Friday, January 18, 2019

American Farm Bureau Adopts Policies

New Orleans--Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention today adopted policies to guide the organization’s work during its centennial year on key topics such as farm bill implementation, cell-cultured food products, trade, rural broadband access and rural mental health programs.


“As our organization has done for the last 100 years, grassroots delegates from across the nation came together to express a unified voice on issues vital to the success of our farms, ranches and rural communities,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said. “It was fitting to have President Trump and numerous members of Congress among our attendees as we kicked off our centennial celebration. We continue to face a challenging farm economy and we stand ready to work with Congress and the Trump administration to address the issues important to our farm and ranch families.”

Government Shutdown
Delegates urged the administration and Congress to work together to end the government shutdown as soon as possible. The current shutdown means farmers and ranchers are being delayed in securing loans and crop insurance as well as disaster and trade assistance. The impasse has also delayed implementation of important provisions of the farm bill.

Trade
Delegates voted to favor negotiations to resolve trade disputes, rather than the use of tariffs or withdrawal from agreements. They also voted to support the United States’ entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Cell-based Food
Delegates adopted a comprehensive policy to support innovation in cell-based food products while ensuring a level playing field for traditional protein. Delegates affirmed that the Agriculture Department is best equipped to be the primary regulator of new cell-based products as it encouraged USDA to utilize the Food and Drug Administration’s expertise in food safety. The policy also calls for complete and accurate product labels to ensure that consumers have all the pertinent information they need.

Rural Broadband
Delegates supported improved broadband coverage maps through better data and third-party provider verification. AFBF will work with the Federal Communications Commission to address map inaccuracies.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Delegates supported increased funding for programs and facilities for the treatment of substance abuse and mental health issues. Delegates also voted to support funding for the Farm and Ranch Assistance Network, which was included in the 2018 farm bill. AFBF will urge appropriations committees to fund this program, which is critical to address the mental health issues faced by many farmers, ranchers and other rural Americans.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Western State Struggle with Governance of Public Lands



New Orleans--The challenge farmers and ranchers in western states have when it comes to public lands has its roots back in the revolutionary war, when states were fighting for self-governance, according to George Wentz Jr., a partner in the Davillier Law Group, who presented at the American Farm Bureau (AFBF)’s 100th Annual Convention in New Orleans.

In providing the historical context for western public lands, Wentz admitted he didn’t fully understand the idea of public lands or the impact they had on states until he moved to Idaho from the east a few years ago.

“I didn’t believe it when I was told that the lands I was looking at were owned by the federal government,” Wentz said. “This was new to me, and I’m sure new to many that live in the east. But we need to look at this not just as a property issue, but as a civil rights issue. It’s a fundamental equality issue.”

Wentz presented the historical origins of what he feels is at the heart of the public lands dispute. As many states were fighting for self-governance against England during the revolutionary period, they looked to unite in this effort. States such as Maryland, however, felt an uneven balance with other states that held claims to “western lands”, and weren’t going to join the effort until these disputes were resolved and all states entered the union on even terms. Those lands were to be held in common by the federal government temporarily until they could be organized into states themselves. This process continued until western expansion reached Colorado.

The process stopped, Wentz believes, for two main reasons – the passage of the 16th Amendment, which created a federal income tax, and the passage of the Federal Land Management Policy Act (FLPMA), which has established how federal lands are managed.

Prior to the ratification of the 16th amendment in 1913, Wentz said, the federal government survived financially on tariffs and land sales. With a new source of revenue, the government stopped the process of selling the land.

FLPMA was passed in 1976 and provided rules for the managing of public lands. The mechanism that allowed states to be on equal footing was abandoned, essentially allowing the federal government to forever maintain ownership of federal lands.

“It would be like a trustee waking up one day and seeing there was a lot of money in the trust, and then deciding that instead that it would be the owner, not the trustee. This provision is unconstitutional I believe,” Wentz said. “Are [western] states weaker than other states because they can’t control the lands with its borders? I think they are.”

With states in the west on uneven footing, Wentz argued that western states are put at a disadvantage politically. Wentz feels as these inequalities are further understood, it will be up to Congress to figure out a solution in conjunction with the states. It is hoped that a more equitable solution will aid farmers, ranchers and other users of public land.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Idaho Farm Bureau welcomes Freshmen Lawmakers



Boise--The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation welcomed 25 newly-elected lawmakers at the annual Idaho Farm Bureau Freshman luncheon Wednesday.

