Barge user fee increase passes

A nine-cent increase in the barge user fee on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers has passed the U.S. Senate by a wide margin. The U.S. House passed the same bill earlier this month. The increase, from 20 to 29 cents a gallon for diesel fuel used to power barges, will be used to help upgrade… Read more »

U.S. to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba

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President Obama announced a change in U.S. relations with Cuba on Wednesday morning. For starters, the President has instructed the Secretary of State to immediately initiate discussions on the re-establishment of normal diplomatic relations with Cuba.  Those relations were cut in January of 1961.  The U.S. will move toward the establishment of an embassy in… Read more »

Senate passes tax extenders package

The Senate has approved the tax extenders package on a 76-16 vote. It now heads for the White House for approval. The bill, which retroactively extends a package of expired tax breaks for 2014, holds key provisions for small businesses such as section 179 expensing and bonus depreciation. It also includes the dollar-per-gallon biodiesel tax… Read more »

MPP signup deadline is Friday

A reminder the sign-up deadline for the Margin Protection Program for dairy producers is this Friday, December 19th.  U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the declining milk prices of the last few weeks has prompted producers to take another look at the program.  “I think people are beginning to realize the good prices we have… Read more »

Spending bill impacts WOTUS, beef checkoff

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The omnibus spending bill approved by the Senate Saturday includes several provisions that impact agriculture. One of those provisions withdraws the Environmental Protection Agency’s interpretive rule on the Waters of the United States (WOTUS). Colin Woodall of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) says that, while it’s not a complete fix of the WOTUS issue,… Read more »

NCBA applauds ag-related provisions in spending bill

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is applauding agriculture-related provisions included in the omnibus spending bill in Congress. Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for NCBA, says the provision they’re most proud of requires EPA and the Corps of Engineers to rescind the interpretative rule that was part of the Waters of the U.S. proposal…. Read more »

Holte re-elected to lead Wisconsin Farm Bureau

The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation wrapped-up its 95th annual meeting in Wisconsin Dells on Monday.  President Jim Holte was very happy with the attendance this year especially the nearly 500 young farmers participating.  “We have a growing, dynamic, forward-looking organization with a lot of young people, you can’t do much better than that.” Looking ahead,… Read more »

Wisconsin farm bill meetings on now

The Farm Service Agency and the University of Wisconsin Extension are conducting meetings all across the state to help farmers understand the new farm programs. Susan Hunter with FSA says many of the Extension agents around the state have gone through training on the new Agricultural Risk Program (ARC) and Production Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. … Read more »

Crop insurance could be target for cuts

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The chief lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, Mary Kay Thatcher, says crop insurance could be a major target as Congress begins work on a federal budget in 2015. “I think with the Republicans in charge, they’re going to want to produce a budget. We haven’t had one in eight or nine years,” Thatcher… Read more »

House passes barge fuel tax increase

The House passed an increase in the fuel tax on barges using the Mississippi and other waterways to help finance improvements to the lock-and-dam system. The increase will move the tax from 20 cents to 29 cents per gallon and is expected to raise $27 to $36 million annually for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund…. Read more »