S P E C I A L
R E P O R T
‘Regional Issues: Northeast’
Mid-Atlantic farmers fight overregulation of livestock and poultry farms | 4 August 27, 2012 Vol. 91
‘Trade Barriers ’ Technical, sanitary issues have overtaken tariffs as the biggest obstacle to exports | 6
‘Kailey’s Ag Adventures’
Bound volume coming soon | 7
No. 15 fbnews.org
Drought, election heat up farm bill debate With more than half of the country in a severe drought and both President Obama and his challenger, Gov. Mitt Romney, barnstorming the hard-hit Midwest, Congress’ failure to complete the farm bill has been campaign fodder during the August congressional recess. The Senate has passed a farm bill, but in the House a bill has only passed in committee. Most of the current farm bill expires at the end of September. “The best way to help these states is for leaders in Congress to pass a farm bill that not only helps farmers and ranchers re-
spond to natural disasters, but also makes necessary reforms and gives them some long-term certainty,” Obama said at a campaign stop Aug. 13 in Iowa. The president went on to criticize Congress for “blocking that bill from becoming law,” and said that Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), was among those “standing in the way.” A spokesperson for the Romney campaign countered that Ryan supports disaster relief and pledged that “no one will work harder to defend farmers and ranchers” than the Romney-Ryan ticket.
“We need a farm bill, of course,” Romney said Aug. 22 in an interview with WQAD, the ABC affiliate in the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois. “We recognize that we don’t want to have farmers losing their ability to provide the food that America needs.” “People who are hurting, at risk of losing their business, are going to need help to get back up on their feet,” he added. Support for farmers is a perennial topic for politicians during an election year’s summer fair Farm bill Continued on Page 6
Day of Prayer a coming together to support drought victims Drought-tolerant corn no magic bullet but shows results By Erika Hooker No plant can grow without water. But current technology is proving that they can grow with a little less water than before.
Continued on Page 3
photo by kelli ludlum
n e w s p a p e r
DROUGHT has left this soybean field in southeastern Kansas parched and cracked. This crack was measured at 22 inches deep. A Day of Prayer, Aug. 23, was organized to support farmers, ranchers and others facing challenges related to the ongoing drought. With the worst drought in more than five decades gripping the nation’s midsection and parts of the South and West, the American Farm Bureau Federation called for a National Day of Prayer for drought victims, Aug. 23. “Due to the terrible impact the drought disaster has dealt, we think it is fitting to come together as an organization and as a nation for unified prayer for all those who are hurting and who face serious challenges in the months ahead,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. Posts throughout the day on
Twitter and in the days leading up to the Day of Prayer on Facebook expressed sympathy for what many farmers and ranchers are going through, with “withered crops, parched pastures, higher feed costs, or even wildfires,” as Stallman put it in the announcement of the event, as well as “the lingering effects” that will be felt in the coming months. Prayer services in Oklahoma and other states were organized to bring attention to farmers and ranchers who are hurting and provide moral support.
USDA on Aug. 22 announced additional steps the department would take to provide disaster relief, including more emergency haying and grazing, emergency loans to be made earlier-thanusual in the crop season and additional disaster designations. The department has now designated more than half the country—1,692 counties in 35 states— as disaster areas due to drought. During the week that ended Aug. 21, the drought intensified Drought Continued on Page 3
August 27, 2012
FFA Alumni help youths and agriculture succeed By Julie Tesch Hard work and determination are shared traits among those of us involved in agriculture. The values of the land, community and future prosperity are ingrained in us. Such values don’t happen by accident. In agricultural education and FFA, we instill these values in our students even if they did not grow up on a farm or ranch. We nurture and support the concept of hard work and a love of agriculture by engaging students in opportunities to grow. FFA Alumni are a key part of the process. As caring adults, we help students develop into productive citizens. Many of you may have been engaged with FFA as a past member or parent. You know firsthand how we build leaders for local communities and provide agriculture with the best, most driven people to keep agriculture competitive. The accomplishments, values and dreams of our FFA members are a powerful testament to the foundation of American agriculture. Members of the National FFA Alumni understand these values. The reason they invest themselves at the local level is not only to help young people succeed but also to ensure American agriculture is prepared to compete on a global level and feed our world.
An estimated 9 billion people living on Earth by 2050 and the need to double current food production are staggering but real propositions. Competition and productivity are driving our global economy. What will our competitive advantage be in agriculture? I believe our young people involved in agriculture will be our edge. The students in our classrooms and FFA chapters today will solve the problems of a growing society and persistent hunger. The National FFA Alumni will continue to invest in the development of young people. We work side by side with local agricultural education teachers to ensure our volunteer work is personal, productive and powerful for the students. We are in the business of finding and encouraging students to enter careers in agriculture and agricultural education. Those students involved in FFA have a higher chance of discovering their talents and devoting their energy and life’s work to ensuring continued production of food, fiber and renewable energy. Partnerships in agriculture are more important than ever. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the FFA Alumni were instrumental in defeating the Labor Department’s proposed child labor restrictions on farms. This shows what can happen when agricultural partners work together. What else can we do for agriculture?
I believe we can create effective advocates for agriculture, leaders for our communities and a new generation that will help feed the world. Just as you invest in your farm or ranch, I invite you to invest in the future viability of American agriculture by joining the FFA Alumni. If your community doesn’t have a local FFA Alumni affiliate, let us help you start one. I look forward to the continued partnership between AFBF and the National FFA Alumni. Working together, we are making a difference for students and our world.
Interested in joining FFA Alumni or starting a local FFA Alumni affiliate? Contact Julie Tesch, executive director of the National FFA Alumni Association, at 317-802-4292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get ready for the YEMMies—young, educated, Millennial mothers By Bob Giblin The United States is starting to see a shift that could hold profound implications for agriculture and food preferences. This shift will drive change in grocery stores and marketing channels, and it could translate into changes inside the farm gate. A new research study, “Trouble in Aisle 5,” by Jefferies and Alix Partners, outlines serious challenges to traditional grocers, but some of the trends identified point to real opportunities for agriculture to connect to the Millennial generation, and make improvements that appeal to all customers. In 2001, the Millennial generation (born 1982-2001) surpassed Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) as a percentage of the U.S. population. By 2020, Baby Boomers will fall to less than 20 percent of the population, while Millennials over 25 will reach 19 percent. Twenty-five years old is an important milestone; it’s when income and household formation accelerate and form the catalyst for increased consumption. Their influence over the marketplace is poised to skyrocket. Though many Boomers would paint Millennials as a fast-food generation, Millennials are much
bigger “foodies” than their parents or grandparents. Many are more educated and bettertraveled than Boomers were at similar ages. Millennials are likely to have been exposed to more ethnic types of food than their parents. They have grown up with the Food Channel, cooking shows, rock-star and celebrity chefs, and upscale or specialty food stores. They like exotic, diverse and international cuisines. The “Trouble in Aisle 5” study says the transformation spurred by the Millennials has the potential to “create a chaotic marketplace that dramatically changes where and how consumers shop for groceries, and what they bring home.” Grocers will be faced with a group of consumers with little loyalty to specific brands or retailers; fewer ties to the community; a high value on convenience; and a conflicting dynamic where they are focused on paying the lowest price, yet are more willing to pay for specific attributes. They are willing to travel and pay more for unique products that they want. In part, that helps explain the growth in both specialty markets and big box mass merchandisers, which are more popular with Millennials than Boomers. Natural and organic products
Don Lipton, Executive Director, Public Relations Lynne Finnerty, Editor Erin Anthony, Assistant Editor Phyllis Brown, Assistant Editor Sarah Bittner, Contributing Writer
August 27, 2012 Vol. 91
are more important to Millennials. They generally want more choices, more flavors and more variety—especially for fruits, vegetables, meats and seafood. Though more men are now grocery shopping, women typically account for 85 percent of food purchasing decisions. That will continue with a new, powerful group that is emerging—Young, Educated Millennial Mothers (YEMMies). The study predicts that YEMMies will set the trends for spending in the coming years, and are dedicated to shopping on their own terms. Over the next two years YEMMies, and Millennials in general, say they will increase their purchases of all food categories, especially fresh produce, fresh meat and seafood, dairy and packaged foods. The way they shop will also be very different. Already, nearly half of all Millennials use tablets and smart phones to make grocery purchases. They use them to check prices, get coupons, order ahead to save time, and to gather product information. The use of technology to gather information about food provides agriculture and retailers alike a great opportunity to connect directly with Millennials. Technolo-
Published semimonthly, except monthly in August and December, by the American Farm B ureau Federation, 600 Maryland Ave., SW, Suite 1000W, Washington, DC 20024. Phone: 202-406-3600. E-mail: email@example.com. Web site: http://www.fb.org. Periodical postage paid at Washington, D.C., and additional mailing offices. Subscription rate for officers and board members of county and state Farm Bureaus—$6, which is deducted from dues. For other subscribers—$10. Postmaster: Send address changes to FBNews, 600 Maryland Ave., SW, Suite 1000W, Washington, DC 20024.
gy allows farm and ranch families to help this new, emerging group of grocery shoppers understand where their food comes from, and how. As retail grocers come to grips with changing expectations of this emerging demographic, and adjust to better-serve the Millennials, farmers and ranchers will have an even better reason to ramp up their customer relations skills. As discriminating as the foodie culture has been, the YEMMies are about to take food decisions to the next level. Connecting with them will help not only prevent trouble in aisle five, but it could also improve the food shopping experience for all of us.
Bob Giblin writes, speaks and consults about agriculutural and food industry issues, policies and trends.
Farm Bureau TV: www.youtube.com/farmbureautv
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/farmbureau
“Like” us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AmericanFarmBureau
August 27, 2012
USDA must act on promise of streamlined regulatory reviews By David Winkles Farmers across the country are at the mercy of Mother Nature, especially this year, as severe drought compounds the unpredictability of farming and affects production of all commodities. During the up-and-down days of farming and erratic rainfall, sustainable agriculture must rely on production variables that are within the scope of human influence, such as technological innovations on the farm, that maximize inputs and allow farmers to (somewhat) manage the unpredictable.
