Notes from the MN Farmers Union 8-15-11
Notes from the Minnesota Farmers Union Monday August 15, 2011
MFU President Doug Peterson thanks the many members and friends who stopped by the MFU booth at FarmFest in Redwood County. The MFU booth saw lots of activity and visits from Governor Mark Dayton, Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar as well as a visit from new U of M President Eric Kaler. MFU also hosted a first ever watermelon feed on Wednesday that was very successful and MFU President Peterson participated in a panel on the next farm bill. Checkout pictures from FarmFest on the MFU Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/mnfarmersunion?sk=photos
FFA members help with watermelon feed
The first ever watermelon feed at Farmfest turned out to be a success thanks to the cooperative work of both Minnesota Farmers Union and FFA members. KMS FFA members Kevin Krieger, Derek Krieger, Jared Krieger, Fred Mansfield, Brett Petersen, and Assistant FFA Advisor Cindy Krieger helped tremendously. Hutchinson FFA members Triston Callentine, Sarah Eggert, Katie Eggert, Alena Ave-Lallemant, and Mitchell Sims also helped a great deal on Wednesday, August 3rd as MFU hosted their first ever Watermelon feed at Farmfest. The FFA members worked with MFU members to help disperse the Watermelon in a timely fashion. “The FFA students showed their strong work ethic during the watermelon feed. They were quick to help out, worked smoothly alongside our members, and made our first ever watermelon feed guests feel right at home,” said MFU President Doug Peterson. The FFA organization strives to develop competent and assertive agricultural leadership in all of their members. This was very apparent as the FFA members worked at the watermelon feed.
Biel questions Obama
MFU Executive Committee member and Fillmore County President Eunice Biel was among the attendees at today’s town hall meeting with President Barak Obama in Cannon Falls and she was able to ask the President a question during the question and answer portion. Biel asked a question regarding what was being done to help encourage farmers and the next generation to stay on the farm. Biel and her husband Bob own a dairy farm near Harmony.
MFU signs wolf letters
From the Grand Forks Herald: A coalition of Minnesota sporting and farm groups (including MFU) has written letters to the state’s congressional delegation asking for their support in removing timber wolves from federal protection and to ensure stable funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division, which is charged with responding to wolf complaints. The first of two letters sent Wednesday afternoon asks the congressional delegation to contact Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, urging them to delist the timber wolf from federal protection in Minnesota and the Great Lakes region. The sporting groups say the species has met or exceeded recovery goals that called for a population of 1,251 to 1,400 wolves in Minnesota by the year 2000. Minnesota today has an estimated population of 3,000 wolves. The letter also asks the politicians to protect the delisting process from “frivolous legal actions.” Lawsuits in the past have derailed efforts to remove wolves from federal protection. “If the delisting process is not successful in 2011, we would ask you to work with your colleagues to expeditiously delist the wolf via congressional action,” the letter states. The second letter requests adequate funding for USDA Wildlife Services. The federally funded program spends $300,000 to $600,000 annually to control problem animals in Minnesota, the letter says, and federal funding has ranged from $100,000 to $300,000, along with another $200,000 to $300,000 in special congressional earmarks. Recently, though, Congress eliminated $727,000 in earmarked monies for Wildlife Services in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan as part of its continuing resolution. The result is a budget gap for Wildlife Services, and the letter asks the congressional delegation to contact Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to provide alternative funding to carry out wolf control work in Minnesota through Sept. 30.
USDOT: No new regs
MFU was pleased to learn that The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced recently that it has no intention to propose new regulations governing the transport of agricultural products. The agency also released guidance designed to make sure states clearly understand the common sense exemptions that allow farmers, their employees, and their families to accomplish their day-to-day work and transport their products to market. After hearing from concerned farmers earlier this year, FMCSA initiated this review to make sure states don't go overboard in enforcing regulations on agricultural operators, and to ensure consistent access to exemptions for farmers. No regulations will be proposed for any new safety requirements or changes to the rules governing the transport of agricultural products, farm machinery, or farm supplies to or from a farm. "We have no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking farmers who feed our country and fuel our economy," said Secretary Ray LaHood.
MFU sponsored Minnesota Cooks program is nearing! The Minnesota Cooks program is an annual event held at the State Fair in Carousel Park, this year will be Sunday August 28th. The program brings together local farmers with some of Minnesota's premier chefs as they demonstrate how they use farm fresh, Minnesota grown ingredients to create award-winning fare for their restaurants. The Minnesota Cooks program consists of eight 45-minute shows with outstanding chefs from throughout Minnesota demonstrating their talents and interacting with various emcees who interview the Minnesota farmers who produced the food, as well as local celebrity tasters. Checkout here for more info: http://minnesotacooks.net/
NFU President to speak
NFU President Roger Johnson will be in Minnesota Friday September 2nd to speak to MFU County Presidents, members and staff about NFU’s 2012 Farm bill priorities at 7:00 at the Ramada Plaza. A reception will follow and County Presidents will hold a full board meeting the next morning on Sat. Sept. 3rd. Anyone who has questions about the presentation or would like to attend, feel free to contact me.
