Freshman Lawmaker Learns & Teaches on Farm Bill

rod-davisOne of the problems of being a new lawmaker is you seem to come in on the middle of things.

“I feel like a person who walked into a coffee shop three years after a debate started, sat down at the table, and they say, ‘Hey, help fix this.’ I had a steep learning curve,” said Illinois freshman Congressman Rodney Davis when asked about his part in the new Farm Bill, which he is happy about, adding that he felt his role was to help educate non-Midwesterners about the impacts of some parts of the bill.

Speaking with Cindy during the recent American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Biofuels Beltway March in Washington, D.C., Davis said part of that education effort was talking about how the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to slash the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply could affect the commodity title of the bill. Plus, he said part of the reason pro-ethanol forces, including himself, lost the food-versus-fuel debate was the lack of educating the public.

“We need to make sure we educate those who may not know why they’re against ethanol production, why they’re against renewable fuels, and educate them how ethanol production is making cheaper, better feed for our livestock industry and how we can work together to make sure we put more homegrown fuels in our system and still provide cheap food,” Davis said.

Another big issue for the first-term congressman is the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), a bill that includes provisions to update locks and dams on the Nation’s transportation waterways critical to agricultural trade and passed the House by a nearly unanimous margin last year but is hung up in the Senate.

“We’re going to work together over the next month to push this bill out, because it’s crucial to our farmers, because 80 percent of the products that go down the Mississippi River, which my district abuts, are coal and grains. If we can’t get our products out into the open ocean, then we can’t continue to feed the world.”

Listen to all of Cindy’s conversation with Davis here: Interview with Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)

2014 ACE Biofuels Beltway March photo album

Soybean Growers Glad for Farm Bill, Upset Over EPA

Soybean growers have had a mixed bag of emotions the last couple of months: happy over the passage of the much-anticipated Farm Bill … but not so happy over the government’s proposed cut to the amount of biodiesel, which is mostly made from soybeans, to be blended into the Nation’s fuel supply.

classic14-asa-gaesserAt a news conference at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio, American Soybean Association (ASA) president Ray Gaesser, a farmer from Iowa, said after three long years of debate, it was great to see the Farm Bill become law.

“It was a compromise bill, and the final product strengthens risk management, streamlines conservation programs, reinforces the safety net, and invests in key programs in the areas of trade promotion, research and renewables,” he said, adding a big win for ASA in the new law is that planting decisions remain separated and decoupled from income safety net programs. “This helps to ensure that farmers plant for the market and not for government programs.” ASA News Conference at Commodity Classic

classic14-asa-murphyMeanwhile, ASA Chairman Danny Murphy, a grower from Mississippi, said their first priority is to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reverse its biodiesel proposal.

“These proposed regulations would reduce the production over the next year or two and really stifle the growth in a really valuable market for soybean farmers,” he said.

The hundreds of comments his members sent into the EPA might be having an effect as he told Cindy in a separate interview that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy might be having second thoughts about her agency’s proposal. “So we hope that means they’ll make some changes and allow this biodiesel industry to grow.”

During that interview, Danny also talked about trade agreements, biotechnology, and how good demand and good prices are really helping soybean farmers do well.

“It’s an exciting time to be a soybean farmer,” Danny said.

Listen to all of Cindy’s interview with Danny here: ASA Chairman Danny Murphy

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

President Signs Farm Bill in Michigan

fb-sign-farmer-1A young Michigan cherry farmer had the honor of introducing the president of the United States prior to signing of the new farm bill at Michigan State University Friday.

“On behalf of farmers across Michigan, I want to say thank you Congress for passing a great farm bill,” said Ben LaCross, former American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher chairman. “Under the previous farm bill, my cherries were not eligible for crop insurance. This farm bill strengthens crop insurance and gives farmers like me the tools we need to survive a weather disaster.”

fb-signing“Despite its name, the farm bill is not just about helping farmers,” President Obama told the small crowd invited for the signing. “Secretary Vilsack calls it a jobs bill, an innovation bill, an infrastructure bill, a research bill, a conservation bill. It’s like a Swiss Army knife.”

Vilsack was among those who joined the president as he signed the bill, along with Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and others.

Listen to the president’s speech here: President Obama farm bill signing

What do you think of the new farm bill? Which part is most important to you? Tell us in this week’s ZimmPoll.

