Category: Policy

2017 Minnesota Session

Resolutions season is upon us

County corn organization directors received their pre-resolutions packet this week in preparation for upcoming meetings that will set the legislative priorities of the state’s 24,000 corn farmers.

Directors received packets this week that included the 2017 Resolutions Book, information for counties to select their allotted delegates, and a form for counties to submit resolutions prior to the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) Pre-Resolutions Session held Dec. 5 in Mankato.

Counties that would like to submit a resolution to MCGA that addresses a major issue affecting the state’s corn growers should do so by Nov.

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U.S. Grains Council: Pace of NAFTA talks not unusual, but worth monitoring

The fourth round of NAFTA renegotiations between the United States, Canada and Mexico ended earlier this month with little progress made in efforts to revamp the free trade agreement. The stalled negotiations have been a source of worry for farmers, who are understandably concerned about tariffs in a non-NAFTA world.

Not so fast, however, according to Thomas Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council.

Sleight said four rounds of negotiations with little progress is actually fairly normal in renegotiating a trade deal of this size.

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Co-op health plan offered to farmers, informational sessions scheduled

During the 2017 legislative session, the Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton approved a law that enabled farmers to form health care cooperatives to provide another option for farmers to help address rising health insurance premiums. The rule paved the way for 40 Square Cooperative Solutions to begin offering self-funded health plans to Minnesota farmers.

Farmers who are considered an “employer” with at least one common law employee and work in production agriculture are eligible.

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A week of farm visits for gubernatorial candidates

The first week of corn farm visits by 2018 candidates for Minnesota governor is in the books, with four candidates making it out to family farms to discuss the importance of agriculture. Topics ranged from healthcare, to buffers, to the technology found in the combine. Each candidate walked away with a better understanding of modern farms and the issues that are important to the state’s 24,000 corn farmers.

Invitations to gubernatorial candidates were extended earlier this summer as part of the “MN Corn Grows MN” campaign,

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Buffer Alternative Practices

Buffer Law deadline for compliance is Nov. 1

The deadline for farmers to comply with the Minnesota Buffer Law is less than a month away.

By Nov. 1, the law requires farmers to install a 50-foot vegetative buffer on all public waters, or file for a waiver that extends the deadline. By Nov. 1, 2018, farmers must have a 16.5-foot buffer on all public ditches.

Prior to Nov. 1, farmers are encouraged to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office to discuss options for compliance and implementation under Minnesota’s buffer law.

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MCGA District Meetings set for November

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) will host five district meetings around the state this November. These meetings are free and open to all farmers.

The purpose of the meetings is to provide an opportunity for farmers to become better acquainted with recent activities of MCGA, and learn what lies ahead for Minnesota agriculture. This year’s meetings will be especially important, as they’ll give farmers a chance to meet their local district field manager if they haven’t already.

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What’s next for the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule

Throughout August, the farming community submitted comments to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) on the latest draft of the Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, which would limit fertilizer application in vulnerable groundwater areas and implement a process for mitigation where high concentrations of nitrates are found in groundwater.

By the end of the comment period, more than 800 total comments were submitted to MDA on the current draft of the rule. Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) farmer leaders submitted comments on behalf of the organization,

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MCR&PC member added to U.S. Grains Council board of directors

Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council member Chad Willis was recently elected to the U.S. Grains Council board of directors, where he will help direct strategies that develop new trade markets.

Willis was elected at the Council’s latest meeting, which took place in Vancouver, Wash. Willis, who has been a U.S. Grains Council representative since 2013, looks forward to representing the interests of Minnesota corn growers and help develop relationships with potential trade partners.

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draft Nitrogen Rule

Comment period for draft fertilizer rule ends Aug. 25

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is requesting input from the farming community on the draft Nitrogen Fertilizer Rule, which would limit fertilizer application in vulnerable groundwater areas and implement a process for mitigation where high concentrations of nitrates are found in groundwater.

Until Aug. 25, individual farmers are encouraged to submit comments on the first draft of the rule in an effort to help MDA formulate a final rule that limits nitrate pollution,

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Ag Policy Forum: National farm groups need young voices

Written by Jonathan Eisenthal

It’s a time of decision for agriculture. That became clear at the National Ag Policy Forum at Farmfest last week as farmer leaders discussed the many issues requiring action sooner than later.

While crucial topics like trade, infrastructure and farm labor soon to be decided in congress will weigh heavy on production, the panel reached consensus on the need to grow participation of younger farmers in the grassroots efforts that are vital to the future of farming.

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