Archive for January, 2011

Legislative Conference Still a Go

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?”

Drive safely!

Weekly Links

Feds Drop Lynx Appeal, Will Revise Habitat Plan
The Missoulian
Wildlife officials have dropped their appeal of a court ruling that forces the government to revise its flawed plan to protect critical habitat for Canada lynx. The move means the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will have to reconsider habitat areas in Colorado.

Senators Weigh in on Cloud-seeding
Durango Herald
On Thursday, state senators recommended the government continue to offer weather-modification licenses for at least another nine years.

Judge Blocks Colorado Law Affecting Online Retailers
The Denver Post
A federal judge has granted a request to block last years ‘Amazon Tax.’

Study Assesses Boulder County’s Food From ‘Plant to Plate’
The Daily Camera
The average Boulder County person spends $923 on produce each year, compared with $584 in Larimer County and $446 in Weld County. But only 16 percent of the money Boulder County residents spend on produce goes to local growers.

USDA Announces Deregulation of Biotech Alfalfa

The Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Thursday announced its decision to grant non-regulated status for alfalfa that has been genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide commercially known as Roundup.

“After conducting a thorough and transparent examination of alfalfa through a multi-alternative environmental impact statement and several public comment opportunities, APHIS has determined that Roundup Ready alfalfa is as safe as traditionally bred alfalfa,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “All of the alfalfa production stakeholders involved in this issue have stressed their willingness to work together to find solutions. We greatly appreciate and value the work they’ve done so far and will continue to provide support to the wide variety of sectors that make American agriculture successful.”

After releasing a final environmental impact statement in December 2010, USDA took another step to ensure that this issue received the broadest examination before making its final decision. USDA brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss feasible strategies for coexistence between genetically engineered, organic and other stakeholders. The stakeholders helped to identify areas of consensus; issues where the group disagreed and opportunities for further dialogue; and areas where USDA could—or should—play an important and helpful role.

Farm Bureau is pleased with the announcement, as it clears up uncertainty for producers and allows them to move forward with planting decisions.

Ag blogger Emily Zweber explains in this post, what the deregulation means for her family farm.

(Image: Pro-Soil Ag Solutions)

Guest Commentary

The Problem with Roundup Ready Alfalfa

By Rob Jones

Round-Up Ready alfalfa?  When I first heard about this I was puzzled why a company would risk so much investment in a crop that is characterized by taking care of itself when it comes to weeds.  Sure it takes a while to get it established, but cover-cropping, extra care weeding before planting, planting into stubble, nurse cropping, can all help minimize weed pressure while getting started.

As for prolonging alfalfa stands, I think there is a misconception that weeds kill out alfalfa.  If an alfalfa stand begins to thin, it’s because of soil imbalances, not weeds, otherwise weeds would take over immediately.

Honestly, contamination is a serious issue. So what is the answer to the dilemma?

Continue reading

EPA Approves E-15 Waiver for 2001-2006 Vehicles

On Friday, EPA extended the waiver for the general use of gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E-15) to model years 2001-2006 cars and light trucks. EPA reached its decision after reviewing the results of tests of E-15 on 2001-2006 engines conducted by the Department of Energy.

EPA announced that it will not grant a waiver for the use of E-15 in any motorcycles, heavy-duty vehicles or non-road engines this year. The agency stated that that there is no testing data to support such a waiver.

AFBF policy supports increasing the ethanol blending standard to a level higher than 10 percent.

Sweeping Lawsuit Filed Against EPA Could Hurt Farmers

Environmental groups are seeking protection of the Arroyo Toad and other endangered species from EPA approved ag chemicals.

Two environmental groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Pesticide Action Network North America, have sued the Environmental Protection Agency, challenging the agency’s overall ag chemical regulatory program.

According to the suit, EPA did not consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the effects of EPA-registered pesticides on endangered species. The groups claim in a 400-page complaint that EPA is in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The groups are asking EPA to retroactively consult FWS and re-write current regulations, after putting restrictions on ag chemicals.

Virtually every ag chemical in use today is listed in the suit, which seeks protection for 214 endangered and threatened species throughout the U.S. including the Florida panther, California condor, piping plover, black-footed ferret, arroyo toad, Indiana bat, bonytail chub and Alabama sturgeon.

