The full Senate is expected to begin work on a new farm bill today, but the question is will the House ever do the same?
In a telephone press conference on Friday, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) admitted they will have challenges facing us when whenever they do get the bill to the floor, but he is hopeful that will happen by mid-June. “At the end of the day, this bill’s going to be written in conference, we just need to figure out to get it to conference, that’s the trick,” he said. “If we can get to the floor by the middle of June and the Senate can move their bill, we can get this thing done by the August recess.”
Listen to or download press conference here: Rep. Collin Peterson press conference
The full Senate is slated to begin consideration today of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 passed last week by the agriculture committee.
“This is the biggest jobs bill we will pass in any Congress,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) meeting with farm broadcasters last week. “It’s time to get it done.”
Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) also met with farm broadcasters last week. “Wouldn’t it be great if the United States Senate and the House of Representatives actually went to conference and passed a farm bill not moments before the expiration of the extension, but months before the expiration?” she asked.
Regarding amendments from the floor to the bill, Heitkamp expects to see a challenge to the sugar program, attempts to reduce crop insurance, and more on the nutrition program.
Listen to or download full comments here: Senator Heidi Heitkamp
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) voted against the bill in committee because he believes it is a step backward in farm policy. “It’s a step not beyond 2013, it’s a step more toward 1980 in farm policy,” he told farm broadcasters. “I just don’t think it serves agriculture in the long term.”
While attempts to restore cuts to the nutrition program are expected on the floor of the Senate, Johanns thinks it will have to be increased from the $4 billion passed out of his committee. “I just think in order to get a bill with the House, it’s going to have to be north of that $4 billion,” he said. What that “magic number” is, however, Johanns is not sure.
Listen to or download full comments here: Senator Mike Johanns
2013 NAFB Washington Watch Photo Album
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New on Agri-Pulse this week:
Congressman Steve King is an outspoken conservative member of the House Agriculture Committee. He is in line to be the chairman when the next farm bill comes up in 2018. King put through an egg amendment that may keep states from imposing standards that restrict commerce with other states. He also wants to cut the cost of SNAP and reduce other expenditures as well.
Listen to the Agri-Pulse Open Mic interview with Rep. King here.
Betty Rosson, a Virginia grain and cattle farmer, is Monsanto’s 2013 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year.
Betty’s nomination, submitted by son Charles, was chosen by judges of American Agri-Women as regional winner for the Southeast. Online voting was conducted in early May, during which time anyone could visit AmericasFarmers.com, read regional winners’ nominations and cast a vote for one to receive the national title. Betty received the most online votes, and she was notified of her national win on Mother’s Day.
“Whether she is driving a tractor, feeding cows or caring for her family, Elizabeth (Betty) is 100 percent all-in for the job,” wrote Charles in the winning nomination. “Mom certainly doesn’t let grass grow under her feet, as she is always on the move for her family, her church, her farm and the community.”
All five regional “Farm Mom of the Year” winners will receive a $5,000 cash prize from Monsanto. As national winner, Betty will receive an additional $5,000. A check presentation ceremony is being planned in her honor for early summer.
The National Cotton Council (NCC) is pleased with the farm bills out of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees this week that make some pretty significant changes in the cotton program to hopefully provide final resolution of the longstanding Brazil WTO case.
“The focus has been to try and come up with farm policy for cotton in the new farm bill that will resolve the case,” said NCC vice president for Economics & Farm Policy Gary Adams. “We believe that STAX, which would be a new area-wide revenue insurance option for cotton, is a way to resolve the case.”
Gary says the provisions for Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) are “very similar” in both bills, while the House also includes transition payments to assist growers and their lenders until STAX can be fully implemented, “so that’s a difference that has to be worked out.”
Gary says they were some features of STAX that Brazil objected to that have now been removed, such as what was referred to as a reference price, “so we think that without having that reference price in there … we think this puts together a package that should satisfy the case.”
