CFB President Don Shawcroft testified before the House Natural Resources Committee today in Washington D.C. During the hearing titled “Harnessing American Resources to Create Jobs and Address Rising Gasoline Prices: Impacts on Businesses and Families,” Shawcroft told the assembled Representatives that Americans are experiencing sticker shock at the gas pump these days, but high fuel costs are hitting America’s farmers and ranchers especially hard.
“Most Americans are feeling sticker shock caused by high gasoline prices when they fill their automobile’s tank,” Shawcroft said. “But there is no term in the English language to accurately describe what farmers and ranchers feel every time they put diesel in the tanks of their farm equipment.”
Shawcroft cited numerous examples of the economic impact currently experienced by farmers and ranchers. He said the cost just for refueling a typical tractor can be more than $1,000.
Remarks made last week by the chairman of Nestle about the use of corn for biofuels production were not only wrong but dangerous, the president of the National Corn Growers Association said.
“It is scandalous, ludicrous and highly irresponsible for the chairman of a global conglomerate that tripled its profits last year to talk about higher corn prices forcing millions into starvation,” said NCGA President Bart Schott. “Perhaps if Nestle is so concerned about food prices, its board will consider putting more of their $35.7 billion in 2010 profits back into poor communities. Just their profits alone represent more than half the entire farm value of the 2010 U.S. corn crop.”
Schott was reacting to comments by Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe at a meeting last Tuesday of the Council on Foreign Relations. Schott also challenged Brabeck-Letmathe to take the time to study facts and figures before making ridiculous comments about an industry that he clearly knows little about, nor bothered to study up on.
High vegetable prices are expected to ease in the coming weeks as farmers send more produce to the supermarket.
Prices shot up nearly 50 percent in February due to cold weather that destroyed much of the vegetable supply. Lettuce in Arizona, tomatoes in Florida and other crops were impacted.
Six Colorado residents have been appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to the State Agricultural Commission.
Thomas K. Cameron, Palisade, (Democrat), to serve from the Fourth agricultural district; Ernest D. Ford, Center, (Democrat), to serve from the Third agricultural district; Barbara L. Marty, Henderson, (Republican), to serve from the First agricultural district; John W. Singletary, Pueblo, (Democrat), to serve as an at-large member; and Alvin Kunugi, Blanca, (Democrat), to serve as an at-large member.
The commission formulates policy for the Colorado Department of Agriculture and advises the governor and state legislature on agricultural issues.
EU agriculture ministers on Thursday rejected capping subsidies to Europe’s biggest farms but compromised on a fairer share-out of funds between farmers in eastern and Western Europe.
Meeting to discuss an overhaul of Europe’s generously subsidized farms program, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), 19 of the 27 ministers present agreed to the general outlines of a plan to revamp the scheme, several ministers said.
With debate continuing on how to reform the CAP “we have a good basis to look at a legislative package”, said Europe’s agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos.
CFB and other Colorado Ag groups celebrated National Ag Day on Wednesday at the state Capitol in Denver. The Colorado House also passed a resolution supporting and celebrating Colorado Agriculture. The Colorado Ag Council donated $65,000 in cash and in-kind donations of food the the Food Bank of the Rockies.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, left, meets with Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar, middle, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
Remove barriers to trade, foreign markets, red tape and get out of the way. That was the basis of most of the comments at Governor Hickenloopers’ Economic Development Summit this week in Greeley. As part of his bottom-up economic development strategy, the Governor hosted a day-long Summit on rural and economic development at UNC in Greeley. Attending the meeting along with the Governor was U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack and Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar.
Red tape and other barriers to business and commerce were a recurring theme throughout the many sessions on various aspects of economic development.
Roundup Ready Alfalfa opponents protest in front of the meeting hall.
“It’s difficult to differentiate red tape and what is an appropriate regulation,” Hickenlooper said in addressing the problem. To do that, he said, he wants to find ways to help business grow while holding the state at the highest level of accountability and ethics. He also wants to assure that the state is pro-business but is also intent on protecting the state’s natural resources.
Vilsack addressed the red tape and regulation complaints by noting the federal government has been given a reality check and that it must become more fiscally responsible and use resources more effectively to “create economic opportunities.”
Agriculture, Vilsack said, was the one bright spot in the recession the country is now starting to move out of. He noted that the export of agricultural products is expected to increase again this year after seeing the same from 2010. Those exports, he said, generate jobs.
(Image: Jim Rydbom, Greeley Tribune)
Mike Barnett of Texas Agriculure Talks, the Texas Farm Bureau blog, wrote today about some important aspects of the agriculture industry that consumers need to know. His comments are apropos of March 15, National Agriculture Day.
Mike says that while there is no shortage of safe and wholesome food in this country, there are those who would bite the hand that feeds them. He says that there are 5 things that may be hard truths for ag critics to stomach, but they are truths nonetheless.
- • Farmers use pesticides—even organic farmers. Pesticides may be a natural part of the plant, may be made from another plant, or may be synthetic in nature. Pesticides are regulated by the government and are evaluated for their effects on human health and environment. They are safely and judiciously used by farmers and ranchers to ward off crop and livestock disease problems.
- • Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not evil. Genetic improvement—through traditional plant breeding techniques as well as genetic modification in the lab—has allowed our food and fiber supply to keep pace with a surging world population.
- • The bacon, eggs and milk you had for breakfast this morning likely came from a pig, chicken and dairy cow that was raised in a confined feeding operation. In that confined operation, the pig, chicken or dairy cow had an excellent health plan, good groceries and protection from bad weather and predators.
- • Farmers make profits. Farmers make money by taking care of their land and water resources. They bank those resources to ensure future generations can continue the rich heritage of growing food and fiber.
- • The average farmer in the United States feeds 155 people. Two-thirds of those people are Americans. The other third are people across the globe.
America is a lucky nation.
Our food is abundant. Our food is safe. Our food is affordable.
From this little corner of cyberspace, I salute farmers and ranchers. They are the reason America enjoys food security. They are the reason we celebrate National Agriculture Day.
We would agree.
The Colorado General Assembly will present a House Joint Resolution, sponsored by Rep. Sonnenberg and Sen. Schwartz, on Wednesday, March 16th, in recognition of National Ag Week and in celebrating National Ag Day in Colorado.
At Noon there will be a press conference on the West Steps of the State Capitol followed by a sandwich lunch prepared by members of the Colorado Ag Council.
Press Conference Agenda
Alistair Polson (center right) and Terry Meikle (far right) met with CFB leadership this week to discuss trade.
Yesterday, Don Shawcroft and Troy Bredenkamp met with Alistair Polson, New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy and Terry Meikle, the New Zealand Embassy’s Secretary for Trade and Agriculture. The meeting was an informal way to share about agriculture issues from two countries across the Pacific Ocean from each other. Mr. Shawcroft and Mr. Bredenkamp provided a survey of Colorado agriculture and the issues we face. Mr. Polson was particularly interested in Colorado’s water administration system and how water is balanced between ag and urban needs.
Mr. Polson, himself a sheep and cattle rancher in New Zealand, spoke about his countries support for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and asked that Colorado farmers and ranchers support the effort. The TPP is a trade agreement between 9 Pacific Rim nations. Is is currently in the negotiation stage and the 6th round will take place at the end of this month.
The TPP could open up many Pacific nations to U.S. goods, services and agricultural products.
Mr. Polson met with the Commissioner John Stulp, Leprino Cheese, JBS Swift, and other ag groups during his two day tour of Colorado.
The world is consuming grains faster than farmers are growing them, draining reserves and pushing prices to the levels that fueled food riots in poor countries three years ago. A big U.S. crop will be needed to meet the demand, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The stage is set for very serious disruptions, should weather disasters happen,” said Keith Collins, the former chief economist of the Agriculture Department. “It seems clear to me that the chance of a more widespread global food crisis has increased.”
