June 12, 2023 at 1:09 p.m.

Door opens for farm bill activity

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

Combest Sell and Associates managing partner Tom Sell hopes the agreement on the debt ceiling will spark momentum for the farm bill. “The farm bill tends to be an area where Congress can show how it can work together at its best,” Sell said. “It doesn’t make it easy, but we have great leadership.” Sell expects forward momentum in June and July with the farm safety net at the heart of those discussions.

Farm bill extension possible
Former House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson addressed the U.S. Meat Export Federation Spring Conference. Peterson said he would be surprised if a farm bill is passed before the current law expires at the end of September. “I think they probably have until the end of the year to get something done,” Peterson said. “If it doesn’t get done by the end of the year, I think it will probably get extended, and with it being an election year, I wouldn’t be surprised if you do a one-year extension, you’ll end up with a two-year extension.” Farm groups are seeking additional farm bill funding to increase reference prices and boost international market development. “I just don’t know where it will come from,” Peterson said.

Supreme Court delivers victory for landowners
In a long-awaited decision regarding the Waters of the United States rule, the high court found the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers wrongfully claimed authority over wetlands. In a 9-0 holding, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Sackett family and killed the significant nexus test which has caused headaches for landowners around the country. Rinke Noonan Law Firm attorney Kale Van Bruggen said the nexus analysis was very unclear. “It was almost impossible for a landowner or a farmer to quickly and efficiently decide which wetlands are regulated,” he said. Van Bruggen expects changes to be made to EPA’s WOTUS rules that were released earlier this year.

White House: WOTUS ruling is a step ‘backward’
EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the agency is still evaluating the Supreme Court decision on Waters of the United States. “I am deeply disappointed that the Court is taking away EPA’s ability that has been standing for 50 years,” Regan said. Meanwhile, the White House said the court ruling “will take our country backward.” In a statement, President Joe Biden said it puts our nation’s wetlands at risk of pollution and destruction, jeopardizing the clean water that American families and farmers depend on.

Dairy farmers receiving pandemic funds
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing to distribute funds for the second round of Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program payments to dairy farmers within a matter of weeks. The first round of payments reimbursed dairy farmers for 80% of the calculated revenue difference per month during the July-December 2020 time period. The first payment was on the first 5 million pounds of product, and the second round pays dairy farmers for 5-9 million pounds of milk production during that same window of time. Payments should be made by June 20.

Walz signs omnibus agriculture bill
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed the agriculture and broadband bill into law during a ceremony on a Finlayson farm. Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said the bill contains over $48 million of funding covering soil health, biofuels, livestock processing and grain indemnity accounts. One important part of the agriculture bill that Petersen noted is the grain indemnity fund. “It will help with times when we have elevator failures where farmers would get 10 cents on the dollar,” Peterson said.

Added sugars debate includes flavored milk
USDA is looking for ways to reduce the amount of added sugars in food and is considering a ban on chocolate milk from schools. Milk consumption declines significantly in schools when flavored milk isn’t an option. Nearly 40 major school milk processors have pledged to offer school milk options with no more than 10 grams of added sugar per 8-ounce serving by the 2025-26 school year. The Healthy School Milk Commitment has been made to get ahead of USDA’s update of its dietary guidelines.

A victory for AM radio
Ford Motor Company has reversed its previous decision and will keep AM radio in its new vehicles. Ford is also offering a software update to provide AM broadcast capabilities in its electric vehicles. National Association of Farm Broadcasting Executive Director Tom Brand credits the rural community and their lawmakers. “Listeners responded and reached out to lawmakers and automobile manufacturers,” Brand said. “There was also a letter sent by 102 members of the U.S. House of Representatives in recent weeks to several automakers; it not only reminded them about the importance of AM radio but also asked some pointed questions, including the amount of federal subsidies they’ve received in the last 15 years.” Bills have also been introduced in the House and Senate to preserve AM radio in cars and trucks. Local radio has a role in providing information during weather emergencies, and these proposals would consider radio as a safety feature in cars and trucks.

Stenholm passes
Former Texas Congressman Charlie Stenholm, 84, has died. Stenholm was the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee from 1997 to 2005. Stenholm also chaired the Blue Dog Coalition. Once his time in office ended, Stenholm was a lobbyist on agricultural interests and taught farm policy at Tarleton State University.

Flournoy to oversee diversity issues for FFA
The National FFA Organization has named Corey Flournoy the executive in residence for equity, diversity and inclusion. Flournoy was the first African American national FFA president and has 30-plus years of leadership in diversity and inclusion programming.

WDE hires sponsorship manager
Jennifer Dobbs is the new sponsorship manager for World Dairy Expo. For the past 12 years, Dobbs was the director of festivals and events for the Wisconsin Dells Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Trivia challenge
June Dairy Month began as National Milk Month in 1937. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, how many pounds of milk are needed to produce 1 pound of cheese? We will have the answer in our 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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