AFBF: Don’t delay biotech decisions A petition for non-regulated (commercialized) status of MON 87708, a soybean that is genetically engineered for tolerance to the herbicide dicamba, is available for public comment until Sept. 11. Several groups have opposed the deregulation of biotech crops that are tolerant to synthetic plant-hormone herbicides, including dicamba and 2, 4-D, and want to delay the regulatory process. The American Farm Bureau Federation has submitted comments urging USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to keep U.S. agriculture on the cutting edge of agricultural technology. Unnecessarily delaying science-based decisions would result in “increasing regulatory cost, discouraging product innovation, damaging the global reputation of our regulatory framework and reducing the efficiency and productivity of U.S. agriculture,” AFBF wrote. Farm Bureau members who want to submit their own comments urging USDA to stick to its commitment to efficient, science-based regulation of biotechnology can do so at www.regulations. gov. Search for Docket No. APHIS-2012-0047.
Today, technological innovations in the United States are often held hostage at the mercy of a lengthy, extended regulatory review. For example, while weed resistance problems are getting worse with each passing season, potential answers have languished in the federal approval process for more than three years. In contrast, other countries, such as Brazil, understand the urgency of bringing new technologies to market and are approving new biotechnology products within one year. This alone will cause the United States to soon fall behind other countries and our food supply will be subject to the consequences. The Agriculture Department (USDA) has acknowledged this reality. Last November, the department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced plans to: a) streamline the agency’s process for making determinations on petitions; and b) reduce the length of petition review by half. In addition, within the release, the agency noted that the petition review process, since its introduction in 1992, has grown from six months on average to three to five years or more. Many agricultural technologies have been stuck in the lengthy process for the past several years, although some are making headway as several have been published for public comment (see sidebar to the left). Such progress is a vital step in the regulatory review system, yet speed in this science-based process is essential if farmers are going to get the tools they need in a timeframe that helps them compete. As weed management challenges continue to worsen, even causing farmers to return to hand-weeding, solutions can’t sit on the shelf. With that said, I’m hopeful the USDA will uphold its plans to improve the regulatory review process as part of its statutory commitment to farmers and the agriculture industry. Innovation is the lifeblood of agriculture in our country—always has been—and modern
technology has allowed farmers to produce yields per acre only dreamed of by our fathers. Continued innovations will allow farmers to provide for generations to come. Pressure from outside influencers—activists—should not cause the agency to slow down the process due to unwarranted claims of misuse of technology or off-label farming practices. Farmers are the ultimate stewards of the land and are conscientious users of technology. This is a role we, as farmers, take very seriously. Much thought and planning goes into when and how we use the tools of modern farming. Hearing activist predictions of farmers’ not respecting technology is just as discouraging as seeing a rain cloud roll off in the distance but not come my way. In a world where much is unpredictable, we must continue to help policy makers realize that every day counts in bringing technology forward. The USDA needs to keep the approval process moving, bring new tools to the farm and help the U.S. remain competitive in the global marketplace.
David Winkles, a soybean, corn, wheat and cotton farmer in Oswego, S.C., is president of the South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation. He serves on USDA’s first Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture and on the national Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade.
Day of Prayer a coming together to support drought victims Continued from page 1 slightly over Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa, and eased through Ohio, Indiana and the Mid-Atlantic, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC). The drought area shrunk a bit in the Southeast, as well.
Recovery from the drought will be slow, according to Mark Svoboda, a climatologist and U.S. Drought Monitor author with the NDMC. “We’ve reached the apex of our precipitation for the midsection of the country—it’s pretty much downhill from here until next
spring—so rapid, large-scale improvements would be unexpected, although certainly not impossible,” Svoboda said. Corn condition was unchanged from a week earlier in USDA’s most recent crop report, released Aug. 20. Twenty-six percent of the
crop was rated very poor, 25 percent was rated poor, 26 percent fair, 20 percent good and only 3 percent excellent. Soybean condition was rated 16 percent very poor, 21 percent was poor, 32 percent fair, 27 percent good and 4 percent excellent.
Drought-tolerant corn no magic bullet but shows results Continued from page 1 Three major seed companies, Syngenta, DuPont’s Pioneer HiBred, and Monsanto, have created viable drought tolerant options. Both Syngenta and Pioneer’s seeds are commercially available, at least on a limited release, and are being grown in the Midwest. Monsanto’s variety, DroughtGard, was deregulated in the U.S. in December and could be commercially available in 2013. DroughtGard is being tested on 10,000 acres in the Midwest by 250 different farmers. Both Syngenta and Pioneer’s seeds are the product of genome mapping—helping to identify certain water use genes in the corn— and then traditional breeding techniques leading to the droughttolerant hybrids. Monsanto’s version has gone one step further and introduced a naturally occurring regulatory gene from a bacterium that helps the plant deal better with drought stress. The results from these separate
“You need a system that brings together good agronomic practices and added biotechnology traits.” seeds have been positive so far. With Monsanto’s variety being the newest player in the game, it hasn’t had a full growing season to see its potential unfold. According to DroughtGard lead Mark Edge, however, the seed’s performance is encouraging. “Unfortunately, we are suffering similar problems as the rest of the country in this drought. We haven’t changed corn into cactus,” said Edge. “But, in general, we are seeing very positive results.” Edge said the most difficult thing about producing a droughttolerant corn variety is the large variation that comes with drought situations. Every location and growing practice requires different qualities from
the seed. He stressed that the best results will come from situations where farmers are growing their corn in tandem with good soil management practices. “You need a system that brings together good agronomic practices and added biotechnology traits,” said Edge. “An all-systems approach will give you the ability to endure water stress a little bit longer.” Tim Setter, professor and chair of the Crop and Soil Science Department at Cornell University, echoed Edge’s sentiments. Setter’s research has largely focused on plant responses to environmental stress, such as drought, and he says the positive results of such work come in small increments. He noted that investing in drought-tolerant corn is a calculated risk on the part of the farmer because it is typically more expensive. “It’s glass half empty or half full,” said Setter. “But it doesn’t
take that big of a percentage increase in yield to justify the cost, especially because all of these new drought-tolerant varieties maintain top yield under optimum precipitation conditions.”