The rise in prices also has economists urging caution among policy makers.
Economists with the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute are urging President Barack Obama not to overreact to recent spikes in food prices by imposing export bans on U.S. agricultural products.
“We should expect fluctuations, but we shouldn’t exacerbate these fluctuations by imposing obstructions to the market that could make things worse,” said Manuel Hernandez, a postdoctoral fellow at IFPRI. “The situation is not the same as in 2007 and 2008. So there is no major concern that we should worry about another food crisis.”
EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions by U.S. oil refineries could drive many of the refineries out of business by placing them at a significant disadvantage to foreign gasoline, according to Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association.
“Our nation’s petroleum refineries remain one of the last internationally competitive segments of the American manufacturing base,” Drevna wrote in a letter to Gina McCarthy, EPA’s assistant administrator for air and radiation, which NPRA submitted to accompany its oral testimony at EPA’s listening session on implementing GHG regulations under the Clean Air Act.
According to NPRA, U.S. refineries process 95 percent of the gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, heating oil and lubricants that are used domestically.
“There is no guarantee that the U.S. domestic refining manufacturing base will continue to be in existence two or three decades from now,” Drevna said. “Our members’ plants could well go the way of many domestic auto plants, virtually all of our domestic textile mills and many domestic steel plants.”
Join the conversation!
The Governor’s Office and the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade has partnered with Colorado State University’s Office of Engagement and Extension to engage Coloradoans in a statewide conversation about Economic Development.
Governor Hickenlooper is asking for residents across the State, county by county, to share their stories, challenges, and strengths by developing a strategic economic development plan for their county. These county plans will then be rolled up into 14 regional economic development plans, which collectively will be rolled up into a statewide economic development plan.
You are invited to actively participate in your county’s economic development planning processes. Provide input and ideas and ask friends, family, neighbors and others to participate as well. Attend planning meetings, take the online survey at www.advancecolorado.com or send an email at email@example.com
Also, please take advantage of an online economic development survey to help communicate your ideas about how to revitalize your local economy. http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/462074/County-Economic-Development-Self-Assessment-Survey
The results from the state’s on-line survey will be compiled by county and provided to each county. In support of the bottom-up approach, each county will determine its use and the relevance of such information.
The General Accounting Office released a report Tuesday detailing billions of dollars in duplicative federal programs. According to the 345-page report, there are dozens of overlapping government programs in defense, transportation, education and other areas that could be consolidated to save taxpayers money.
The report points out that there are 18 different federal food and nutrition programs that do essentially the same thing. And the report said not enough is known about the effectiveness of the programs.
The report also said reform of U.S. ethanol incentives could save the government $5.7 billion per year. In addition, GAO says reducing some farm program payments could result in substantial savings. The report shows tax dollars could be saved with strengthened oversight of farm program payments.
CFB member and former CFB communications intern Elisa Sagehorn was recently profiled in the Holyoke Enterprise over her involvement with ag education and promotion. Elisa is a National Collegiate Ag ambassador and member of the Colorado Young Farmers Education Association. As part of both organizations Sagehorn educates the public in Colorado about agriculture and the rural lifestyle.
Sagehorn said as a presenter, spokesperson and ambassador for agriculture, she absolutely loves working with individuals across the state of Colorado and beyond.
“It’s given me the key to switch over my career,” said the 2008 HHS grad, noting she is now an ag education major at CSU.
With Sagehorn’s new role as an Ag Ambassador, she is excited to take on this “challenge” of agricultural literacy. She mentioned the road is going to be a long one, but programs like USDA’s Agriculture in the Classroom and National FFA’s Food for America are great starting points.
Read the entire piece at the Holyoke Enterprise online.
In an upbeat and optimistic Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture, speakers weighed in on what Colorado agriculture producers can expect from their industry in the future. This year’s theme was “Today’s Vision for Tomorrow’s Food System.”
In his remarks to the gathering, Gov. Hickenlooper said that he has learned much about the importance of agriculture and rural Colorado over the course of his campaign.
