House Approves TPA but Defeats TAA

Jun 12, 2015 398

While the House today voted 219-208 to approve Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, it failed to pass Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which is required to send the trade package to the President.

pbama unhappyDespite an in person appearance on Capitol Hill Friday morning by President Obama, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. “We want a better deal for America’s workers,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader who  was personally lobbied by Mr. Obama until the last minute.  House Speaker John Boehner said he will bring back the TAA language early next week, giving everyone another bite at the apple. “We just passed a major trade agreement so we have done our part,” said Rep. Steve Scalise. “Obviously, TAA is a piece that the President is going to have to deliver the votes on and we delivered more of the votes than we were expected to, but at the end of the day, this is now up to the President if he is going to get this thing over the finish line.”

The Senate approved TPA and TAA as a package and, thus,the House must approve both TPA and TAA before it can move to the White House for a Presidential signature.

Failure to pass TPA, which effectively would be a vote against TPP, would send a signal to the world that the United States is turning its back on the Asia-Pacific region – the fastest growing area in the world – and would allow other countries to write the rules for international trade, according to the National Pork Producers Council. “The vote by the House today is an absolute win for soybean farmers in the United States, but it only gets us halfway to our goal without a compromise on TAA,” said The American Soybean Association. ASA President Wade Cowan called on House members to come together on this critical trade issue, “We call on Democrats and Republicans in the House to come together and resolve their differences on TAA so we can get back to the business of building strong relationships between American farmers and customers around the world.”

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson applauded today’s House vote that effectively kills – at least for now – Trade Promotion Authority.  “Today’s vote was a clear signal that the fast track authorities being negotiated for the president simply do not live up to their hype,” said Johnson. “NFU is hopeful this action gives Congress the time to rethink granting the President the ability to bypass Congress’s constitutional check on trade negotiations, an ability that has served as a major setback for America’s workers, family farmers and ranchers, and this nation’s future prosperity.”

Rain and Heat Welcomed in Southern Indiana.

Jun 11, 2015 379
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Rain and Heat Welcomed in Southern Indiana.

Steve Gauck - Beck's HybridsWhile fields in the northern part of the state have been hit with several heavy rains in the past week, it has been a different story for farmers in the south.  More rain and more heat is what crops in Southern Indiana need, says Steve Gauck, agronomist with Beck’s Hybrids.  Gauck says fields in the SE corner are especially dry while SW counties have had some timely rains this week. Overall, he said the crops are off to a good start, “The stands are not perfect but, for the most part, they are pretty good. Soybeans have been slow to develop because of the cool weather; and we had had some reports of yellowing corn, but some sunny days will help all of that.” He added that most of the corn is in the V4 to V5 stage.

As Hoosier Ag Today reported earlier this week, slow emergence has hurt yield potential in the northern part of the state. Gauck says this is not the case in the south, “We still have the potential to have good yields.” He said some corn fields in the SW part of the state are already waist high. Gauck said the dry conditions in southern fields have been good for the wheat crop that is racing toward maturity, “The wheat is advancing rather quickly and looks to be in good shape.”

Hoosier Ag Today Chief Meteorologist Ryan Martin is forecasting plenty of rain for the Hoosier State and much of the Corn Belt for the next several days, “More rains come through about every other day. We see action Sunday into Monday, Tuesday through Thursday, and even the extended period starts off with more of the same with scattered showers around the 21st-22nd. Then a strong frontal system hits for the 24th-26th.” Martin sees warmer temperatures ahead for the weekend, “We should see decent south flow today and tomorrow ahead of the big rains, and that should push temps to above normal levels. We can see some 90s over the state, with some areas getting their first taste of 90. However, the mid to upper 80s will be more common…which is still above normal. With the increase in clouds for next week and the nearly constant threat of moisture…we likely will keep temps a bit cooler, closer to normal for the entire week.”

Farm Bureau Releases Detailed Analysis of WOTUS Rule

Jun 11, 2015 385

AFBF Releases New Documents on WOTUS

American Farm Bureau Federation has released documents outlining how the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. give the agency sweeping powers to regulate land despite the law prohibiting them from doing so. President Bob Stallman says after much review, AFBF has reached a conclusion.

“Unfortunately, our analysis of the final rule indicates it’s even worse for farmers and ranchers than the proposed rule was.”

Stallman says EPA lacks definition for tributaries and ditches, putting farmers at risk of being in violation of the rule.

“The bottom line is that no farmer can look at the ditches that run alongside or within his farm fields and know whether those are Waters of the US or not. So much for certainty. We believe the limited exclusion will be difficult to meet and given the action by Congress, it would appear that they agree.”

AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen says the enforcement of this rule is coming to the countryside and farmers need to be the ones to speak up.

“When it hits, life is going to change significantly for a lot of farmers and ranchers. And we want them to be aware of that and if they don’t like the sound of it, we want them to contact their Senators and Representatives in Congress and help us stop this.”