Bottom line, Gary says producers need a farm bill this year. “The one thing we hope is we can see Congress complete its action this summer so we can get a multi-year farm bill in place and give producers some certainty about what policy is going to be for the next few years,” he concluded.
Interview with NCC VP Gary Adams
The Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) by a wide margin on Wednesday paving the way for upgrades to the inland waterways system important for farmers.
The National Corn Growers Association Chairman Garry Niemeyer says those inland waterways, in particular the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, are an important route for moving our corn to markets worldwide. “It’s been a long time, since 2007, since we’ve had a WRDA bill and back before 2000 they used to have a WRDA bill every other year,” Garry said in an interview today. “Now we just need the funding to get these project moving forward.”
Of specific interest to corn farmers, the bill contains provisions to remove the over-budget and long-delayed Olmsted lock and dam project from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF), the remainder of the cost to be paid 100 percent by general treasury revenue and not cost-shared 50-50 through the IWTF. This action will free up around $750 million to the IWTF to complete critical priority navigation projects. An increase in the threshold for major rehabilitation, from the current $14 million to $20 million, was approved.
The bill now goes to the House for approval and Garry says they are encouraging farmers to call their representatives in Congress to tell them how important this legislation is to them.
Garry also comments on the farm bill progress this week and corn planting progress in this interview: NCGA Chairman Garry Niemeyer
The Senate WRDA bill also contains an amendment, co-sponsored by Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, regarding on-farm fuel storage under the EPA Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures regulation. “That means there will be some relief for those farmers who have on-farm fuel storage, which is most of them,” Sen. Pryor told farm broadcasters meeting in Washington this week. “We think this is the right way to do it, we think it’s commonsense, think it’s a big win.”
Listen to or download Pryor’s comments at NAFB Washington Watch Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)
2013 NAFB Washington Watch Photo Album
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Last year the rallying cry of agricultural organizations for a “Farm Bill Now” fell on deaf ears in Congress, but this week’s actions by both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to pass a bill is leading to new hope that it might finally happen.
“This provides a great reason for optimism we will have a new long-term farm bill this year,” said American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman in a statement late last night after the House Ag Committee finally finished its work. “That belief is further supported by the fact that the bills are more striking in their similarities than in their differences.”
With about 100 amendments considered or withdrawn in the House Ag Committee markup on Wednesday, there was something for everyone to be pleased or disappointed with. National Corn Growers Association president Pam Johnson says they are pleased the process is moving forward but remain “extremely concerned with the Committee’s decision to adopt a fixed-target-price program that moves U.S. farm policy away from the market-oriented reforms that have made possible a robust rural economy. It is also disappointing the Committee failed to use this opportunity to ensure a Revenue Loss Coverage program that is a genuine risk management option for producers.” The American Soybean Association expressed similar concerns.
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) was pleased that the House version rejected an amendment to the Dairy Support Act. “The committee’s decision to once again reject an amendment by Reps. Bob Goodlatte and David Scott that would have undermined the House Farm Bill’s dairy safety net is gratifying to the thousands of dairy farmers across the country who support the DSA,” said NMPF president and CEO Jerry Kozak.
For the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), portions of the House farm bill included priorities important to cattlemen and women such as permanent disaster programs along with the elimination of the livestock title, maintaining of conservation programs and a strong research title.
An amendment supported by the National Pork Producers Council was adopted in the House bill to prevent the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from doing any further work on the rulemaking that resulted from the 2008 Farm Bill, and the National Fisheries Institute is happy about an amendment repealing the duplicative USDA catfish inspection program.
The Senate bill is expected to go to the floor next week while the House bill is slated for next month.
The House Agriculture Committee passed the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 by a vote of 36 to 10, officially putting on their hats and adjourning at a quarter before midnight in the Eastern time Wednesday after more than ten hours of farm bill markup considering 100 amendments.
“This is an adventure that started several years ago,” said Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) at the end. “It’s taken two markups to get to this point. We have an adventure ahead of us in June.”