President to Sign Farm Bill Today

deb-stabenowPresident Obama will sign the Agricultural Act of 2014 today at Michigan State University, the alma mater of Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

“This is a very exciting day and I welcome that the president is committed to agriculture in America and rural America and the research that we certainly exemplify at Michigan State,” said Stabenow earlier this week.

She will obviously be there and a few Michigan farmers have reportedly been invited to attend the private event, but House lawmakers who helped finally get the delayed legislation to the president’s desk will be absent. According to Politico, both House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) were invited but declined to attend.

The event is scheduled for around 2:00 pm Michigan time and is expected to be webcast live on local TV stations and the White House website.

What is Best in New Farm Bill

New Holland ZimmPollBefore we get to the Farm Bill let’s look at our latest ZimmPoll which asked the question, “Could drones (UAV’s) serve a purpose on your operation?”

Well over half of the voters this week said that drones could in fact serve a purpose on their operation. Price is still a factor and may be the reason that some operations would not use them yet. We’re going to see a lot more about this new technology since predictions have been made that eighty percent of the multi-million dollar market will be for agricultural use.

Our poll results:

  • Yes, if affordable – 50%
  • No – 18%
  • Yes, at any price – 14%
  • No, worried about privacy – 14%
  • What are they? – 5%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “What’s best in the new farm bill?”

The Senate finally passed its version of a conference bill Jan. 29, and now the farm bill goes to President Obama’s desk. As you can read on Senator Debbie Stabenow’s website: “This isn’t your father’s Farm Bill. It is a bill for our future that grows our agriculture economy, helps provide greater access to healthy Michigan-grown foods, preserves our land and water, and cuts unnecessary spending. The Farm Bill is a rare example of a major bipartisan jobs bill and a bipartisan deficit reduction bill,” Chairwoman Stabenow said. Have you had the chance to review the new bill? Let us know what you think is the best part.

Congratulations! It’s a Farm Bill

baby-farm-billAfter a what seemed to be a never-ending labor process, Congress has finally delivered a new farm bill – well past its 2012 due date. Everyone has something to say about the overdue bill, so we’ll take the releases in the order they came.

First to pass out cigars is the American Soybean Association (ASA). “We are relieved and pleased to see the farm bill cross the finish line this afternoon,” said ASA President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser.

National Farmers Union was next in the in box. “Passage of the bill on a wide 68-32 margin is a testament to the importance of the legislation to every region of the country,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

Another admirer is the National Cotton Council. “Congress has demonstrated strong bi-partisanship and we urge President Obama to sign this long-awaited bill into law,” said chairman Jimmy Dodson.

From the National Corn Growers Association – “We’re happy to see the farm bill pass the Senate and are looking forward to seeing it signed and implemented,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “While it’s not perfect, we’re pleased to see the bill contains many provisions we’ve been working hard for over the years.”

American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman added his congratulations. “We are particularly pleased with provisions in the 2014 farm bill to provide risk management to fruit and vegetable farmers and to support livestock farmers during disasters,” he said.

And, from the man who will be charged with raising the little tyke, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the bill will achieve “meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. While no legislation is perfect, this bill is a strong investment in American agriculture and supports the continued global leadership of our farmers and ranchers.”

During a press call today on a separate topic, Vilsack was asked what USDA will do first when the farm bill is finalized. Listen to or download his comments here: Vilsack on Farm Bill Implementation

Senate Passes Farm Bill – Not Your Father’s FB

fb-2014The Senate just passed the Farm Bill. The vote was 68-32. Now it’s on to the President’s desk.

I’m just waiting on the press releases to start showing up. Curiously, I got one before the vote!

From Senator Debbie Stabenow’s website:

The U.S. Senate today voted overwhelmingly to approve the bipartisan Farm Bill authored by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, by a vote of 68-32. The bill represents rare bipartisan agreement on a major jobs bill, legislation that will help grow Michigan’s agriculture economy, the state’s second-largest industry. The 2014 Farm Bill reduces the deficit by $23 billion and represents the most significant reform of American agriculture policy in decades. The Farm Bill was approved by the House last week and will now head to the White House for the president’s signature.

This isn’t your father’s Farm Bill. It is a bill for our future that grows our agriculture economy, helps provide greater access to healthy Michigan-grown foods, preserves our land and water, and cuts unnecessary spending. The Farm Bill is a rare example of a major bipartisan jobs bill and a bipartisan deficit reduction bill,” Chairwoman Stabenow said.

