Notes from the MN Farmers Union 7-30-12
Notes from the Minnesota Farmers Union Monday July 30, 2012
NFU on proposed Farm bill extension
NFU President Roger Johnson issued the following statement today in response to the U.S. House of Representatives proposing legislation to extend the 2008 farm bill for one year: “National Farmers Union stands opposed to the one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. We would support an extension only if the next step is to conference a comprehensive five-year farm bill before the Sept. 30 expiration date. “An extension that ignores the goal of a five-year bill merely kicks the can down the road, as we are faced with uncertainty about next year’s budget. A one-year extension would also necessitate starting the farm bill drafting process over in the new Congress in January. House leadership needs to stop playing political games and show it values rural America, and pass a farm bill now. “The conservation title is one of the few titles that, since last December, most stakeholders have agreed on. It provides the needed programs for good conservation practices. However, the House one-year extension cuts the one title that had the most agreement among all parties. It also cuts mandatory funding from vital beginning farmer and rancher, renewable energy and direct-to-consumer marketing programs. “As the drought wreaks havoc across the nation, our farmers and livestock producers are looking for relief and certainty. It is critical that permanent disaster programs be approved retroactively to cover losses incurred in 2012. Our farmers and ranchers are facing a rough harvest and barren pastures; further delays will have a huge impact on the U.S. agriculture industry. “We commend the Senate Ag Committee, and the entire Senate, for taking swift action on the farm bill and now look to the House to follow suit. The clock is ticking, and this extension is just wasting time that could be spent on passing a bipartisan, forward-looking bill before the Sept. 30 deadline.”
Walz on Farm bill
Recently, Congressman Tim Walz, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, called on House GOP leadership to stop dragging their feet and bring the Farm Bill to the House floor for a vote. The Farm Bill is a bipartisan jobs bill for rural America. Text of Walz’s House floor speech is below. To view the video, please click here. “Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise today with a very simple message from rural America. We need a Farm Bill and we need it now. “With the current Farm Bill set to expire at the end of September, it’s crucial that we continue to provide certainty to one of the few bright spots in our economy over the past decade. It’s all the more crucial to our farmers that we do this as they are staring at cracked, dried out soil resulting from one of the worst droughts in modern history. “The newspaper Politico looked back 50 years, longer than I’ve been alive, and found that never before has a Farm Bill been this close to being passed and then blocked by House leadership. “This is absolutely unacceptable. Southern Minnesotans can’t afford to deal with the uncertainty that follows out-of-date policy extension that follows lame duck session; lame for sure. “Don’t kick the can down the road, the Senate has passed the bill, the 2012 Farm Bill passed out of committee on July 12 with a bipartisan vote of 35-11 saving 36 billion dollars for the taxpayers. My farmers in Southern Minnesota are up before dawn, working until after dark. We are leaving at noon today. We have 17 days between now and November 6 to work here in Washington. That is so unacceptable, no one will agree to that. Pass the Farm Bill, pass it now.”
FarmFest right around corner
Farmfest is set to be at Gilfillan Estate outside Redwood Falls, Minnesota on Tuesday, August 7- Thursday, August 9 and Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) has a new booth and location and exciting things going on.“Farmfest is always an exciting part of the summer because there are so many rural folks in one spot discussing farm policy and sharing farm ideas,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “We have a new booth and new location, which is just west of the forum tent, and we invite you to stop by the MFU booth and check the markets, the weather, and try your luck at winning a Cenex gas card, plus sign our petition in support of homegrown fuels and the Renewable Fuels Standard.” Minnesota Farmers Union activities:
- MFU President Peterson asking questions of the congressional candidates on farm policy in the forum tent, Tuesday, August 7, 10:30 a.m.;
- Farmer Union Agency Children’s Pedal Pull, daily at 1 p.m., near entrance gate 2;
- Free watermelon feed, Tuesday, August 7, 1:15 p.m., under the forum tent;
- MFU Vice President Gary Wertish on the Water Quality Initiatives and Future Impacts for Farmers panel in the forum tent, Tuesday, August 7, 1:15 p.m.;
- MFU President Doug Peterson on the Renewable Fuels Standard panel in the forum tent, Tuesday, August 7, 2:45 p.m.;
- A petition in support of the Renewable Fuels Standard, homegrown energy and rural jobs. Come sign it any day of Farmfest at the MFU booth; and
- Cenex gas card giveaway.