Erika Hooker is a senior at Cornell University pursuing dual degrees in international agriculture and rural development/communication. She recently was a summer intern in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Public Relations department.
Regional Issu EPA fights Farm Bureau involvement in West Virginia poultry farmer’s lawsuit EPA wants the American Farm Bureau Federation and the West Virginia Farm Bureau to stay out of a federal lawsuit West Virginia poultry grower Lois Alt filed against the agency. In July, the organizations filed a motion to intervene in Alt’s lawsuit to stop EPA from exceeding its Clean Water Act authority in regulating poultry and livestock farms. EPA asked the federal court for the Northern District of West Virginia to deny AFBF’s motion to intervene because the outcome of the lawsuit would supposedly affect only Alt and not other livestock and poultry producers who may face similar tactics from EPA. EPA claims that other farmers facing similar EPA orders can simply file their own lawsuits. AFBF will have a chance to respond to EPA’s position in early September. Earlier this summer, Alt filed a legal challenge to an EPA order demanding that her farm, Eight is Enough, obtain an unnecessary and costly National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) discharge permit. EPA’s order threatens Alt with $37,500 in daily fines
for storm water that may come into contact with dust, feathers or dander deposited on the ground outside of poultry house ventilation fans, or small amounts of manure that may be present in the farmyard as a result of normal poultry farming operations. EPA also seeks separate fines if Alt fails to apply for an NPDES permit for the alleged “discharge” of storm water from her farmyard. “Lois Alt runs an exemplary operation and has even won awards for the environmental stewardship she practices on her farm,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Her efforts to defend herself and her family farm against an illegal EPA order are commendable.” When EPA officials paid Alt a visit in 2011, they told her they spotted some dust on the ground in her farm yard and saw a splotch of litter outside her chicken houses. Ignoring the fact that these things exist on all animal farms large and small, EPA says that because Alt houses enough chickens to qualify as a large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) under the Clean Water Act, runoff from Alt’s farm should be regulated as a Clean Water Act discharge and not as “agricultural stormwater.”
Alt told the inspector that if there was something she was doing wrong to let her know and she would correct it immediately. But, to this date, she hasn’t heard a peep from EPA, except that she needs to get an NPDES permit. Until she does, she’s looking at a fine of $37,500 per day. “It’s very, very intimidating,” said Alt, who worries about having to mortgage—and possibly even lose—her farm. Alt believes that, as one of the larger poultry farms in her state, if she’s intimidated into applying for a permit, most other West Virginia poultry farmers will feel compelled to do the same. Despite EPA’s assertion earlier this month that the outcome of the lawsuit will affect only Alt, livestock and poultry farmers nationwide know they could just as easily find themselves in Alt’s shoes, which is the main reason AFBF asked to intervene. “EPA basically claims that Lois Alt’s family farm isn’t agricultural and rainwater from her farmyard isn’t agricultural storm water, just because she houses more than a
certain number of chickens,” said Stallman. “AFBF has asked to join this lawsuit on behalf of the thousands of other livestock and poultry farmers threatened by EPA’s extreme and unlawful restriction of the agricultural storm water exemption.” In two prior court cases, AFBF has defeated EPA regulations that illegally attempted to impose broad NPDES permit requirements for thousands of livestock and poultry farmers whose operations have no regulated discharge. According to AFBF’s intervention papers, EPA’s order to Alt represents another attempt to regulate non-discharging farmers—this time by unlawfully narrowing the statutory exemption for “agricultural storm water discharges.” EPA has claimed in the Alt case that the statutory exemption for “agricultural storm water discharges” does not apply to larger farms that qualify as CAFOs, except for “land application areas” where crops are grown.
W.Va. farmer Lois Alt runs what AFBF President Bob Stallman calls an “exemplary operation,” with minimal dust, feathers or dander on the ground, even right outside the chicken houses, as this photo shows.
Photos courtesy of West Virginia Farm Bureau
As one of the larger poultry farmers in the state, Alt feels that if she’s intimidated into getting a discharge permit, few other West Virginia growers will be willing or able to stand up to EPA when they’re in the same position.
