Category: Policy

Helping farmers navigate the latest conservation-related reports, programs, strategies and initiatives

FarmKeeping up with the latest reports, studies, regulations, programs and initiatives related to conservation can sometimes make a farmer’s head spin.

Over the last couple of months, several reports have been released and strategies proposed by various agencies and organizations that aim to improve Minnesota’s water quality and enhance on-farm conservation efforts. These reports total almost 1,000 pages, span dozens of websites, involve multiple organizations and encompass several government programs and non-governmental initiatives.

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MDA wraps up N management plan listening sessions

Plan would create phased response to nitrates in groundwater, with a potential for regulatory action

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

Six listening sessions have not turned up any earth-shaking critical comments about the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) proposed Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan, according to MDA officials. The comment period continues until Nov. 1, at which point Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson will consider the comments and publish the final version of the plan.

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Government Shutdown: What it Means for Farmers

Like the rest of America, farmers woke up this morning and learned that the federal government is shut down.

How will the shutdown impact American agriculture? Unfortunately, we’re about to find out. For now, here’s what we know:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has mostly gone dark. With the exception of food and grain inspections, fighting forest fires and monitoring government property, most of the department’s 100,000 employees are furloughed (put on temporary leave) and offices are closed.

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Energy Economist: RFS saves consumers as much as $1.50 per gallon

There’s been plenty of political rhetoric and attacks using Big Oil talking points on the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) recently. Unfortunately, it appears that the same people making attacks have chosen to ignore a study released last week by energy economist Philip K. Verleger that concludes ethanol and the RFS have lowered gas prices by as much as $1.50 per gallon.

Verleger writes:

Had Congress not raised the renewable fuels requirement,

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Corn Links: Farm Bill, Chipotle and the Chesapeake Bay

The farm bill is still going nowhere, Chipotle gets called out by Funny or Die and a judge upholds a ruling on the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load issue. More details below in this Friday’s Corn Links:

Farm bill still stuck
If congress fails to pass a farm bill by Oct. 1, conservation programs will take a hit. According to Andrew McElwaine of the American Farmland Trust, conservation compliance has saved more than 295 million tons of soil annually and protected more than 3 million acres of wetlands.

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Minnesota Farmers are top users of USDA Conservation Program

More farmers in Minnesota than any other state have used a voluntary USDA program that aims to improve, maintain and expand on-farm conservation practices.

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and encourages farmers to take measurable steps to improve soil, water quality, wildlife habitat and other conservation efforts.

Since the CSP program began in 2009, nearly 2 million acres of Minnesota farmland has been enrolled.

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Green Star Farms Initiative: Benchmarking and Accelerating On-Farm Best Management Practices

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

The land that brothers Nathan and Sean Collins farm in Murdock, Minn., has been in production for 150 years. They are the fourth generation of farmers in the Collins family.

According to Nathan, the thriving of that land — as healthy and productive as its ever been — and the thriving of the Collins family goes hand in hand.

That’s why he jumped at the opportunity to join the Green Star Farms Initiative,

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Blame McDonald's — not Ethanol — for Increasing Chicken Prices

chartWell, don’t “blame” McDonald’s, that’s a little harsh. It’s a good thing for agriculture that McDonald’s is buying more chicken from farmers to meet demand for a new menu item. Bravo!

But this story from Bloomberg Businessweek about how McDonald’s may be influencing chicken prices as it prepares to add chicken wings to its menu is important for poultry farmers to read for this reason: There are many factors that influence food prices.

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Klobuchar and Grassley Letter asks for Investigation of Big Oil

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter this week asking the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate possible anti-competitive practices by oil companies that may be limiting consumer access to renewable fuels like ethanol.

“By forcing a franchisee to carry premium gasoline as a condition of carrying regular gas, the oil company may be using its economic power over its franchisee to effect a tying arrangement in violation of the Sherman Act,” the two senators wrote in the letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and FTC Chairwoman Edit Ramirez .

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Let's Help the Poultry Industry Better Understand Ethanol and the Renewable Fuels Standard

For some reason, our fellow farmers in the poultry industry still do not understand the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and ethanol.

Maybe they’ll get it if corn farmers contact them directly.

This recent commentary in the Star Tribune, penned by a turkey and a chicken producer, attacked the RFS and called on Congress to reduce the ethanol blend rate. The piece also blamed ethanol for increased food and feed costs by making the same old tired and dated food vs.

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