MN DNR Releases Updated Buffer Map

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) released the updated Minnesota buffer map this month. The update is based on comments and change requests from landowners and drainage authorities in order to ensure the map accurately shows where buffers are needed.

Buffer map update released

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has released its most up to date buffer map. The DNR has also updated its buffer application as well. (photo from bwsr.state.mn.us)

645 changes were made in the most recent update. Since the preliminary buffer map was released in March 2016, the MN DNR has received more than 3,400 comments or change requests and has made nearly 2,100 map updates.

We strongly suggest members to view the interactive map found at the link provided below. This interactive map allows you to find specific buffer requirements for waterways in precise areas. To suggest a correction to the buffer map, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). SWCDs are able to work directly with landowners on these issues. The next updated Minnesota buffer map is set to be released in early 2017.

The MN DNR has also updated the buffer map application. The application is a web-based mapping tool for soil and water conservation districts, drainage authorities and local governments to review the buffer map, suggest corrections and see MN DNR review decisions. The updated application provides soil and water conservation districts and drainage authorities with an easy way to submit map change requests and other comments.

Here is the link:

http://arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/gis/buffersviewer/

This is an overview of the Minnesota buffer law if you’re looking for a refresher on the topic.

Farm Bureau Opposes Speed Limiters Proposal

Speed limitersThe United States Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal to require speed limiters for large commercial vehicles doesn’t account for the fact that many commercial vehicles often cover hundreds of miles on open roads with few other vehicles around. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)  recently submitted comments on the idea, saying the proposed rule would pass on significant costs to farmers and ranchers who only use heavier trucks seasonally.

Speed Limiters

The US Transportation Department is proposing the addition of speed limiters on vehicles with a gross weight greater than 26,000 pounds, which would mean more costs to farmers who only use those larger vehicles seasonally. (Photo from truckernews.com)

The proposed rule was put forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and DOT. The new rule would require vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with a speed limiting device. It would be set to a speed to be specified when the final rule comes out. It would require motor carriers operating such vehicles in interstate commerce to maintain functional speed limiting devices at all times.

The AFBF says speed limits should not be arbitrarily established by federal rule. Instead, it should be based on conditions in the area in which it’s posted.

“The proposal ignores the fact that many commercial vehicles often operate for hundreds of miles without much interaction with other traffic. There is no clear rationale in the rule for suggesting a truck traveling in a rural setting with minimal traffic should have the same top speed as a truck traveling in a large city,” said AFBF.

The organization also points out that the proposal would be too costly for farmers and ranchers who use large trucks only during certain times of the year.

“If adopted, the rule would pass on significant costs to our members who do not operate as commercial motor vehicle enterprises but only utilize heavier trucks seasonally. These costs would impact an industry that is currently struggling to make ends meet with the recent downturn in the farm economy,” said AFBF.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Outlines Policy for 2017

Farm Bureau policy

Voting delegates discuss and establish policy positions for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation at their recent annual meeting in the Twin Cities. Farm Bureau will work on these policy priorities during the coming year. (photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotafarmbureau/page1)

Voting delegates at the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s (MFBF) 98th Annual meeting adopted policy positions for 2017. Based on these actions, the MFBF Board of

Directors have provided focus for the organization on public policy, image and leadership including food, health insurance, water, transportation, and taxes.

 Food

Minnesota farmers and ranchers are committed to providing access to sustainable, safe, healthy food choices. Farmers work to continuously improve production methods, techniques and technologies. Farmers demonstrate their commitment to care for their livestock, manage and improve the quality of their environment and enhance the quality and accessibility of food and fiber they produce utilizing different production methods.

 

Health Insurance

The affordability and availability of health insurance is a significant concern for Minnesota farm families and small businesses. MFBF will work towards finding solutions addressing both increases in premiums and lack of availability to individual health insurance options.

Farm Bureau policy

Farm Bureau Public Policy Associate Cole Rupprecht gives Farm Bureau members an update on the 2017 Minnesota Legislative Session. (photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotafarmbureau/page1)

 

Water

Water quality and quantity are top priorities for Minnesota farm families. Agriculture’s role in improving water quality can best be fulfilled through voluntary site-specific actions at the local level.

 

Transportation

MFBF will continue efforts to address Minnesota transportation infrastructure needs, especially rural roads and bridges. It is critical that products are able to be moved efficiently by river, rail and road.

 

Taxes

MFBF will continue efforts to work on education funding issues especially as it relates to improvements or construction of school buildings.