August 27, 2012
S P E C I A L
R E P O R T
Case against Maryland family farmers drags on With a trial set for April, Maryland chicken farmers Alan and Kristin Hudson hoped that by the end of summer justice would be served in the form of a favorable ruling in a lawsuit brought against their family farm by the behemoth Waterkeeper Alliance. But with the trial postponed until October, the Husdons’ worries continue to grow, as do their legal bills. The Hudsons took over the family farm from Alan’s dad in 1994. With just two chicken houses, the farm is small compared to the average chicken farm on the state’s Eastern Shore. They also raise corn, soybeans, hay and a few beef cattle. The lawsuit against the Hudsons was filed in 2010, but trouble was in the air the previous year when local environmental group Assateague Coastal Trust flew over the Hudsons’ farm and saw what they assumed was a pile of poultry manure. It wasn’t—the Hudsons store poultry manure in covered areas to prevent runoff. Instead, it was composted municipal waste from nearby Ocean City, Md., a populous resort area. The Hudsons intended to spread the waste as fertilizer in the spring through an environmental program to recycle treated sludge. While poultry litter from farms is regulated under the Clean Water Act, treated sewage sludge is in a regulatory class that does not require a CWA permit. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) followed up on the environmental group’s allegations by visiting the farm and telling the Hudsons to move the pile farther
away from a drainage ditch, which they did. After a staffer for the Assateague Coastal Trust tested water downstream of the Hudsons’ farm and claimed the farm was the source of elevated levels of fecal coliform, nitrogen, ammonia and other pollutants, MDE said it could not conclusively link the pollutants to the farm, and the pollutants could have come from other sources. MDE also confirmed that no piles of animal manure were found outside on the farm. Despite MDE’s conclusion that once the pile was moved and the municipal waste was spread in the spring, the Hudsons didn’t have to do anything else, in March 2010 the Assateague Coastal Trust, its staffer and the Waterkeeper Alliance, of which the Assateague Coastal Trust is a member, sued the Hudsons and the integrator with which they contracted, Perdue Farms, claiming that the farm and Perdue were in violation of the Clean Water Act. Being forced to abandon its claims about chicken manure, the Waterkeeper Alliance, now the sole plaintiff, is alleging that pollutants from poultry manure entered local waterways via the exhaust fans in the poultry houses and through
ordinary foot traffic as people enter and exit the houses in the daily care of their animals. Maryland Farm Bureau’s Valerie Connelly said Waterkeeper Alliance is trying to force co-permitting, which would make poultry companies like Perdue responsible for the nutrient management practices of the growers they contract with. Many farmers, who view poultry litter as a valuable commodity, are against co-permitting and the control it would give integrators over them and their farms. Maryland Farm Bureau, along with the Wicomico County Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers, Perdue and a number of other organizations, are supporting the Hudsons through SaveFarmFamilies.org. The group organizes fundraisers to help the Hudsons with the more than $100,000 in legal expenses they’ve amassed so far. When the trial was delayed this spring, Lee Richardson, president of the Wicomico County Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers, said the Hudsons were ready for court then, and they’ll be ready in the fall. “The farming community will not be bullied, we will continue to raise money for the Hudsons this summer in order to make sure they have the resources they will need to prove their case when they finally get to court,” Richardson said. The trial is now scheduled to begin Oct. 9.
New York dairies work to meet Greek yogurt demand period, the amount of milk used to make yogurt in that state increased dramatically from 158 million pounds to about 1.2 billion pounds. Most of the jump in milk use is due to Greek yogurt, which requires three times more milk than traditional yogurt. Along with Chobani, which accounts for an estimated 47 percent of the U.S. Greek yogurt market, New York is home to Fage USA, with an estimated 14 percent of the nation’s Greek yogurt sector. And earlier this month Muller Quaker Dairy broke ground on a new yogurt plant. As more Greek yogurt is made, jobs related to production, both on and off dairy farms, are on the rise too. At New York’s first-ever yogurt summit, held in Albany earlier this month, Cuomo announced a series of proposals to keep this upward Greek yogurt trend going in the state and to keep Chobani’s Ulukaya and his competitors from looking beyond New York’s dairies for their milk. One of the biggest barriers to increased milk production is many dairy farmers’ reluctance to expand their herds beyond 200 cows. At 201 cows, these farms fall into a more heavily regulated category in which the profits are outweighed by regulatory costs amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
At the yogurt summit, Cuomo said he wants to increase the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) cap from 200 to 300 milking cows. He says this will allow farmers to save money and expand their herds, which will create more jobs. “Moving the threshold for CAFO compliance to 300 cows is an unprecedented step and a sure sign the governor understands our needs while also maintaining the highest environmental standards for dairy farmers in the country,”
New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton said. There are more than 800 dairy farms with 100-199 cows that could benefit from the increase in the CAFO cap. New York Farm Bureau estimates that if just 10 percent of those farms add 100 cows to their herd, milk production would grow by more than 160 million pounds of milk per year. Cuomo said the state also plans to lower energy costs by increasing and incentivizing the construction and use of anaerobic digesters.
Photo courtesy of New York Farm Bureau
About 70 percent of the country’s Greek yogurt is made with milk produced by New York dairy farmers. If some of those dairy owners and local and state officials like Gov. Andrew Cuomo have their way, the state will be boasting an even higher percentage of U.S. Greek yogurt production in the coming years. However, merely keeping pace with current demand, let alone ramping up milk production, is proving to be no small feat. New Berlin, N.Y.-based Chobani, the country’s top Greek-yogurt maker, earlier this year announced plans to open a plant in Idaho, where more plentiful land, lower property taxes and a more dairy-friendly regulatory environment have led to larger herd sizes and more milk. Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya said he might have considered expanding his New York plant if he had been able to get the milk he needed there. Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than its traditional counterparts and is typically higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. It accounts for 35 percent of total U.S. yogurt sales, up significantly from 4 percent in 2008. In the past 12 years, the number of yogurt plants in New York increased from 14 to 29, with production doubling from 2005 to 2011. Over that same six-year
New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton (right) called N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (left) plan to increase the state’s CAFO cap from 200 to 300 milking cows a “sure sign” the governor understands dairy farmers’ needs.
