Strong emotions in MO dairy bill veto

Missouri dairy industry leaders say a subsidy on federal insurance that the legislature approved would help slow the decline in the number of dairy farmers in the state and keep dairy prices low for Missouri consumers. Governor Nixon vetoed the ag bill, which contained a controversial provision.

Missouri Dairy Association President Larry Purdom – at a gathering in the state Capitol this week – said more than 700 dairy farmers have shut down in the last 10 years.  Purdom says, “I have gone to the Springfield sale barn for the last three years and witnessed my neighbors with tears in their eyes, selling their cows, because they could not pay their feed bills.”

Nixon vetoed the bill because of a separate provision that would put captive deer under the control of the Department of Agriculture, not the Conservation department. The legislature’s veto session, where an attempt to override the veto is expected to be made, begins September 10th.

~Thanks to Missourinet~

Another record year for ag exports

The U.S. is on its way to another record year in agricultural exports. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tells Brownfield that, by the end of this fiscal year on September 30th, exports will have set another new record.

“(A record) 152.5 billion dollars of ag exports, as well as a trade surplus record of 43 billion dollars as far as selling more than we purchase in terms of ag products,” Vilsack says.

There are several reasons for the strong export numbers, says Vilsack.

“I think it’s a quality product at an affordable price—it’s a reliable supply—and I think it’s aggressive promotion that USDA is engaged in with commodity groups and others to basically make sure the world knows about American agriculture.”

Ag exports for fiscal year 2015 are currently projected at 144.5 billion dollars, down eight billion dollars from the revised forecast for fiscal 2014. The declines are due to lower values of soybeans and soybean meal, and lower volumes and prices for other grains.

AUDIO: Tom Vilsack (:51 MP3)

WOTUS debate rages on

The debate continues to rage over the EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

The latest development involves the release of EPA maps which critics say confirm that the agency is attempting to control land across the country.  Ashley McDonald of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association calls it “the smoking gun for agriculture”.  McDonald says the maps show that EPA knew exactly what it was doing and knew exactly how expansive its proposal was before it was published.

ken with karl brooks epaIn a blog post, EPA spokesman Tom Reynolds disputes that notion, saying the law has nothing to do with land use or private property rights.

In an interview with Brownfield at the Farm Progress Show, EPA Region 7 administrator Karl Brooks reiterated EPA’s basic message—that the proposed rule simply clarifies the EPA’s jurisdiction for the Clean Water Act.

“The rule serves the needs of American agriculture by clarifying the jurisdictional reach of both the EPA and our state environmental partners,” says Brooks.  “So, simple is good. Clear is better.  The interaction you don’t have to have with the EPA or with the Army Corps, that’s the best interaction for a producer.  That’s where the proposed rule would take us.”

Brooks says the EPA is listening to agriculture’s concerns.

“I’d like to think that, if you take just some of the more heated rhetoric out that tends to boil up around the edges of this conversation, you can really see some basic principles there that look like they might provide a way forward for the rule.”

Brooks says the goal for the final rule is “clarity and workability”.

AUDIO: Karl Brooks (5:37 MP3)

Two Midwestern governors chastise EPA

The governors of Nebraska and Iowa are not mincing words when it comes to their feelings about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In a conference call with reporters, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman called EPA “the enemy of agriculture”.  Heineman says the agency is the biggest regulatory issue that farmers and ranchers face.

“The federal government, particularly under the Obama Administration, has been overly aggressive with regulation,” Heineman said. “We all support clean air, clean water and appropriate regulations.  But it’s the EPA that’s the enemy of agriculture, I’ll put it that way.”

Iowa governor Terry Branstad took the criticism of EPA a step further.  In an interview with Le Mars, Iowa radio station KLEM, Branstad put some of the blame on EPA for recently-announced layoffs at Deere and Company’s Waterloo, Iowa tractor plant.

“A few years ago, we had the best corn prices we’d ever seen. Now the EPA has cut the Renewable Fuels Standard, we have a large crop of corn out there and the price of corn is below the cost of production,” Branstad said. “When farmers see they’re not going to be making money, they quit buying equipment—and that’s just exactly what’s happened.

“We were promised by Gina McCarthy, the director of the EPA, we’d have a decision (on RFS) before the end of June.  They still haven’t—so I really lay that in the hands of the EPA,” Branstad said.  “They’ve really done real damage to the farm economy—and now the jobs at John Deere and farm machinery manufacturing as well.”

By statute, the final RFS rule for 2014 was due at the end of November last year. EPA finally submitted the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget on August 22nd.

Indiana dairy farmer featured on Disney’s Citizen Kids

Milk Life and Disney have partnered to produce a 21 episode web series to celebrate the potential in all kids and the extraordinary things they accomplish.  The latest episode features 10 year-old dairy farmer Jenna Kelsay of Whiteland, Ind.

More than six generations of Kelsay’s have been involved in dairy farming and Kelsay Farms welcomes around 20,000 visitors annually to learn about life on the farm.  For the last two years, Jenna has been working to educate other kids about the source of their food and the importance of dairy to a healthy diet.

Jenna’s story and the stories of other Citizen Kids is focused on inspiring kids to reach their fullest potential.

A link to Jenna’s episode can be found HERE.

Kelly says Ag/Dairy/Deer bill won’t be overridden

Missouri State Representative Chris Kelly says there won’t be enough votes to override the governor’s veto on the omnibus ag bill during the upcoming veto session.  Kelly, who helped author the landmark dairy portion of the bill, says special interests are responsible for attaching the part of the bill that would move the regulation of captive deer to the state Department of Agriculture away from the Conservation Department.

