For House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, farm bill implementation is a priority. And at the top of that list is the implementation of the new dairy program. “The old dairy program didn’t work and people got soured on it,” Peterson said. “I’m a little concerned people aren’t going to sign up for the new program because they aren’t going to seriously look at it. Whenever the sign-up happens, if it’s in February or March, it’ll be retroactive to January 1.” Peterson said the partial government shutdown influenced farm bill implementation. “It has delayed us probably a good month and a half on the dairy stuff, which could be fatal. I think it’s a real problem.”
Looking at 2020 and beyond
    With the new Democratic majority in the House, Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson is back as chairman of the agriculture committee. Peterson has 12 new Democrats on his committee, including 10 freshmen. ProFarmer analyst Jim Wiesemeyer is already looking at 2020 and beyond. “Collin Peterson is the House Agriculture Committee and he knows agriculture like the back of his hand, but I don’t know if he’ll run for reelection in 2020,” Wiesemeyer said. “He wants to educate his bench now because when you look at the Democrats on the committee, they need some staying power and Collin is a good educator.” On the Senate side, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts will not run for reelection in 2020, which should put Arkansas Senator John Boozman at the helm of the agriculture committee.

Seeking changes to Federal Section 232 tariff policy
    A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation that would change trade and tariff policy. This bill would tighten the rules for Section 232 tariffs, giving the Department of Defense the authority to investigate national security threats. It also gives Congress a larger role in the Section 232 tariff policy. The current national security tariff process was used to impose duties on imports of steel and aluminum, which resulted in retaliation against U.S. agricultural products. Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who is a former U.S. trade representative, said the current Section 232 process is being misused.

Dairy groups endorse Section 232 reform
    The National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council supports the proposed Trade Security Reform Act. This bill is sponsored by Wisconsin Democratic Congressman Ron Kind and Indiana Republican Congressman Jackie Walorski and Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman and Alabama Democratic Senator Doug Jones. It calls for the Section 232 rules to be used only for a true national security threat. A study conducted by Informa Agribusiness Consulting estimates lost dairy exports of $1.1 billion over the next five years if the current retaliatory trade tariffs against U.S. dairy products are removed. “The bill’s sponsors should be applauded for finding a common-sense process to a complex issue,” said Tom Vilsack, chairman and chief executive officer of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Canada seeks end to tariffs
    Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an event in Europe. Freeland told Pelosi Canada is in the process of ratifying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum should be lifted.

U.S.-Mexico trade relationship in danger
    According to an editorial written by American Dairy Coalition CEO Laurie Fisher, the ongoing trade war between the United States and Mexico may be causing irreparable damage. Mexico imports nearly 25 percent of the U.S. dairy industry’s exports each year, worth $1.4 billion. “It’s one (relationship) that President Trump continues to risk damaging permanently and unnecessarily. This should have changed in November when Trump declared success with the newly rechristened U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. In retrospect, it was a disingenuous statement. The administration has not lifted steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexican and Canadian products and in response those countries are refusing to sign the pact or lift retaliatory tariffs, impacting dairy products and other items.”

Farm Bill listening session scheduled
    USDA will host a farm bill listening session February 26. The public is invited to offer input on the programs overseen by the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service. The three agencies are looking for ideas to simplify farm program implementation and improve customer service.

Fear-based marketing claims affect the farmer
    With every trip down the supermarket aisle, consumers are inundated with conflicting messages about the health, safety and sustainability of food. Speaking at the American Sugarbeet Growers Association annual meeting, National Milk Producers Federation senior vice president Chris Galen said food companies are often trying to build market share by making a social claim. “We saw a great example of that during the Super Bowl when Budweiser said it doesn’t use corn syrup in one of its products.” Marketing decisions, such as the anti-GMO movement, have significant ramifications back to the farm. “We’ve seen this move before (with rbST in the dairy industry) and it will not end well for farmers if the same trend affects GMOs that impacted rbST 20 years ago.”

While most land grants face budget cuts, U of M adds faculty
    The University of Minnesota has seen an influx of funding through the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer program. Extension Dean Bev Durgan said additional faculty has been hired for Extension, the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences and Veterinary Medicine. “We are really unique; there are no other universities that are able to hire and we will have over 20 faculty hired within three years.” Through the AGREETT program, the University of Minnesota can focus on specific mission areas, like manure management.

U of M-Crookston streamlines academic structure
    The University of Minnesota-Crookston is revising its academic structure. With the change, agriculture and natural resources will be consolidated with math, science and technology. UMC is also making changes to its enrollment policies to increase student numbers and strengthen graduation rates.

Former NFU and MFU president passes
    Former National Farmers Union President Cy Carpenter, 96, has died. Carpenter was the Minnesota Farmers Union president from 1972 to 1984 and NFU president from 1984 to 1988. Carpenter was raised on a farm near Sauk Centre, Minn. and lived in Bloomington, Minn. at the time of his death.

Trivia challenge
    The oldest cow on record is an Irish Holstein named Big Bertha. When she died, this cow was just a few months shy of her 49th birthday. That answers our last trivia question. What English dairy breed is a cross of Norfolk Red and Suffolk Dun? We’ll 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.