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).

November Weed of the Month: Palmer Amaranth

November’s Weed of the Month is Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri). This fast growing weed has developed resistance to multiple herbicide modes of action so it is difficult to control. Palmer amaranth produces a lot of seed, up to 250,000 per plant, and is highly competitive. It spreads quickly and will cause extensive corn and soybean crop losses.

Palmer amaranth is native to the arid southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It was accidentally introduced to the southeastern United States and became the most troublesome weed in cotton production, by far. It developed resistance to many herbicides with multiple modes of action and spread to row crop fields in much of the eastern half of the country. This dreaded weed was discovered in Minnesota in 2016.

Palmer Amaranth weeds

Palmer amaranth plant with seed spikes. (photo provided by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.)

Palmer amaranth can be distinguished from closely related waterhemp and other pigweeds by a long petiole length and very tall flower and seed spikes. Unlike other pigweeds, Palmer petioles are often longer than the leaf blades. A petiole attaches a leaf to a stem. The flowering spike is much longer than that of other pigweeds. Leaves of some Palmer plants have a whitish V-shaped mark on them. Palmer amaranth is a summer annual that commonly reaches heights of 6-8 feet but can reach 10 feet.

If you find this plant, please report immediately by calling the Arrest the Pest at 888-545-6684 or emailing arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us.

Minnesota Cattle Industry Convention Registration Open

The Minnesota Cattle Industry convention is an event that brings together producers and beef industry partners for educational opportunities, policy discussion and development, and a cattle focused trade show.  The Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, along with the Minnesota Cattle women and the Minnesota Beef Council, will host the Minnesota Cattle Industry Convention and trade show December 1st – 3rd, 2016 at the Double Tree Hotel in Bloomington, MN.

Minnesota Cattle industry convention

The Minnesota Cattle Industry Convention is coming up on December 2 and 3 at the Double Tree Hotel in Bloomington, MN (Pic provided by the MN State Cattlemen’s Association)

The convention will kick off with “Mom at the Meat Counter” Janeal Yancy –PhD Meat Scientist and professor at Arkansas State University, mom and beef industry advocate blogger speaking about consumer engagement and the need for science based facts.

National association leadership will also be joining us in welcoming everyone to the convention, including NCBA President Tracey Bruner – Ramona, KS and ANCW President Penny Zimmerman – Foley, MN. 

The 2016 Cattlemen’s College speakers will focus on the need for self and third party evaluations as part of an increased need for on farm transparency.  These speakers will include Josh White – NCBA Director of Producer Education – Denver, CO, IMI Global – Castle Rock, CO and Wulf Cattle or Morris, MN.  

Friday will also include a public grazing workshop featuring a team of speakers from the Minnesota DNR and the USFWS, along with Cody Nelson of Prairie Creek Seeds discussing strategies for integrating livestock into cover crops.  

Friday’s events will round out with the 2016 Best of Beef Banquet highlighting many of the successes from 2016 and recognizing the best of the best from Minnesota’s beef industry.  The entertainment for the night will be Jerry Carrol: Farmer, Comedian & Agriculture Speaker from Raleigh, NC.  The evening will wrap up the MSCA’s annual live auction.

Saturday’s events will include the 2016 Breakfast Briefing featuring MSCA’s and NCBA’s policy work in 2016 and set the stage for policy priorities for 2017.  This session will feature Bruce Kleven – MSCA Legislative Advisor and Colin Woodal – Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs, NCBA – Washington D.C.

The convention will round out with a Beef Market Status Round Table featuring Jeff Stolle – Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association Marketing Program Manager – Lincoln, NE, Micheal Klamm – USDA-NASS – Washington D.C. and Brad Kooima – Kooima and Kaemingk Commodities, Inc. – Sioux Center, IA.

Registration and room reservation information is available at www.mnsca.org or in the November edition of the Minnesota Cattleman newspaper.  The Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Convention and Trade show block will be held until November 10th, 2015. Exhibitors and vendors are also encouraged to attend, sponsorship opportunity details available at www.mnsca.org or call 612-618-6619 with questions.

We look forward to you joining us in December!

2016-2017 Minnesota Beef Ambassador Team Announced

The Minnesota Beef Industry is proud to announce that Katie Moller of Princeton, daughter of Scott and Julie Moller, Abbey Schiefelbein of Kimball, daughter of Don and Jennifer Schiefelbien, and Zach Klaers of Arlington, son of Pat and Sandy Klaers were chosen as 2016-2017 Senior Minnesota Beef Ambassador Team Members. The 2016-2017 Junior Minnesota Beef Ambassador team includes: Emilee White of Wadena, daughter of Don and Tonja White; and Bailee Schiefelbein of Kimball, daughter of Don and Jennifer Schiefelbein.

