Ag Insider

Stabenow unveils her farm bill

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Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Sen. Debbie Stabenow said it must be a bipartisan bill to get a farm bill done. When unveiling her farm bill plan, the Michigan senator said she had three major goals: keeping farmers farming, families fed and rural communities strong. The bill enhances crop insurance “for small farmers, for specialty crops as well as large farmers.” The commodity title includes a minimum of a 5% reference price increase for all crops. Traditionally, dairy policy is in the crosshairs during a farm bill debate. Stabenow took steps to strengthen the dairy titles. “The Dairy Margin Coverage program seems to have worked really well,” Stabenow said. “The biggest concerns we heard about was with smaller farms; they go to tier 1 basically.”

Farm bill on the way to the House Ag Committee

House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson will mark up the farm bill May 23. After the release of Thompson’s bill Wednesday, ranking member David Scott rejected the proposal saying it includes poison pill policies with “an untenable funding scheme.” In a briefing with farm broadcasters, Thompson said that complaint is disingenuous. In a briefing with farm broadcasters, the Pennsylvania lawmaker said he is willing to pass the farm bill out of his committee with just Republican votes. “I’ve got a number of different options of getting to the House floor,” Thompson said. “The process through the House has yet to be determined, but I’m confident that I will find a successful pathway.”

Congressional calendar complicates farm bill timeline

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner has seen his share of farm bills and said this is the most partisan farm bill he has ever seen. Conner, who was the U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy secretary during the George W. Bush presidency, said this farm bill process needs to start. “Even if it’s a partisan process, get a bill that people can begin to look at, start marking it up in committee, and get us started,” Conner said. “You can’t finish something that never starts, so we’ve got to start.” Timing is critical for this important piece of legislation. “Congress is in session so few days between now and the end of the year; it’s a presidential election year, you’ve got party conventions, and they’re never in session during any of those kinds of periods,” Conner said. “It’s just going to be hard to get done with the farm bill.”

Bipartisanship is a farm bill must

With the hyper-partisan environment in Congress, it is difficult to find compromise on any piece of legislation. American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Government Affairs Joe Gilson said compromise is a must for the farm bill. “In the House ag committee, if we have a party-line vote, I think it’s going to be very difficult for Speaker Johnson to even bring it to the House floor,” Gilson said. “The Republicans have a majority of one, two or three seats depending on the day. A bipartisan bill will be essential to get this across the finish line in the House.”

H5N1 in beef?

The H5N1 virus has been identified in dairy cattle in nine states. USDA limited the interstate movement of dairy cattle and implemented mandatory testing. In a meeting with farm broadcasters, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jennifer Lester Moffitt was asked if it was safe to assume the virus is also in the beef herd. “The information and data that Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has at this point is only positive in dairy cows,” Lester Moffitt said. “As we do more mandatory testing and gather more information, hopefully, we will be able to get a better understanding of what’s happening across the landscape in other states and across livestock.” Lester Moffitt emphasized there is no evidence of a live virus in pasteurized milk. Cooking ground beef to the proper temperature is also recommended.

New traceability rule announced

USDA’s new standard for traceability in cattle is electronic ID tags. This replaces the 2013 rule that called for visual ID tags. In a statement, USDA said the decision was being made to respond quickly to foreign animal diseases. This rule applies to sexually intact cattle 18 months of age or older, rodeo and exhibition cattle, and dairy cattle moving interstate.

Ag industry responds to USDA announcement

A statement released by National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Gregg Doud said USDA’s action on testing and interstate movement of dairy cattle is appropriate. Doud also stressed milk is safe and pasteurization leaves all viruses inactive. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts also released a statement, saying properly prepared beef remains safe to eat. The Meat Institute also called on the USDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure the movement of healthy animals to slaughter.

Enough is enough 

A coalition of 16 farm groups has launched the Enough is Enough Tour to protest commodity research and promotion checkoff programs. This coalition claims the checkoff programs work against the interests of the farmers who pay into the program. The tour will be making a stop in Osseo, Wisconsin, May 22. The state event is hosted by the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

El Nino is fading fast

Long-range forecasts are leaning toward a drier summer. “Some of that has to do with the transition from El Nino to La Nina which is happening as we speak,” said Brad Rippey, USDA meteorologist. “El Nino is fading fast, and La Nina’s on the way; that tends to be a drought maker for the country as a whole. Perhaps as early as this summer, we’ll see drought encroaching from the West back across the Great Plains.”

Dairy ambassadors coming to Wisconsin State Fair

A new state fair dairy promotion opportunity has been announced. The Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board is adding Dairy Lane Ambassador positions. These individuals will be trained in networking, public speaking, social media and more. The goal is to enhance the dairy experience for fair-goers. The ambassadors will receive training, a stipend, food and lodging during the Wisconsin State Fair.

Trivia challenge

The Ayrshire breed originated in Scotland. That answers our last trivia question. For this week’s trivia, what has been the best-selling pickup truck in the U.S. for nearly 50 straight years? We will have the answer in our next edition of Dairy Star.

Don Wick is owner/broadcaster for the Red River Farm Network of 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 sons, Tony and Sam, and five grandchildren, Aiden, Piper, Adrienne, Aurora and Sterling.

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