August 27, 2012
Shaffer outlines biggest barriers to ag exports High tariffs used to be the greatest impediment to exporting U.S. farm goods around the world. Now that the United States has negotiated low or no tariffs on most agricultural products, countries have increasingly used non-tariff trade barriers, such as quarantines or purportedly health-based bans, to restrict access to their markets. Testifying on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation July 26 before a House Small Business Subcommittee hearing on foreign nations’ usage of so-called sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) measures, Carl Shaffer, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau president and a corn, soybeans and wheat grower, said that unscientific standards and other non-tariff barriers are “the most challenging trade barriers that are facing agriculture today.” Barriers to U.S. agricultural exports often are not science-based or necessary, Shaffer said, and
they are sometimes put in place so quickly the U.S. doesn’t have time to comply without disrupting the flow of trade. Measures often don’t conform to international standards, and countries rely on questionable testing methods to back up their trade restrictions. Biotechnology rules that disrupt animal feed trade to the European Union and the EU’s restrictions on U.S. poultry due to the use of chlorine-based washes that are deemed safe in the U.S. are two examples of SPS measures run amok, according to Shaffer’s testimony. The EU’s and China’s restrictions on beef and pork products due to the use of ractopamine, a growth-promoting feed additive approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and several countries’ usage of geographic indicators to restrict the use of common product names such as Roquefort cheese, are other examples of non-tariff barriers. These and other barriers are
Non-tariff barriers and deteriorating transportation infrastructure are “the most challenging trade barriers that are facing agriculture today,” said Carl Shaffer, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau president, in recent congressional testimony.
outlined in a report by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, “2011 Report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.” These may seem like very specific issues that only a Washington policy wonk would care about. But Shaffer said they were major concerns for agriculture. “Trade matters to Pennsylvania and America’s farmers,” he said. “As you well know, more than 95 percent of the global population lives beyond our borders. As such, the agriculture industry is constantly mindful of global markets, the opportunities they present and the numerous trade barriers that exist.” Another risk to U.S. agricultural exports that Shaffer mentioned in his testimony is transportation infrastructure and its impact on U.S. competitiveness. Whether by truck, rail, barge or cargo ship, Shaffer said, “With more than one-third of U.S. agricultural production (valued at more than $136 billion) exported in 2011, the physical movement of commodities and foods is critical to agricultural trade and the prosperity of American farmers.” The United States’ inland waterways are in need of repair and maintenance, he said. Seaports must be improved to accommodate larger ships, especially after a Panama Canal expansion (sometimes referred to as “Panamax”) to be completed in 2014 allows for those larger vessels. Also, Shaffer said that the recently-passed transportation reauthorization bill calls on the Transportation Department to create a plan for improving highways and roads, but not inland waterways and railroads. “Attention must be paid to maintaining and improving the systems that move our nation’s agricultural goods,” he said.
As an example of how national and global transportation affects even a single farm in his state, Shaffer focused on Lone Maple Farms, a soybean farm in the small town of Salem Township, in southwestern Pennsylvania. The farm sells its soybeans to a co-op in neighboring Ohio. There, the beans are loaded onto a barge, which takes them down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to the Gulf of Mexico, where they are loaded onto ships headed for Asia. “Unfortunately, Gulf Coast ports are not able to accommodate the largest of ships that will soon navigate the Panama Canal,” Shaffer said. “The inability to dock, load and unload the post-Panamax ships in the Gulf Coast could limit the foreign markets currently enjoyed by Lone Maple Farms and several other Western Pennsylvania farms and businesses.” “…Our national priorities must include infrastructure improvement,” he added. A recent report funded by the United Soybean Board and the soybean checkoff, “Farm to Market—A Soybean’s Journey,” analyzed how soybeans and other agricultural products move from the farm gate to customers, highlighting weaknesses found in the system along the way. The report, prepared by Informa Economics, found that U.S. farmers’ competitiveness will increasingly depend on the nation’s system of highways, bridges, railroads, locks and dams, much of which is at least half a century old and deteriorating. The full report is available at http://www.unitedsoybean.org/wp-content/uploads/ FarmToMarketStudy.pdf.