Beef Ambassadors

The Minnesota Beef Industry is proud to announce the Minnesota Beef Ambassador team comprised of (left to right): Bailee Schiefelbein, Emilee White; Jr. Beef Ambassadors, Katie Moller, Sr. Beef Ambassador Team Lead; Zach Klaers and Abbey Schiefelbein, Sr. Beef Ambassadors. The Beef Ambassadors will work throughout the state to assist with various promotion and education programs related to beef. (Photo from Minnesota Beef)

Contestants from all over the state of Minnesota competed for a place on this year’s Beef Ambassador Team and a chance to win cash prizes sponsored by the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and the Minnesota Cattlewomen’s Association, with additional sponsorship funds courtesy of the Beef Checkoff Program.

The contest took place during the Minnesota Beef Expo held on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at the CHS Miracle of Birth Center at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.During the contest all contestants were required to prepare a written blog or social media post on a beef industry topic.

Contestants were scored by judges on their ability to incorporate beef industry information and the relatability of the message with consumers. Throughout the contest, contestants also were judged on their “elevator speech, “a short, to the point, statement outlining his/her message to consumers and what he/she wants consumers to know about the beef industry.

Additionally, contestants competed in a mock radio interview, which observed the contestants ability to “Tell the Beef Production Story and present beef and farming in a positive light, a mock consumer promotion, which observed the contestants ability to educate the consumer about beef and the beef product, and a written response, which observed the contestants ability to thoughtfully answer and identify misinformation about beef.

About the Minnesota Beef Ambassador Program

The Minnesota Beef Ambassador Program provides an opportunity for youth ages 13-19 to educate consumers and students about beef nutrition, food safety and stewardship practices of beef farmers and ranchers. The Minnesota Beef Ambassador Program is funded through support from the Minnesota CattleWomen’s Association, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association and the Beef Checkoff Program. 

 

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

MFU’s Peterson Named 2016 Friend of Extension

Doug Peterson’s life has revolved around agriculture for as long as he can remember. The soon-to-retire Minnesota Farmers Union President has been a strong advocate Minnesota agriculture for decades. Peterson received another honor from a major agriculture group in the state, winning the 2016 Distinguished Friend of Extension award winner on Tuesday, October 4.

The  award was announced on Tuesday by Dean Bev Durgan, who said that Peterson’s advocacy “has strengthened the University of Minnesota’s ability to create a strong Minnesota agriculture.”

Distinguished Friend of Extension

Retiring Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson was named a Distinguished Friend of Extension by the University of Minnesota Extension Service this week. (

President Peterson was lauded for his support of 4-H, including visionary contributions to the Minnesota’s pioneering 4-H Science of Agriculture program and the 4-H Purple Ribbon Auction at the State Fair.

Peterson and the Minnesota Farmers Union have played an important role helping secure legislative funding for Extension to create positive impacts across Minnesota. One of the biggest impacts is the Farmer-Lender Mediation program that helps farmers facing financial challenges.

Distinguished Friend of Extension

Bev Durgan, Dean of the University of Minnesota Extension Service, presented the Distinguished Friend of Extension Award to Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson earlier this week. (Photo from extension.umn.edu)

“I’m proud to accept this award on behalf of the Minnesota Farmers Union members and in support of the hard work that the University of Minnesota and Extension does to advance family farming,” Peterson said.

Doug was always someone I looked forward to visiting with during my time as Farm Director at KLGR in Redwood Falls. He was very patient with the new guy covering agriculture and I learned an awful lot from visiting with him. Agriculture had a friend in Doug and I bet we haven’t heard the last of him on the state level. Best of luck in your retirement, Doug!

 

 

 

 

Want to see some of the things the Minnesota Farmers Union has been up to over the last year?