Kelly says, “The extreme point of view with regard to captive deer got into the bill and the Republican leadership refused to take any amendments on the floor to remove it. So that’s why the governor had to veto the bill.”

Kelly, a Democrat from Columbia, says wildlife biologists, scientists and the entire Missouri Conservation Federation – made up of many thousands of hunters – oppose that part of the bill. Kelly says, “It’s just no way the veto is going to get overridden. We know that we have the votes to block it.”

Kelly helped write the dairy portion of the bill. He tells Brownfield Ag News, “And it’s going to cost ‘em some stuff that I really like. The dairy stuff, the beef stuff is good and important. But, you can’t allow that degree of special interest in legislation.”

Kelly says protecting Missouri deer from Chronic Wasting disease is huge, adding, “Wisconsin’s entire deer industry is in the tanks over Chronic Wasting Disease and that’s exactly where we’re going if we don’t deal with this.”  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, however, indicates otherwise.  To date, it has analyzed more than 185,000 deer statewide, 2,500 have tested positive.  Of those, only 13 positives were found outside the CWD Management Zone in southern Wisconsin.

Kelly predicts the deer bill will not be separated from the omnibus Ag Bill in the September veto session and won’t come up again in the 2015 legislative session.  He tells Brownfield he believes, only then, will a stand-alone ag bill will pass without difficulty. By then, Kelly will have retired.

Interview Representative Chris Kelly (4:30 mp3)

Same number of cows in fewer herds in Wisconsin

The number of dairy herds in Wisconsin continues to decline.  The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says there were 10,209 licensed dairy herds in the state as of August 1.  That is down 553 herds from a year ago and 1,231 from two years ago.

Clark County has the most herds, 877 followed by Marathon with 606, Grant with 408, Vernon with 380 and Monroe with 319.  Almost half, 49 percent of Vernon County’s herds and 42 percent of Monroe County’s herds are Grade B and most are can milk.

87 percent of the state’s dairy herds are Grade A operations; the same as in 2013 and in 2012.

While dairy herd numbers have been declining, Wisconsin cow numbers have been steady over the last four years from 1.265 million in 2011 to 1.272 million in 2013 to 1.27 million at the end of last July.

Dairy herd continues to grow

More proof that dairy farmers are hanging-on to their cows to take advantage of high milk prices and low feed costs.  The National Ag Statistics Service reports dairy cow slaughter in July totaled 232,000 head, 19,000 less than went to slaughter in July of 2013.  January-through-June dairy cow slaughter is 1.6 million head, 195,000 less than the same period a year ago.

The nation’s dairy herd was at 9.27 million cows in July, 5,000 more than in June and 37,000 more than July of 2013.

Thanks to lower cull-rates, pleasant weather and lower feed prices, milk production is steady to slightly higher in the Midwest.  Dairy Market News says spot loads of milk are still garnering 50 cents to $2 over Class price.  Cream multiples are $1.19 to $1.36.

Milk production is declining seasonally in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern states.  Triple-digit heat indexes for 10 days in the southeast.  Florida imported 120 loads this week.

California milk production is steady-to-lower but still running ahead of year-ago levels.  Temperatures have actually cooled from the 100’s to the 90’s in the Central Valley.  New Mexico’s production is trending lower but there are reports a shortage of truck drivers is slowing delivery of milk loads to manufacturing plants.

Good quarter for White Wave

Things are going very well at White Wave.  The organic and plant-based beverage and food company reports second-quarter adjusted earnings per share increased 36 percent compared to the same quarter last year.  Excluding a joint venture in China, EPS increased 42 percent.

Net sales were up 36 percent at $838 million and adjusted net income increased 39 percent at $40 million.  The company projects the pace will continue through the remainder of 2014.

White Wave has a 49 percent share in a joint venture with China’s Mengniu Dairy Company to produce and market the company’s products in China.  Production is expected to begin later this year

Originally a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dean Foods, White Wave was spun-off along with the Silk and Horizon Organic names through an Initial Public Offering in 2012.  The deal was completed in May of 2013.

The company markets Silk almond, soy and coconut milks, Horizon Organic dairy products, Earthbound Farms organic produce and International Delight, Dunkin Donuts and Land O Lakes coffee creamers.  The Alpro brand of plant-based dairy alternatives are marketed in Europe.

Missouri landmark dairy bill may survive

Landmark dairy legislation – the first of its kind on a state level – may get a second chance.  Missouri House Ag Committee Chair Casey Guernsey says he believes the state legislature will get the dairy market bill through next month.

In July, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the omnibus bill that covers a variety of ag issues, including the bill to help dairy farmers.  Guernsey tells Brownfield Ag News, “I’ll have the opportunity to debate my bill again and try to get all of the 109 votes to override the governor’s veto and I’m optimistic we’ll be able to do that,” Guernsey says.

Guernsey says Missouri has lost more than 2,500 dairies in the past decade and dairy processors are in danger of shutting down as a result.  He says the bill is set up to strengthen the dairy industry to encourage farmers to stay in the dairy business.

Guernsey stresses that the omnibus bill affects more than just dairy farming. “This bill is an omnibus bill, so there’s ten components and that’s why I says its one of the strongest ag bills that I’ve passed. Its got language that affects almost every facet of agriculture in Missouri that’s very important. From the transfer of titles for the sale of property to pesticide application to liability for cattle, it’s a very good agriculture bill,” Guernsey says.

Governor Nixon vetoed the bill because it had a provision that would have moved captive deer from under Missouri Conservation Department regulation to Missouri Ag Department oversight which Guernsey says is the right thing to do.  The Missouri legislative veto session starts September 10th.

AUDIO: Rep. Casey Guernsey interviewed by Cyndi Young (9:15 mp3)