Don Villwock, President of Indiana Farm Bureau, applauds the work of Senator Joe Donnelly for listening to farmer concerns when EPA wouldn’t. He calls this ruling the largest federal overreach in recent memory.

The following is a full statement from Indiana Farm Bureau President, Don Villwock:

“Indiana Farm Bureau applauds the efforts of Senator Joe Donnelly to stop the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Rule. The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee’s approval of S. 1140, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, is an indication that Sen. Donnelly listened to the concerns of Indiana farmers even if the EPA didn’t.

            “The controversial WOTUS rule gives federal agencies new powers to regulate many normal farming and business activities, making it the largest federal overreach in recent memory.

“S. 1140 would force EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to scrap EPA’s extreme interpretation of the Clean Water Act and start fresh to craft a new rule that would fall within the parameters of Congress’ intent. It would also force the EPA to respect past Supreme Court rulings limiting the agency’s regulatory reach within in the CWA. The EPA and Army Corps would be required to take into consideration the valid concerns of farmers, home builders and others who would be adversely affected by the new rule. The measure would require a comment period on the revised proposed rule of no fewer than 120 days and a final rule published no later than Dec. 31, 2016.

            “Hoosier farmers, most of whom will be impacted in some way by EPA’s onerous rule, thank Sen. Donnelly and all the other committee members who voted for this legislation. INFB urges the full Senate to pass this measure quickly, because the sooner Congress acts, the sooner the agencies can re-craft a rule that more accurately reflects the will of Congress and respects the concerns of all affected parties.”

The House of Representatives voted to prohibit the EPA from enacting the rule. A similar bill is moving through the Senate and could come to a floor vote within weeks.

Read more on American Farm Bureau Federation’s findings here.

Another Farm Bureau Drainage School Scheduled

Jun 11, 2015 295

Indiana Farm Bureau’s annual Drainage School, a seminar focusing on Indiana drainage issues, will take place Thursday, Aug. 27, at INFB’s home office in downtown Indianapolis.

The seminar’s purpose is to promote an understanding of the laws and regulations that control drainage laws and dispute resolutions. It is open to farmers, public officials, agency personnel, attorneys and members of the public. Continuing education credits are being sought for attorneys and surveyors.

This year’s program features speakers on joint drainage boards; wetlands law; a state regulatory update; disaster response after a flood; levees; obstruction removal; Water of the United States regulations; and fluvial erosion.

Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.; the program runs from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Lunch is provided. Sign-up runs until Aug. 7 or until the program fills, whichever comes sooner. Those interested are encouraged to register early due to limited space. Registration is not complete without payment, and there will be no refunds after Aug. 7.

Register online at www.infarmbureau.org under the events menu. The seminar is $50. The registration fee includes a flash drive with all of the information. A hard-copy binder is available for $25. Contact Maria Spellman, 317-692-7840 or mspellman@infarmbureau.org, with questions.

The INFB home office is at 225 S. East St., Indianapolis.

The event is sponsored by INFB, Indiana Agricultural Law Foundation, Association of Indiana Counties, Indiana Association of County Commissioners, County Surveyors Association of Indiana, Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program.

Source: INFB

Still Time to Run for Indiana Corn Checkoff Board

Jun 11, 2015 194
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Corn from IN CornThe Indiana Corn Marketing Council is still seeking applications for its 2015 board of directors election until Friday, June 26.

To run for an ICMC director seat, Indiana corn farmers must be a registered Indiana voter, be at least 18 years of age, and reside in the appropriate district. Board members must be willing to participate in board meetings, committee meetings, and other corn checkoff functions throughout the year.

Farmers can receive a petition by downloading the forms at www.incorn.org/elections or by calling the ICMC office at 800-735-0195. Forms are also available at all County Extension offices.

This year, ICMC has seats up for election in Districts 2, 5, and 8. There are also two At-Large seats up for election.

  • District 2: The counties of St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall, Kosciusko, Fulton, Wabash, Miami, Cass, and Carroll.
  • District 5: The counties of Howard, Grant, Clinton, Tipton, Madison, Hamilton, Boone, Hendricks, Marion, Hancock, Rush, Decatur, Bartholomew, Shelby, Johnson, Morgan.
  • District 8: The counties of Monroe, Brown, Lawrence, Jackson, Orange, Washington, Crawford, Harrison, Perry, and Floyd.
  • The two open At-Large seats represent the entire state of Indiana.

Voting takes place at local Cooperative Extension Service county offices in August 2015.  Newly elected directors will begin a three-year term Oct. 1, 2015. ICMC directors can serve three consecutive full terms or a total of nine consecutive years.

Source: ICMC

TPA Vote Scheduled for Friday in the House

Jun 11, 2015 328

The U.S. House is expected to vote on Trade Promotion Authority Friday, a move that signals the votes for passage are there. Earlier this week, House leadership and others indicated TPA would not be brought up this week if supporters felt they couldn’t gather enough votes for passage. A procedural vote on Thursday narrowly passed the House. The 217 – 212 vote saw some three dozen Republicans and about 10 Democrats defect. But 217 was the magic number needed to advance TPA to final debate. House Speaker John Boehner told The Hill “we’ve addressed the concerns raised by our members, and frankly by the Democrats.” The Hill reports the key lies in Republican support though. With less than 25 Democrats expected to back fast-track, Boehner might need close to 200 members of his conference to support the legislation.