 

 

 

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

Biodiesel mandate lawsuit against Minnesota dismissed

Ruling in favor of biodiesel mandate paves way for boosting renewable fuels and strong soybean demand

The State of Minnesota, Minnesota soybean farmers, and biodiesel producers won a complete dismissal Thursday in the lawsuit challenging the state’s biodiesel mandate. The decision by Chief Judge John Tunheim of the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis clears the road for summer blends of B20 (20 percent biodiesel blend) in May 2018 and continues to provide numerous benefits for all Minnesotans while adding value to Minnesota soybeans.

biodiesel lawsuit

Minnesota Soybean growers and biodiesel producers won a complete dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the Minnesota Biodiesel Mandate, clearing the way for B20 blends in the future. (photo from oklahomafarmreport.com)

“We are very pleased to see the state and Minnesota Soybean’s motions were successful in dismissing the case against the state’s biodiesel mandate,” said Theresia Gillie, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association president. “Once again, Minnesota is at the forefront of energy independence and supporting renewable fuels.”

The current B10 blend equates to annually removing 128,000 passenger vehicles from Minnesota roads and is America’s only advanced biofuel. B20 will bring more value to soybeans as it has stimulated Minnesota’s agricultural economy. By increasing demand for Minnesota soybeans by 13 percent, soybean biodiesel generates an estimated $200 million in economic activity.

“The benefits serve all Minnesotans,” said Mike Youngerberg, Minnesota Soybean’s senior director of field services. “Biodiesel reduces our dependence on imported petroleum while increasing farmer profitability, creating green jobs and boosting economic growth in Minnesota.”

soybean biodiesel lawsuit

Boosting the soybean biodiesel blend is expected to increase demand for Minnesota soybeans by 13 percent.

The added bonus is biodiesel, since 2005, has significantly improved air quality in Minnesota, among other environmental benefits. This is a win for all Minnesotans.

In his ruling, Judge Tunheim ruled Minnesota’s mandate is not preempted by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Minnesota’s mandate actually creates demand  and works in conjunction with the current RFS.

“Nearly all engine manufacturers approve B20 for their engines and now Minnesotans are ready for the move to B20,” Gillie said. “We thank the State of Minnesota for their vehement defense of the biodiesel mandate.”

MSGA is a non-profit, farmer-controlled membership organization established in 1962. Its goal is to assure profitable soybean farming by influencing favorable ag legislation, monitoring government policies and supporting research and market development.

OSHA withdraws harmful fertilizer standards

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today announced that fertilizer retailers in North Dakota and across the country will not have to comply with harmful standards issued last year by the Administration. The standards – which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) must withdraw – would have applied tough, across-the-board restrictions on agricultural retailers that sell anhydrous ammonia, a common fertilizer, seriously burdening retailers and farmers.

Fertilizer

The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that fertilizer retailers don’t have to live under new storage requirements that the Administration tried to implement without input from farmers and the agriculture industry.

In a decision issued this morning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the administration should have gone through a formal rulemaking process, seeking more meaningful input from farmers and fertilizer retailers. The Administration created the new standards in a July 2015 memorandum, and they became effective immediately. However, because of language Heitkamp helped include in the end-of-the-year spending bill Congress passed last December, OSHA postponed enforcement of the guidance until October 1, 2016.

“As I said yesterday at a hearing I helped lead, the administration should have listened to farmers, retailers, and rural communities before creating these standards – and today the courts agreed,” said Heitkamp. “This is a victory for rural communities whose economies rely on farmers’ accessing inputs like anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. Complying with those standards could have cost each facility up to $50,000, according to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. More than 30 North Dakota retailers said they would have had to stop selling the fertilizer. With those huge impacts on our farmers, it was clear all along that there should have been a formal rulemaking process rather than just agency guidance with little input from those impacted.”

Fertilizer

Fall anhydrous applications aren’t that far away. The retailers that sell it don’t have to live under burdensome new regulations from OSHA, thanks to a decision on Friday from the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Just yesterday, Heitkamp pushed key administration officials for a solution on the standards, pointing out – as the court said in its decision today – that the proposed standards looked more like rulemaking than guidance. Heitkamp called on the administration to voluntarily delay enforcing the standards given the impact they would have on farmers and retailers. The new policy would have required facilities that store or transport 10,000 pounds or more of anhydrous ammonia to obtain Process Safety Management Standard documentation. If the facility could not obtain this documentation, it would have been forced to purchase new storage tanks, costing $70,000 or more.

OSHA did not choose the traditional notice-and-comment rulemaking process, which would have given retailers and farmers an opportunity for more meaningful consultation as the rule was developed, and instead issued interpretive guidance, which did not include substantial input from affected industries.

In July, Heitkamp and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced bipartisan legislation to stop these harmful federal standards from going into effect. It would also require the agency to abide by a formal rulemaking process when instituting a similar policy change in the future. Click here to view text of the FARM Act.