Speaking to farm broadcasters before the process began Wednesday morning, Lucas expected it to be a long day but not as long as last year’s markup and they did manage to cut that down by a few hours. But he knows this is just the beginning of a much longer process to get a bill passed on the floor. “Whatever we do in the committee, many of the battles – whether it is over dairy, or sugar, or the size of the nutrition reforms, will be fought out again on the floor of the United States House,” he said.
Among the battles fought in the committee was on the dairy program, but members ultimately voted to support the Dairy Security Act (DSA)and reject an amendment by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and David Scott (D-GA) that would have removed the supply management mechanism of the act.
“Supply management is antithetical to the future growth of the dairy industry,” Goodlatte and Scott said in a statement expressing their disappointment in the vote. “A supply control program that will directly intervene in markets and increase milk prices will ultimately hurt dairy producers and consumers as well as dairy food manufacturers by stifling industry growth.”
A $20.5 billion cut to nutrition programs survived the committee markup after hours of debate and many of the ten members who voted against the final bill did so because of those cuts. The nutrition title makes up 80% of the “farm bill” spending. Cuts to the other 20% the bill amount to about $18 billion. “This is the first real reform to the nutrition title in almost 20 years,” said Lucas.
GROWMARK and FS are excited to make it easier than ever to make connections on social media.
“We are excited to add social features to our website,” says GROWMARK Corporate Digital Strategic Development Manager Heather Thompson. “Users will now see the ability to like and follow GROWMARK and FS right on our homepage.”
That includes links to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and Pinterest. “We launched GROWMARK.com in a redesigned version just before we started actively pursuing social media so we didn’t have the chance to incorporate a lot of social features,” said Heather, noting that instead of doing another complete redesign, they just added those features into the website.
Heather says that social media has proven to be a great tool for them to connect with the members and customers. “We really enjoy the opportunity to connect with people on a more personal level than we had in the past with traditional media,” she said.
Listen to my interview with Heather here: Heather Thompson, GROWMARK
In just a few hours with almost no changes, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted 15-5 today to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013.
“This bill reflects agriculture’s cuts from the sequester and goes beyond that in spending reductions by making tough decisions and setting priorities that make sense for farmers, families, and taxpayers,” said Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich).
“It’s going to save off the baseline $24 billion over the life of the bill,” said Ranking Member Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) “We’ve made some reductions. We’ve streamlined and consolidated programs. There is also significantly less mandatory money authorized for energy programs than in the 2008 Farm Bill.”
Among the five senators who voted against the bill was Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) “I still want to pass a Farm Bill and provide long-term certainty to farmers, ranchers, and their families in Kansas and across the country,” said Roberts. “However, as it stands at this point today, this is not a reform bill. This is a rearview mirror bill.”
The bill is expected to move to the Senate floor next week.
We first told you about Monsanto’s FieldScripts last fall at Farm Progress Show. Now we will be hearing much more from farmers using it on a trial basis in the field.
This planting season, more than 150 farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota are trialing the first offering from Monsanto’s Integrated Farming SystemsSM (IFS) research platform – FieldScriptsSM. With FieldScripts planted on more than 8,300 acres in Illinois, Ground Breakers® farmers there are impressed with how FieldScripts revolutionizes variable rate planting.
FieldScripts integrates Monsanto’s understanding of hybrid performance with the data farmers provide about their individual fields to identify the best hybrids and provide a variable rate planting prescription for each field. The process is led by FieldScripts Certified Dealers, delivered through the FieldView® Plus app on the farmer’s iPad®, and executed with precision equipment on the planter.
Ground Breakers farmer Mark Sturtevant in Carroll County, Ill. has planted several fields with FieldScripts and is excited about bringing together Monsanto’s knowledge of hybrid performance in multiple yield environments with the latest planter technologies, “If we can harness this technology, we’ll be able to increase our yield and profit potential. We’re working to put the right seed, at the right amount, on every acre. FieldScripts is a step in the right direction for the industry.”