IFBF Legislative Affairs Director Russ Hendricks greeted the new lawmakers saying that IFBF promotes agriculture which is an economic force in the state economy.

 "We want to give lawmakers the chance to get to know us, ask questions so that later in the session and they're considering Ag legislation they can call on us to answer their questions. We represent 80-thousand members and every Ag producer group in Idaho," said Hendricks. "Ag represents a large part of the state economy."

Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle addressed the incoming lawmakers via a taped message. Searle is in New Orleans at the AFBF Annual Meeting and could not attend.

"One of the things we are proud of saying is that we are a grassroots organization. What that means is that our policies--our official positions on a variety of issues, start as resolutions from members at the county farm bureau level," said Searle.






Tuesday, January 15, 2019

More women returning to the farm in management roles

Jessica Wade is not only a teacher but help runs the family ranch in Downey, Idaho

New Orleans--Knowing that women approach business with different priorities can help farm and ranch families maximize their effectiveness in management roles.

This was the theme of the “Making Room for Women Managing Family Business” workshop, presented by Jeanne Bernick, principal and market strategist with KCoe Isom, at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention.

“We’re seeing more and more women come back to the farm – and all kinds of family businesses,” said Bernick.

Today, women comprise 31 percent of all U.S. farmers and ranchers, run 14 percent of all U.S. farms and ranches, and own 30 percent of all farmland in the country, said Bernick. Forty-four percent of FFA students are girls.

“Yet women are still less than 10 percent of senior executives at major agribusiness companies. But that’s changing,” she said.

Bernick helps families transition businesses between generations. She has worked with many daughters, nieces, and sisters-in-laws who are returning to the farm and are interested in management roles.

Women want fulfillment in their work.

“Women bring heart to business. They want to do what they’re passionate about,” said Bernick.

Women also want to leave a strong legacy.

“They’re interested in what is going to happen to the family business in the next generation and beyond. ‘How do we make this legacy stick?’ This is what I hear most,” she said.

Having a plan is an effective way to maximize a woman’s success in a leadership role.

“It works well for women in managing a family business when they run from a plan rather than off the cuff,” said Bernick. “Map out a one-year plan, a five-year plan. Once they have a plan, women are incredibly focused. This makes them incredible leaders.”

Women are also more inclined to continue learning on the job, proactively seeking knowledge in books, trainings, online classes and support groups.

Women in leadership roles make great mentors; they’re interested in paying it forward.

“Women supporting other women is really important. They’re really community-based. When we feel like we have a community we can be a part of, we blossom,” she said.

It’s also important to teach women their value.

“I find women tend to see their value in what they do, like raising kids or meal planning. I help them remember they’re also valuable for who they are. Their ideas are valuable.”

While it can be a change for a farm or ranch to have a woman assume a leadership role, there are many advantages to be gained.

Bernick quoted Kevin O’Leary, “Mr. Wonderful” from the Shark Tank TV show: “My most successful business ventures are those with women leaders.”

“There are lots of reasons for this, but the one that sticks out: women can multitask,” said Bernick. “There’s a reason for the old saying, ‘If you want something done give it to a busy mom.’”

Knowing that women approach business with different priorities can help farm and ranch families maximize their effectiveness in management roles.

This was the theme of the “Making Room for Women Managing Family Business” workshop, presented by Jeanne Bernick, principal and market strategist with KCoe Isom, at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention.

“We’re seeing more and more women come back to the farm – and all kinds of family businesses,” said Bernick.

Today, women comprise 31 percent of all U.S. farmers and ranchers, run 14 percent of all U.S. farms and ranches, and own 30 percent of all farmland in the country, said Bernick. Forty-four percent of FFA students are girls.

“Yet women are still less than 10 percent of senior executives at major agribusiness companies. But that’s changing,” she said.

Bernick helps families transition businesses between generations. She has worked with many daughters, nieces, and sisters-in-laws who are returning to the farm and are interested in management roles.

Women want fulfillment in their work.

“Women bring heart to business. They want to do what they’re passionate about,” said Bernick.

