Farm Bureau President Duvall Talks Ag Issues

The 98th American Farm Bureau annual convention is going on this week in Phoenix, Arizona. Once a year, Farm Bureau members come together in one location to learn and talk about the future of agriculture. Farm Bureau voting delegates will also debate policy and put together the Farm Bureau policy platform on important Ag issues for the coming year.

Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall talks Ag issues

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall addresses reporters during a press conference at the 98th Farm Bureau annual convention in Phoenix, Arizona. (photo from oklahomafarmreport.com)

Farm Bureau President and Georgia farmer Zippy Duvall spoke to reporters on Sunday during a press conference in Phoenix, tackling several issues important to agriculture. One of the first questions dealt with the lengthy search for the next Secretary of Agriculture. Duvall wanted the candidate selected a little quicker, although he seems encouraged by the fact that the Trump team has interviewed a good number of excellent candidates. What happens if the President-elect would happen to pick someone who doesn’t have an extensive Ag background?

“At this point, I’m not worried,” Duvall said, “I have full faith in the new president picking the right person. He’s looked at many different people, a lot more than we expected him to look at. We just think he’s doing a thorough review.”

 

 

As far as the reason it’s taken so long? Duvall said he honestly isn’t sure and anything he would add is speculation. “I’m honestly not sure whether he’s had people who just weren’t interested,” Duvall said, “or whether he’s had so many good candidates he can’t really pick which one he wants.”

 

 

 

One of Trump’s main talking points in the campaign was building a wall along the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico to help control illegal immigration. A good number of those same immigrants are vital to agriculture getting its work done every year. Immigration will be one of the biggest ag issues the Farm Bureau will keep an eye on in 2017. Duvall is hoping some kind of compromise on immigration can be reached so agriculture isn’t short on labor, especially at harvest time.

 

“If you look at the increase in H2A applications over the last few years,” Duvall said, “we’ve had a tremendous increase in that area. The demand for workers is there and we also know that the American people aren’t going to do that work, otherwise, they already would have started.”

 

 

 

He adds, “We want to give them an opportunity to stay here and work. It comes down to a moral and a safety issue. Their families are here and we have to do the right thing.”

 

 

 

Trade will be another of the biggest ag issues to keep an eye on this year. One of the biggest concerns agriculture has with the incoming president is his stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and trade agreements in general. Duvall says after talking with the Trump team, the President-elect has a better understanding of how important trade is to agriculture.

 

“We’re really excited about the opportunity to sit down with the Trump team and talk about the workings of a trade treaty that is friendly to agriculture,” Duvall said. “My discussions with the Trump team before the election went like this: ‘we’re concerned about Mr. Trump’s opinion on trade.’ That’s what we told them. He seems to be negative on trade  and agriculture is very dependent on it for up to 30% of our income.”

 

 

 

“This won’t be the first time a new president appeared to put us (Ag) at risk,” Duvall added. “Yes, we are nervous about that (trade wars). We do want America to stand up and have a backbone, but you have to be really careful about how you do that because you could destroy our industry if you don’t do it right.”

 

He added, “We’re there at the table trying to have those conversations.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Kuschels Retire from National Committee at YF&R Conference

YF&R national meeting members

A strong group of Minnesotans attended the recent Young Farmer and Rancher Conference. Minnesota’s Miles and Sarah Kuschel recently completed a two year term on the national committee. (Photo from Facebook.com/MnFarmBureau

Young farmer leaders from Minnesota attended the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Conference held in Kansas City, Missouri, February 12-15. Miles and Sarah Kuschel of Cass County were among the nearly 1,100 participants who attended the conference.

This also marked the completion of the Kuschels term on the AFBF YF&R Committee. The couple held numerous responsibilities throughout the year, including assisting with planning and implementation of this year’s conference. Miles also served as vice chair of the committee this past year. The Kuschels served on the committee for two years and were recognized for this on February 14.

“We had a great time representing Minnesota on the committee. Thank you to everyone we were able to share this experience with, and those who helped us along the way,” said the Kuschels.

The AFBF YF&R Committee donated $500 to Bill Brodie of the All American Beef Battalion to aid in their efforts of providing steak dinners to service men and women and their families across the country. Brodie is a Vietnam Veteran who is passionate about providing something special for those who defend our country.

The Kuschels also visited the Ronald McDonald House with Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell. The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has partnered with Cantrell on her platform, “Healthy Children, Strong America.” The partnership is working with the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture book of the year, First Peas to the Table.

Collegiate Discussion Meet

Ethan Dado, University of Minnesota student from Amery, Wisconsin and winner of the MFBF Collegiate Discussion Meet, finished in the Sweet Sixteen of the National YF&R Collegiate Discussion Meet on February 14 competing against 52 other YF&Rs. Katie Schmitt, University of Minnesota student from Rice in Benton County, also represented Minnesota in the competition.

Attendee Highlights

Attendees heard from keynote speakers Jason Brown, former NFL football player; Roger Rickard, advocacy professional; Kelly Barnes, motivational speaker; and Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell. Attendees also had the opportunity to tour the Kansas City, Missouri area.

Conference attendees included: Miles and Sarah Kuschel, Cass County; Amanda Durow, Dakota County; Pete and Jenni Henslin, Dodge County; and Collegiate Discussion Meet participants Ethan Dado and Katie Schmitt.

Minnesota_Farm_Bureau_Logo_345x143Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation represents 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 help 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.

Olmsted county farmer takes Farm Bureau honors

Minnesota_Farm_Bureau_Logo_345x143Ben Storm’s involvement with the Minnesota Farm Bureau only goes back one year.

