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

'Farm only' Farm Bill passes the U.S. House

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

In its second farm bill vote in a matter of weeks, the House passed the legislation 216 to 208. The House version is a farm-only bill and does not contain the nutrition title, which has been part of the farm bill for 50-plus years. The House bill also includes a repeal of permanent law. For dairy farmers, the House farm bill includes the Goodlatte-Scott amendment that removes the supply management plan proposed by the National Milk Producers Federation. Despite these challenges, NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak said the House vote "means there is still hope that a new farm bill can be passed in 2013. Kozak hopes the Dairy Security Act, which is in the Senate bill, will prevail in conference.

Moving the farm bill to conference
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow has asked for unanimous consent to move to a conference with the House on the farm bill. The Senate accepted her resolution without exception. The action will send the farm bill back to the House and set the stage for a conference and the appointment of conferees. Stabenow asked that Senate conferees be appointed with a ratio of seven Democrats to five Republicans. Over in the House, Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern and 28 other members have asked House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas to hold a thorough hearing on nutrition and the impacts of changes to the SNAP program before a stand-alone nutrition bill is considered by the House.

Franken: Farmers need a farm bill
A Farm Bill conference committee has not yet been named, but Minnesota Senator Al Franken remains hopeful the legislation can be finalized before the August recess. "You know, when I go around Minnesota, farmers tell me that they don't want a bill, that they need a bill. They need a certainty that comes from it, they need the predictability in terms of, you know, what to plant, what conservation programs to use. They need to know that the safety net is going to be there for them and what it is." The House farm bill does not include the nutrition title, but Franken expects food stamps to be addressed in the conference committee. The House also makes changes in permanent law, which Franken does not support.

Disaster request made
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is asking for a major federal disaster declaration for 18 counties hit by flash flooding and severe storms in June. Dayton is requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration that would provide federal assistance for storm related damages for infrastructure repair and clean up.

Livestock Investment Grants available
More money is available for the Minnesota Livestock Investment Grants. "We've got $2 million each year for fiscal year '14 and '15, which started July 1," said Curt Zimmerman, livestock supervisor, Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Zimmerman says these grants help livestock operations upgrade with new equipment and technology. "The grants cover ten percent of any type of purchases related to livestock; you can't put down the purchase of livestock or refinancing of debt, but any kind of building, forage equipment, feeding equipment, fencing, corrals, fixing up facilities, including site-preparation, any type of manure handling or equipment."

Milk production increases slightly
In the 23 major dairy producing states, milk production totaled 15.8 billion pounds in June. That's 1.6 percent higher than June of 2012. In Minnesota, milk production increased nearly two percent. Wisconsin milk output was up 1.8 percent. California production declined 0.8 percent.

Raw milk rules
New South Dakota safety regulations are being re-written to apply only when raw milk is sold commercially for human consumption, not when unpasteurized milk is shared with family and friends. Courtney De La Rosa, South Dakota's director of agricultural policy, says the primary objectives remain the same: to protect public health and to provide clarity for producers seeking to put bottled raw milk into the stream of commerce. As currently drafted, De La Rosa says the proposed rules clearly state that individuals who consume raw milk from their own animals will not be affected by the proposed rules. If no commercial sales are planned, state officials say raw milk may be considered similar to produce from a home garden.

National campaign targets Chobani
An activist group, known as GMO Inside, has launched a national campaign against Chobani Yogurt. While Chobani's Greek yogurts are labeled as 'natural,' GMO Inside claims the company relies on milk from cows fed a diet that includes biotech feed ingredients. Chobani is the number one Greek yogurt company in the U.S.

Strong demand for ag teachers
The number of agriculture educators in Minnesota has not been able to meet the demand. Minnesota Association of Agricultural Educators Immediate Past President Natasha Mortenson said this is getting to be a bigger challenge every year. "This year, Minnesota will likely not be able to fill all of our agricultural positions that are open in high schools." A growing number of ag teachers are at retirement age. Mortenson said the agribusiness sector is also snatching up many of the good candidates for ag education. "Agriculture is a really good place to be right now and the money that kids can make coming out of college in agribusiness far exceeds what they're going to make in education." Mortenson emphasized the opportunities in ag education will only increase in the future. Ag teachers and farm business management instructors met earlier this month for the MAAE summer conference.

Vets Plus, Inc. hires Lindevig
Dave Lindevig is the new national account manager for Vets Plus, Inc. In addition to his sales role, Lindevig will collaborate with the VPI Research and Development team to create nutritional supplements for beef and dairy cattle. Most recently, Lindevig worked for Renaissance Nutrition dealing with producers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. Lindevig is based in River Falls, Wis.

Buhr takes interim dean post
Brian Buhr has been named the interim dean for the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the interim dean for the statewide agricultural experiment stations. Buhr will take over at the end of August when Al Levine returns to research work. Buhr has been the head of the Department of Applied Economics for the past five years and a member of the University of Minnesota faculty since 1992.

Dornink to return to MAELC
Sarah Dornink is returning to the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council, but in a new role. Dornink will take over as executive director starting July 29. Dornink is now serving as center program manager at the University of Minnesota Extension.

Trivia challenge
Farmfest was held for the first time in 1976 in Lake Crystal, Minn. The show will return to the Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls August 6-8. That answers our last trivia question. When was a crossbreed dairy steer division added to the Minnesota State Fair 4-H Livestock Show? We'll have the answer in the next edition of Dairy Star.[[In-content Ad]]


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