Women also want to leave a strong legacy.

“They’re interested in what is going to happen to the family business in the next generation and beyond. ‘How do we make this legacy stick?’ This is what I hear most,” she said.

Having a plan is an effective way to maximize a woman’s success in a leadership role.

“It works well for women in managing a family business when they run from a plan rather than off the cuff,” said Bernick. “Map out a one-year plan, a five-year plan. Once they have a plan, women are incredibly focused. This makes them incredible leaders.”

Women are also more inclined to continue learning on the job, proactively seeking knowledge in books, trainings, online classes and support groups.

Women in leadership roles make great mentors; they’re interested in paying it forward.

“Women supporting other women is really important. They’re really community-based. When we feel like we have a community we can be a part of, we blossom,” she said.

It’s also important to teach women their value.

“I find women tend to see their value in what they do, like raising kids or meal planning. I help them remember they’re also valuable for who they are. Their ideas are valuable.”

While it can be a change for a farm or ranch to have a woman assume a leadership role, there are many advantages to be gained.

Bernick quoted Kevin O’Leary, “Mr. Wonderful” from the Shark Tank TV show: “My most successful business ventures are those with women leaders.”

“There are lots of reasons for this, but the one that sticks out: women can multitask,” said Bernick. “There’s a reason for the old saying, ‘If you want something done give it to a busy mom.’”

Monday, January 14, 2019

AFBF honors Farm Dog of the Year

Joe Sheeran and Woody, 2019 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year Credit: Nestle Purina PetCare

New Orleans--Woody, an Australian shepherd owned by Texas Farm Bureau members Joe and Mary Sheeran, is the winner of the 2019 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year award. The American Farm Bureau Federation, with support from Nestlé Purina, recognized Woody and four runners-up at AFBF’s 100th Annual Convention.

“It’s exciting to celebrate the important role of farm dogs on farms and ranches,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “They are loyal work partners every day on the farm. Their faithful and playful companionship constantly enriches the lives of farmers and their families.”

Purina, a household name in pet care for more than 90 years, donated prizes for the Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest, which celebrates farm dogs that work alongside their people to bring nutritious food to our tables and our pets’ bowls.

Woody, the grand prize winner of the 2019 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year award, won a year’s worth of Purina dog food, $5,000 in prize money, a trophy plate and a basket of Purina products.

“At Purina we recognize the important role dogs play on the farm and in the hearts of families everywhere, and we congratulate the Sheerans and Woody on winning this award,” said Jack Scott, vice president of sustainability at Nestlé Purina. “We truly believe that pets and people are better together, and all of the entries for Farm Dog of the Year are great examples of how dogs enrich our lives, both on and off the farm. Purina and Nestlé have a long history of sourcing nutritious, sustainable ingredients from American farms to make our foods. We salute farmers and the important work they are doing to steward their land and help feed generations of people and pets.”

Woody is part of the Sheeran family and Joe’s constant companion on the farm, herding cattle, sheep and ducks. Over the past eight years he has captured top honors in stock dog competitions around the country. But his bravery as an 8-month-old puppy when Joe faced certain injury from an angry “momma cow” who erroneously thought she was protecting her calf is what sets him apart. Woody came to the rescue, chasing away the cow and saving Joe’s life. “If he wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be here today,” Joe said.

Four runners-up in the contest will each receive $1,000 in prize money, a trophy plate and a basket of Purina products. They are:

A panel of judges with expertise in the pet care industry, veterinary medicine and communications reviewed more than 90 nominations to select the Farm Dog of the Year.

Desired attributes included helpfulness to the farmer and his/her family, playfulness and the role dogs play to make life better on and off the farm. Farm Bureau members submitted written responses to questions, still photos and video clips to nominate their dogs for Farm Dog of the Year.

Learn more about the contest at http://fb.org/2019farmdog

Purina is a sponsor of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s annual Night Out at the AFBF Annual Convention.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Industrial Hemp: 'Comeback Crop' will benefit farmers


Hemp discussed at AFBF Annual Meeting

New Orleans--An expert panel outlined the politics, agronomics, and economics of industrial hemp at a workshop at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention. Federally outlawed for more than 50 years, industrial hemp is making a comeback.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), a staunch supporter of hemp as an agricultural crop, explained how he helps people understand the difference between hemp and its more infamous cannabis cousin, marijuana.

“Hemp and marijuana are two plants in the same family, the same way that broccoli and cauliflower are in the same plant family,” Comer said.

Ken Anderson, founder, and president of Legacy Hemp, the leading U.S. contractor with hemp farmers, strongly advised anyone who is considering growing the crop to first secure a buyer.

“There are a lot of opportunities but it can be expensive to start growing hemp,” Anderson said. He credited Farm Bureau’s advocacy with playing a key role in the recognition of industrial hemp as a legitimate farm crop.

Calling industrial hemp “the little engine that could,” Katie Moyer of Kentucky Hemp Works discussed the broad range of hemp varieties and advised farmers to carefully consider which one to cultivate. “The crops are completely different,” she said, referring to varieties grown for cannabidiol oil vs. fiber, grain, seed, etc.

The availability of labor should also be carefully considered when thinking about growing hemp, according to Anderson.

“Hemp grown for CBD uses is much more labor-intensive,” he said, referring to those varieties as a horticultural crop while others are agricultural crops. In addition, he recommends farmers starting out with hemp add it to their crop rotation, rather than growing it as their only crop.

The 2014 farm bill gave states the authority to establish hemp pilot programs to study its growth, cultivation and marketing. To date, 35 states have taken advantage of the opportunity. The 2018 farm bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. This deregulation benefits growers, who may now transport hemp and no longer face barriers related to insurance, banking, etc.

Friday, January 11, 2019

USDA Extends Deadline for Trade Mitigation Package


Credit: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / CC0   
Washington--USDA recently announced it would extend the deadline for farmers to apply for Market Facilitation Program payments to help offset losses they are experiencing as a result of trade tensions between the U.S. and other countries, particularly China. Applications were due Jan. 15, but the department’s Farm Service Agency, which operates the program, closed on Dec. 28 after the agency ran out of funding because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the application deadline will be extended “for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices were closed, once the government shutdown ends.”

Following the mid-December announcement about the second round of trade assistance payments, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said the aid will help farmers and ranchers continue to weather the ongoing trade storm, but the real solution is expanded market access for U.S. farm and ranch goods.

“We continue to feel price pressure and very real economic damage due to the trade actions other nations have taken against our U.S. farm exports. While this assistance package will help a number of our farm families during this year of severe economic challenge, the best way to provide lasting relief is to continue pushing for trade and tariff reform from trading partners like China, Canada, Mexico, India, Turkey, and the European Union,” Duvall said in a Dec. 17 statement.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Trump to attend AFBF Convention in New Orleans



New Orleans--President Donald Trump will attend the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting next week in New Orleans.

The American Farm Bureau confirmed Trumps plans to attend the convention’s closing session on Monday. Late Wednesday a White House spokesman confirmed  President Trump's trip to New Orleans and said the President  “looks forward to touting positive impacts of the recently-signed USMCA, as well as the recently passed Farm Bill.”

The trip marks back-to-back trips to the  AFBF convention for Trump, who also attended the annual meeting in Nashville last year. In last years speech, he called for a new farm bill that protected crop insurance as well as pledged to produce a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico that improved on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In the President's speech, he told the crowd that he was disappointed last year’s gathering was the 99th annual convention.“A hundred is so much cooler, I have to be honest,” Trump joked. “So I’ll be back, I think. Next year, I’ll come back.”

This is the third trip to an agriculture convention for Trump in the last year. In addition to his trip to Nashville, he also spoke at the National FFA Convention in October. 

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is also scheduled to attend the AFBF Annual Meeting.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Reviewing Dairy Margin Coverage



Washington--The 2014 farm bill provided the most comprehensive reform to the U.S. federal safety net in decades by replacing countercyclical income and commodity price support programs with a margin-based insurance-style safety net. Following the 2014 farm bill, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 revamped the Margin Protection Program to make it more affordable while providing timelier and additional financial support to dairy farmers in times of low income-over-feed-cost margins (For Some, New MPP Makes Plenty of Cents).

The 2018 farm bill builds on the improvements made in the Bipartisan Budget Act to significantly enhance the commodity support from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Reflecting these changes, the Margin Protection Program was renamed Dairy Margin Coverage. In addition to Title I improvements, the farm bill also allows dairy farmers to fully utilize the risk management tools available through private crop insurance products such as Dairy Revenue Protection or Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle.

Along with boosting support for dairy farmers, Congress also modified milk pricing provisions to facilitate improved risk management for the beverage milk industry (Proposed Changes to Fluid Milk Pricing). Then, to address seasonal oversupplies and periodic dumping of milk, a milk donation program was authorized.

Today’s article highlighting the new Dairy Margin Coverage program is the first of two to review the major changes made in the dairy subtitle of the 2018 farm bill. The second article in the series will review the pricing changes to Federal Milk Marketing Orders and the new milk donation program.
Dairy Margin Coverage

Like MPP, DMC is a voluntary program that makes payments when the national average income-over-feed-cost margin falls below a farmer-selected coverage level. Coverage is now available from $4 per hundredweight to as high as $9.50 per hundredweight. Dairy producers pay premiums for coverage and may annually re-select their coverage options. Farmers making a one-time election receive a discount on DMC premiums. Program payments may be triggered monthly and are made if the DMC margin falls below the farmer’s elected coverage level. Program payments are based on the amount of milk covered in the program and may range from 5 percent to 95 percent of a farm’s milk production history in 5 percent increments.

Among the major changes in DMC:
Three new Tier 1 coverage levels of $8.50, $9.00 and $9.50 per hundredweight;
Premiums are made more affordable for certain coverage levels;
Premium discount for a one-time election;
Farms may now cover between 5 percent and 95 percent of their historical milk production history;
Farms may make different coverage elections for Tier 1 and Tier 2 coverage;
MPP premiums paid from 2014 to 2017 are eligible for a refund;
Retroactive coverage for MPP in 2018 for farms with LGM-D coverage; and
Farmers can use DMC and crop insurance programs on the same milk.

These changes are reviewed below.
Higher Tier 1 Coverage

From 2015 to 2018 many dairy farmers elected to enroll in MPP Tier 1 coverage, i.e., the first 4 million or 5 million pounds covered, at either $6.50 per hundredweight or $8 per hundredweight. During this time, the MPP margin fell below $6.50 per hundredweight in 4 percent of the months and under $8 per hundredweight in 41 percent of the months.

To increase the frequency of Dairy Margin Coverage support, the Tier 1 coverage thresholds were raised to $9.50 per hundredweight. From 2015 to 2018, the MPP margin was below $9.50 in 80 percent of the months, below $9 in 63 percent of the months and below $8.50 in 52 percent of the months.

While not a predictor of future program success, over the last decade the average MPP/DMC margin was $8.11 per hundredweight, making the maximum support under DMC equal to 117 percent of the 10-year historical average, i.e., 1.17 = $9.50¸$8.11. However, the five-year average margin, which includes the record-high margins of 2014, is equal to $9.51 and is in line with coverage provided by DMC. Figure 1 highlights the historical MPP/DMC margin and the maximum coverage levels. 

 


Importantly, the higher Tier 1 coverage is only available to the first 5 million pounds of milk covered. The maximum amount of milk eligible for a Tier 1 program payment in a month is 416,666 pounds, i.e., 5,000,000¸12. Coverage for Tier 2 remains capped at $8 per hundredweight.
Adjustments to Tier 1 and Tier 2 Premiums

Premium rates for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 were also modified to make certain coverage options more affordable to all participating dairy farmers. Under DMC, dairy farmers can be covered up to $9.50 per hundredweight for only 15 cents per hundredweight. The price of Tier 1 $8 coverage was reduced by 30 percent to 10 cents per hundredweight.

Tier 2 premiums are structured to encourage participation at the $5 and $4.50 coverage levels for farmers covering more than 5 million pounds of milk. The premiums for both levels of coverage were reduced by 88 percent to one-half of 1 cent and one-quarter of 1 cent, respectively. A comparison of premium rates under DMC and MPP – as amended by the Bipartisan Budget Act -- is provided Table 1.