But it’s been a busy year for the Dover farmer, as Storm won the Minnesota Farm Bureau’s Achievement Award late last year at the state convention. The state award gave him the chance to travel to Florida to compete on a national stage at the American Farm Bureau national convention earlier this month.

A simple phone call from a friend got Storm interested in the Minnesota Farm Bureau.

“A friend of mine called me and told me about their leadership conference,” Storm said. “He thought it would be a good idea for me to go along. I went to the conference last year and that’s how I got involved.”

He added, “Now I’m on the Olmsted County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and I get involved as much as I can.”

Storm said Farm Bureau provides many opportunities to tell the story of Agriculture to people who don’t know where their food comes from.

“We do an event we call Fun with the Farmer,” Storm said, “and we go to elementary schools in the Rochester area and educate kids. Rochester is a larger town with not a lot of agriculture in those schools, so going there and educating the kids on what we do is a lot of fun.”

Storm adds, “Farm Bureau is the reason I get to do things like that. We also spent some time last year at the State Capitol talking with legislators about Ag. I’d never done something like that, and I thought it was a lot of fun.”

Storm said the reason for educating the public about agriculture is apparent when they go to area schools and see the disconnect between urban areas and the farm.

“The more I see it the less surprised I am by it,” Storm said. “You continually see that these kids have no idea what Ag is, because they’re 4 and 5 generations removed from the farm now.”

Storm said winning the Minnesota Farm Bureau Achievement award was quite an honor.

“The Achievement Award is for people whose primary income is from farming,” Storm explained. “There are 3 criteria: your farm operation and growth, the financials of your operation, and your leadership experience inside and outside of Farm Bureau.”

One winner is chosen from multiple nominees.

“You fill out an application,” Storm said, “and on the state level, they judge each of the applications and follow up with interviews. The interview questions are basically for clarification on things in the application they were curious about.”

After winning the state competition, it was on to Orlando, Florida, and the national Achievement Award competition at the American Farm Bureau Convention.

Olmsted county farmer gets national recognition

Olmsted county farmer Ben Storm, at left, winner of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Achievement Award, gets recognized by Derek Helms, American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farm And Rancher Committee member from Arkansas. (photo from Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation)

“There was a group of about 60 people from Minnesota that went down,” Storm said. “It was nice to have people there you knew, but it was a lot of fun to visit with new people.”

He enjoyed learning about different types of farm operations from across the country.

“We spoke with a gentleman from Florida who raises alligators, snakes, and rats,” Storm said. “It’s the kind of thing you wouldn’t think of. You understand alligators and snakes, but I never got to ask him why he raises rats.”

He said farmers who raise different commodities do have common concerns.

“One of the biggest ones right now is lower commodity prices,” Storm said, “and what they’re doing to everybody’s operations. Plus, people are trying to get rents adjusted, because that’s a big cost.”

He adds, “Even the price of inputs is a big concern, and how they need to adjust too.”

Ben runs the family operation in the Dover area.

“Dad (Jacob) is partially retired,” said Storm, “but he still helps out when needed. I farm a little over 1,000 acres, and it’s a 50/50 rotation of corn and soybeans”

He adds,” We have a few sows, and we farrow show pigs and sell them to 4H and FFA kids. That’s more of a project Dad handles.”

 

 

 

Food prices down from last year

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 28, 2015 – Lower retail prices for several foods, including whole milk, cheddar cheese, bacon and apples resulted in a slight decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey.


Download .pdf
Download .jpg

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $54.14, down $.12 or less than 1 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased and six increased in average price.

Higher milk and pork production this year has contributed to the decrease in prices on some key foods.

“Energy prices, which affect everything in the marketbasket, have been quite a bit lower compared to a year ago. Processing, packaging, transportation and retail operations are all fairly energy-intensive,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. Lower energy prices account for much of the modest decrease in the marketbasket.

The following items showed retail price decreases from a year ago:

  • whole milk, down 17 percent to $3.14 per gallon
  • bacon, down 11 percent to $4.55 per pound
  • apples, down 7 percent $1.45 per pound
  • shredded cheddar, down 5 percent to $4.56 per pound
  • flour, down 4 percent to $2.37 per five-pound bag
  • bagged salad, down 4 percent to $2.46 per pound
  • vegetable oil, down 3 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
  • Russet potatoes, down 3 percent to $2.64 for a five-pound bag
  • white bread, down 1 percent to $1.69 for a 20-ounce loaf
  • chicken breast, down 1 percent to $3.42 per pound

These items showed modest retail price increases compared to a year ago:

  • eggs, up 56 percent to $3.04 per dozen
  • orange juice, up 7 percent to $3.43 per half-gallon
  • ground chuck, up 6 percent to $4.55 per pound
  • toasted oat cereal, up 3 percent to $3.09 for a nine-ounce box
  • sirloin tip roast, up 3 percent to $5.67 per pound
  • sliced deli ham, up 1 percent to $5.47 per pound

“As expected we saw higher egg prices because we lost so much production earlier this year due to the avian influenza situation in Iowa, Minnesota and some other Midwestern states,” Anderson said.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $2.21; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.79; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $4.16.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index (http://www.bls.gov/cpi/) report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $54.14 marketbasket would be $8.66.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal quarterly marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The series includes a Spring Picnic survey, Summer Cookout survey, Fall Harvest survey and Thanksgiving survey.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 69 shoppers in 24 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in September.

 

 

 

 

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.