Also, AgrAbility will be in the MFU booth. They help those with disabilities succeed in the agriculture world. For more information on them go to, equipalife.org.
MDA Drought Info
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has rolled out a new section of its website providing key information and resources to help Minnesota farmers deal with the drought conditions now deepening across southern and western Minnesota. The web page can be found at www.mda.state.mn.us/drought, and a link is provided on MDA’s home page. MDA’s new web page offers information about crop and weather conditions, as well as state and federal programs that may provide farmers with options to lessen the impact of the drought. The site offers information about relevant MDA programs and services, as well as information and resources from partner agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the USDA Farm Service Agency, and the University of Minnesota Extension Service. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the condition of Minnesota’s crops and grazing land continues to decline due to the summer’s hot and dry conditions. More details about current conditions can be found on the NASS website at http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Minnesota/.
USDA authorizes Haying for CRP
USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director (SED) Linda Hennen announced that in response to drought conditions, FSA has authorized emergency haying use of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres for 70 Minnesota counties. Based on a decision made by the Minnesota FSA State Committee, CRP emergency haying approval will only be available for those CRP lands that were not utilized for haying or grazing during the previous 12 months. Seventy counties are approved for emergency CRP haying. The haying authorization became effective August 2, 2012, after the primary nesting season closes and ends August 31, 2012. "Eligible producers who are interested in emergency haying of CRP must request approval before haying eligible acreage," said Hennen "It is also important for producers to obtain a modified conservation plan from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that includes haying requirements," she said. Upon approval of emergency haying, producers must leave at least 50 percent of each field or contiguous field unhayed for wildlife. For those counties that are eligible for emergency haying and grazing, the same CRP acreage cannot be both hayed and/or grazed at the same time. For example, if 50 percent of a field or contiguous field is hayed, the remaining unhayed 50 percent cannot be grazed; it must remain unhayed and ungrazed for wildlife. New guidelines were recently announced for emergency haying and grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land. Annual rental payments for farmers enrolled in the CRP, who use those lands for emergency grazing and hay production, will be reduced by 10 percent instead of 25 percent. Also, because of the current severe drought, all counties with a drought level of D0 or higher, as measured by the US Drought Monitor, are approved for emergency haying and grazing outside of the primary nesting season (PNS). Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA service center or visit FSA's website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp for additional information regarding CRP.
MFU President on KSTP
MFU President Peterson appeared on KSTP-TV this morning to talk about the drought situation in Minnesota and FarmFest. Check it out here: http://kstp.com/article/stories/S2708811.shtml?cat=12157
Board of Animal Health proposes new livestock rules
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health is proposing changes to the existing rules as they apply to animal health. The proposed rules have been posted online at www.bah.state.mn.us for you to review. The Dual Notice of Intent to Adopt Rules will be published in the State Register on July 23, 2012. The comment period will end on August 23, 2012. MFU will be looking at portions that deal with animal identification and livestock record keeping and encourages all members with livestock to look these over and let us know what you think. MFU is also working on rules changes and will be submitting comments and most likely requesting a public meeting.