“I realized that rural areas are what gives Colorado its identity,” he said. “It’s the rural areas that make Denver, Denver.”
Heeding President Shawcroft’s call to increase Farm Bureau activity at the local level, members of the Moffat County Farm Bureau are lobbying their county commissioners for a measure they say would help to improve the ag economy in the county.
Moffat County Farm Bureau Board Member Brent Brighton requested that Commissioners consider implementing a county agricultural sales tax exemption. Brighton asked the county waive the 2-percent county sales tax on agricultural equipment purchased by qualified farmers and ranchers.
The measure would have to go before voters.
The strength of Farm Bureau is vibrant county farm bureaus that expand their influence at the local level. Moffat County Farm Bureau has made a superb first effort. Please contact your regional manager for assistance in developing a local affairs program.
Rising crop prices are helping farmland values climb in the Midwest, according to a report released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The value of irrigated cropland jumped 14.8 percent, while the value of non-irrigated cropland moved up 12.9 percent, compared to last year.
The bank’s quarterly survey of the 10th District region, which covers western Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and northern New Mexico, revealed that farmland prices rose for the fifth consecutive quarter since a drop in the third quarter of 2009, when the livestock sector was contracting due to the recession.
There is concern that farmland values may be climbing too high. “Bankers in the survey were starting to raise questions about the sustainability of farmland values and are paying closer attention to their loan-to-value ratios,” said Brian Briggeman, an economist at the Omaha branch of the Kansas City Fed.
Its that time again! Celebrate spring with the CFB Women’s Leadership Committee’s 2011 Women’s Leadership Conference in Glenwood Springs.
There will be speakers on becoming better ‘ag-vocates’ for agriculture, workshops to help you in your business and personal life and “funshops”, – learning and sharing with other women in agriculture. Plan a family vacation to historic Glenwood and the Hot Springs! An optional tour on Saturday, April 2nd includes a ride on the gondola, followed by lunch and a tour of Glenwood Caverns. Family welcome!
USDA expects net farm income to be $94.7 billion in 2011, up $15.7 billion, or 19.8 percent, from the 2010 forecast, despite a $20-billion jump in production expenses.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the report is good news for producers and indicates that economic improvement is underway in much of rural America. “Potential record or near record prices for commodities like corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton reflect the fact that our trading partners continue a strong demand for food and fiber produced by America’s farmers,” Vilsack said.
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service the number of farms and ranches in Colorado shrank by 100 operations in 2009, while the total land in production shrank by a negligible amount. The number of farms and ranches in the entire country remained unchanged from 2009.
The report also said that while the average size farm in Colorado was 864 acres, the average size farm in the United States was 418 acres.
State Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar says he wants to educate Coloradans about the importance of farming and ranching because many people don’t understand it.
Salazar told the Pueblo Chieftain on Monday that too many people think their food comes from a grocery store, not from the people who really grow it.
Many have felt the job of advocating for the industry had been lacking under the leadership of former Commissioner John Stulp.
The National Corn Growers Association and the National Grain and Feed Foundation–the research and education arm of the National Grain and Feed Association–have unveiled a joint video project to promote awareness about grain bin safety on the farm. The two organizations teamed up to develop the video in response to an increase in U.S. fatalities and injuries associated with entry into grain bins.
Research shows that 92 percent of victims who become fully engulfed in flowing grain do not survive. Teens between 13 years and 17 years of age and farmers over the age of 55 are most at risk for entrapment in grain, according to the video.
Rep. John Becker (R- Ft. Morgan) a freshman and member of the Joint Budget Committee told members at the CFB Legislative Conference that the ag industry will fare well in the budget cutting process in 2011. The committee is responsible for closing the $300 million budget shortfall facing the state this year.
Rep.. Becker and Sen. Hodge, both of the JBC speak to members about the budget cutting process.
“With a little argument, we were able to reduce the amount of money that could have been taken from the CWCB fund for water projects,” he said.