Drought, election heat up farm bill debate Continued from page 1 season, although the farm bill typically enjoys bipartisan support. This year’s drought, however, has intensified the focus on the issue. “The new farm bill would renew certain disaster programs that have expired and would expand crop insurance options that farmers rely on in years like this,” explained Dale Moore, American Farm Bureau Federation farm policy specialist. “So the drought has really spotlighted the importance of the farm bill.” “Our message to both sides of the aisle in the House is, simply, we need this farm bill done,” Moore added. “It can’t wait until next year.” Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), House Agriculture Committee chairman, has said that he will continue work on the farm bill before Congress adjourns for the November election. “This is not a long-term solution,” Lucas said concerning House passage of a separate bill to extend expired disaster assistance provisions, “but it takes care of the problem until we can get a five-year farm bill on the books and put those policies in place. I am committed to giving certainty to our farmers and I plan to work toward that goal when we return in September.” Tom Vilsack, Obama’s agriculture secretary and a former governor of Iowa, said in an interview with RFD-TV at the Iowa State Fair that if the House farm bill isn’t passed by Sept. 30, lawmakers could raid farm bill funding as they scramble to head off the looming budget
sequestration. “There is a huge risk to rural America if it doesn’t get done on a timely basis, because it does then indeed get wrapped up into a much larger discussion,” Vilsack said. “That’s when I think the risk for larger and steeper cuts in all programs is real.” AFBF for months has stressed that if the farm bill isn’t completed this year, then most likely the result will be deeper, more painful cuts in farm, conservation, agricultural research and other programs. Already the Senate-passed farm bill would cut $23 billion in total farm bill spending, while the proposal yet to be voted on in the House would slash the farm bill by $35.1 billion, over 10 years. Almost half of the House cuts would come from the food stamps or SNAP program, setting up an election-year litmus test that has slowed the bill’s progress. Both the House and Senate versions would eliminate direct payments, but they differ in the types of countercyclical programs and target prices they would establish. The University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Re-
search Institute (FAPRI) recently published a comparison of the House and Senate farm bills. The analysis finds that the House bill would provide substantially more support than the Senate bill to producers of certain commodities, including wheat, rice, barley and peanuts, and production of those crops would be greater under the House bill than the Senate bill. The House bill would provide lower payments than the Senate bill to corn and soybean producers. Both bills would result in slight decreases in net farm income over the next five years, according to FAPRI’s estimates—a reduction of 1.8 percent under the House bill and a reduction of 2.3 percent under the Senate bill. Farm real estate values would decline 1.1 percent under the House provisions, compared to 1.4 percent under the Senate bill, the report predicts. While AFBF has said that both bills could be improved, specifically to reduce inequity across commodities, the important thing is to get a farm bill passed. “Typically, these differences are worked out in conference, but first you have to get there. That won’t happen until both the Senate and the House have passed their respective bills,” Moore said. “The sooner the House passes its bill, the sooner the process can move forward.” “We are asking members of Congress to finalize a farm bill before they go home for the election,” he added, “so farmers and ranchers will know what they have to work with for next year.”
August 27, 2012
State FB Links
State quota, Navigator status As of July 31, 2012 Quota states Alaska, 340 member families Iowa, 154,424 member families Louisiana, 148,406 member families Mississippi, 199,502 member families Montana, 16,896 member families Pennsylvania, 55,398 member families Navigator states Montana, 16,896 member families Pennsylvania, 55,398 member families
Kentucky Farm Bureau wins Emmy Award
North Dakota farm groups oppose animal cruelty measure
Pennsylvania farmers want state vehicle code updated
Kentucky Farm Bureau’s television program, “Bluegrass & Backroads,” which explores agricultural, cultural, historical and artistic stories unique to the state, was honored with an Emmy® Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on July 28. The awardwinning segment focused on Cramer Schneider, a Kentucky teenager who did not allow his being blind to prevent him from showing award-winning cattle. “Bluegrass & Backroads” was also nominated for three additional Emmy® Awards this year. Bob Shrader and Matt Hilton, producers and hosts of the show, accepted the award. Shrader and Hilton are responsible for writing, filming, interviewing, hosting, directing and editing each show. They attended the 48th Annual Ohio Valley Regional Emmy® Awards to accept the award for Best Magazine Feature/Segment. “This recognition means a lot for the show. It proves that stories about Kentucky’s farm families can touch a wide audience as well as get critical acclaim,” said Hilton. The duo is now busy filming the 10th season of “Bluegrass & Backroads.”
North Dakota Farm Bureau, the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and the North Dakota Farmers Union will oppose an anti-animal cruelty measure in the likely event that it gets on the November ballot. Supporters of the measure turned in more than 25,000 signatures. They only need about 13,500 names to qualify for the November election. The proposed initiative makes acts of “aggravated animal cruelty” against a cat, dog or horse a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine; currently the maximum punishment is a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. Once convicted an offender could be required to undergo psychiatric evaluation and ordered not to own a dog, cat or horse for up to five years. Doyle Johannes, NDFB president, said, “This animal cruelty measure proposed to ‘protect dogs, cats and horses’ is typical of [the Humane Society of the United States] to get their ‘nose under the tent’ to ultimately regulate all of animal agriculture in North Dakota. Several North Dakota pet shelters even oppose this measure because it does not protect the animals from the abuse they see to the animals that come to their shelters.”
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is urging members of the state General Assembly to pass legislation that would update the state vehicle code to resolve farm transportation problems. The legislation focuses on increasing the width allowance for farming implements, increasing the distance farm equipment and trucks that are used primarily around the home farm can travel and increasing the distance in which a multipurpose agriculture vehicle can travel. “The reasonable changes to the state vehicle code that we support would allow farmers to move modern pieces of equipment from field to field and field to farm. While newer farm equipment has enabled farmers to increase productivity, especially during the planting and harvest seasons, they are larger than vehicles typically used by farmers 30 years ago,” said Carl Shaffer, PFB president. “Farmers often have to travel longer distances to plant and harvest crops on their own farmland as well as rented land. They also are required to travel longer distances to deliver agricultural products or to reach businesses that sell farming supplies.”
