Ag Insider

Farm bill expiration approaches

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The government’s fiscal year ends at the end of the month, and Congress needs to pass a full-year spending measure or a continuing resolution to continue the current appropriations bill. If not, the country faces a government shutdown. The fate of the farm bill is also up in the air. “Some of the programs in the 2018 farm bill begin to expire at the end of September,” said Chris Galen, vice president of member services and governance, National Milk Producers Federation. “Most of them, including a lot of the dairy safety net, expire at the end of the calendar year.” Without action, Galen said, key farm programs will expire in the months ahead.

FMMO reform in sight

The hearing over the Federal Milk Marketing Orders may last well into October. This is the first comprehensive hearing about federal orders in over 20 years. National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern said progress is being made, and the modernization of the milk pricing system is in sight.

USDA announces Milk Loss Program 

Following widespread weather-related disasters, supply chain issues and volatile markets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced Milk Loss Program assistance for eligible dairy farms. MLP assistance helps offset losses for the dairy farmers who dumped milk due to weather-impacted delivery or storage in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Labeling change needed

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin has renewed her plea for the Food and Drug Administration to stop letting non-dairy products use product names like milk, yogurt and cheese. “We’ve got to insist that the Food and Drug Administration do its job and enforce the standards of identity related to dairy products,” Baldwin said.

FCA offers mixed view of farm economy 

In its quarterly economic report, the Farm Credit Administration said 2023 net farm income will be down sharply from last year. Falling commodity prices, high input costs and low government payments are all part of the story. However, financial ratios remain positive. Farmland values remain strong, but the report cites a possible peak in land prices.

FAO: August food prices decline

World food prices fell to a two-year low in August. The Food and Agriculture Organization Price Index tracks most globally traded food commodities. The index cited a drop in prices for dairy products, vegetable oils, meat and cereals.

H-2A rule change proposed 

New H-2A rules have been proposed by the Labor Department that “would strengthen protections for farm workers.” The proposal would make it easier for labor unions to contact and work with guest agriculture workers. It also protects H-2A workers from retaliation if they meet with labor groups. Safety measures and language dealing with the recruitment of H-2A workers are also part of the proposal.

Climate-Smart funds

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack traveled to a farm outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. More than 140 projects got $3 billion in funding. The money had to be used in production agriculture or forestry and address climate change. Vilsack met with recipients of the climate-smart dollars, including Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Organic Valley and the Nature Conservancy.

NASDA updates its policy 

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has adopted policy action items, including a fix for gaps in federal disaster programs. At the NASDA annual meeting in Wyoming, the state agricultural leaders endorsed clear labeling for cell-based meat products and policies to adopt a farmer’s right to farm.

Prairie Farms stops processing milk in Bismarck 

Bismarck-based Prairie Farms shut down its milk bottling facility and has transitioned to a distribution-only facility. The Milk Producers Association of North Dakota released a statement saying, “The announcement came as a complete surprise and shocked everybody in the dairy industry, including dairy producers and plant employees affected by this decision.” North Dakota dairy farmers are working together to support their peers who lost their milk market and are in danger of losing their livelihoods.

Rob-See-Co launches forage division 

Rob-See-Co has announced the establishment of its new forage division. The new division is being led by Scott Harris, who has previous experience with Masters Choice, a Rob-See-Co company. Amy Hoy, with 30 years of forage experience, will lead the silage portfolio.

DLF acquires Corteva alfalfa program

Denmark-based global seed company DLF has announced its acquisition of the Corteva Agriscience alfalfa breeding program. This deal includes Corteva’s alfalfa germplasm and breeding program, the Alforex Seeds brand name, trademarks and commercial alfalfa varieties.

NMPF announces staff reorganization

Incoming National Milk Producers Federation President/CEO Gregg Doud began his work this past week as the organization’s chief operating officer. Doud will be in the COO role until current NMPF President/CEO Mulhern retires in January. The dairy group has also undertaken a staff reorganization. Three executive vice president positions were made. Paul Bleiberg will oversee government relations. Shawna Morris is in charge of trade policy and global affairs while Alan Bjerga leads communications and industry relations. Promotions also include David West to chief administrative officer, Stephen Cain to senior director of economic research and analysis, Beverly Hampton Phifer to senior director of FARM Animal Care, and Miquela Hanselman to regulatory affairs director. Staff receiving title changes with new responsibilities are Galen as senior vice president of member services and governance and Claudia Larson as senior director of government relations and head of nutrition policy.

Promotions announced at Edge

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative has named Karen Gefvert as its director of government affairs and Travis Senn as its director of public affairs. Getvert joined Edge in 2022 in a public affairs role and previously spent time with Wisconsin Farm Bureau. Most recently, Senn was Edge’s director of communications. Senn previously worked for a dairy co-op in Florida in marketing and communications.

Trivia challenge

A turophile is a cheese connoisseur. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what are the four Hs referenced in the 4-H pledge? 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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