Why One Democrat Voted for Farm Bill

More Democrats than Republicans voted against the conference committee farm bill this week in the U.S. House, mostly because of the nutrition program reforms, but 89 did vote in favor despite that and one was Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), former mayor of Kansas City.

cong-cleaver-2In an interview today, Rep. Cleaver said it’s not a perfect bill, but it’s the best bill they could get. “I’ve been pushing compromise since I went to Congress ten years ago and this was an opportunity for me to practice what I preach,” said Cleaver, who is a United Methodist pastor by profession.

Rep. Cleaver, who has both rural and urban interests in his district, says he was heavily lobbied by Democratic groups, including the Progressive Caucus, to vote against the bill. “Because I represent almost four rural counties where I have a large number of farms and where I operate with a farmers’ advisory committee, I believed that in spite of some of the deficiencies, this was the best chance we had of getting a sound farm bill,” he said. “After all, it’s been two years trying to get a bill approved.”

Cleaver is hopeful Congress will make progress this year in other legislation important to agriculture, such as transportation and immigration. Interview with Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)

Farm Bill Could be Final This Week

fb-2014Agricultural groups hailed passage of the compromise farm bill by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday and look forward to swift action in the Senate.

National Corn Growers Association
President Martin Barbre of Illinois observed the floor vote from the House gallery while visiting the Capitol. “This legislation provides an adequate and flexible farm safety net, as well as a strong federal crop insurance program,” said Barbre. “More importantly, farmers need the certainty of a new five-year law, and we are happy to see this legislation includes many reforms we’ve supported and stressed over the years, reforms that make sense both for farmers and taxpayers.”

American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman says the bill includes many Farm Bureau-supported provisions, including risk management for fruit and vegetable farmers and support for livestock farmers during disasters. “It is imperative that all of agriculture unify behind this farm bill, for the good of the whole of American agriculture, consumers, our hard-working farm and ranch families and the rural communities they support,” he said, referring to livestock interests opposed to the bill.

The House vote was 251-166 and many voted for the bill even though it did not contain everything they wanted, like Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN). “The report before us today represents a compromise – I know this is rare in Washington but that’s what’s needed to actually get something done around this place,” said Peterson on the floor, noting he was not completely pleased with the dairy title or the commodity title. Rep. Collin Peterson during Farm Bill debate

Most of the 166 members who voted against the did so because of cuts to the nutrition program, which were far less severe than the original House bill, but some like Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) also had a few farm program concerns, particularly crop insurance and cotton. “We’ve got a domestic cotton program that’s gotten us into trouble with Brazil,” said Kind. “This bill does not fix that cotton problem and now it’s up to Brazil whether they want to level economic sanctions against us.” Rep. Ron Kind during Farm Bill debate

Farm Bill Could Draw Trade Retaliation

nppc_logoLivestock organizations and food associations are concerned that their members will face economic harm because the farm bill out of conference committee this week makes no changes to the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling law (COOL).

Canada and Mexico filed a complaint over the law with the World Trade Organization, which is expected to rule on it next month. If the WTO rules against the United States, Canada and Mexico are set to place retaliatory tariffs on dozens of U.S. products – including beef, pork, furniture and bakery goods.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Scott George, National Association of Manufacturers director of international trade policy Jessica Lemos, and National Pork Producers Council president Randy Spronk held a media conference call on Tuesday to discuss their concerns. Opening comments

“The released bill is a slap in the face of every livestock producer in the country,” said George, a cattle producer from Wyoming.

“If Country of Origin labeling isn’t fixed, and the farm bill is the best vehicle to do that, pork producers like me will suffer and so will dozens of other U.S. businesses,” said Spronk of Minnesota.

Lemos added that a variety of industries will be impacted if Mexico and Canada retaliates over the labeling law. “That is simply an unacceptable outcome,” she said.

Listen to or download complete call here: NCBA-NPPC Media Call

Ag Groups React to Farm Bill Conference Report

House and Senate agriculture leaders on Monday released their conference report on a new five-year farm bill that pleases some agricultural interests who just want to get it done, but distressed others.

2014-farm-billAccording to a news release from the House Agriculture Committee, the compromise bill “contains major reforms, including eliminating the direct payments program, streamlining and consolidating numerous programs to improve their effectiveness and reduce duplication, and cutting down on program misuse” but provided few details.

Most reaction to the report so far has been negative, but the American Soybean Association supports it. “This has been a trying process to be sure, but we think that through it all, the conferees and their leadership have produced a framework that will serve the best interests of soybean farmers,” said Ray Gaesser, ASA President and farmer from Corning, Iowa.

National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson says they are pleased with their initial review of the compromise but notes that the board will consider it in more detail “comparing it to the priorities that we have put forward to all members of Congress.”

Coming out strongly against the bill are the livestock and poultry industries. The American Meat Institute, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, and National Pork Producers Council already sent a letter to Congressional leadership expressing concerns about GIPSA and COOL provisions in the bill. NCBA and NPPC are holding a media call Tuesday morning at 10 am Eastern to talk about their concerns.

Even one of the conference committee members is disappointed with the outcome. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) says he will oppose the final report “because it is not market-oriented or forward looking and is too costly for the taxpayer.”

As to the contentious dairy program, the National Milk Producers Federation is not completely satisfied with the final plan, but is willing to accept it. “Despite its limitations, we believe the revised program will help address the volatility in farmers’ milk prices, as well as feed costs, and provide appropriate signals to help address supply and demand,” said NMPF president and CEO Jim Mulhern.

More reaction is expected as agricultural groups plow through the details. Leadership is hoping to bring the compromise to the floor of both houses for a vote this week.

Thune: Farm Bill Closer to Finish Line

thune-thumbSenator John Thune (R-SD) believes a farm bill is “getting closer to the finish line” but he still has concerns about aspects of it.

“Particularly the lack of reform in the commodity title of the bill, I think that’s a real missed opportunity,” said Thune during a press call with reporters this week.

Thune voted against the farm bill that passed the Senate last year because it “relies on high fixed target prices set in statute by Congress which is very far afield from the market-oriented reforms” that he hoped would be in the bill.

The South Dakota senator is particularly concerned about getting a bill quickly to get assistance for producers in his state who lost livestock during the October blizzard. He hopes to see a farm bill on the floor next week.

Thanks to Agri-Pulse for providing us with this audio.
Sen. Thune comments

Farm Bill Might be Making Progress

leahy-floorFarm bill conference committee member Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says they worked on the legislation during the holiday break and are making progress.

“The conference committee is making steady progress,” Leahy said during a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday. “Chairwoman Stabenow, a Democrat, and Chairman Lucas, a Republican, deserve credit and our appreciation, for working closely together to bridge the wide differences between our two bills.”

Calling the current Farm Bill limbo “part of a string of artificial made-by-Congress dilemmas,” the senator criticized proposals for further extensions of the farm bill. “Farming is a business,” he said. “You can’t have Congress say ‘sorry, we’ll extend it for a couple weeks – bye, bye we’re going home on recess.’”

Leahy added that “saddling farmers with this needless uncertainty makes their difficult work even more difficult” and that continuing to extend the current bill prolongs direct payment subsidies which “senselessly costs taxpayers untold millions of dollars.”

Listen to or download Leahy audio here: Sen. Leahy floor speech

Ag Industry Dealt a Blow from EPA

The agriculture industry has been dealt a blow according to Adam Nielsen, director of legislation and policy development for the Illinois Farm Bureau. Nielsen, who spends a significant amount of time promoting the agricultural industry in Washington, D.C., said the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 2014 reduction of the amount of corn ethanol blended as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is of great concern as is the lack of a five-year Farm Bill.

Adam Nielsen Illinois Farm Bureau“I think it’s time for those four tops to stop posturing and to finish the job,” said Nielsen when asked about the status of the Farm Bill while at a biodiesel groundbreaking and RFS roundtable event hosted by biofuel plant Patriot Renewable Fuels.  “And that’s to get back in a room and reach agreements on some of these issues that are considerable issues, but it’s not the first time a Farm Bill has ever been negotiated in this fashion and some of the people who are involved in this have been there before. So we’re all counting on them to be leaders right now.”

Nielsen said a five year farm bill is needed and the industry cannot afford another extension of one or two years. “The policies we have on the books right now reflect agriculture of the previous decade. We need a farm bill that reflects where we are today. I think they understand that and we’ve been patient for a long time, but our patience is beginning to run thin. And it is time for leaders to lead,” said Nielsen.

He noted that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and Farm Bill in some ways are tied together. Because the RFS drives the use of corn and soybeans there is no need for commodity supports. But if the bottom of the floor falls out on the RFS, then there would again be a need for commodity supports and this will typically be legislated through a Farm Bill.

When asked why the Farm Bill so so important and what’s at stake if one is not passed, Nielsen pointed out, “The Farm Bill provides a measure of national security, something we all take for granted. It guarantees the basic nutritional needs of Americans will be met. It really helps support the nation’s conservation goals. It keeps our soils healthy into the future. And then it provides a support for production.”

Finally, Nielsen said the Farm Bill is more than a farm bill. “It is a jobs bill for our economy. And this is what is at stake.”

Listen to my interview with Adam Nielsen here where he discusses both the Farm Bill as well as the need for the RFS to stay in tact and how the two bills are intertwined: Ag Industry Dealt a Blow from EPA

Check out the Patriot Renewable Fuels photo album.

Discussing Future of Fed Conservation Programs

farmfoundationlogo3The Farm Bill is still up in the air on Capitol Hill, and that’s why the folks at Farm Foundation have set up another of their free forums not too far from where Congress will be discussing the legislation’s future. In this next forum on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the National Press Club in downtown Washington, D.C., the group has invited a host of experts to talk about the future of federal conservation programs and what those programs mean to land owners and conservation work on the land.

Moderating the panel will be former Texas Congressman Charlie Stenholm. Five panelists will present perspectives on the legislation:

Bruce Knight of Strategic Conservation Solutions and former Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, will provide an overview of federal conservation policies and the role of federal programs in conservation work.
Eric Lindstrom, who works on wetlands and water conservation at Ducks Unlimited, will discuss that organizations’ migratory bird program, including the federal duck stamp program.
North Dakota farmer Don Bauman will explain the role of conservation in his farming operation.
Marcus Maier of the Indian Creek Watershed Project, will discuss the role of federal programs in this farmer-led project.

To sign up, click here. Also, if you can’t make it to the event, the audio will be archived on the Farm Foundation website.

Farm Bill Top Topic at NAFB Trade Talk

For the third year in a row now, the main topic of discussion at the NAFB Trade Talk was farm bill, or lack thereof.

nafb13-afbf-thatcherDespite reports that high hopes are fading for a farm bill yet this year, the ag group representatives we talked to were still cautiously optimistic. “I think progress is being made and I’m still confident that we’re going to get something before the end of the year,” said Mary Kay Thatcher with the American Farm Bureau Federation. Interview with Mary Kay Thatcher, AFBF

nafb13-nfu-johnson“Last year when I was here I predicted that by the end of the year we’d have a farm bill and I’m going to make that prediction again,” said National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson. Interview with Roger Johnson, NFU

ncga-martinNational Corn Growers Association president Martin Barbre says they are still hopeful. “We’re pressing every day, working with our friends in Congress,” the Illinois grower said. “We got it to conference, that’s a step forward!” Interview with Martin Barbre, NCGA

American Soybean Association board member Ray Gaesser of Iowa says they are also pleased to see some progress. “We’ve been working on the 2012 farm bill for more than three years,” he said. “But we are encouraged that it has at least come to conference.” Interview with Ray Gaesser, ASA

The other ASA, the American Sugar Alliance, is watching the farm bill progress very carefully because it is so critical to their industry. “The farm bill is .. our one, two and three most important priorities that we deal with,” said chairman Ryan Weston. “We’ll just keep working with all the other farm organizations and members of Congress to try to get a farm bill done by the end of the year.” Interview with Ryan Weston, American Sugar Alliance

The National Sorghum Producers chairman J.B. Stewart of Oklahoma is hoping this process is finally coming to an end. “I think both sides of the aisle are definitely ready to get this behind them,” he said. “We certainly are.” Interview with J.B. Stewart and Tim Lust, NSP

National Association of Wheat Growers president Bing Von Bergen hopes the conference committee puts partisan politics aside. “When they’re in conference they need to reach across the table and say … let’s meet in the middle. And we believe that will happen.” Interview with Bing Von Bergen, NAWG

There are other issues important to agriculture, like the water resources bill and immigration reform, but everyone is looking forward to not having to talk about a farm bill again next year at Trade Talk!

2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

NCBA’s Government Affairs Advocating for Beef

nafb-13-19-editedThe National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) attended this year’s NAFB Trade Talk event and I spoke with Colin Woodall, Vice President of Government Affairs, while stopping by their booth. Colin voiced that it is an exciting time to be part of the beef community. He admits herd numbers are down, but that it means people are making money. Beyond cattle numbers he discussed a few other hot topics he and others on Capitol Hill are tirelessly working on to ensure beef production in the United States continues to grow and thrive.