Bound collection of Kailey’s ag adventures available soon Author Dan Yunk, executive director-CEO of Kansas Farm Bureau, introduced us to city girl Kailey in “Milk Comes from a Cow?” Since then we’ve read about her adventures in “The Soil Neighborhood,” “Farmers and Ranchers Care About Their Animals!,” “Celebrate Wheat!” and “Growing Up Strong” (excerpt to the right). The next chapter in Kailey’s literary life is a hard-cover collection of all five books, available this fall. In addition, Yunk says five more stories are in the works. The first is slated for publication in fall 2013. For more information, go to http://www.kfb.org/ageducation/.
Ray Poe, Idaho Farm Bureau’s director of member relations, has retired after 33 years of service. In addition, IDFB has combined the Commodities and Marketing Division and the Member Services Division to form the Organization Division. Dennis Brower is the director of the Organization Division. Brower has been with IDFB for 28 years. The IDFB board of directors has appointed Brower to be an assistant executive vice president. He also oversees the state’s political action committee program. Amy Manske has been hired by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation as its communications coordinator. Manske will be responsible for writing, editing and designing content for county and state Farm Bureau publications, promotional materials, the WFBF website and social media. Steve Ammerman has joined New York Farm Bureau’s public policy division as manager of public affairs. Ammerman will serve as a spokesman for NYFB and coordinate all media coverage in relationship to the public policy department. He will also oversee its monthly newspaper “Grassroots” and its social media and websites. Ammerman was previously in television news and worked as an anchor and reporter for 20 years before coming to NYFB.
August 27, 2012
A leader for the future?
FFA president draws strength from life experience By G.B. Crawford The late business guru Peter Drucker once remarked that “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Charlie Brown, the 2011-2012 Florida FFA president, has applied the concept throughout his young life. Finding ways to solve problems or overcome challenges has become a common theme in his personal development. A big part of that theme has emerged in his FFA career as he has gained confidence and skill as a public speaker and interacted with people of many different backgrounds. “I now have some of my best friends in Oregon and Texas,” Brown said. “I have been able to travel to China and meet the governor and the commissioner of agriculture. I don’t think I would ever have done anything like that if it had not been for this organization.” Until he reached middle school Brown was reluctant to seek out an FFA program. He had no background in production agriculture and he assumed that the activities offered were limited to “cows, plows and sows” and nothing else. “I didn’t think FFA had anything for black students,” Brown admitted. “I really didn’t think it had any components that could develop me as an individual, not only for college, but for life in general.” He soon learned otherwise. A middle school advisor, Kellie Duke, encouraged him to join and gave Brown’s mother good reasons why he should. His mother was convinced and signed him up; he reluctantly agreed to follow her wishes.
Charlie Brown (left), Florida FFA president, has impressed teachers and others with his problem-solving abilities, grasp of complex issues, leadership potential and enthusiasm for FFA. Brown likes to point out that FFA can benefit urban as well as rural students. “And, lo and behold, on the next day I was in my first FFA meeting,” Brown said. “I just fell in love with the organization.” Participation in the program inspired him to work even harder as a student and take on more challenges, including raising hogs for showing at agricultural fairs. Along the way, his fellow students recognized his talents, especially at Avon Park High School. Brown is fond of pointing out that FFA has many opportunities for urban students as well as those in rural areas. The largest FFA chapter in Florida, for example, is located in Miami. “Leadership, character development, responsibility and the ability to prioritize are things that all people need, whether you live in Miami or Ames, Iowa,” he said. “The presence of FFA in urban areas is beneficial for the students
there as well as production agriculture. It gives students the same personal opportunities I have had and it helps educate parents and children about how we produce our food.” J. Ned Hancock, chairman of the Highlands County School Board, has observed Brown since he was in middle school and has become one of the young man’s many champions. “He has been most successful at everything he has done,” Hancock said. “I think other people have recognized that and look up to him and respect him.” Gary Dressel was Brown’s FFA mentor at the high school. His observation of Brown has led him to conclude that, in addition to his other qualities, the FFA leader has an exceptional understand-
ing of national politics. “For his age, it amazes me that he has such a good handle on national issues and international issues, too,” Dressel said. He praised Brown for an exceptional quality apparent when he was a high school student. “He is willing to work for the good of the group, not just for himself,” Dressel said. “I think that is the mark of a very good leader.” Brown’s service as a positive role model has encouraged other African-American students at the school to join FFA. Thirty percent of the chapter’s members are now African-American students. A 2011 high school graduate, Brown enters the University of Florida this fall with a major in food and resource economics. He has expressed an interest in attending law school. Perhaps most significantly, he has also entertained thoughts about serving in public office after he completes his education. “It’s not something I want to do, it’s something I have to do,” Brown said. “I want to make sure that this is a better place for my children, their children and everyone else.” Success at winning an elective office would not surprise anyone who knows Brown. In Hancock’s words: “We have to be careful,” he said. “We might all be working for Charlie some day.” G.B. Crawford is interim director of public relations for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. This article is reprinted with permission from FloridAgriculture, FLFB’s newspaper.