Source: NAFB News Service

RFS Comment Period Opens

Jun 11, 2015 222

With the opening of the public comment period regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to cut corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard by nearly 4 billion gallons, the National Corn Growers Association urges farmers and their family and friends to email their opposition to this proposal as soon as possible, before the July 27 deadline.

For details on the proposal and a link to send a quick email, visit www.ncga.com/rfs. Various draft comments are available to enable both farmers and their non-farmer friends to easily send personalized notes to the EPA.

“Last time, we were very clear to EPA about what we wanted,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “It is simple: EPA should follow the statute. For farmers and others in rural America, this new EPA proposal means low corn prices and ethanol plant and industry cutbacks. And for everyone, it means higher gas prices and dirtier air.”

Source: NCGA

Indiana Seed Company Breaks Ground on New Expansion

Jun 10, 2015 305

AgReliant Genetics Breaks Ground on Headquarter Expansion

agreliant groundbreakingEarlier this week, AgReliant Genetics broke ground on the expansion of its Westfield headquarters. President and CEO, Craig Newman, says the launch of this project will provide much-needed space for the company’s continued growth.

“I mean, we literally have no more space. As we’re planning to expand, we’re doubling the amount of space available plus making it so we can expand pretty easily after that.”

AgReliant Genetics is the third largest corn seed company in North America, with sales increasing 6.5 times since it was formed in 2000.

While other locations were considered for the expansion, Newman says Indiana stood out among the rest.

“The atmosphere for agriculture and business is very good in Indiana. Then having an institution like Purdue University, which is now ranked the number five agriculture university in the world, really offers us very close resources to do different things, etc.”

This expansion will include additional capacity for leadership, administrative and support personnel. Newman says the company looks forward to a new, modern facility for employees and grower customers.

“It’s very modern looking, so that’s fun. Then having more facilities, more space, a big meeting center for training that will hold 125 people, etc., just a living space. The employees are very excited and we’ve got a good plan for the future.”

Farm Bureau Alleges EPA Abused Rulemaking Process

Jun 10, 2015 1351
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Ellen SteenEllen Steen

In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, the American Farm Bureau Federation told lawmakers the Environmental Protection Agency has abused the rulemaking process in forming the “Waters of the U.S.” rule. AFBF’s Ellen Steen told the committee “legitimate concerns over how the rule would affect agriculture, in particular, were subtly twisted and then dismissed as ‘silly’ and ‘ludicrous’ and ‘myths.”  Further, EPA conducted a campaign to  “obscure the on-the-ground impact of the rule and to smear groups, like Farm Bureau, that dared to explain those impacts to the public.”

The American Farm Bureau has been analyzing the final rule by the EPA and recently stated “we have read the fine print, and what we’ve found is alarming: The final rule is significantly worse than even the original proposal.”

Ag Gets Waiver From ‘Hours Of Service’ Rule

Jun 10, 2015 324

America’s hog, cattle and poultry farmers have been granted a two-year waiver from the U.S. Department of Transportation hours-of-service rule for certain drivers. The rule, issued in mid-2013 by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute rest break for every 8 hours of service. It would have prohibited drivers hauling livestock and poultry from caring for animals during the rest period.

The National Pork Producers Council, on behalf of other livestock, poultry and food organizations, in 2013 petitioned the FMCSA for a waiver and exemption from complying with the regulation. The groups this spring asked the FMCSA to renew the waiver and to extend it for the two-year maximum allowable under federal law.

In petitioning the agency, the livestock organizations noted that the rule would cause livestock producers and their drivers irreparable harm, place the health and welfare of the livestock in their care at risk and provide no apparent increased benefit to public safety – and likely decrease public safety – while forcing the livestock industry and its drivers to choose between the humane handling of animals or complying with the rule.

The groups also pointed out that the livestock and poultry industries have programs – developed and offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture – that educate drivers on transportation safety and animal welfare. The pork industry, for example, has the Transport Quality Assurance program.

“This decision will help ensure the continued humane treatment and welfare of livestock while traveling on the nation’s highways,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “The waiver will ensure that during hot summer months livestock won’t be sitting in the sun for extended periods, with drivers unable to care for them because they’re required to take a 30-minute break.”

Official notice of the decision is set to be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register, and the waiver will become effective June 12.

“America’s livestock and poultry farmers are pleased that the FMCSA recognized that its rule would not be practicable for drivers who transport hogs, cattle and poultry,” Prestage said. “We’re grateful for FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro’s recognition of the ongoing commitment of America’s pork, livestock and poultry producers to animal welfare and highway safety.”