Farm bill extension includes DMC funding

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The farm bill has been extended through Sept. 30, 2024. President Joe Biden signed a continuing resolution, which included the farm bill extension. With this action, the Dairy Margin Coverage program remains in place. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he heard from his dairy farmer constituents about farm bill uncertainty. “They came to me worried that this year we could be going over the dairy cliff,” Schumer said. “I immediately started ringing the cowbell and promised I would churn up support to ensure these payments wouldn’t lapse.” 

Ag Committee leaders work together on farm bill extension

The four corners, which is the term given to Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member John Boozman, House Agriculture Committee Chair Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson and Ranking Member David Scott, worked together to avoid a lapse in farm bill funding. In a joint statement, the lawmakers said, “This extension is in no way a substitute for passing a five-year farm bill, and we remain committed to working together to get it done next year.”

Milk Marketing Order hearing process to resume

Testimony on the pricing formula for Federal Milk Marketing Order reform will resume Nov. 27. The hearings outside of Indianapolis were recessed Oct. 11. This process began in late August. The milk marketing orders have not seen significant reform in more than 20 years.

‘Butter’ days ahead for the dairy industry

A new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange said there is tremendous upset potential for domestic butter demand. That is on top of the significant growth in domestic butterfat production over the past ten years. While milk consumption is down, CoBank is seeing a bright future for premium butter and butter spreads. The report said more consumers are favoring full-fat dairy foods over reduced fat options.

House task force seeks reform for H-2A program

A U.S. House Committee on Agriculture task force is recommending changes to the H-2A visa program. Their interim report cites a rule implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor in January that increased the minimum wage rates for these foreign workers. Nearly 80% of the employers surveyed said administrative delays prevented H-2A workers from starting on a timely basis.

Adverse wage effect rule called ‘off target’

National Coalition of Agricultural Employers CEO Michael Marsh is working to turn back a U.S. Department of Labor ruling that requires an employee to be paid the base wage for the highest paying task they perform for the duration of their contract. The purpose of this rule is to encourage hiring of local and domestic labor before using the H-2A program. Marsh said low unemployment numbers make it difficult for those looking for labor. “It’s hard to imagine you’re having an adverse effect on a domestic worker when they don’t even apply for the job,” Marsh said. While the petition will take time to work its way through the courts, he said, Congress could take action. “If there is no adverse effect, there is no need for an adverse effect wage rate,” Marsh said.

Shapiro delivers a ‘big picture’ look at ag issues

For decades, the United States was the sole global superpower. In the view of geopolitical analyst Jacob Shapiro, the shift has been made to multipolarity without a dominant global power. In this environment, Shapiro said, U.S. agriculture needs a more focused trade policy with countries who share its interests. “So, China is probably not a long-term partner for us on a trade or economic basis; our interests are just not in common,” said Shapiro. “Neither is a country like Mexico, which is already angry at us for a lot of different reasons, or Japan. We need to solidify relationships with those countries that we know are not hostile to American interests but still want to import American goods.” Shapiro, who is a partner with Cognitive Investments, has a mixed view regarding biofuels. “If we haven’t fixed global hunger, why are we taking calories and putting them into fuel, especially when we’re awash in natural gas?” Shapiro said. “We could be building nuclear reactors, and there’s solar and wind. The idea of growing crops for energy when you have plenty of other energy sources, there’s cognitive disconnect there that I can’t work out.” Shapiro said he remains optimistic about the next five to ten years. Shapiro spoke Thursday at the Ag and Food Summit in Minneapolis.

Interest rate concerns

The results of the annual Ag Lender Survey were released at the Agricultural Bankers Conference. Farmer Mac Chief Economist Jackson Takach said the survey showed a slight shift in the biggest concern for lenders. “Interest rate volatility became the No. 1 concern that ag lenders reported facing their institution,” Takach said. Lender competition and credit quality were found to be less important. According to lenders, liquidity and farm income are the biggest concerns for producers.

AgriGrowth Council elects slate of directors

Six current Minnesota AgriGrowth Council board members have been re-elected. They are Mark Davis of Davis Family Farm, Jake Hamlin of CHS, Hillary Myers of Cargill, Rob Orsten of R&R Family Farms, Beth Schnell of Sparboe Companies and Matt Wohlman of Land O’Lakes. Newly elected board members are Geraint Powell of Rosen’s Diversified, Jim Roberge of Compeer Financial, Jaime Goehner of ADM Dairy, Tom Rabaey of General Mills and Chuck Tryon of Bushel Boy. Veteran board members Tom Rosen of Rosen’s Diversified and Steve Peterson of Peterson Farms did not seek re-election.

MN Farm Broadcasters shine at NAFB convention

The National Association of Farm Broadcasting wrapped up its 80th convention with the passing of the gavel from President Joe Gill to President-elect Carah Hart. Gill, who is the farm director at KASM Radio in Albany, will serve as NAFB president until the end of the year, but the ceremonial passing of the gavel took place at the Kansas City convention. Hart, who is based in Missouri for Brownfield Ag, previously was a farm broadcaster for the Red River Farm Network. During the event, retired farm broadcaster Mike Murphy was inducted into the NAFB Hall of Fame. Murphy was the farm director at KFMC-KSUM in Fairmont for five decades.

Trivia challenge

India is the largest producer of butter worldwide. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what country consumes the most butter on a per-capita basis? We’ll 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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