Walker signs Wisconsin’s IoH law

Governor Scott Walker signed Wisconsin’s Implements of Husbandry bill on Wednesday. The law clarifies the definition of implements used for agriculture and establishes a new class of agricultural commercial vehicles. It establishes new parameters for size and lighting for farm machinery traveling on roadways.

The legislation increases the maximum weight allowance on agricultural vehicles and implements to 92,000 pounds with no more than 23,000 pounds per axel. There is a provision to allow tillage, planting and harvesting equipment to exceed 23,000 pounds per axle weight, towns and counties can adopt a resolution or an ordinance to establish a local permitting process to issue no-fee permits for approved routes for that equipment. Wisconsin Farm Bureau president Jim Holte says; “It’s now up to farmers to talk with their local officials about how this law will be implemented in their town and county.”

Supporters of the new law, now known as Act 377, say it is a much-needed update to antiquated state laws which did not accommodate today’s larger farm machinery.



Judge dismisses HFCS suit

A federal judge in Buffalo, New York has dismissed a case which claimed a 14-year-old girl contracted type 2 diabetes from consuming high fructose corn syrup. The suit filed last June against several corn refiners alleged they were selling a product they knew to be “dangerous, life-threatening and a cause of type 2 diabetes.”

Judge William Skretny of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York ruled the plaintiff did not prove HFCS was dangerous, that it caused the diabetes and could not “connect her disease to the actions of any one defendant”.

Food Navigator-USA reports the plaintiff, the mother of the teenager sought $5 million in damages.


Vermont passes GMO labeling bill

On a 114 to 30 vote, the Vermont House of Representatives concurred with the State Senate on Wednesday passing a GMO labeling bill. The measure now goes to the Governor Peter Shumlin. Supporters say the Governor will sign it.

Once signed, food companies would have until July of 2016 to include something on the label if the product may contain genetically modified ingredients. Milk and meat products are exempt. The state’s attorney general will write the specific rules.

The bill also sets up an $8 million fund to implement the rules and defend them if necessary. Many anticipate legal challenges to the measure. Backers of the bill such as State Senator David Zuckerman say they can defend the legislation.  Zuckerman contends it does not question the safety of genetically modified ingredients, it just makes the information available to consumers.  He also contends the impact on interstate commerce would be minimal because there is no need to separate products, just put a label on anything which may contain genetically modified ingredients.  And he says that could be done with just a sticker if they like.

This would make Vermont the first state to require GMO labeling, Maine and Connecticut passed labeling laws last year but both are withholding implementation until other states pass similar legislation with the hope of sharing the expense of any litigation.

AUDIO:Zuckerman talks about the challenges 2:38 mp3


On feed report should show increased placements

UDSA’s cattle on feed report Friday is expected to show an increase in placements.

According to Dow Jones Newswires, on average, analysts see March placements up 1.7% on the year thanks to better profit margins and cheaper feed costs.

Marketings are expected to be down 3.4% from a year ago, while the total number of cattle on feed could be up around a half a percent.

The report is out Friday at 3 PM Eastern/2 PM Central.

EPA: new rule doesn’t expand agency’s reach

The Environmental Protection Agency says its proposed Waters of the U.S. rule of the Clean Water Act clarifies which waters are protected. The proposal, however, is drawing criticism from the American Farm Bureau, which says the rule will impose unworkable regulations on the nation’s farms.

In an interview with Brownfield Ag News, Nancy Stoner, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for water, reacted to the Farm Bureau assertion that the rule expands regulatory reach to such land features as ditches.

“I can only say that it’s wrong,” Stoner responded. “It actually, again, does not protect any new types of waters, it retains all of the existing exemptions for agriculture and for every other purpose, for that matter, and it even expands some of them.”

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the rule is an end run around congressional intent and U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Stoner tells Brownfield she’s aware of the concerns. She says the agency is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and USDA to address the concerns.

“This is a proposal, and so it’s very important that we hear from your listeners and from others so that we understand those concerns and can figure out what we need to do to address them better,” she said.

Stoner says expanded exemptions will insulate many farmers from the new rule, but Stallman says the exemptions apply only to farming that has been ongoing since the 1970s, not new or expanded farms.

Comments on the new rule can be submitted until July 21.

AUDIO: Nancy Stoner (8 min. MP3)

Pork stocks much smaller than expected

USDA’s monthly cold storage report shows much stronger than expected pork demand during March.

At the end of the month, pork supplies totaled 575.223 million pounds, down 12% on the month and 11% on the year, and well below the average pre-report guess of 629.8 million pounds. Beef came out at 404.754 million pounds, 1% less than a month ago and 21% below a year ago, pretty much matching what analysts were expecting. Total red meat supplies were 1.011 billion pounds, down 8% on the month and 14% less than this time last year.

Chicken was reported at 588.173 million pounds, a 6% year to year decrease, and turkey came out at 335.898 million pounds, down 16% on the year, with total poultry at 925.853 million pounds, 10% lower than a year ago.

Little or no corn planted in Ohio

Other than some nitrogen being applied and oats being planted not much fieldwork was being done in Ohio last week.

The Ohio field office of the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) says while there are a few reports of corn being planted, the weekly crop and weather report for the week ending Sunday, April 20, indicated no corn planted, that compares to the 5-year average of 10 percent.

Oats planting is 19 percent complete, well behind the 47 percent 5-year average.

13 percent of the Ohio wheat crop is jointing and 83 percent of the crop is in fair-to-good condition.

Topsoil moisture in the state remains at 100 percent adequate to surplus.

Indiana corn planting off to sluggish start

Warmer temperatures and drier weather helped jumpstart field work last week.  According to the National Ag Statistics Service just 1 percent of the state’s corn crop has been planted, well behind last year’s 14 percent.  The majority of the planting has occurred in the southern counties.

Twenty-three percent of the winter wheat crop is jointed, 10 percent behind last year.  Sixty percent of the crop is rated good to excellent.

Last week’s weather allowed for application of anhydrous fertilizer and burndown herbicides and tillage has begun in areas with drier soils.

Both Topsoil and Subsoil moisture are called 98 percent adequate to surplus.


Rainfall still needed in Nebraska

A limited amount of corn has been planted in Nebraska and there’s been some much needed rainfall recently, but the western half of the state remains locked in drought.

According to the state Agricultural Statistics Service, 4% of the crop is planted as of Sunday, compared to the five year average of 6%.

54% of topsoil and 61% of subsoil are short to very short of moisture.

Livestock are in most good to excellent condition, and 86% of both stock water and hay and forage supplies are called adequate.

59% of the winter wheat crop is called good to excellent.

USDA fund to seek private funds for rural business

The USDA has begun a new $150 Million investment fund to grow small businesses in rural areas and create more jobs using public AND private funding.   Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) – involves pledges from eight Farm Credit institutions* and will be managed by Advantage Capital Partners, “The bottom line here is about a new way to do business for government where we facilitate and bridge and leverage as opposed to solely relying on government financing to do it all.”

Vilsack says the fund will allow investments and job growth in rural businesses such as advanced energy production, food systems, bio-manufacturing and more by engaging private equity firms.

AUDIO: Radio Iowa’s Kay Henderson with Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack (3:00 mp3)