In the end, only $5 million out of a possible $10 million was diverted to the budget gap. Becker also told members that the potato inspection fund and the brand board fund will not be raided.
“Ag has been very well protected by the JBC this year.”
The JBC still has another $70 – 90 million to cut from the budget this year.
The 2011 CFB Legislative Conference is still on schedule despite the weather. While the wind may blow and the cold may bite, the driving should not be too bad. Members are invited to hop in the truck and make a slightly slower trip to Denver for the conference.
“If we could postpone the conference, we would,” said President Shawcroft. “Despite the weather there are pressing matters at the capitol and I would like as many members as possible to brave the cold and make it to Denver to speak with their legislators.”
We hope to see you at the conference. We know some of you wont be able to make it but we would ask, “What else are you going to do?”
CFB YF&R members gathered in Colorado Springs for their annual leadership conference this last weekend. With an unusually large crowd the conference was a fun an informative way to bring the younger generation of Farm Bureau members together.
“We had a group of about 60 which is really great,” said Jayde Van Cleave, CFB Regional Manager and YF&R Coordinator.
Collegiate and young farmers and ranchers from across the state took the weekend to forge new relationships and hone their leadership skills at the two day conference.They also learned the ins and outs of Farm Bureau and what they can do to advocate for the industry.
For more photos of the event, check out the YF&R Facebook page. Make sure to become a fan of the page while you are there!
The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture launched its new and enhanced version of “MyAmericanFarm.org,” a free online interactive gaming platform, that focuses on third- through fifth-grade students. The new version offers more agriculture-related games and activities for kids coupled with additional educator resources.
“My American Farm” was developed to engage millions of youth, teachers and parents through unique educational experiences, educator resources and fun family activities in an online environment.
“One of the main things we tried to do was not only provide these games, but also provide resources and ways to search the site so educators can find information easily by subject matter and agricultural themes and topics,” said Curtis Miller, director of education for the foundation. “We also have fun family activities for when kids come home from school and they have that time on the computer.”
Colorado was one of six state Farm Bureaus that were recognized for outstanding financial support of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The awards were presented during the Flapjack Fundraiser, a pancake breakfast at AFBF’s 92nd annual meeting last week.
State Farm Bureaus receiving the Scholar Award, a new award, are: Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Indiana and Nebraska. The Scholar Award is given to the six state Farm Bureaus with the highest total donations within their membership levels.
CFB President Don Shawcroft, Vice President Carlyle Currier, delegates Mike Mitchell and Phyllis Snyder capped a successful policy session at the annual American Farm Bureau Federation meeting on Tuesday.
The four successfully argued for policy forwarded to the delegate body by CFB delegates in November. CFB policy in the areas of elected officials, regulatory review and reform pertaining to the EPA, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Immigration was approved by the AFBF delegates.
It was supposed to be one of the biggest and most controversial issues in Farm Bureau policy this year. The showdown between states that supported the elimination of direct payments and those that favored keeping them was supposed to take up much time on the delegate floor.
Except that’s not what happened.
The much anticipated squabble over direct payments never really developed. The discussion passed quickly with most delegates in favor of keeping them in the mix of farm programs in the next farm bill. The delegates easily passed a resolution that called for ” a strong and effective safety net that consists of direct payments, crop insurance, and a simplified ACRE program.”
While the delegates refused to pull their support for direct payments, they did pass a policy stating that farmers must purchase crop insurance if they wish to be eligible for farm program benefits.
Yuma County Farm Bureau authored Colorado’s policy rejecting direct payments. President Nathan Weathers is not pleased with the short shrift given to that position as the delegate session.
“I’m really disappointed,” he said. “I think we missed a great opportunity to show both politicians and the public that we are committed to doing out part in helping to climb out of debt.”
Weathers says he heard from many producers at the Annual Meeting that still did not see the negative light that commodity payments put farmers and ranchers in.
“I heard so many people tell me that they ‘weren’t giving up their government payments’ I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
Iowa and Colorado Farm Bureau were two states that favored the elimination of the payments. Most southern suggested retaining them.