Don't Forget Your Membership!If you are a current member, you should have recently received a letter in the mail asking you to renew your membership for 2013. Please be sure to send your dues in early so we can conserve important resources in not having to send out a reminder notice. If you did not receive a letter, or are interested in joining the MSCA, Click here for Application Form
The MSCA saw many successes in terms of our priority issues ranging from wolf management, expanded grazing access on conservation lands, reasonable animal identification requirements, opening up CRP and other conservation lands for emergency haying and grazing, and improving the environmental permitting process. Looking forward to 2013, the MSCA will be focused on many of the same issues, but we will also be closely monitoring the drought situation and work with state and federal governments to respond appropriately if drought conditions persist.
Be sure to send in your membership renewal as soon as you can so we can continue the fight by having cattlemen working for cattlemen! As a reminder, you must pay your dues by April 1 to be listed in the upcoming membership directory.
New Board of Animal Health Rules Now in EffectThe Minnesota Board of Animal Health recently announced that its new rules related to animal identification are now in effect. View the complete Board of Animal Health rules.
The main change is that if you are selling any breeding animal you are required to place an official identification in the animal and keep detailed records which are subject to inspection by the Board of Animal Health. You will also be required to have identification placed in all animals moving out of state for exhibitions.
Breeding cattle moving within Minnesota do not need official ID if they are consigned to a state/federal approved market or moving directly to slaughter or a slaughter-only handling facility.
Livestock Producers Affected by Disasters Urged to Keep Good RecordsMinnesota Farm Service Agency
Glenn Schafer, USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting State Executive Director, reminds livestock producers affected by natural disasters such as the recent winter and spring storms to keep thorough records of their livestock losses.
FSA recommends that producers record all pertinent information of natural disaster consequences, including documentation of the number and kind of livestock that have died, supplemented by photographs or video records of ownership and losses; dates of death supported by birth records or purchase receipts; and rendering truck receipts documenting livestock kind, type, and weight. Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA offices to obtain more information regarding documenting livestock losses.
Acting SED Schafer also reminds producers that although funding has not been appropriated for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP); and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish (ELAP) program, it is critical that livestock producers document their losses in the event funding becomes available at a later date. For more information about the programs administered by FSA, visit any FSA county office or www.fsa.usda.gov.
Environment and Agriculture Finance Bill Heads to Conference CommitteeThe conference committee for HF976* / SF1170, the Omnibus Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Finance and Policy Bill is underway. House conferees include: Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis), Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin), David Dill (DFL-Crane Lake), Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) and Andrew Falk (DFL-Murdock). Senate conferees include: David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm), Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids), Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin), Jim Metzen (DFL-South St. Paul) and Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake).
In terms of agriculture funding (Dept. of Agriculture, Board of Animal Health, and AURI) the bill appropriates nearly $80 million, a general fund increase of around 4 percent. In terms of environmental funding, the bill provides: $467 million for DNR (3.8 percent increase); $165 million for MPCA (4.5 percent increase); and $25 million for BWSR (0.96 percent increase).
There is a major philosophical difference of how to handle the proposed $20 million to be allocated to the Agricultural Growth Research Investment (AGRI) fund. The House provides discretion to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) on how to deliver the funds, while the Senate specifically earmarks around $9 million of the $20 million for a variety of programs/organizations (AURI, MAELC, County Fairs, City of Morris, 4-H, FFA, Rural Finance Authority). The MSCA is concerned about earmarking AGRI funds for specific programs, as it reduces the amount that the MDA may be able to deliver for livestock investment grants.
Other key differences in the bills include provisions to raise water usage fees and to establish a new agriculture water quality certification program. The House bill contains these provisions, while the Senate does not include any language. There are also differences between the bills in how to address silica sand mining.
Key Provisions of Interest
*$150,000 for wolf depredation payments for lost livestock.
*Raises fees for commercial animal waste technicians and modifies program requirements.
*Transfers $300,000 out of MDA’s pesticide regulatory account to the DNR to pay for habitat enhancements to benefit bees.
*$4 million is for the administration of the county feedlot program.
*$604,000 is for feedlot cost share projects on livestock operations under 300 animal units.
Note: During House floor debate, an amendment was offered by Rep. Jason Isaacson (D-Shoreview) to re-instate the five-year ban on wolf hunting and trapping. However, the amendment was withdrawn before a vote was taken.
Senate Plans to Include HSUS/UEP Agreement in Farm BillThe MSCA has joined a national coalition letter encouraging members of the Senate Agriculture Committee to NOT include language in the Senate farm bill that would codify an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the United Egg Producers (UEP) to seek federally mandated production practices for the egg industry.
It has been reported that Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) may include the language in the Senate farm bill when the committee takes up consideration of the bill this week.
NCBA President Scott George, a dairy and beef producer from Cody, Wyo., criticized Stabenow's decision, stating that if the language is included in the farm bill, animal care could easily be taken out of the hands of experts and placed in the control of the federal government. He added that if the mandate is included in the draft farm bill NCBA will oppose the passage of the legislation.
"Including the HSUS/UEP legislation in the farm bill creates a slippery slope to allow the federal government to mandate on-farm production practices for all sectors of the agriculture. Even though this legislation only applies to the egg industry, this one-size-fits all approach would harm cattle producers around the country," George said. "Cattlemen and women are committed to raising healthy cattle and providing safe, wholesome U.S. beef to feed our nation and the world. We don't need a federal mandate telling farmers and ranchers how to do their jobs."
Note: The MSCA has reached out to Senator Klobuchar encouraging her not to support inclusion of this language in the Farm Bill.
Senate Considers Changes to SPCC RequirementsThe Senate is expected to vote on the Farmers Undertake Land Stewardship (FUELS) act which would change current EPA requirements for farmers to develop Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans and installation of containments measures for petroleum products stored on their property.
The current rule requires many farmers who store more than 1,320 gallons of petroleum products to make costly infrastructure improvements to reduce the possibility of spills by October 1, 2013.
The FUELs act would revise the current SPCC regulations to exempt farms that store less than 10,000 gallons of petroleum. Farms that store more than 10,000 gallons would be able to develop a self-certified plan, while farms that store more than 42,000 gallons would be required to have a plan certified by a professional engineer.
The SPCC program dates back to 1973, shortly after the Clean Water Act was signed into law. In the last decade the rule has strictly come down on agriculture and been amended, delayed and extended dozens of times. The Obama administration updated the rule in 2009 to make the SPCC program more burdensome than ever before - applying to nearly all farms, and lifting a 2006 rule that suspended compliance requirements for small farms with oil storage of 10,000 gallons or less.
MSCA members are encouraged to contact Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and encourage them to support passage of the FUELs act as an amendment to the WRDA bill.