Premium Discount for One-Time Election

Dairy farmers participating in DMC may receive a 25 percent premium discount if they make a one-time election for both the coverage level and the amount of milk enrolled in the program. For example, a farmer electing the Tier 1 $9.50 coverage option would receive a 25 percent discount on premiums for all five coverage years – reducing the premium from 15 cents to 11.25 cents per hundredweight – if a one-time election is made. New entrants in dairy farming may receive this discount in subsequent enrollment years if they also make a one-time coverage election effective for the remaining years of the farm bill.
Margin Coverage for Medium and Larger Farms

The enhanced margin safety net is bifurcated and offers more protection to the first 5 million pounds of milk covered (about 215 milking cows). Milk covered in excess of 5 million pounds is subject to higher premium rates for shallow-loss coverage but can be covered at catastrophic coverage levels such as $4.50 and $5 per hundredweight at low-cost premium rates.

For medium-to-large dairy operations, the benefits of Tier 1 coverage were extended through two functions. First, the coverage percentage was changed to range from 5 percent to 95 percent in 5-percentage-point increments. Under the 2014 farm bill, the coverage percentage ranged from 25 percent to 90 percent. This modification allows larger farms to cover lower volumes of milk, and smaller farms to cover higher volumes of milk. For example, under the 2014 farm bill, a farm with 100 million pounds of production history had to cover at least 25 million pounds of milk when participating in MPP. This required both Tier 1 and Tier 2 coverage and substantially increased the cost of participation. Now, this same operation can cover only 5 million pounds of milk – all at the lower priced Tier 1 coverage.

Second, the 2018 farm bill includes a second coverage election for Tier 2. Under this provision, the first 5 million pounds of milk can have one Tier 1 coverage election, i.e., $9.50 per hundredweight, while any milk covered in excess of 5 million pounds can have a second coverage election such as $5 per hundredweight. This flexibility allows medium and large dairy operations to receive affordable Tier 1 and Tier 2 protection.
Margin Protection Program Refund

During the three-year period prior to the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act more than 20 thousand dairy farmers annually participated in MPP – covering as much as 80 percent of the U.S. milk supply. For this coverage, dairy farmers paid more than $100 million in administrative fees and premiums to USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Due to the low frequency of program payments, total program payments made to dairy farmers during this time are estimated at less than $12 million – resulting in an aggregate loss ratio of less than one-sixth of 1 percent.

The 2018 farm bill will refund up to 75 percent of the premiums paid by dairy farmers, not including administrative fees, for Margin Protection Program coverage during the 2014 to 2017 coverage years. Based on estimates of premiums paid into the program and program payments, up to $60 million dollars are likely eligible for premium refunds. Premiums paid for 2018 coverage – post-Bipartisan Budget Act improvements – are nonrefundable.

The premium repayments will be distributed in one of two ways: a farmer can receive 50 percent of the repayment as a direct cash repayment, or a farmer can receive 75 percent of the repayment as a credit toward Dairy Margin Coverage for the 2019 to 2023 coverage years. Farmers making this election must consider the total amount of the potential refund compared to the cost of DMC coverage over the five-year life of the farm bill.
Title I and Crop Insurance

The 2014 farm bill prohibited dairy farmers from using both the Margin Protection Program and the margin-based crop insurance product Livestock Gross Margin for Dairy Cattle. The 2018 farm bill removes this restriction and provides dairy farmers the opportunity and flexibility to use both DMC and crop insurance tools such as LGM-D and the Farm Bureau-developed Dairy Revenue Protection on the same milk.

Importantly, farmers who were prevented from participating in MPP following the Bipartisan Budget Act due to existing LGM-D policy will be allowed to retroactively receive MPP benefits for 2018.
Dairy Margin Coverage is Worth a Look

The question many dairy farmers are likely asking is how would DMC have performed in recent years? To answer that question, Figure 2 compares net benefits, i.e., program payments minus premiums, from DMC $9.50 coverage to $8 coverage for both the Bipartisan Budget Act-improved MPP and the original MPP from 2015 to October 2018. 




As evidenced in Figure 2, the improvements made in DMC would have provided much-needed financial support to dairy farmers during the recent downturn in the dairy economy. Monthly net benefits would have averaged more than $1 per hundredweight for Tier 1 $9.50 coverage, compared to 20 cents per hundredweight for the Bipartisan Budget Act-improved MPP and -15 cents per hundredweight for the original MPP, both at $8 coverage.