While many farmers own variable rate planters, there has not been a simple and accurate way to utilize them. Traditionally, variable rate seeding has been based on soil type or normalized yield, but these methods fall short of revealing the true picture of what is happening in the field or providing a means to plant accurately using that information.
FieldScripts allows the farmer to accurately plant a lower seeding rate in lower-yielding areas of the field, and a higher seeding rate at higher yielding areas of the field, maximizing the yield potential of every seed. Monsanto research has shown that FieldScripts delivers a 5-10 bushel per acre yield advantage across the field as a whole, as compared with fields not planted with FieldScripts. In 2014, Monsanto plans to launch FieldScripts that will be delivered to farmers through FieldScripts Certified DEKALB® seed dealers.
Read more from Monsanto.
The Senate Agriculture Committee meets this morning to consider the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, their version of a “Farm Bill.” Yesterday, farm broadcasters meeting in Washington D.C. had the chance to interview a number of representatives from various agricultural and renewable fuels organizations and most of them had something to say about what the House and Senate have in their respective draft bills.
American Soybean Association director and farmer from Delaware Richard Wilkins said they are pleased to see that both bills allow some flexibility for growers. “They both contain provisions that allow the soybean grower to choose which type of “safety net” they feel works best for them,” he said.
Interview with Richard Wilkins, American Soybean Association
Chris Galen with the National Milk Producers Federation says both drafts contain the Dairy Security Act and he expects the Senate to pass this proposal which they support, but on the House side there is another proposal being offered which they oppose. “Basically it would turn farmers into takers of government welfare because it would not allow the marketplace to correct quick enough,” he said.
Interview with Chris Galen, National Milk Producers Federation
Bob Dinneen with the Renewable Fuels Association says there is an energy title in the Senate draft. “And we hope to be able to have some funds in that to allow USDA to continue to make funding available for blender pumps and do some other things for future technologies,” he said.
Interview with Bob Dinneen, Renewable Fuels Association
Colin Woodall with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says as far as they are concerned, they would rather not be in the farm bill at all. “Our number one priority was to make sure there was not a livestock title in either bill, right now there’s not so we’re happy with that,” he said.
Interview with Colin Woodall, National Cattlemen's Beef Association
2013 NAFB Washington Watch Photo Album
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As both the House and Senate Agriculture committees are marking up their versions of a farm bill this week, that was the number one issue for farm broadcasters meeting in the nation’s capitol for their annual Washington Watch.
Mary Kay Thatcher with the American Farm Bureau Federation sees few major differences between the two committee drafts released last week. “If you look at all the titles, except commodities and nutrition, they’re fairly similar – there isn’t really a nickel’s worth of difference in conservation, research, rural development or specialty crops,” she said. Even the commodity titles she thinks are more similar this year than last, but there are differences in nutrition. “I still think the food stamp program is going to be the big ticket that’s going to hold us up in getting this thing done.”
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Mary Kay here: Interview with Mary Kay Thatcher, AFBF
Jon Doggett with the National Corn Growers Association says their top priority with the farm bill is risk management and crop insurance, which is why they joined with a number of other agriculture and environmental groups last week in hammering out a compromise to support tying conservation compliance and crop insurance but oppose means testing or payment limitations. “We worked out some common sense language that makes this a very workable program for growers that offers them plenty of opportunity that if they inadvertently get out of compliance they can quickly get back in,” he said. “In return, we have an assurance from the conservation community that they will be with us to protect the funding for crop insurance.”
Listen to Chuck’s interview with Jon here: Interview with Jon Doggett, NCGA
The Senate farm bill mark up is scheduled for Tuesday and the House on Wednesday.
Link to Senate farm bill page.
Link to House farm bill draft.
2013 NAFB Washington Watch Photo Album
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With the Senate Agriculture Committee set to start writing a new farm bill on Tuesday and the House Agriculture Committee ready to follow a day later, Congressman Collin Peterson offers his views on how a new farm bill can hopefully get passed by both chambers this year. As the ranking Democrat, he talks about the compromises he’s worked out with Chairman Frank Lucas on a host of issues and with Speaker John Boehner regarding dairy policy. Peterson also expresses confidence about a compromise on nutrition spending – even though the level of cuts in the House Agriculture Committee’s draft bill are significantly higher than the Senate version.
Listen to the Agri-Pulse Open Mic interview with Peterson here.
The Supreme Court today ruled unanimously to protect the intellectual property rights of Monsanto‘s genetically modified soybean seed.
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Bowman v. Monsanto, a case regarding an Indiana farmer who planted saved Roundup Ready soybean seed, ruling that “patent exhaustion does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission.”
“The Court’s ruling today ensures that longstanding principles of patent law apply to breakthrough 21st century technologies that are central to meeting the growing demands of our planet and its people,” said David F. Snively, Executive Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel of Monsanto. “The ruling also provides assurance to all inventors throughout the public and private sectors that they can and should continue to invest in innovation that feeds people, improves lives, creates jobs, and allows America to keep its competitive edge.”
American Soybean Association (ASA) President Danny Murphy, a Mississippi soybean farmer, welcomed the ruling. “By ruling unanimously in favor of maintaining the integrity of intellectual property laws, the Supreme Court has ensured that America’s soybean farmers, of which Mr. Bowman is one, can continue to rely on the technological innovation that has pushed American agriculture to the forefront of the effort to feed a global population projected to pass 9 billion by 2050,” Murphy said in a statement. “Without the protection of intellectual property that the court reaffirmed today, the companies on whom my fellow soybean farmers and I rely would have no real incentive to make the investments necessary to develop new soybean varieties that yield more, resist disease, weeds, and pests, are drought tolerant, or have improved nutritional profiles.”
Even as the Syngenta-owned Garst and Golden Harvest® brands are being launched under the revised Golden Harvest brand, Syngenta intends to uphold the quality, reliability and legacy that have become synonymous with the Garst brand and the Garst Seed Advisor.
“Roswell Garst’s commitment to customers – to be a trusted advisor in addition to a seed dealer – is the very essence of what the Syngenta Seed Advisor network embodies,” said Lori Thomas, customer marketing manager for the dealer channel commercial unit for Syngenta in North America. “Even though the Garst name won’t have the same market presence, the integrity, tradition and history of the company will continue to live on.” Thomas and her husband, Mike, were Garst Seed Advisors for 10 years.
Founded as Garst & Thomas Hi-Bred Corn Company in 1930, the Garst brand has a rich history of bringing many innovative corn solutions to market, from developing herbicide-tolerant hybrids, including the first IMI-corn, to offering European Corn Borer (Bt) control and herbicide tolerance together in one corn hybrid, to transcending borders and taking the new technology to farmers in other countries, including the former Soviet Union.
Since Syngenta acquired the Garst brand in 2004, the company has focused on building a diverse genetic portfolio, using the genetics from the Garst, Golden Harvest and NK® brand breeding programs and incorporating the market-leading line-up of Agrisure® traits. Earlier this year, Syngenta announced the decision to rebrand the existing Garst and Golden Harvest corn seed brands and launch a unified Golden Harvest brand stemmed from ongoing efforts to strengthen and grow the network of Syngenta Seed Advisors.
A new logo and numbering system for Golden Harvest hybrids will be in place for summer 2013 trials and the 2014 planting season. “The new logo brings elements from the Garst legacy as well as the Golden Harvest legacy,” Lori says, stressing that growers who have counted on Garst seed to maximize their yields will still have access to the same high-quality genetics under the Golden Harvest name through their Syngenta Seed Advisor.
Listen to or download my interview with Lori here: Interview with Lori Thomas
BASF plans to begin production of 1,4-butanediol based on renewable feedstock (renewable BDO) using the patented process of California-based company Genomatica. The one-step fermentation process is based on sugars as a renewable feedstock.