Get Involved- Congressional Redistricting Process Begins

sessionlogoThe US Constitution requires state legislatures to redraw congressional boundaries every 10 years. This year, legislative leaders created a joint select committee on redistricting, a bold bipartisan step to bring cooperation to what has in the past been a bitter partisan battle.

This select committee of 10 legislators from the House and Senate and looks forward to a process that involves much citizen input. The committee will follow redistricting guidelines, evaluate maps proposed by non-partisan experts, and host public meetings in each current congressional district.

Under Colorado’s Open Meetings Law, all commission, committee, or floor sessions to consider redistricting plans are open to the public. Public testimony is usually taken at commission or committee meetings. Farm Bureau members are encouraged to participate in their local redistricting meeting. All meeting times and locations can be found at the state redistricting website.

U.S. House Ag Committee Formally Organized

Today, Members of the House Agriculture Committee met to formally organize and to adopt the Committee’s rules for the 112th Congress.

The Committee rules approved today are designed to enhance transparency and increase accountability. One addition provides that the text of bills will be posted online for the public no fewer than 24 hours prior to a business meeting. Another addition provides that both live and archived webcasts of hearings and markups be made available online.

The Committee also ratified the members and leadership of all six subcommittees. Agriculture Committee Chair Frank D. Lucas (OK) and Ranking Minority Member Collin C. Peterson (MN) serve as ex officio members of all subcommittees.

Continue reading

Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft Statement Regarding the 2011 State of the Union Address

“Tonight President Obama laid out an ambitious agenda for the 112th Congress.  The topics included the need for increased science and math curriculum, increased use of biofuels and clean energy, relief from Section 1099 of the Healthcare Reform bill, pushing trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia and reducing the burden of government regulation.

“The Colorado Farm Bureau is pleased to hear President Obama address the pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama.  These trade agreements have been languishing for a number of years and they will be good for Colorado Farm Bureau members and American consumers. Trade agreements that cut tariffs and remove restrictions on Colorado products are always welcome.

“Furthermore, removing Section 1099 of the Healthcare Reform bill will ease the burden on farmers and agriculture related businesses. Section 1099 will have Farm Bureau members tracking the cost of a morning cup of coffee and donut and that is ridiculous.

Colorado Farm Bureau is looking forward to working with the members of the Colorado congressional delegation to implement these positive steps proposed by President Obama.”

Colorado House Ag Committee Recap

House Ag Committee met on Monday, January 24th, to address its first three bills under the new chairman Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) and vice chairman Rep. Randy Baumgardner (R-Hot Sulfur Springs). They welcomed many new committee members as the Republicans hold a 7-6 majority over the Democrats.

They passed HB 1004 (Farm Truck Registration) which CFB has a position of support on. This bill would allow for farm plate registration on a vehicle used primarily for agriculture on farm or ranch that is classified as Ag land for property tax purposes. It was run last year and was failed, so this is the second attempt at this measure.

Continue reading

YR&R Members Gather in Colorado Springs

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!

Washington Recap

Action was light in Washington, DC for the week of January 17th.  The only major action taken in either chamber was in the House of Representatives, who voted for repeal of Obamacare by a vote of 245-189.  As was expected the Colorado House delegation was split with Congressmen Lamborn, Coffman, Gardner and Tipton voting in support of repeal and Congressmen Polis, Perlmutter and DeGette voting to oppose repeal.

Formal committee action has not begun in either chamber of the Congress do to slowness in each chamber of getting committee assignments to members.  Congressional representatives Gardner and Tipton have received their committee assignments however.  Congressman Gardner has been appointed to the prestigious and powerful Energy and Commerce committee.  Congressman Tipton has been appointed to the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Natural Resources, where he will serve with fellow Colorado representatives Lamborn and Coffman.

CFB Board Takes Positions on New Bills

The Colorado Farm Bureau Board of Directors at their quarterly board meeting yesterday, took positions on the first bills of the legislative season. A total of 23 measures were given an official position by Colorado Farm Bureau. Bills were either classified under support, oppose or monitor. You can view the official tracking list by clicking on the image to the right.

Weekly Links

Which countries match the GDP and population of America’s states?
The Economist
Who would have thought that, despite years of auto-industry hardship, the economy of Michigan is still the same size as Taiwan’s?