NFU on RFS
NFU President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in support of a study recently released by the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University. The study makes clear that calls for the immediate reduction, revision or repeal of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would not achieve the stated goals of those industries calling for such action: “NFU stands by the belief that concerns from the livestock sector and some members of Congress are unwarranted. The study showed that eliminating the RFS would reduce corn prices less than five percent. “NFU opposes Sen. Ben Cardin’s legislation, S. 3428 - The RFS Flexibility Act, which would require a biannual review of ending corn stocks relative to their total use. Subsequently, the RFS would be reduced if that ratio fell below certain thresholds. “Rather than dramatically altering the RFS, we need to look at alternative options. Last fall NFU released a University of Tennessee study on the Market-Driven Inventory System (MDIS), which would reserve grain during periods of high production and low prices so that it can be used during times of low production and high prices like we are experiencing currently. This is a more sensible approach to saving taxpayer dollars than attacking the RFS.”
Army Corps and drainage
MFU recently joined other Minnesota ag groups at a meeting at Farm Bureau to discuss the proposed U.S. Army Corps general permit affecting farmers who install tile drainage or new drainage ditches. The Corps insists this is a minor change that is more of an update to existing laws. Groups discussed many concerns with proposal including complications for landowners, coordination with other agencies, and cost. The Corps may decide to rescind the rule. MFU members who have questions about this should contact me.
Food Compass Map
I ran across this from the USDA “Know your farmer, know your food” program. It is a map that shows USDA-supported efforts and related information on local and regional food systems for the years 2009-2011. Check it out here: http://www.usda.gov/maps/maps/kyfcompassmap.htm
Minnesota 2020, also has an interesting map this week that shows Minnesota may be in America's Breadbasket, but we still have 206 deserts, food deserts that is, which seems ironic for one of the nation's leading food processing states. Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its Food Desert Locator, an interactive online tool that helps community leaders nationwide identify food deserts in their area. There are more than 6,500 nationwide. A food desert is "an area in the United States with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly such an area composed of predominantly lower-income neighborhoods and communities," as defined by the 2008 Farm Bill. The Locator classifies a "low-income community" as a census tract (a geographic sub-county region defined for the purpose of taking a census) with a poverty rate of ≥20% or a median family income at or below 80% of the area median family income. It defines “limited access” as at least 500 people or at least 33% of a census tract residing more than 1 mile from a supermarket or large grocery store in urban areas or more than 10 miles in rural areas. More info here: MN 2020
MFU Youth elected to Board
Mitchell Farmer-Lies, son of Tim Lies and Kathy Farmer of Belle Plaine was elected to serve on the National Farmers Union’s (NFU) National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC). NYAC is made up of six youths who were elected by over 70 of their peers from across the country at the NFU All-States Leadership Camp in Bailey, Colorado. Those Minnesotans attending the All-States Leadership Camp are youths who have completed four years of Minnesota’s Senior High Camp and have shown dedication to working in a cooperative manner with a commitment to bettering themselves through education and leadership. “Mitchell has shown great leadership skills that a lot of kids his age do not have, and being elected by your peers to serve on the National Youth Advisory Council is something to be proud of,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Rural Minnesota is in good hands with people like Mitchell representing us, and I thank him for his hard-work and dedication to family farmers.” The youths spent a week in Bailey, Colorado June 24-29 at the NFU Education Center to take part in cooperative activities and listen to several inspirational speakers. The camp included presentations by William Nelson, president of CHS Foundation, who spoke about cooperatives; motivational speaker and Olympic Grecco Roman Wrestling Champion Rulon Gardner; and members of the Center for Disease Control, who spoke about how to handle outbreaks. For more information, please log on to http://nfu.org/about/education/all-states-leadership-camp
The annual Todd County Farmers Union picnic is this Sunday August 5th at 11:30 at the Clarissa Park in Clarissa, always draws a great crowd contact Al Perish for more information at 320-594-6586. The Tri County (LQP, Chippewa and Yellow Medicine County) Farmers Union picnic is also this Sunday at 6:00 in Smith Park in Montevideo. For more info contact Julie Bleyhl at 612-308-2037.
Many Farmers Union county units have scheduled their annual meetings and more will be coming soon. Check www.mfu.org/events for more information on upcoming county unit events.
That is all for now, as usual, questions, comments and complaints to me!
Thom Petersen, Director of Gov’t Relations, MN Farmers Union