 

Minnesota Farm Bureau is the largest general farm organization in the state representing Farmers • Families • Food. Members determine policy through a grassroots process involving the Farm Bureau members in 78 county Farm Bureau units in a formal, democratic process. Through this process, members make their views heard to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public.

Programs for Young Farmers & Ranchers help develop leadership abilities and improve farm management. Promotion & Education Committee members work with programs such as Agriculture in the Classroom, and safety education for farm children.

Farm Bureau is active in a variety of other programs and activities. For more information, contact your county Farm Bureau office.

For more information on Minnesota Farm Bureau go to fbmn.org. For pictures of the Annual Meeting log onto www.flicker.com/photos/minnesotafarmbureau.

Farmers Union state convention wraps up

Farmers Union State Convention in Minneapolis

Attendees of the Minnesota Farmers Union State Convention socialize during the Saturday night banquet at the 75th annual convention in Minneapolis. (photo from https://www.facebook.com/mnfarmersunion)

The Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) held its 75th annual state convention on Saturday November 19 and Sunday November 20, 2016.  The grassroots organization took to the floor several key issues that are important to the family farmers of Minnesota.  The realigned policy will set forth a strong agenda for the organization in the upcoming legislative year.

President Doug Peterson expressed gratitude and honor for being able to serve as the state president of the organization for 14 years. “I have spent the majority of my live fighting for the family farmer and the last 14 years being the voice for the members of the Minnesota Farmers Union, the fight will never end for me, I will always be a farmer and I will continue to be a part of Farmers Union. The support and respect the members of this organization have for the life on the farm and for each other is something I can’t imagine being away from.”

farmers union state convention

Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson and wife Elly enjoying the activities at the 75th annual state convention. Doug recently announced he’ll be stepping down at the end of the year after 14 years in the top chair. (photo from Facebook.com/mnfarmersunion)

“Minnesota Farmers Union is a grassroots organization that truly listens to the members and they create the policy that we work by.” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Every voice has the chance to be heard every day within our organization, and our annual convention offers the perfect platform for these discussions.”

The MFU delegates debated special orders of business addressing the concerns with the upcoming Farm Bill, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and Health Care. Delegates went through the Minnesota Farmers Union policy and set the groundwork for the legislative lobbying on behalf of family farmers that will take place in 2017 by Minnesota Farmers Union.

During the convention, speakers included: Senator Amy Klobuchar; Senator Al Franken; Dave Frederickson, Department of Agriculture Commissioner; Lt Governor Tina Smith; Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union President; Representative Collin Peterson; Tim Rudnicki with MN BioFuels; and Jim Ennis with Catholic Rural Life.

Several awards were given out at the banquet Saturday night including: Markell Vogt, Dedicated Service Award; Dustin Hoffmann, Ag Communicator of the year award; Gene Paul, Lifetime Achievement Award; and Doug Peterson, Dedicated Service to Agriculture Award.

During our annual Farmers Union Foundation Live Auction, we were able to collect over $5600 for the FFA Blue Jackets Program.  Thank you to the 43 members who donated to this program, it is a great way to help support young people who will are exposed to and are encouraged to become involved in agriculture.  Minnesota Farmers Union annually supports this program by purchasing 30 blue jackets. In 2016 MFU increased their donation to 40.  With the collection on Saturday evening another 76 blue jackets will be purchased!

Delegates were chosen to represent Minnesota Farmers Union at the National Farmers Union convention which will be held March 5-8, 2017 in San Diego, CA.

Farmers Union Convention pictures 

Wondering what Farmers Union is all about? Check out the 2015 Year in Review video:

Minnesota Farm Bureau Honors Agricultural Leaders

Minnesota Farm Bureau Honors Agricultural Leaders at 98th Annual Meeting

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation Awards Banquet on Friday night at the 98th Annual Meeting was focused on recognizing agricultural leaders from around the state who’ve give a lot of their time and talents to the organization. The awards banquet at the DoubleTree Hotel in Booming included both individual and county honors in many different categories.

Agricultural Leaders in Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation

The Distinguished Service to Agriculture award is presented annually to outstanding agricultural leaders in Minnesota. This is one of the most prestigious awards given out by the Minnesota farm Bureau. This year’s award recipients are Dr. Bill Hartman – who recently retired as the Minnesota Board of Animal Health state veterinarian, and William Nelson, who recently retired as the CHS Foundation president. 

Honorary Life awards given to lifelong members who have given enormous amounts of their time and talents to Farm Bureau. Minnesota Farm Bureau is truly grateful for all the dedication that its members give to our organization. This year’s Honorary Life award recipients are Rozetta and George Hallcock of Randolph in Dakota County, Burton Horsch of Howard Lake in Wright County and Harley and Joan Vogel of New Ulm in Brown County.

 

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation presented awards in the following areas:

The Ag Communicator of the Year award is presented to an outstanding leader in the field of communications. This year the award is given to Jerry Groskreutz of KDHL in Faribault.

 

The Extension Educator of the Year award is given to an educator who gives his/her time to promote agriculture and Farm Bureau. This year the award was presented to Troy Salzer who serves Northwestern Minnesota.

 

The FFA Advisor of the Year award is presented to the FFA Advisor who has exemplified outstanding service to educating youth about agriculture. This year the award goes to Nathan Purrington, who previously worked at Ada High school and currently works at the University of Minnesota – Crookston.

 

The Post-Secondary Agricultural Educator of the Year award recognizes educators who support production agriculture. This year the award goes to Jennifer Smith who works at Riverland Community College in Austin.The Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation presented four $500 Al Christopherson Scholarships. Recipients are college juniors or seniors or in their final year of college. This year’s scholarship recipients are Rebekah Aanerud from Stevens County, daughter of Andy and Heather Aanerud; Ethan Dado of Amery, Wisconsin, son of Rick and Gwen Dado; Mariah Daninger of Washington-Ramsey County, daughter of Pat and Sharlene Daninger; and Megan Stevens of Chippewa County, daughter of Marc and Janet Stevens.

 

The Foundation also gave out two $500 Paul Stark Scholarships. Recipients are in their freshman or sophomore year of college. This year’s scholarship recipients are Abbey Weninger of Wright County, daughter of James and Lisa Weninger, and Andrew Gathje of Olmsted County, son of Paul and Nora Gathje.

 

The most prestigious county Farm Bureau award, the Counties Activities of Excellence was presented five key areas – Public Policy, Public Relations, Promotion & Education, Leadership Development and Membership Activity.

 

In the county membership group with less than 200 members, the awards were presented to Mahnomen County – for Public Policy, Leadership Development and Membership Activity; Cass County –  for Public Relations; and Aitkin/Carlton County – Promotion & Education.

 

In the group of counties with 201-450 members, the awards went to Stevens County – for Public Policy, LeSueur County – for Public Relations, Anoka County – for Promotion & Education, Traverse County – for Leadership Development, and Douglas County for Membership Activity. 

 

In the group of counties with more than 451 members, the award went to Houston County –  for Public Policy, Meeker County – for Public Relations, Brown County – for Promotion & Education, Olmsted – for Leadership Development, and Wright County – for Membership Activity.

 

The MFBF 98th Annual Meeting concludes Saturday, November 18 with the announcement of the Young Farmers & Ranchers awards.

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For more information on Minnesota Farm Bureau log onto www.fbmn.org.

Glessing re-elected Minnesota Farm Bureau Vice President

Minnesota Farm Bureau County voting delegates at the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s (MFBF) 98th Annual Meeting re-elected Dan Glessing to a two-year term as Vice-President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation. The election was held November 18 during the delegate session in Bloomington.

 Glessing and his wife, Seena, farm in partnership with his father. They have dairy cattle and grow alfalfa, corn and soybeans. Dan and Seena have three sons and one daughter.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Vice President

Dan Glessing was re-elected to a two-year term as Vice President of the Minnesota farm Bureau Federation at this year’s 98th annual meeting in Bloomington. (photo from fbmn.org)

 “I am honored and humbled to serve as vice president,” said MFBF Vice President Dan Glessing. “One of Farm Bureau’s greatest strengths is our grassroots structure and policy development process which is well respected amongst our elected and appointed officials. We will continue to strengthen our relationships with officials. The goal is to have them come to us when they have a question about agriculture. Our Young Farmers & Ranchers and Promotion & Education programs will continue to engage consumers in conversations to increase the understanding of today’s farming.”Bob Roelofs of Garden City in Blue Earth County, representing District II, was re-elected. Fran Miron from Hugo in Washington-Ramsey County, representing District V, was also re-elected. Both will serve two-year terms.

 Promotion & Education Committee chair Debra Durheim from Long Prairie in Todd County was elected to a one-year term on the Board of Directors. Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee chair Pam Uhlenkamp from Green Isle in Sibley County was also elected to the Farm Bureau Board of Directors on a one-year term.

 Minnesota Farm Bureau is the largest general farm organization in the state focusing on Farmers • Families • Food. More than 30,000 Farm Bureau family members. help to determine policy through a grassroots process involving the Farm Bureau members in 78 county and regional Farm Bureau units in a formal, democratic process. This process helps members make their views heard to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. Programs for Young Farmers & Ranchers help members develop leadership abilities and improve farm management. Promotion & Education committee members work with programs such as Ag in the Classroom and safety education for farm children. For more information, contact your county Farm Bureau office.

For more information on the Minnesota Farm Bureau log onto www.fbmn.org.

Ag has trade questions for the new administration

Let’s go ahead and talk trade headlines from the latest edition of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service headlines:

Trump Election Leaves Agriculture Awaiting Clarification on Issues

rabobank-logo-squircle-jpgA new report from Rabobank says the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States has the food and agriculture sector awaiting clarification on his policies and positions. The Rabobank Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory group authored the report on the possible implications of the election. Rabobank analysts say Republican-controlled Executive and Legislative branches could “mean swift action when the new administration takes office.” Rabobank notes the advisory group is watching trade, labor and farm bill talks for potential policy changes that could have longer-term implications on the industry. The report says while President-elect Trump’s policies are yet to be clearly defined, his statements during the campaign suggest drastic changes from current policy could be on the horizon. Finally, the report predicts agriculture markets may be impacted by foreign exchange volatility in the short term as Trump takes office in January.

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New Zealand Wants to Talk Trade with Trump

Trade

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key wants to talk trade with President-elect Donald Trump as he prepares to take office in 2017.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key wants to talk trade issues with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. In a phone call between the two this week, Key told Trump he wished to talk further about trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Key told Radio New Zealand that TPP was “worthy of a much fuller discussion,” adding that Trump needs the chance to get a proper assessment before seeing how “we can move things forward.” The Prime Minister said Trump was not rejecting the notion. New Zealand indicated the nation would give the new U.S. administration time to fully consider its trade agenda. That comes after New Zealand’s Parliament approved legislation last week allowing the nation to join TPP, despite the likelihood the trade deal will not proceed.

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Canada Cattle Producers urge Trade Fight if Trump Revives COOL

country-of-originCattle producers from Canada will urge the nation to retaliate against the United States, should U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump revive the U.S. Country-of-Origin meat labeling program (COOL). An internal memo within Trump’s transition team detailed how the new administration would immediately initiate changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, according to Reuters. That could include measures on COOL, which would reignite a six-year trade battle between the U.S. and Canada. U.S. lawmakers repealed COOL last December after the World Trade Organization approved more than $10 billion in trade retaliations by Canada. Canadian Cattlemen’s Association spokesperson John Masswohl says: “We’re watching, and if we think it discriminates against our cattle, our recommendation is going to be that tariffs go into place immediately.” However, he added that until it’s clear how Trump might approach COOL, no action is necessary.

One of the bigger post-election questions is the North American Free Trade Agreement. President-elect Trump feels it needs to be renegotiated with Canada and Mexico. Cuba is another country that agriculture groups want to open up to free trade opportunities. A group of US farmers and congressmen went to Cuba to lobby for agricultural trade about a year ago:

Grains Council Encourages Focus On Expanding Ag Exports

Grain exports are a bright spot in the current farm economy and can grow even further through outreach to the 95 percent of the world’s consumers who live outside U.S. borders, leaders of the U.S. Grains Council said at the at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) convention this week in Kansas City.

US Grains Council Trade Exports

The US Grains Council says American farmers are producing another record grain crop and with 95 percent of the world’s population outside the US, it’ll take trade opportunities to move that product.

As newly-elected national leaders prepare to take office, Chairman Chip Councell, a farmer from Maryland, and President and CEO Tom Sleight told reporters that strong trade policies and robust overseas market development are critical to helping farmers seize these opportunities for growth and greater profitability.

The United States is on track to produce a record amount of corn this year according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data out this week, with record exports also expected for feed grains in all forms, a measure that includes corn, sorghum and barley as well as products made with these grains like beef, pork, poultry and ethanol.

U.S. corn exports in September of this year increased 89 percent, to 6.3 million metric tons (248 million bushels), from year ago levels, with shipments to Japan, South Korea, Peru and Taiwan more than doubling. (See more analysis here.)

“Ag exports count for our farmer and agribusiness members and are counted on by customers who rely on the United States for a reliable supply of high-quality commodities and food products. Sales overseas are a bright spot in an otherwise tough ag economy and are something we can all work toward together,” Sleight said.

Though it now seems highly unlikely to get a vote in Congress, the Council also voiced support for the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as an opportunity to reduce tariffs, address vexing non-tariff challenges to U.S. market share and build a platform for future multilateral trade pacts.

“Regardless of the future of TPP, after this election cycle that has made so many here and abroad question the United States’ commitment to open trade, we urge our leadership to champion trade policies and the farm policy programs that help us develop the markets they offer,” he said.

“Doing so will not just help ensure farmer profitability but also help to restore faith in ag trade’s contribution to global food security and our country’s national security.”

The Council is an export market development organization for U.S. corn, sorghum, barley and related products including ethanol and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), operating programs in more than 50 countries with the support of farmer and agribusiness members as well as funds from the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program in the 2014 Farm Bill.

75th Minnesota Farmers Union Convention in November

Minnesota Farmers Union

The Minnesota Farmers Union will have its annual convention on November November 19th and 20th at the Ramada Plaza in Minneapolis.

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) will be holding their 75th  annual state convention Saturday, November 19 and Sunday, November 20 at the Ramada Plaza in Minneapolis. The business of the convention is to debate and pass MFU policy and elect delegates to represent Minnesota Farmers Union at the National Farmers Union convention that will be held in San Diego, CA March 5-8, 2017.

Prior to the convention a retirement reception will be hosted by Minnesota Farmers Union Insurance Agency with guest speakers to highlight the career of MFU President Doug Peterson and to give thanks to all the hard work and dedication that he has done throughout his time with Farmers Union.

The Saturday evening banquet will highlight the past 75 years of Farmers Union and the strides that the organization has taken to protect and fight for family farmers and rural communities.

“Minnesota Farmers Union convention is member-driven policy discussion that will help guide us during our meetings with legislators at the State and Federal levels throughout the next year. Our grass-roots policy is strongly built during the discussions and debates that happen over these two days.” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “Each of our member delegation has an opportunity to have their voice heard and to influence our policy discussion as we work for common sense and sound ag policies that are good for family farmers and rural communities.”

Speakers throughout the convention include: Alison O’Toole, CEO of MN Sure; Lance Boyer, Financial Products Manager and Kevin Reisler, Sales and Marketing Manager for Farmers Union Insurance; Dave Frederickson, Commission of Agriculture; Tim Rudnicki Executive Director for MN Bio Fuels Association; Jim Ennis Executive Director of Catholic Rural Life.  Multiple breakout sessions will be held Sunday morning, including a Dairy Issues meeting, Energy Issues Forum and a Whole Farm Revenue Insurance presentation.

You can find the full agenda at www.mfu.org. The Minnesota Farmers Union Convention will be held at the Ramada Plaza, 1330 Industrial Boulevard, Minneapolis.  Contact Amanda Valencia, MFU Communications Director, with any questions, 651.288.4068.

Minnesota Farmers Union, standing for agriculture, fighting for farmers (www.mfu.org).

EWG: voluntary conservation isn’t enough

Seven years in the making, EWG’s Conservation Database allows Americans to see exactly where billions of dollars in conservation funding have gone. The data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, is broken down by county.

“Used wisely and with the right incentives, farm conservation programs are making a difference in protecting our health, and improving our quality of life and the environment,” said Craig Cox, EWG Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources. “But we need to focus taxpayer dollars on getting the most effective practices in the right places to address the most urgent threats.”

Data obtained by the EWG through FOIA requests show where federal conservation dollars have been spent on projects, including cover crops.

Data obtained by the EWG through FOIA requests show where federal conservation dollars have been spent on projects, including cover crops.

The data, obtained through 28 FOIA requests over seven years, show that since 2005 farmers and landowners have received $29.8 billion in payments through four initiatives funded by Congress and administered by USDA.

-Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, $318 million

-Conservation Reserve Program, $20 billion

-Environmental Quality Incentives Program, $7.4 billion

-Conservation Stewardship Program, $2.2 billion

The data confirm the growing recognition that voluntary programs alone are insufficient. Voluntary programs in the federal farm bill can play an important role, but they aren’t leading to clean water, clean air and a healthy environment.

“It’s more than fair to expect farmers and landowners to do more to protect the environment in return for the generous farm and insurance subsidies they receive,” Cox said. “Americans across the country are seeing the price of farm pollution firsthand. It’s time for Congress to deliver a return on their tax dollars by requiring farmers who take money from these programs to do more to protect the environment and public health.”

Source: EWG

This article can be found at farmfutures.com