Going forward, dairy farmers will have access to a variety of affordable risk management tools to protect against downturns in the income-over-feed-cost margin or downturns in the revenue from milk sales. With respect to DMC, current projections are for margins to remain below $9.50 per hundredweight through November 2019, making DMC an attractive risk management tool. Then, like their field crop brethren, dairy farmers will also now have the flexibility to use both Title I and crop insurance tools simultaneously. Combined, these tools will allow farmers to have more skin in the game and proactively and consistently manage risks at the farm level.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Simpson Advocates for Third Federal Judge in Idaho



Simpson, Fulcher introduce bill to increase the number of district judges

Washington, D.C. – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson introduced legislation last week to address the federal judicial crisis in Idaho. H.R. 214 allows the President to appoint one additional federal district judge for the district of Idaho, increasing the number of district judges to three. Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher is a cosponsor of the bill.

“As the legal community in Idaho well knows, the state of Idaho is facing a federal judicial crisis,” said Simpson. “We are one of just three states in the nation with only two federal judge seats for the entire state. This means our federal judges have an extraordinary caseload and high number of weighted filings per judgeship. As we all know, justice delayed is justice denied, and it is beyond time to authorize another judgeship for Idaho.”

The federal district of Idaho has had just two federal district judges since 1954, when the population of the state was at 600,000. It is now at 1.7 million and growing, and as Idaho’s population grows, so does the number of court cases. As a result, the nonpartisan Judicial Conference of the United States has formally recommend that Congress authorize one new permanent district judge in Idaho consistently since 2003.

“I have long advocated for adding an additional judgeship in Idaho because the need is great,” added Simpson. “Idahoans deserve a fair and efficient federal court system, and this bill would go a long way towards ensuring their Constitutional access to justice. I am pleased that Congressman Fulcher has already joined me in this effort.”

“This initiative is a great way to start the new Congress, working alongside my fellow Idahoan, Congressman Simpson, to alleviate our state’s judicial backlog,” said Fulcher. “Appointing an additional judge will help to lessen the growing backlog of cases, deliver quicker service to our constituents, and make our judicial system more efficient. This shortage has faced Idaho for far too long, and I am pleased to make this effort one of my first actions in Congress.”

H.R. 214 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

Monday, January 7, 2019

AFBF: US-UK Trade pack must expand market access for American Agriculture



Washington--Knocking down all trade barriers to grow market access for U.S. farmers and ranchers must be a priority when negotiators from the United States and the United Kingdom launch trade agreement talks later this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“The negotiations should aim to eliminate any remaining tariff and non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. agricultural exports that have continued after the U.K. leaves the European Union. The current $1.8 billion annually of agricultural exports from the U.S. to the U.K. can be significantly increased through the elimination of tariff and nontariff barriers imposed upon agricultural imports,” AFBF said in comments to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Specifically, U.S. negotiators should ensure that long-standing issues with the U.K., such as tariff reduction, unscientific barriers to U.S. beef, pork and poultry, the biotechnology approval process and the use of geographic indicators, are addressed in the negotiations.

The agreement should, Farm Bureau said, restore science as the basis for food safety regulation by removing unjustified sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions on U.S. beef, poultry and pork. Going beyond the provisions in the World Trade Organization SPS Agreement, the U.S.-U.K. trade pact should strengthen disciplines on science and risk analysis and include provisions on “equivalency in regulatory systems” and disciplines on import checks. The agreement should also provide for transparency in rulemaking.

Among the top biotechnology-related objectives are provisions that commit parties to foster transparency and science-based regulations in their decision-making process. In addition, the timely authorization of biotech products and procedures for responding to the detection of a low-level presence of biotech material in a shipment of agricultural commodities or food products are important.

Farm Bureau also called for the removal of restrictions on the use of common names for dairy and meat products in the U.K. market. “The geographic indications policies of the European Union have created obstacles for U.S. agricultural exports around the world and these barriers must be removed,” Farm Bureau noted.

The group concluded, “A trade agreement with the United Kingdom must result in expanded market access for America’s farmers and ranchers. The competitive situation for agricultural exports requires a high-standards agreement that expands trade opportunities and provides real benefits for U.S. producers.”

American Farm Bureau Adopts Policies

New Orleans--Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 100th Annual Convention today adopted policies to guide t...