Cuba and GMO labeling on the weekly podcast

It’s time now for another edition of the chadsmithmedia weekly podcast.  Let’s talk a little agricultural news, just for fun.  We’ll discuss the GMO labeling debate, which, as you know, still toils on with really no end in sight in the short term.  I wrote an article on Genetically Modified Organisms awhile ago, and I thought you may listen to this and decide you want more information, so here’s the link.  Just to give the cliff notes version:  We’ve been modifying the genes in our food since we started GROWING our food.  We’ve crossbred traits in and out of plants since time began.  We’re just using technology to do it more efficiently.  But because it’s “technology,” it’s dark and scary?  We’ll get into the GMO labeling debate, because it’ll take compromise to end this thing, and no one seems to want to do that.

Cuba and the GMO labeling debate are on the weekly podcast

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said he’s not in favor of lifting the 50-plus year old trade embargo the USA has in place against Cuba until he sees more effort from the Cuban government to improve the lives of it’s citizens. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

We’ll also get into the debate over Cuba and the USA potentially normalizing relations and ending a 50-plus year old trade embargo.  On the surface, it looks like a good move for American farmers and the Agriculture industry, but I did find a Midwest Senator who said ‘not so fast.’  I don’t think this debate will be over anytime soon, either.

I love doing podcasts, although you wouldn’t know it because I don’t do a lot of them.  I would absolutely take suggestions on possible podcast topics, so don’t be afraid to share some ideas with me.  I take suggestions!

 

 

Wabasha Cty residents invited to meeting on emerald ash borer

Residents of Wabasha County are invited to a public meeting on Thursday, March 31st, 2016 regarding the discovery of emerald ash borer (EAB) in the county.

MDA-logoOn February 29, 2016, Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) staff identified EAB larvae in an ash tree in the southeastern corner of the county after being alerted to some suspicious trees by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources staff.

The trees displayed symptoms of EAB infestation, including bark splits and insect tunneling under the bark.

Those attending the upcoming meeting will have an opportunity to listen to presentations on EAB, hear about local options to deal with the insect, and learn how residents can limit the spread of the bug. Experts from the MDA, University of Minnesota, and other state and federal partner agencies will be available to answer questions.

Emerald Ash Borer Informational Meeting
Thursday, March 31, 2016
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Wabasha County Courthouse
625 Jefferson Avenue
Wabasha, MN 55981

Emerald Ash Borer concerns in Wabasha

Emerald ash borer concerns are prompting a public meeting in Wabasha County at the courthouse to discuss concerns about the insect, which has been found in the southern part of the county. (photo from tn.gov)

The public will also have an opportunity to provide input on the adoption of a formal EAB quarantine of Wabasha County. An emergency quarantine was placed on the area when EAB was discovered.

The MDA will take comments on the formal quarantine from March 15 – May 1, 2016 and proposes to adopt the quarantine on May 15, 2016.

The quarantine limits the movement of ash trees and limbs, and hardwood firewood out of the county. The proposed quarantine language can be found at www.mda.state.mn.us/eab. Comments can be made at the public meetings or by contacting:

Kimberly Thielen Cremers
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
625 Robert Street North
St. Paul, MN 55155
mailto:kimberly.tcremers@state.mn.us
Fax: 651-201-6108

Emerald Ash borer concerns in Wabasha County

Emerald ash borers emerge from an infected tree. EAB infestation concerns are the reason for a public meeting at the Wabasha County Courthouse on Thursday, March 31, beginning at 5:30. (Photo from ars.usda.gov)

Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk. Minnesota is highly susceptible to the destruction caused by invasive insect. The state has approximately one billion ash trees, the most of any state in the nation. For more information on emerald ash borer, go to www.mda.state.mn.us/eab.

State Fair and Farm Bureau Accepting Century Farm Applications

Century Farm program winners receive a sign with this logo

The Minnesota Farm Bureau and the Minnesota State Fair are accepting applications for the next round of Century Farm awards. Winners receive a sign like this to display in front of their farmyard. (photo from readme.readmedia.com)

Minnesota families who have owned their farms for at least 100 years may apply for the 2016 Century Farm Program. The Minnesota State Fair, together with the Minnesota Farm Bureau, created the Century Farms Program to promote agriculture and honor the state’s historic family farms.

More than 10,000 Minnesota farms have been honored since the program began in 1976.

