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

Peterson calls on House leadership to commit

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

Congress has passed a nine-month Farm Bill extension. Rather than taking up the Farm Bill that passed in the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee, negotiators went with this stop-gap measure. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson is obviously upset with the decision by House leadership to forego the efforts of Agriculture Committee leaders. In a lengthy letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Peterson outlined his frustrations, saying a last minute, backroom deal ignored the will of the Agriculture Committees. Peterson said he is not interested in going through the process of writing a new five-year Farm Bill without assurance from House leadership that it will be considered.

Still fighting for dairy policy reform
The threat of permanent farm law and skyrocketing milk prices was partially responsible for the action on the Farm Bill. National Milk Producers Federation spokesman Chris Galen said it just wasn't the action they wanted. "We still have the need for a reform-minded five-year Farm Bill." Galen said agriculture will need to regroup, but the rationale to cut government spending has not changed. The voluntary supply management portion of the Dairy Security Act is being described as a fiscally-responsible approach to farm policy. "There has to be some conservatives in Congress that will listen to that argument," Galen said. "They don't care that much about dairy farmers or dairy prices, but they care about saving taxpayer dollars."

Vilsack: We need to get this job done
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Congress' failure to pass a five-year Farm Bill in 2012 creates uncertainty for the farm community. "I certainly feel for dairy producers, in particular," Vilsack said. Rather than looking backward, Vilsack is committed to getting the job done and getting the job done right. Vilsack continues to push for dairy policy reform. "If we go back to 2009, when things were really troublesome (for milk prices), unless we have a different support system, we will continue to lose dairy operators." Vilsack said there are tremendous opportunities for agriculture, but the industry must build alliances and creatively deliver its message to the new Congress.

EPA chief announces plans to step down
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson will resign after the State of the Union address. In making the announcement, Jackson said EPA's ship was sailing in the right direction. Jackson has been praised by the National Corn Growers Association and ethanol groups for her support of E-15 and biofuels. Other farm groups have said, EPA has been the source of over-regulation. American Farm Bureau Federation Deputy Director Dale Moore does not expect that to change. "We don't think for a minute that they're going to set aside all the issues that we've been fighting on waters-of-the-US, on spray drift and other issues that are outstanding and that there will be any change with her stepping down." Moore said agriculture groups spent numerous hours in court during the past four years fighting proposed EPA rules.

Modest increase in milk production
Compared to one year earlier, November milk production increased 1.1 percent. The increase came despite high feed costs. In Minnesota, milk production increased 4.5 percent. The size of the Minnesota dairy herd did not change, but those cows produced more milk. Wisconsin milk output was up 4.7 percent. California milk production declined more than two percent.

Dairy cow slaughter expected to top three million
During November, nearly 269,000 dairy cows went to market. That's 16,000 more than during November 2011. Dairy cow slaughter is on pace to top three million head, which would be the highest total in 17 years. The United States has only gone over that mark twice since 1986, and one of those years was impacted by the USDA's whole-herd buyout program.

FarmFirst Dairy Co-op established
With the start of the New Year, FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative began operating as a unified entity. FarmFirst is the result of a merger of Family Dairies USA, Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative and Milwaukee Cooperative Milk Producers. Dennis Donohue, who previously led MMPC, is the general manager. David Cooper and Jim Bird, who managed Family Dairies USA and Milwaukee Milk Cooperative Milk Producers respectively, are now assistant general managers with the new merged co-op.

WI dairy processing plant closes
The Golden Guernsey dairy processing plant in Waukesha, Wis., closed suddenly Jan. 5. The facility is owned by Open Gate Capital, which is a Los Angeles private equity firm. Open Gate purchased the plant from Dean Foods last year. The US Justice Department forced Dean Foods to sell the plant, or face anti-trust charges.

Record year for Jersey breed
The American Jersey Cattle Association has announced a record year with 100,000 registrations this year. The previous record was set last year at over 96,000 registrations.

Biel, Fall, Glessing and Meshke appointed
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has appointed four individuals to the Minnesota Dairy Research, Teaching and Consumer Education Authority. This group will serve in an advisory capacity for the design and development of a dairy education facility. The appointments include Eunice Biel, Clint Fall, Daniel Glessing and Sheryl Meshke. Biel is a Harmony dairy farmer and a member of the Minnesota Farmers Union executive board. Fall is the president of the First District Association in Litchfield. Glessing is a dairy farmer from Waverly and serves as president of the Wright County Farm Bureau. Meshke is the senior vice president of public affairs and corporate strategy for Associated Milk Producers, Incorporated and is based in New Ulm.

Land O'Lakes lobbyist takes new job
Land O'Lakes director of federal government affairs Jen Daulby is going back to work in the United States House of Representatives. Daulby is the new chief of staff for new Illinois congressman Rodney Davis. Daulby and Davis previously worked together on the staff of Illinois Representative John Shimkus.

Schommer announces job change
Michael Schommer, who has been the communications director for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for 15 years, has accepted a similar post with the Minnesota Department of Health. The transition is expected to take place Jan. 16. Margaret Hart will serve as the MDA acting communications director.

No more 4 a.m. wakeup calls
Tom Rothman is the new University of Minnesota Extension director of agricultural stakeholder outreach. For the past 30-plus years, Rothman has been the farm director at Minnesota Farm Network.

Trivia Challenge
Rep. Jeanne Poppe of Austin chairs the Minnesota House Agriculture Policy Committee. That answers our last trivia question. For this edition, who is the new chair of the Minnesota House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee? We'll have the answer in the next edition of Dairy Star.
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