South Korea Vaccinating Against FMD
Farm Futures
Despite more concerted quarantine measures, South Korea has decided to vaccinate all livestock nationwide as foot-and-mouth disease has spread across the country.

U.S. Offers Proposal to Mexico to Resolve Trucking Issue

The Transportation Department has released a concept paper to Mexico in an attempt to begin negotiations to resolve the U.S.-Mexico trucking dispute. Contents of the concept paper can be found here.

This concept paper is the first attempt by the Obama administration to resolve a two-year trade dispute between Mexico and the United States. The dispute halted arose when Congress the cross-border trucking pilot program. The pilot program was developed and implemented to address Mexico’s concerns that the United States was not fulfilling its obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

AFBF, Industry Groups Welcome President’s Regulatory Reform

President Obama took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal this week to announce an executive order that would impose on federal agencies the requirement to “ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth.”

The order requires a government-wide review of current rules and will require eliminating those rules that “stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.” The order would eliminate rules that overlap and conflict with eachother and the president points to last month’s  deregulation of saccharin by the EPA as an example. He also notes that the order will require agencies to give consumers and industries a larger voice in the rulemaking process.

The order marks a sharp reversal from the policies of the last four years and as the WSJ Editorial Board notes, “If he means it, this will be one of the great policy walkbacks in American history.”

For agriculture, the order could mean a reduction in the crushing weight that the EPA and other regulators have put, or plan to put on the industry.

Continue reading

HSUS Targets Washington State

Earlier this week two animal activist groups, The Humane Society of the United States and Farm Sanctuary, filed initiative language on egg production in Washington State. The language is similar to the text of Prop 2 in California in that it would require egg producers in the state to give hens enough room to turn around and extend their wings.

However this measure also includes language that stipulates all eggs sold in the state must be produced on farms that meet the same standards. This effectively bans retailers from importing eggs from non HSUS – regulated states.

“We’re trying to move across the country with this,” is how Alison Longley of Farm Sanctuary described the effort. Locally, the two national activist groups are organizing under the name Washingtonians for Humane Farms.

Continue reading

Let’s Play: New and Improved Ag Online Game Launched

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.”

Continue reading

Stabenow Pledges Bipartisan Approach to Farm Bill

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

In an address to the Michigan Agri-Business Association’s Winter Conference, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the new chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, promised a bipartisan approach to the 2012 farm bill. She also said sound science must drive agricultural policy.

“With almost 7 billion mouths to feed around the globe, we need American leadership in innovation, biotechnology and increased efficiency to make it possible to feed the world,” Stabenow said. “To foster that innovation, we need a regulatory system that is science-based and efficient—and we also need to open up markets.”

Farm Bureau Backs Bills Ending Form 1099 Requirements

Farm Bureau supports legislation introduced in the House to repeal IRS Form 1099 reporting requirements that is part of the health care law.

H.R. 4, the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011, was introduced by Rep.  Dan Lungren (R-Calif.).  To date, the legislation has 245 co-sponsors.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R- Neb.) plans to introduce a bill in the Senate Jan. 25 to repeal Form 1099 requirements in the law. So far, the following senators have signed on as original co-sponsors:  James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Joe Manchin (D- W.Va.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.)

House to Vote on Health Care Repeal Today

**Update**
In a vote of 245-189, Republicans were victorious in passing a measure to repeal President Obama’s signature health care overhaul law.

The House is set to vote today on H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. The bill is expected to pass the Republican House but fail in the Democratic Senate.

In a letter sent to members of the House on Tuesday, AFBF President Bob Stallman expressed Farm Bureau’s concerns with the mandates and new taxes contained in the health care law.

“Of particular concern are PPACA provisions that increase expenses through mandated insurance coverage for individuals and their employees and impose new taxes and costs, such as Form 1099 paperwork information reporting requirements,” Stallman wrote.

“We urge Congress to pursue health insurance reform legislation that provides for increased competition and choice; preserves a patient’s ability to keep his or her health plan; reforms the medical liability system to reduce unnecessary and wasteful health care spending; protects the doctor-patient relationship; expands incentives to encourage personal responsibility for health care coverage and costs; and eliminates duplicative government programs,” according to Stallman.

NISP Delayed Again

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is saying that the supplemental draft environmental impact statement for the Northern Colorado Integrated Supply Project — or NISP — is being pushed back into the latter part of this year. 