31st Annual COACT Farm picnic
Should the New Deal legacy of Social Security and Medicare continue unchanged in today's struggling economy? This question will be addressed at the 31st annual Farm Picnic, at 2 p.m. Aug. 21, at Pierz Park, Pierz. The Farm Picnic is co-sponsored by Minnesota COACT and Morrison County Farmers Union. In the picnic's open-mike tradition, 8th District congressional candidates and area legislators have been invited to respond to the future status of these public programs as they face proposed cuts and privatization. Eighth District congressional candidate Rick Nolan has confirmed attending. Archie Baumann, Minnesota Farmers Union member, will introduce the topic. Free tickets, compliments of local businesses, are available at the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, 320-632-5155, and the Royalton Area Community Senior Center, 320-584-5961, or by calling COACT Board Member Ken Christianson, 320-584-5754.
Walz Farm bill forum
MFU invites members to attend a public farm bill listening session held by Rep. Tim Walz Friday August 19th at Warren Krohn's farm near Nicollet from 9:00 to 10:30am. This will be a general discussion on what farmers feel should be priorities heading into the next Federal Farm Bill. MFU President Doug Peterson will also attend for more information contact Thom Petersen, MFU Director of Gov’t Relations: 651-288-4067 or email@example.com .
Conservation Farm Bill Forum
MFU invites you to join Minnesota conservation and agricultural leaders on Monday, August 22nd as we discuss the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill and what it means for Minnesota’s water, wildlife, and farmlands. The last Farm Bill—the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008—carried a price tag of $288 billion.
The forum will be held from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Dakota Lodge in West Saint Paul. Featured speakers include representatives from state agencies, Izaak Walton League of America, and Minnesota Conservation Federation. Among the topics to be discussed:
- Minnesota farmers’ priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill;
- How the 20 Farm Bill can help protect water quality and conserve farmlands; and
- Benefits to Minnesota’s wildlife through effective farm policy.
The draft agenda can be found at iwla.org/MNfarmbill. The Minnesota Farm Bill Forum is free, open to the public, and lunch will be provided. However, an RSVP is required. Please RSVP by visiting farmbill.eventbrite.com or by contacting Gwen Steel at (651) 649-1446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boll Foundation releases report
The report, Harvesting Renewable Energy: German-American lessons learned on rural development highlights the German successes in energy farming and explores how the three Midwestern states of South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota can expand their local renewable energy project development. The report looks into renewable resources and current policies in each of the three Midwestern states, each of which has huge potential for energy production though, for example, biogas development, community wind installation, and biofuel production, namely ethanol. This report offers policy recommendations for incentivizing rural renewable energy projects based on the German success model. If these policies contribute anything close to what Germany’s rural energy farmers are experiencing, the US will see a jump in green jobs, an increase in clean energy production and economic growth in the local agricultural community. This report is the final assessment of the outcomes of the Midwest Renewable Energy Tour 2011, held June 26 - July 1, 2011 and sponsored by the National Farmers Union and the Climate Network, a two-year program within the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Click here for the full report "Harvesting Renewable Energy: German-American lessons learned on rural development"
BWSR announces RFP
On Monday, August 8, the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for over $20M in Clean Water Funds for implementation projects. Information about available funds can be found on the main page of our BWSR Website. The competitive grant application period is open through September 20, 2011. Local units of government involved in water management including counties, SWCDs, watershed districts, cities and Joint Powers Organizations of these entities are eligible applicants for a variety of grant categories such as programs to replace SSTS systems that are an imminent health threat and to conduct inventories of subsurface sewage treatment systems (SSTS). Funding is available to promote, install, and provide outreach on conservation drainage projects on public ditch systems. Grants are also available for on-the-ground conservation projects including feedlots, rain gardens, and other practices that treat surface water runoff and keep water on the land. The RFP includes AgBMP loan funds from MN Dept. of Ag and Well Sealing Funds from MN Dept. of Health. Additionally, we developed a ‘citizen’s page on our website (BWSR - Information for Citizens) and a webpage that helps anyone locate their local water management government unit by simply entering their address or zip code (BWSR - LGU Finder). And as a reminder, ‘stories’ of projects funded by previous Clean Water Fund appropriations can be viewed at BWSR - Grants.
PCA issues permitting report
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recently issued a report on permitting activities at the agency. The “Environmental Permitting: MPCA’s Semiannual Permitting Efficiency Report” shows that the agency issued 90 percent, or 841, of the construction-focused permits received between March 4 and June 30, 2011. Legislation passed in March requires the agency to establish a goal to:
•finalize permit decisions within 150 days of receiving completed applications;
•notify applicants of incomplete applications within 30 days; and
•submit permitting efficiency reports in August and February of each year.
The report is available on the MPCA website at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/legislative/reports or by contacting Jess Richards, MPCA Industrial Division Assistant Director, at 651-757-2858.
MFU County conventions have begun, MFU President Peterson was in Ogilvie for the Kanabec County Farmers Union annual convention last week where members discussed dairy, drilling for oil, cdl requirements, and more. Tonight I will be in Waseca for their annual convention, checkout www.mfu.org/events for more info.
To MFU Director of Communications Katie Fitzsimmons and her husband Dave on the birth of their son, Tiernan Austin Fitzsimmons who weighed in at 10lbs 3 oz. and was 22inches long and was born last week. Big congrats to Katie and Dave!!!
MFU President Doug Peterson urges thoughts and prayers for 2 MFU County Presidents; Tim Henning from Nobles County and Ed Anderson from Sibley County as they battle illness. Good thoughts to Tim and Ed!
That is all for now, as usual, questions, comments and complaints to me!
Thom Petersen, Director of Gov’t Relations, MN Farmers Union