Family farms are recognized as Century Farms if they meet three requirements. The farm must be: 1) at least 100 years old according to authentic land records; 2) in continuous family ownership for at least 100 years (continuous residence on the farm is not required); and 3) at least 50 acres.

Qualifying farms and the family ownership get a commemorative certificate signed by State Fair Board President Sharon Wessel, Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap, and Governor Mark Dayton.  They also receive an outdoor sign signifying Century Farm status.

Century Farm award winners must meet three criteria

To be a Century Farm winner, farms must be: 1) at least 100 years old according to authenticated records 2) in continuous family ownership for 100 years (but you don’t have to live on the land continually)
3. at least 50 acres
(Photo from Southerminn.com)

Applications are available online at mnstatefair.org (click the “Recognition Programs” link at the bottom of the home page); at fbmn.org; by calling the State Fair at (651) 288-4400; or at statewide county extension and county Farm Bureau offices. The submission deadline is April 1. Recipients will be announced in May.

Previously recognized families should not reapply.

Information on all Century Farms will be available at the Minnesota Farm Bureau exhibit during the 2016 Minnesota State Fair, which runs Aug. 25 – Labor Day, Sept. 5.

A Century Farm database is also available at fbmn.org.

The Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest and best-attended expositions in the world, attracting 1.8 million visitors annually. Showcasing Minnesota’s finest agriculture, art and industry, the Great Minnesota Get-Together is always 12 Days of Fun Ending Labor Day. Visit mnstatefair.org for more information.

Minnesota Farm Bureau – Farmers ● Families ● Food, is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureau associations across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public.

Farm Bureau programs for young farmers and ranchers develop leadership skills and improve farm management. Promotion and Education Committee members work with programs such as Ag in the Classroom and safety education for children.

Join Farm Bureau today and support efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota, fbmn.org.

Annual MDA survey relies on farmers’ participation

Minnesota Department of Ag Logo The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is encouraging farmers to take part in its annual pesticide and fertilizer use survey. The 2016 survey is directed at corn producers and hay growers. The data helps the MDA track the use of agricultural chemicals on Minnesota farms and provides guidance to educational and research programs.

The process should begin February 10 and be completed by February 28. Questions will focus on the 2015 growing season and how farmers use and apply pesticide applications on corn and hay grown in Minnesota. It also includes questions on best management practices when it comes to nitrogen and manure applied to corn. The annual survey is completely voluntary and no personal questions are asked of producers.

Minnesota farmers may be getting calls from multiple agencies and companies conducting a variety of surveys this time of year, but the information gathered from this one is critical for research purposes. It’s conducted for the MDA by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service out of their regional offices in Missouri. The MDA has conducted this annual survey for the past decade.

If you have questions about the MDA’s annual survey, or if you wish to view results of previous surveys, visit the MDA website at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/chemicals/pestfertsurvey.aspx.

Producers can also call the Minnesota Department of Agriculture at 651-261-1993 between 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday – Friday.

Farmers Union conversation: Part 2

Agriculture has officially said goodbye to 2015.

As we continue to look ahead, Doug Peterson, the President of the Minnesota Farmers Union, said it’s important to look back at some of the lessons learned from 2015. One of the key policy items Farmers Union fought for was Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). Thanks to a lawsuit brought by Canada and Mexico, COOL has been repealed in by Congress.

“I don’t think it’s a dead issue necessarily,” said Peterson. “We believe people have a right to know where their food comes from, no different than where their shoes or shirts come from. Now, thanks to Congress’s wisdom, we have no ability to ask that question about where our food comes from.”

Farmers Union believes it boils down to safety.

Farmers Union

Country of Origin Labeling, pictured here, was recently repealed by Congress after the US was successfully sued by Canada and Mexico in world court. (photo from foodsafetynews.com)

“When it comes to China and other countries that may not have the same safety standards, be it with workers, food additives, or even testing, not have COOL is something we shouldn’t be allowing.

“If it’s coming from places like India and China, given the track record of some of these countries that had poison in dog and cat food, called melamine, a protein additive that also sickened children, you start to think maybe not having labels isn’t such a good idea,” Peterson said.

Peterson said the verdict against the USA and its Country of Origin Labeling was questionable.

“We lost Country of Origin Labeling, and we couldn’t even keep it voluntary because of the retribution of the world court,” Peterson said. “There are 36 other countries that currently have a Country of Origin standard in place. Canada has a very strong one, and they’re the people that brought the lawsuit against us, along with Mexico.”

He added, “You have to wonder if some of these international companies lobbying our Congress against Labeling Laws aren’t in these other countries too? Plus, if you don’t want labels on foods, what are you trying to hide? I guess that’s my question.”

Waters of the US and the Environmental Protection Agency are going to be another big concern in 2016.

Farmes Union and WOTUS

The Minnesota Farmers Union has opposed the EPA’s Waters of the US Rule, calling it government overreach, and a burden on farmers and non-farmers alike. (photo from farmfutures.com)

“I’ve always said the EPA is run by bureaucrats,” Peterson said. “The other thing no one seems to get a handle on is the Corps of Engineers holds final say on a bunch of permitting processes, and that’s just a morass of red tape. Whether you’re doing something good or trying to make improvements, they don’t have the ability within the EPA or the Corps to make good judgments.”

He said the Farmers Union saw that firsthand on their last Fly-In to Washington.

“I asked EPA counsel a question about the Corps permits, and what I got back was ‘well, the Corps doesn’t have a lot of speed and they’re not expediting some things as fast as they should,’ and that’s kind of bothersome. You end up blaming everybody else.”

Will WOTUS ever be officially adopted?

“I don’t think so,” Peterson said. “They’re going to be challenges. Minnesota Farmers Union opposed WOTUS right out of the block because we have our own wetlands conservation act. That’s even more stringent than the EPA.

“When I met with Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, there seemed to be a lack of clarity even as they were trying to define what they wanted to do. Roughly 36 of the current farming practices are exempted, so you can do things like tiling, ditching, and drainage.

“The issue is when you start looking at adjacent wetlands and how they work ecologically in a system,” Peterson said, “and that’s what they couldn’t answer for people. That’s a problem for the EPA, and the bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo is just going to get worse.”

He added, “That’s a terrible prediction for 2016. Another one is not much is going to get done because it’s an election year. It’s going to be a waiting game to see who controls Congress and who takes the White House.

“Think about it,” said Peterson. “What did Congress really get done? “They passed a continuing resolution and went home.

On the state level, Farmers Union will have its eye on property taxes.

Farmers Union and property taxes

The Minnesota Farmers Union will go before the Minnesota Legislature to lobby for property tax relief for farmers in rural areas, who they say carry to much of the burden of school district funding. (photo from agweb.com)

“People are going to ask for property tax relief,” Peterson said, “ because the burden falls on family farmers in rural school districts. That has to be addressed at some point with a new formula. They’ve worked at it, but we still don’t have a tax bill.

“Then, we move into another election cycle,” Peterson said, “so get your earmuffs out and try to figure out who’s going to promise the most and see where the mud sticks.”

 

Editors note:  I thought you might enjoy this explanation of WOTUS, and how the EPA was recently accused of breaking the law in an attempt to “promote” their idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Cabin Fever” workshops for farmers offered in St. Cloud

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is looking to educate farmers who might be suffering from cabin fever this winter.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is looking to educate farmers who might be suffering from cabin fever this winter.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will offer four “Cabin Fever” workshops for all farmers on January 7 in St. Cloud. The variety of sessions is designed for people interested in exploring new ideas during the short days of winter.

Registration is open: www.mda.state.mn.us/cabinfever. Participants can choose from four workshops. All will be held at the River’s Edge Convention Center.

 

  • Passive Solar Deep Winter Greenhouses – is all about serious season extension. You’ll learn how to design, construct, finance, and manage greenhouses to produce fresh market crops; even in the dead of winter. Experienced growers and university resource people will lead this workshop. (Full-day)

 

  • Practical Homeopathy – this livestock health care practice interests more and more swine, beef, and dairy producers who want to reduce reliance on antibiotics and medications. This interactive session will be suitable for both beginners and people with some homeopathy experience. You’ll work through a number of actual cases. Pennsylvania Veterinarian Susan Beal will teach the course. (Full-day)

 

  • Transitioning to Organic for Field Crop Producers – organic food sales continue to increase at double digit rates. This session hits the fundamentals of successful organic production. It will emphasize strategies for producers to weather the 36-month transition period organic typically requires. (Full-day)

 

  • Introduction to Perennial Fruits – Minnesotans are often surprised at the wide variety of fruits able to thrive in our climate; from the common to the unusual. Whether you’re interested in growing fruit for market or for home use, you’ll learn about species and varieties, site selection, pollination requirements, sources for planting stock, and tips to get plantings and orchards off to a vigorous start. (Half-day)

Session details and a registration link are posted at www.mda.state.mn.us/cabinfever. Full day courses run 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and cost $50. There is a $15 discount for additional people who register together and attend the same workshop. The half-day fruit workshop runs from 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. and costs $25.

Farmer workshops in St. Cloud

Farmers who might be looking for something to do are invited to some educational classes in January. (Photo from ksoo.com)

We strongly encourage you to register online at www.mda.state.mn.us/cabinfever or by phone (call Stephen at 651-201-6012) because space for all workshops is limited. All reservations are payable at the door with cash, check, Visa, or Mastercard.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Announces YF&R Contest Winners

Minnesota_Farm_Bureau_Logo_345x143Young farmers in Olmsted and Washington-Ramsey County captured top honors in the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) competitions.

Ben Storm of Dover in Olmsted County won the Achievement Award contest. Katie Miron of Hugo in Washington-Ramsey County took home first in the Discussion Meet contest. Mike Miron of Hugo in Washington-Ramsey County won the Excellence in Agriculture contest. The competitions were held during the MFBF 97th Annual Meeting at the DoubleTree in Bloomington.

These county Farm Bureau YF&R members will advance next to national competition. They will represent Minnesota at the national competition at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Annual Meeting in Orlando, January 8-13.

Minnesota Farm Bureau YF&R

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Annual Meeting recently concluded after announcing several contest winners, one of which came from the local Olmsted County Farm Bureau. (Photo from fbmn.org)

The winners received a recognition plaque from MFBF, $500 prize, a trip to the MFBF YF&R Conference in Bloomington, January 22–23, 2016.  They also will participate in a leadership development trip to Washington D.C.

Achievement Award

The Achievement Award contestants are selected on their exceptional efforts in agriculture through farm management and leadership achievements, as well as effective use of capital in their farming operation.

Ben Storm is the third generation on their family farm where he works in partnership with his dad and brother raising market hogs. He also farms on his own, growing corn and soybeans and raising and selling show pigs. Ben has a bachelor’s degree in industries and marketing with an emphasis on crops and soils.

The Achievement Award runner-up was Matt Feldmeier from Rushford in Houston County. The runner-up picked up a $250 cash prize.

 Discussion Meet

The Discussion Meet finalists competed in two semi-final rounds on Saturday morning followed by the final four competition. Contestants were judged on their basic knowledge of critical farm issues and their ability to exchange ideas and information in a setting aimed at cooperative problem solving.

Katie Miron is an agricultural educator at the Academy for Sciences and Agriculture in Vadnais Heights. She lives on her family’s fifth generation dairy farm in Hugo.

Other top finalists in the Discussion Meet were Joe Sullivan of Renville County, Katie Winslow of Fillmore County and Amanda Durow of Washington-Ramsey County.

 Excellence in Agriculture

The Excellence in Agriculture contest is designed as an opportunity for young farmers and ranchers who may not derive 100 percent of their income from farming to earn recognition while actively contributing to the agriculture industry.  They also spend time building their leadership skills through their involvement in Farm Bureau and their community. Participants were judged on their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability, and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations. 

Winning this year’s Excellence in Agriculture competition was Mike Miron. Mike is the fifth generation to live and work on the family’s dairy and crop farm near Hugo. He is a high school teacher and FFA advisor at Forest Lake.

Excellence in Agriculture runner-ups were Scott and Samantha Runge from St. James in Watonwan County. The runner-up will receive a $250 cash prize sponsored by Gislason & Hunter.

The MFBF 97th Annual Meeting concluded November 21.

The 2016 AFBF YF&R contests will each have four award winners. The winner will receive their choice of either a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2016 GMC Sierra. Three finalists will each receive $2,500 cash and $500 in STIHL merchandise and a Case IH Farmall tractor. Special thanks to our sponsors, General Motors, Case IH and STIHL, for their continued support of the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers Discussion Meet.

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

Farm Bureau Voting Delegates Re-Elect Paap President

County voting delegates at the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s (MFBF) 97thMinnesota_Farm_Bureau_Logo_345x143 Annual Meeting re-elected Kevin Paap to his sixth two-year term as President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation.

He first elected in November of 2005.The election took place during the delegate session on November 20.

