For a second straight year, President Donald Trump paid a visit the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention. Trump spent most of the speech focused on border security. The Waters of the United States rule was also addressed. “We’re going to keep federal regulators out of your drainage ditches, puddles and ponds,” Trump said. In closing, Trump assured the 6,000 Farm Bureau members in attendance that better times are ahead for U.S. agriculture. “To all of the farmers here today and across our country, the greatest harvest is yet to come.”
 
Duvall outlines policy priorities
    The American Farm Bureau Federation is celebrating 100 years, with several policy wins for agriculture. At the opening general session, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall highlighted the policy successes of the organization. While farmers and ranchers faced struggles in 2018, Duvall said the year also brought great policy change for the future. That work and success will continue this year. “With all this discussion about a wall and all this discussion about immigration reform, we’ve got to solve the biggest problem facing the American farmer and that’s farm labor.” Duvall also emphasized trade, regulatory reform and the need for broadband technology.

Fed releases ag credit outlook
    In the fourth quarter of 2018, the number of non-real estate farm loans was up 8 percent from a year ago. In addition, the size of individual loans increased. The Federal Reserve’s Agricultural Finance Outlook said the year-over-year volume of operating loans rose more than $10 billion, or 22 percent. Due to the strong demand for farm loans, liquidity at agricultural banks trended lower and collateral requirements continued to tighten. Loan delinquency rates edged higher but remain low from a historical perspective.

USDA extends MFP application deadline
    USDA is extending the deadline to apply for Market Facilitation Program payments. The original deadline was Jan. 15 but is being adjusted due to the government shutdown. According to United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, the deadline will be extended for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices were closed.

New faces coming to the House ag committee
    House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson will have a lot of new faces on his committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced 12 freshmen members will join the committee. The new members come from rural and urban areas, including Iowa, New York, Connecticut and California. That list includes Minnesota Second District Representative Angie Craig.

Dairy policy gets attention in St. Paul
    It is early in the session, but Minnesota lawmakers are hard at work on policy issues. House Agriculture, Food, Finance and Policy Committee Chair Jeanne Poppe said the early discussions are focused on agricultural research training and the 2018 farm bill. Moving forward, dairy policy is a priority. “In Minnesota, we’ve been losing dairy farmers quickly,” Poppe said. “We need to try and stabilize that so we can continue to have people who are in business stay in business.”

Dairy robot company to build headquarters in Iowa
    Lely North America is increasing its presence in North America. The dairy automation company plans to build a new North American headquarters and production facility in the Pella, Iowa area. Lely is based in the Netherlands and has been involved in the U.S. and Canadian dairy market for over 25 years.
 
Paap re-elected to AFBF board
    Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap was reelected to a two-year term on the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors. This will be the eighth year serving on the board for the Garden City, Minn., farmer.

Minnesota couple is a finalist in AFBF competition
    Katie and Ted Brenny of Mazeppa, Minn., are among the top 10 finalists in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture contest at the Farm Bureau convention. The competition is an opportunity for young farmers and ranchers to share their contributions and involvement in agriculture.

Center for Rural Policy and Development has new chairman
    Steve Wenzel, of Little Falls, Minn., has been elected chairman of the board for the Center for Rural Policy and Development. Wenzel was in the Minnesota State Legislature from 1972 to 2001 and was the Minnesota state director of rural development from 2001-09.

Peterson names chief counsel
    Chairman Collin Peterson has promoted Kellie Adesina as the chief counsel for House Agriculture Committee. Adesina has been the senior counsel for the committee since 2016. Prior to joining the House Agriculture Committee staff, Adesina had a similar role at USDA.

Beach hired at Pet Food Institute
    The Pet Food Institute has named Morgan Beach as its director of government relations. Previously, Beach was the trade policy manager for the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Trivia challenge
    Finland leads the world in milk consumption, with average per-person consumption approaching 35 gallons of milk per year. That answers our last trivia question. What is the term for a cheeseburger with the cheese in the middle, rather than on top? 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.