Army Corps Projects Manager Chandler Peter said more time is needed to weigh the complexity of NISP.

“This has turned into a complex and time-consuming process,” Peter said.

Brian Werner of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the entity proposing NISP says that the “delay” isnt a delay at all and that his organization has been anticipating a final decision by the end of this year.

“What we’ve found in the now 8 years of the EIS process is that the end point is a moving target,” said Werner. “The supplemental DEIS is scheduled to be made available for public comment sometime in 2011. The Army Corps is still telling us they see no fatal flaws and we still anticipate receiving a permit to build the project.”

Foundation for Agriculture Presents Awards

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.

Becker Blocks Ag Fee Increases

The Joint Budget Committee, with freshman legislator Rep. Jon Becker, (R-Fort Morgan), began making decisions this week on legislation they would carry in the 2011 session, and Becker’s first decision was to prevent increases in

Freshman JBC committee member, John Becker (R- Fort Morgan)

agricultural fees. Becker filled the empty seat created when Rep. Cory Gardner was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The issue that got Becker’s attention pertained to a state subsidy to some of the department’s divisions that is used to pay for accounting, maintenance of state facilities, and budgeting.  Megan Davisson, staff analyst for JBC, recommended eliminating that subsidy, which would have impacted the Brand Board, the Agricultural Products division, and the Chemigation division. In her analysis, Davisson said it was unclear whether taxpayers benefit from the programs that get the subsidy.

On Monday, a bill to eliminate the subsidy was the first item on the JBC`s list of possible bills, and Becker made it clear it wouldn’t get his support. (Bills sponsored by the JBC must win a unanimous, 6-0 committee vote.)

Weekly Links

‘Brown’ Energy Brings Prosperity
The American
The biggest story in domestic oil production is . . . North Dakota.

Facebook Paid Farm Bureau $8.5 Million To Acquire Fb.com
TechCrunch
On November 15th, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook had acquired Fb.com. But what he didn’t reveal at the time? The acquisition price.

Move Over, Cow
Wall Street Journal
Almond Milk Sparks Fight in Dairy Case; the Cookie Dunk-Off

Who are the Wildlife Commissioners
The Greeley Gazette
The Wildlife Commission sets regulations and policies for hunting, fishing, watchable wildlife, and nongame, and threatened and endangered species. But who are they?

New Bills Drop as Session Begins

With the official start of the state legislative session on Wednesday, lawmakers released a slew of bills for consideration. In all a total of 98 bills were dropped, with many more expected over the course of the next couple of weeks.

Republicans issues measures that focused on scaling back health care requirements in an effort to block national health care, returning tax exemptions to industries such as agriculture, and subsidizing private tuition.

Democrats focused on bills that include allowing illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition and establishing civil unions as well as reforming the Colorado medical marijuana law.

A deadline to finalize the text of bills and sign co-sponsors is set for Tuesday of next week which will most certainly bring another pile of bills across the Speaker’s desk.

Farm Bureau, U.S. Chamber, New Congress Leave EPA with No Friends

With the start of a new congress and with policy action from AFBF and other organizations, the EPA will have few friends over the next few years. Politico reports this morning that the EPA is desperate for friends in the Senate. With a large number of new House members pledging to limit the EPA’s authority on everything from GHG to pesticide regulation, the Senate is the final refuge for an agency attempting to implement environmental policy through executive fiat.

Politico also notes that a “group of Senate Democrats intends to hold weekly meetings to discuss plans to fend off attacks on the EPA, said Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The meetings will center on ‘protecting the public, to make sure that they don’t do anything to weaken the Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act; to make sure that they don’t stop the states from their work in protecting the public from carbon and other pollutants.’”

Continue reading

CFB Policy a Success at AFBF Annual Meeting

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.

The EPA at 40

With all the anticipation of Christmas and New Years over the last month, I would venture to guess most of you missed out on an important news item; important only to bureaucrats, enviro-nutters, and climate alarmists, but important nonetheless. On the 2nd of last month, the United States Environmental Protection Agency turned 40. I know, it’s hard to believe you missed it isn’t it!

The agency was established in 1970 in response to a growing public awareness of severe environmental problems within the country and its 40th birthday did not pass without significant fanfare and back-slapping amongst the agency’s most ardent supporters.

Continue reading

Direct Payments Remain in Policy Book

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.

%d bloggers like this: