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 Thanks to a lawsuit brought by Canada and Mexico, COOL has been repealed in by Congress.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Country of Origin Labeling, pictured here, was recently repealed by Congress after the US was successfully sued by Canada and Mexico in world court.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.

 

Farm Bureau Members Travel to Washington, D.C.

Twenty-seven farmers and ranchers from across Minnesota met with their members of Congress in Washington, D.C. during the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation’s (MFBF) Farmers to Washington, D.C. trip September 15-19.

Participants met with Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken; members of Congress Tim Walz, Erik Paulsen, Keith Ellison, Tom Emmer, Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan; and staff members from the offices of John Kline and Betty McCollum.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation

Minnesota Farm Bureau YF&R Members took time out from meetings with elected officials in DC to chat with AFBF President Bob Stallman (Photo from MN Farm Bureau FB page (facebook.com/MNFarmBureau/photos

During their meetings, Farm Bureau members discussed the role of biotechnology both in food production and food labeling, and thanked Representatives Walz, Kline, Paulsen, McCollum, Emmer and Peterson for voting for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act which establishes a federal, voluntary GMO labeling program. The participants also urged the Congressional delegation to act quickly on extending expired tax provisions including Section 179: Small Business Expensing and bonus depreciation, discussed the effects of the Endangered Species Act and reminded them of the importance of passing a long-term transportation bill.

In addition, attendees met with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking for clarification on the new rule that expands the definition of “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. Farm Bureau members also discussed the Renewable Fuels Standard as EPA continues to look at volume requirements for 2014-2016. Farm Bureau supports returning the requirements to match the levels set by Congress in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation

After meeting with the EPA to discuss the WOTUS rule, the Minnesota Farm Bureau YF&R members stopped to visit Minnesota Congressman Nolan (Photo from facebook.com/MNFarmBureau/photos)

“This experience outfits young farmers and ranchers with the tools they need to become strong advocates for agriculture and rural Minnesota,” said Miles and Sarah Kuschel, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Committee members. “It also brings politics and rulemaking to life for our Farm Bureau members and instills the importance of discussing the issues that are important to us. If we are not sharing our story, then someone else will be.”

Some of the trip attendees included AFBF YF&R Committee members, state YF&R and Promotion & Education (P&E) Committee members and YF&R contest finalists.

YF&R contest finalists earned this trip by competing in the 2014 MFBF YF&R Achievement Award and Excellence in Agriculture contests held during the MFBF Annual Meeting in November 2014 or the 2015 Discussion Meet held at the MFBF Leadership Conference in January. In addition to the Washington, D.C. trip, state contest winners receive a $500 cash prize, a trip to the AFBF YF&R national leadership conference and a trip to compete in the AFBF contests. For more information about the MFBF YF&R program, contact your county offices or visit fbmn.org.

Minnesota Farm Bureau representing Farmers • Families • Food is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureaus across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. 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 our efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota, www.fbmn.org.

For more information on the Minnesota Farm Bureau log onto www.fbmn.orgwww.Facebook.com/MNFarmBureau or www.Twitter.com/MNFarmBureau.

Attend the Minnesota Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Annual Meeting will be November Minnesota_Farm_Bureau_Logo_345x14319-21 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington. The conference will have a variety of sessions on agricultural issues, leadership development and the Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) contests and award banquets.

Keynote Speaker: Matt Rush

Matt Rush will be the keynote speaker at the noon luncheon on Saturday, November 21.

Matt Rush

Matt Rush is a fourth generation farmer and rancher in New Mexico, and he’ll give the keynote presentation at this year’s Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 21.

Matt Rush is the 4th generation in his family to be a New Mexico farmer and cattle rancher. He and his dad partner on a ranch, and he is also the former executive vice president of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau.

He was selected to represent American agriculture in Germany as part of an agricultural exchange program and has been honored as the Students in Free Enterprise Alumnus of the Year. He serves at the request of the Governor on the New Mexico State Fair Commission and on the Natural Lands Protection Committee. He also serves on the American Farm Bureau’s Foundation for Agriculture Board of Directors.

Rush is passionate about his values, the future of our children and the American way of life.

Schedule

The voting delegate session will begin at 8 a.m. on Friday, November 20. There will be a social hour with elected officials beginning at 4 p.m. The awards banquet, President’s address and Foundation auction will also be held on Friday beginning at 5:30 p.m.

On Friday from 8:30 a.m. until noon, attendees can participate in a service project at Second Harvest Heartland or assist the Promotion & Education (P&E) Committee with agriculture in the classroom visits. From 1:30-3:30 p.m., there will be a Creative Lab where participants can learn about and make a few fun, trendy and creative decorating ideas for the home. The cost will be $20 to cover supplies. Pre-registration is required for all of these activities.

On Saturday, November 22, members can attend educational sessions and the Discussion Meet competition. The noon luncheon will include the finals of the YF&R Discussion Meet and the announcement of the YF&R award winners.

The meeting will conclude on Saturday with the grand prize drawing – a non-transferrable air and hotel expense paid trip for one paid Farm Bureau member to the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, January 8-13, 2016.

Speakers and Panels

There will be three general sessions for participants to attend on Saturday, November 21.

In the “What do Farm Bureau Members Need to Know about the Economy?” session, hear from an economist on how the economy impacts Minnesota farmers and ranchers, what economic information you should be tracking and why farmers and ranchers should care about the economy.

The second session is “Farm Bureau Members Making a Difference on Local Issues.” Learn how Farm Bureau members and county Farm Bureaus can interact with local decision makers and what types of citizen input decision makers looking for.

The final session will be “Telling Your Conservation Story.” Learn by example from farm leaders who have found different avenues to tell their story through tours, blogs and the media.

Contests

The always anticipated semifinals and final rounds of the YF&R Discussion Meet and the final Achievement Award interviews and Excellence in Agriculture presentations will be held throughout the day on Saturday, November 21. The Final Four Discussion Meet will be held during the noon luncheon.

This year, the collegiate Discussion Meet will also be held in conjunction with the MFBF Annual Meeting. The winner of this contest will represent Minnesota at the American Farm Bureau Federation Collegiate Discussion Meet in February 2016.

Banquets and Other Highlights

Many distinguished Farm Bureau members will be recognized at the Friday, November 20, banquet including: Awards of Excellence, Honorary Life Awards, the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award and the MFB Foundation Awards. The Friday awards banquet will also feature MFBF President Kevin Paap’s address and the MFB Foundation fundraising auction.

 Registration

For registration information, contact your county Farm Bureau or Lori Wiegand at 651-768-2102 or lwiegand@fbmn.org. Registration forms and online registration information can be found at fbmn.org. Pre-registration is required by October 30. Register at the conference after October 30. After October 30, an additional $5 will be charged per meal.

Minnesota Farm Bureau representing Farmers • Families • Food is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureaus across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. 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 our efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota, www.fbmn.org.

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For more information on the Minnesota Farm Bureau log onto www.fbmn.orgwww.Facebook.com/MNFarmBureau or www.Twitter.com/MNFarmBureau.

If you’re new to just what the Farm Bureau is, here’s an example of what kinds of issues the organization works on for farmers all over the country.

 

Minnesota Farm Bureau asks for support of S.1140

Stop EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Rule

“On August 28, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will have control over citizen’s land and a federal permit will likely be required in order to conduct any activity on land that causes any material to be deposited onto a regulated low spot, wetland or ditch (for example, applying fertilizer, applying pest control products or even just moving dirt) or face significant fines,” said Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap. “EPA is overreaching their authority, and we need your help to stop them.”

Farm Bureau Federation

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation wants citizens to contact their Senators to tell them to put a halt to the EPA’s Waters of the US Rule. (photo from fbmn.org)

“Contact Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken and ask them to support S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which will stop the EPA from implementing the final rule and re-propose a rule that actually follows the limits set by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court,” said Paap.

“The final rule is even broader and more unclear than we thought it could be. One major concern is the expanded definition of tributaries,” said Paap. “Any land feature with the ‘presence of physical indicators of a bed, bank and ordinary high water mark’ would be considered a ‘tributary,’ and therefore a Waters of the U.S., even if there is no water there.”

“In addition, EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers can use ‘desktop tools’ (e.g. LIDAR, aerial photography and NRCS Soil Surveys) or base it on past conditions rather than current conditions to make a determination on whether or not you will need a federal permit,” said Paap. “It will be impossible for landowners to know which ditches are excluded.”

Kevin Paap

Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap is encouraging farmers and other Minnesotans to call their Senators and ask them to put a stop to the EPA’s Waters of the US Rule. (photo from twitter.com)

“With just a few weeks until this rule goes into effect, we need the Senate to pass S. 1140 as soon as possible. That means you need to act now,” said Paap. “Go to fbmn.org to send a message to Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken. Every voice counts!”

Minnesota Farm Bureau representing Farmers • Families • Food is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureaus across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. 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 our efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota, www.fbmn.org.

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For more information on the Minnesota Farm Bureau log onto www.fbmn.orgwww.Facebook.com/MNFarmBureau or www.Twitter.com/MNFarmBureau.

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act Passes U.S. House

Food Labeling

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act is moving on to the Senate for debate and a vote after it passed the US House of Representatives this week (Photo from govtrack.us)

In a victory for consumer choice, science and fact-based food labeling, the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act today with a solidly bipartisan vote.  Today’s vote is a testament to the reasonable approach this legislation takes to ensure consumers have access to the information they want while avoiding the costly price hikes and misinformation associated with a patchwork of food labeling laws.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, introduced in March by Congressmen Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), guarantees that federal regulators will remain in charge of food safety and labeling in the United States, just as they have been for decades.  The bill also creates a uniform labeling standard for foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Additionally, the legislation creates a national GMO-free certification program, modeled on the widely popular National Organic Program, which will give consumers who prefer to buy non-GMO foods a transparent, consistent means of doing so.

Food Labeling Act

Congressmen Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) are the primary sponsors of the recently passed Food Labeling Act, which moves on to the Senate (photo from foodlogistics.com)

“Today’s vote is the result of members of Congress standing up for science, common-sense and the well-being of their constituents,” said CFSAF spokesperson Claire Parker.  “We offer a wholehearted thank you to members who voted yes today and advanced this legislation that protects consumer choice, food safety and accurate and informative food labeling.”

This legislation was precipitated by the attempts of anti-GMO activists to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws in states across the country.  Mandatory GMO labeling ballot measures were introduced in four states, but fortunately all were soundly rejected by the voters.  Vermont’s legislature passed its own mandatory GMO labeling law that is set to take effect next July.

A patchwork approach to food labeling will dramatically slow interstate commerce as farmers and food producers are forced to adjust to differing standards.  The resulting costs to food manufacturers and grocery bill price hikes for consumers will be significant.  These laws would also increase consumer uncertainty as they are littered with carve outs and exemptions.  Vermont’s law, for instance would lead to a can of vegetable soup being labeling while a can of vegetable beef soup would be exempt.

“The negative consequences of a 50 state patchwork of labeling laws were fully understood by members of Congress,” said Parker.  “They acted so that the people they represent are not made victims of the extreme agenda of anti-GMO activists.  Consumer choice, science and fact-based labeling won the day.”

Prior to the vote on final passage, the House defeated an amendment offered by Peter DeFazio.  The defeat of the DeFazio mandatory labeling amendment was a resounding rebuttal of an anti-science agenda and a victory for consumer choice and transparency.  In 2013, the Democrat-controlled Senate soundly defeated, by a 71-27 margin, a mandatory labeling amendment authored by Senator Bernie Sanders that was intended to shove the FDA out of the labeling space it has occupied for generations.  Today, 70% of the House voted against another mandatory labeling amendment.  Together, these votes show Congress has no appetite for mandatory and misleading and punitive labeling for safe food products in Congress.  Since there is wide agreement a patchwork of state labeling laws will harm interstate commerce, it is time for members of House and Senate to come together behind the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act and give consumers the consistent national solution they deserve.

The US Senate is the next stop for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling bill (photo from edusolution.com)

The US Senate is the next stop for the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling bill (photo from edusolution.com)

“The focus now turns to the U.S. Senate where there are already indications of solid bipartisan support,” Parker continued.  “We look forward to engaging Senators in the weeks ahead and securing their support for this bipartisan legislation that will ensure people across the country continue to have access to consistent science-based standards for food labeling.”