesota must CWD test all deer and elk over 16 months of age that die or are slaughtered. The Board of Animal Health is coordinating with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR is currently evaluating the situation and will likely test wild white-tailed deer in the area this fall. CWD is a fatal brain and nervous system disease found in cervidae in certain parts of North America. The disease is caused by an abnormally shaped protein called a prion, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. Infected animals may show signs of the disease including progressive loss of body weight, behavioral changes, staggering, increased water consumption and drooling. In later stages of the disease, animals become emaciated (thus “wasting” disease). For more information on CWD and the Board of Animal Health, visit www.bah.state.mn.us.
MFU Focus on the Future Retreat
MFU will host its biannual “Focus on the Future” retreat June 25-27 at the Arrowood Retreat Center in Alexandria. The retreat which focuses on emerging leaders for MFU also will host county presidents for a full board meeting. Guest speakers will include former WCCO anchor Don Shelby, Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, and Attorney Dave Velde who will make a presentation on farm transitions. Other sessions will focus on legislative, communication and education. There are a few spots left. For more information on attending contact MFU Membership Director Bruce Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-288-4064.
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) has been hosting summer camps in Minnesota for more than 60
years. This year five week-long educational and leadership summer camps have been planned to encourage youth to get involved. Campers have the chance to develop self-esteem, team building and leadership skills, all for under $100. Kids gather from all across Minnesota to learn about cooperatives, how legislation is formed, the importance of being an active and responsible citizen, how to be a team player, develop leadership skills and build self-esteem. There is always something for every camper to enjoy. Minnesota Farmers Union Leadership Camp is also one of the most cost-efficient camps to attend in the state. Financial support from CHS Foundation and Minnesota Farmers Union Foundation keeps the cost of the camps low.
Farmers Union camp schedule:
Grades 3-5 ($70):
- June 18-22, Northern Elementary Camp at Lake Sarah Campground in Erskine;
- June 25-29, Southern Elementary Camp at Sibley State Park in New London.
Grades 6-8 ($95):
- July 9-13, Northern Junior High Camp at Lake Sarah Campground in Erskine;
- July 23-27, Southern Junior High Camp at Sibley State Park in New London.
Grades 9-12 ($95):
- July 29- August 3, Statewide Senior High Camp at Sibley State Park in New London.
There is also a $25 transportation fee if a camper needs a ride to camp. You do not need to be a member of MFU to attend the first year. For more information about the camp programs, as well as to register, go to www.mfu.org/camp. You can also contact MFU Education Director Glen Schmidt at 651.288.4066 or e-mail him at email@example.com with any questions.
Fall Fly-in to Washington D.C.
The annual National Farmers Union Fall Fly-In to Washington D.C. is set this year for Sept. 9-12. Members who are interested in going should contact me to get your name on list. This is a great opportunity to see and hear from the top administration and NFU officials as well as members of Congress. MFU does offer a stipend to members attending. For more info, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-288-4067.
That is all for now, as usual, questions, comments and complaints to me!
Thom Petersen, Director of Gov’t Relations, MN Farmers Union