September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

A long, winding road for the 2012 Farm Bill

By Don Wick- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

The farm bill process has faced with numerous detours. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat Roberts worked diligently to bring the legislation to the floor for debate. Approximately 250 amendments were offered, which threatened to shut down the entire process. As of Tuesday, the Senate agreed to debate 73 amendments. Six amendments dealt with crop insurance. A couple amendments focused on payment limits, but none of the approved amendments sought a change in the dairy title. The delays in the U.S. Senate have backed up the farm bill process in the House. The House Agriculture Committee is not expected to take up the farm bill until the legislation is finalized in the Senate.

IDFA sees little chance for success in the Senate
International Dairy Foods Association senior vice president of government affairs Jerry Slominski does not expect any changes to the current proposal for the dairy title in the Senate Farm Bill. IDFA, which represents milk processors, opposes the supply management component in the bill. "We don't have at this point in time, I believe, a critical mass of Senators who are willing to go with that," said Slominski. "I don't think it'll be a high profile enough issue that the Majority Leader and Minority Leader will look at that and say that's one we want to have a vote on; we'll be disappointed, because we would certainly like to see supply management for dairy eliminated in the Senate." Slominski is hoping for a different outcome when the farm bill comes to the House Agriculture Committee.

Unity seen in dairy industry
During past farm bills, regional differences made it difficult to find consensus on the dairy title of the farm bill. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said the dairy industry has faced a difficult economic situation and saw the need to unify. "They know they need to come together and the farm bill has to include strong dairy provisions."

Lucas seeks more savings in the Farm Bill
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas is said to be drafting a farm bill that aims to save $33 to $35 billion over ten years. That compares to the $23 billion savings in the Senate farm bill. The effect on commodity and conservation funding could be the same for both bills because Lucas seeks equal-size cuts in food stamps and farm programs. The Senate farm bill cuts food stamps by $4.5 billion and commodities by $13 billion.

Milk production continues to increase
U.S. milk production increased 2.1 percent during the month of May. Minnesota milk output was unchanged from 2011. The number of milk cows in the state totaled 465,000 head, unchanged from April, but down 3,000 head from the previous year. Wisconsin milk production increased 2.4 percent. California increased nearly two percent. Iowa milk production declined 1.3 percent.

Supply/demand numbers updated
USDA is forecasting 2012 US milk production at more than 202 billion pounds, a six-billion pound increase over last year. That's the largest year-over-year increase in 13 years. USDA is also predicting another increase for next year. The USDA all-milk price estimate was lowered to $16.85 to $17.25 per hundredweight.

Building partnerships with the Chinese
Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap was one of 11 members of the agriculture delegation participating in Governor Mark Dayton's recent trade mission to China. Paap said there are tremendous opportunities in China. "Over 25 percent of the world's meat is eaten in China and that's more than double what is seen in the United States," said Paap. Paap said the Chinese are interested in developing partnerships with Minnesota. As a result of China's Melamine scandal, food safety was a frequent topic in the trade meetings. "That was one of the biggest eye-openers for me; imported food from the United States is considered much safer that what is produced in this country."

Farmer input essential in water quality program
The Minnesota Water Quality Advisory Committee will meet for the first time in early July. Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson is a member of this committee and says the emphasis should be on how farmers can improve water quality. "I think what should come from this, frankly, is the role we've already had in improving water quality and the things we can do to continue in that role." USDA, EPA and the State of Minnesota signed a memorandum of understanding on the creation of a voluntary water quality certification program earlier this year. Peterson believes it is essential for farmers to have input in the process. "Talking to people on the ground who have skin in the game will go a long way in the dialogue of water quality."

Veterinary sector has major economic impact
According to a new University of Minnesota study, the veterinary medicine industry contributes $1.5 billion to the Minnesota economy. The industry employs 14,500 people with a combined salary of $680 million. Only ten of Minnesota's 87 counties do not have a private veterinary practice.

Chipotle highlights pasture-raised dairy products
Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced that it will only serve sour cream and cheese made with milk from pasture-raised dairy cows. Under this protocol, cows have daily access to outdoor pastures, are never given added hormones, and are fed an all vegetarian, plant-based diet.

SDSU selects Doolittle
South Dakota State University has named a new associate vice president for research. James Doolittle has been at SDSU since 1991. Doolittle has held this leadership post on an interim basis for the past year. Before that, Doolittle led the North-Central Sun Grant Center, which is a national network of land-grant universities working on bioenergy issues.

Trivia challenge
It takes more than ten pounds of milk to produce one pound of cheese. That answers our last trivia question. For this edition, we'll focus on butter. How many pounds of milk are needed to manufacture one pound of butter? We'll have the answer in the next edition of the Dairy Star.
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