BDO and its derivatives are widely used for producing plastics, solvents, electronic chemicals and elastic fibers. The starting materials for the production of conventional BDO are natural gas, butane, butadiene and propylene. BASF currently produces conventional BDO at facilities around the world and the new agreement will now allow BASF to build a world-scale production facility that will use the Genomatica process to manufacture BDO based on renewable feedstock. Under the terms of the agreement, Genomatica will continue to advance its patented renewable BDO production process technology based on sugars while BASF will produce renewable BDO, which will be available in the second half of 2013 for sampling and trials.
“We chose the Genomatica process because we consider it to be exceptionally advanced and reliable,” said Sanjeev Gandhi, President of BASF Intermediates division, and added: “In line with our ‘We create chemistry’ strategy, we aim to offer renewable BDO and create additional value for our customers, in the plastics, textile and automotive industries.”
Read more here.
The name Wells Fargo is forever linked with the image of a six-horse stagecoach thundering across the American West, loaded with gold. The California-based company, founded in 1852 by Henry Wells and William G. Fargo, also has a rich history in agribusiness. In fact, Wells Fargo has extended more credit to U.S. food and agribusiness than any bank, mostly in California but now moving eastward.
To lead the expansion into new territories in the Midwest and East, Wells Fargo has named Rob Yraceburu to a new position as head of its National Food & Agribusiness Division. We talked with Rob for this edition of the ZimmCast to find out more about his background, the importance of agriculture to Wells Fargo and what they will be offering for farmers in areas east of the Rockies in the coming months.
Listen to my conversation with Rob here: Wells Fargo's Rob Yraceburu
Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsors, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong and Monsanto, Roundup Ready Plus, for their support.
We are so pleased with the response to our new agri-blogging internship program. It was tough to choose just one for the summer semester, but we finally decided on Maggie Seiler – a sophomore at Kansas State University dual majoring in agricultural communications and journalism and animal sciences and industry.
Maggie grew up on a dairy operation outside of Wichita and has worked for the Kansas Dairy Association and the Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops, as well as serving as an Agricultural Ambassador and an officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She is very interested in the agriculture use of social media.
“Blogging and the use of social media platforms is becoming an increasingly important part of journalism and the agricultural industry,” Maggie said in her application. “I really appreciate the ability of online platforms and blogs to provide the vital information from agriculture industry meeting to members of the community that cannot physically travel to events. ZimmComm is a company that stays on the cutting-edge of industry developments sharing them with producers. I would really like to be a part of this movement and especially focus on increasing my knowledge of using online platforms to reach out to agriculturists.”
We are not wasting any time getting Maggie on the agri-blogging highway. She will be joining Chuck next week for the 2013 Alltech Symposium in Lexington, Kentucky and you can expect to meet her at other events this summer.
Orange juice is the “Real Thing” in Florida and Coca-Cola is helping the industry keep brightening our days with glasses of sunshine.
The Coca-Cola company is committing $2 billion to support the citrus industry in Florida by planting of 25,000 acres of new orange groves in the Sunshine State.
Under the agreement with with Cutrale Citrus Juices and Peace River Citrus Products, growers will plant 5 million new trees on land that previously held citrus groves or are now idle in Polk, DeSoto and Hendry Counties, and Coca-Cola will buy the fruit. The investment is expected to create approximately 4,100 new jobs and add more than $422 million per year to Florida’s economy.
“Citrus is synonymous with Florida, but the industry has faced many challenges in recent years, particularly the growing threat of citrus greening,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.
Citrus greening is a bacterial disease that poses an existential threat to the state’s $9 billion citrus industry. The disease is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid and causes trees to produce misshapen and bitter fruit. Infected trees generally die within three to five years. The disease is present in every citrus-producing county in Florida and in more than half of the state’s groves. The Florida Legislature recently appropriate $9.5 million to support research and the fight against citrus greening across the state.