August 15, 2022 at 9:02 p.m.

Senate passes Inflation Reduction Act 

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

The Senate budget reconciliation bill includes $40 billion for agriculture programs. That includes nearly $8.5 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, $7 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and $3.25 billion for the Conservation Stewardship Program. The United States Department of Agriculture also receives $300 million to quantify carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions from farmland. There’s money for farmers with prevented plant land to grow cover crops. This bill extends the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit from 2022 to 2024 and invests in the infrastructure needed for blender pumps. Rural electric cooperatives will receive nearly $10 billion for renewable energy projects, carbon capture and energy efficiency. The Farm Service Agency will also receive $1 billion to help farmers and ranchers with “limited resources.” FSA will pay up to 100% of “at risk” loans, up to $150,000. There’s another $750 million for farmers who faced discrimination from USDA before 2021.
NMPF praises climate provisions
National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern welcomed the inclusion of $20 billion in new funding for conservation programs in the Inflation Reduction Act. “The funding increases in this package will better position dairy farmers to effectively implement the dairy sector’s Net Zero Initiative and fulfill its 2050 environmental stewardship goals,” Mulhern said. “With the Net Zero Initiative, NMPF is committed to becoming greenhouse gas neutral or better by 2050.”

MN agriculture offers farm bill feedback
Crop insurance, disaster aid and the Dairy Margin Coverage program are on the minds of Minnesota farmers as work begins on the 2023 farm bill. During a House Agriculture Committee field hearing in Northfield, Minnesota, Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said Congress should build on the 2018 farm bill and make improvements. “I’d like to thank you for the support for mental health for farmers in the last farm bill,” Petersen said. “The drought last year also really highlighted things we need to change and update in the bill. Some of the programs don’t work as well.”

Ag funding included in reconciliation bill
Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig is encouraged by the ag-related provisions in the new reconciliation bill. Craig cites the one-time $20 billion conservation funding. “This is one of the items we heard at our farm bill listening session,” Craig said. “The Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program are always oversubscribed. This will be a one-time sort of injection of funding, but I think it’s going to make a big difference.”
Walz, Jensen clash at Farmfest forum
The crowd for the 2022 Farmfest gubernatorial forum was reminiscent to 1998 when Jesse Ventura, Norm Coleman and Skip Humphrey were the candidates. The topics ranged from biofuels to broadband and from COVID-19 to the economy. There was a populist approach from both sides. “It’s relatively simple; let farmers farm, let miners mine, let teachers teach and have government get the hell out of the way,” touted Republican challenger Dr. Scott Jensen. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz was quick to defend his record, saying, “This job entails more than admiring a problem and second guessing.” It was a heated exchange between the two contenders with plenty of red meat for the crowd. As an example, Jensen received thunderous applause when he said, “Over my dead body will Minnesota ever sell farmland to foreign corporations.” Walz supporters cheered when the governor pushed back to criticism over the state pandemic response. “If you truly believe in our people, invest in our children and invest in our teachers, but don’t you dare call us lazy,” Walz said.

Milk production report released
South Dakota continues to lead the nation in the expansion of the dairy industry. During June, South Dakota dairy farms added 21,000 milk cows and increased production by 15%. In Minnesota, milk production dropped 1%. In the 24 major dairy states, June milk output was up 0.3%.

Preparing for economic downturn
Virginia Tech agricultural economics professor David Kohl was a speaker at Bell Bank’s AgView Live event. Kohl recommended producers take strong ownership of their financials in preparation for an economic downturn. “There’s a good possibility of a U.S. and global recession,” Kohl said. “This is going to have an impact on both input and output prices.” Kohl said there’s no doubt we’re heading toward a recession. “What’s keeping the economy going? We’ve got low unemployment and high consumer spending,” Kohl said. “It’s basically people spending stimulus checks, and as soon as that runs out, you’re going to start seeing issues.”
Optimism despite volatile markets
During Farmfest, AgCountry President and CEO Marc Knisely said farmers and ranchers are generally optimistic. “There’s concern about volatility with commodity prices and the availability of inputs, but the attitude has been positive,” Knisely said. Interest rates have increased but are still at manageable levels. “Even if you go with a floating rate or variable interest rate to start with, you’ll have an opportunity to get a good fixed rate again I think on a lot of these termed purchases.”

Captain to guide DMI sustainability effort
Dairy Management Inc. has hired Lori Captain as executive vice president of global sustainability strategy, science and industry affairs. Captain joins DMI after service more than 20 years at Corteva Agriscience and its predecessor DuPont.

DFA announces new hire
Dairy Farmers of America appointed Kevin O’Donnell as its new senior vice president of sustainability. Most recently, O’Donnell was with an early-stage investment firm that focused on agriculture and food technology startups.

Minnesotan selected to USDA FAS Role
Ellen Lugar has been appointed Minister Counselor of Agriculture in Rome for the Foreign Agricultural Service. Lugar joins USDA from the General Mills Foundation.

Starling takes role with research firm
Aimpoint Research has hired Ray Starling as an executive advisor with a focus on public policies impacting agriculture and food. Starling was chief of staff for former Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

40 Square hires executive director
40 Square Cooperative Solutions named Amanda Beavens as its new executive director. Beavens has more than 20 years of experience managing senior care facilities throughout south central Minnesota.

Trivia challenge
Michael Regan is the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what U.S. president had a cow as a pet? We will have the answer in the next edition of Dairy Star.
Don Wick is owner/broadcaster for the Red River Farm Network, based in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Wick has been recognized as the National Farm Broadcaster of the Year and served as president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. Don and his wife, Kolleen, have two adult sons, Tony and Sam, and five grandchildren, Aiden, Piper, Adrienne, Aurora and Sterling.


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