Kevin and Julie Paap own and operate a fourth-generation family farm in Blue Earth County.

Minnesota Farm Bureau

Kevin Paap, pictured here with wife Julie, was reelected as Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President at the Farm Bureau’s annual meeting. Paap was elected to his sixth two-year term as President. (Photo from northcountryfoodbank.org)

“I am humbled and honored to continue to do something that I truly love to do and am passionate about doing,” said Paap. “While agriculture faces many challenges, with every challenge there are opportunities. Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation will continue to be at the table in the public policy arena, build agriculture’s positive image and develop leaders at all levels.”

Keith Allen of Kenyon in Goodhue County representing District I, and Miles Kuschel of Sebeka in Cass County representing District VI were both elected to three-year terms on the Board of Directors.

Pete Henslin of Dodge Center in Dodge County is the Young Farmers and Ranchers committee chair and will serve a one-year term on the board of directors. Mark Maiers of Stewart in Sibley County will serve a one-year term as the Promotion and Education committee chair.

The MFBF 97th Annual Meeting concludes Saturday, November 21 with the announcement of the Young Farmers & Ranchers awards.

Minnesota Farm Bureau is the largest general farm organization in the state with nearly 30,000 family members. The main areas of focus are Farmers • Families • Food. Members determine policy through a grassroots process involving the Farm Bureau members in 78 county and regional units in a democratic process. As a result, 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 Ag in the Classroom, and safety education for farm children.

Jon Guentzel from Mankato, MN, tells us why he is a Farm Bureau member.

For more information, contact your county Farm Bureau office.

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

Pork industry educates Subway on antibiotics

The Subway restaurant chain recently brought antibiotics in animal agriculture back into the national food discussion with an announcement about changes in how they source proteins.

In late October, Subway announced policy changes on it’s website, saying that the chain will only serve proteins that have never been treated with antibiotics. The transition is set to begin in it’s over 27,000 restaurants as early as 2016.

The animal agriculture industry recently met with Subway to ask questions about the new policy, as well as to educate the company about the necessary use of antibiotics to keep animals healthy.

Pork production

The pork industry, along with representatives from poultry and beef, are educating Subway as well as the public on the necessity of using antibiotics in animal agriculture to ensure the animals are healthy and safe. (photo from pork network.com)

The Kearny, Nebraska, newspaper (KearneyHub.com) recently wrote an article describing Subway’s policy change as “running into a brick wall in Nebraska.” Livestock producers rely on antibiotics to keep their animals healthy, and Subway changed its policy, stating that they would “accept meat from animals that had been treated with antibiotics to control illness, but not given antibiotics to aid in animal growth.”

National associations that represent the pork industry had a lot to say on the topic. The website meatpoultry.com restated the National Pork Producer’s Council’s position that antibiotics must be available to producers to maintain animal health. The US Food and Drug Administration regulations on antibiotics in animal agriculture are increasingly strict, and they provide safeguards against resistance.

All pork organizations agree they need to educate the public on the necessity of pork production, as you’ll hear in this audio wrap:

 

 

For help in answering questions from the public, the National Pork Producers put together a video to help you educate people who have questions about why farmers use antibiotics:

 

WOTUS rule postponed nationwide

Here’s a conversation on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals staying the implementation of the controversial Waters of the US Rule (WOTUS):

 

WOTUS

The EPA’s implementation of the Waters of the US Rule was stayed nationwide by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals today. (Photo from alaskapolicyforum.org)

The Sixth Circuit has just stayed the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule nationwide, by a 2-1 vote, until it determines whether it has jurisdiction over the petitions for review.  The majority found a substantial possibility of success on both merits grounds (that the rule does not comport with even Justice Kennedy’s Rapanos opinion) and procedural grounds (that significant changes in the rule were never put to notice and comment).

The order is, “The Clean Water Rule is hereby STAYED, nationwide, pending further order of the court.”

A stay has the same practical effect as an injunction – it prevents the EPA/Corps from implementing the rule.

Expect the stay to last until the 6th Circuit makes a decision regarding the jurisdictional issue, which is expected sometime in November.

Here’s the link to the story on KLGR radio’s website:

http://www.myklgr.com/2015/10/09/6th-circuit-court-stays-wotus-rule-nationwide/

Here’s a video from the Kansas Farm Bureau featuring Paul Schlegel, the Director of Environment and Energy Policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C.