The Farm Bill was a hot topic everywhere you went during Trade Talk, but Colin focused on one aspect of the bill that is front and center for NCBA.

“Country of Origin Labeling is one issue that we have to get fixed because right now we have a retaliation that is looming from both Canada and Mexico where they could should us out of their markets or add a surtax our markets probably sometime in late summer or early fall of 2014.”

Colin also brought up Federal Lands Grazing. Many farmers and ranchers utilize permits to graze federal lands in the western part of the U.S. Activists groups are pressuring for the removal of these permits.

“We have two pieces of legislation we are working on right now. One is to try and change the way the federal government approaches wildfires. To make sure we are managing federal lands in a way to mitigate the severity of wildfires. Then also we are trying put in place a Grazing Improvement Act that would make the process to get these permits a little bit more expedited and try and cut out some of the bureaucratic red tape we have to deal with right now.”

The beef industry relies heavily on international trade. On this topic Colin shared news on the Trans Pacific Partnership and what it means to producers and consumers alike. Continue reading

USDA’s Drive in Support of Rural Communities

nafb-13-49-editedUSDA Rural Development was on hand during last week’s NAFB Trade Talk to share their work with rural communities across the United States and promote the use of #MyFarmBill.

I spoke with Colleen Callahan, Illinois State Director for Rural Development, during the event and she was eager to express their commitment to rural communities and their passion for brining value to agricultural businesses who drive the growth of those rural communities through their financial and loan programs.

“When it comes to the breadth of what USDA does, we at Rural Development feel that we are the jewel in the crown of USDA because it’s not just about any one program or any one business. It’s about entire communities and regions.”

During the Secretary of Agriculture’s press conference at NAFB, Vilsack gave credit to Colleen for her committed work with the National Drought Resiliency partnership. USDA, along with numerous other government organizations have teamed up in effort to become better prepared to mitigate the consequences of future droughts. You can find the complete audio from the press conference here.

You can’t talk with anyone from USDA without bringing up the Farm Bill. Colleen talked about the power of strength in numbers and their promotion of #MyFarmBill. The use of the hashtag will allow us all to express our opinions and share our agriculture story to the decision makers. As one it’s hard to make a stand, but together we can share our words, photos and video using #MyFarmBill to be heard. Colleen also reminds us that this is more than simply a farm bill, it is a food bill. It is about producing food for exports and putting wholesome food on the tables in homes across the country.

“In agriculture during this time of year we use a lot of technology. We use that GPS, we know where we are in the field, what the yield is in that very spot. We use the no-steer guidance to get use where we are at that point in the field and so using that technology helps us with social media. The #MyFarmBill really completes that circle. You’re at the end of the field, you’re unloading, it goes from the augur to the grain cart and you are sitting there watching. Take advantage of the time you have to communicate the business you are in.”

Listen to my complete interview with Colleen here: Interview with Colleen Callahan

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Ag Secretary Visits NAFB

vilsackAg Secretary Tom Vilsack made a trip to Kansas City to visit with farm broadcasters during the 70th National Association of Farm Broadcasting Annual Convention. The Secretary centered his comments around the RFS announcement, record levels of exports, drought issues and of course, the farm bill.

Vilsack started off by thanking all the farm broadcaster for the work that they do and shared how nice it was to talk to a crowd that understood what truly happens on the farm and appreciates the rural lifestyle.

The first topic Vilsack discussed was his excitement with agricultural exports. He stated, “We have now reached a record level of agricultural exports. Once again, $140.9 billon exports. It’s the best five years of ag exports in the history of the country. If you compare it to the pervious five year period we’ve done $230 billon more of agriculture exports and our volume is up as well.”

Next, the Secretary commented on this mornings announcement about the establishment of the National Drought Resiliency partnership. It is a collaborative effort between the Department of Commerce, Department of Interior, Department of Energy, Army Corp of Engineers, EPA, FEMA and the USDA. The goal with this team effort is to become better prepared and to mitigate the consequences of future droughts.

The final announcement came from the EPA today about RFS. Vilsack said, “At USDA we are going to focus on those aspects of this industry that we can control.” They plan to work with the industry and specifically the larger operators to create a distribution system to increase the availability of ethanol products and not depend on the petroleum industry.

You can listen to the entire press conference here Secretary Vilsack Press Conference

Checkout photos from NAFB Convention: 2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album