The Missouri Agribusiness Association is committed to the agribusiness industry within the Show-Me State by offering services that will enhance the day-to-day operations of agribusinesses now and in the future.
MO-AG's mission simply states, "The mission of the Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG) is to advocate for the business of agriculture while offering services and networking opportunities for the agribusiness community."
2016 Pyramid of MO-AG Program Sponsors
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Legislation of Interest
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News You Can Use
Court Sides with Ag Retailers on PSM
The D.C. Court of Appeals today ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when it issued an enforcement memorandum on July 22, 2015, redefining the "retail facility" exemption to the Process Safety Management Standard.
The Agricultural Retailers Association and The Fertilizer Institute, which brought the suit to court, are pleased with the decision. "OSHA made a bad decision in regulating ammonia in response to an ammonium nitrate incident, and the agency made that decision incorrectly," said ARA President & CEO Daren Coppock. "Although ARA could only challenge on the procedural point and not the decision itself, we're still very pleased to see the Court rule in our favor and to provide this relief to our members."
Ag retailers are exempt from PSM until OSHA completes a notice-and-comment rulemaking process regarding PSM, which could take several years to finalize. ARA is currently reviewing the court's decision and will provide additional analysis once our assessment is complete. For now, retailers can celebrate a victory on the legal front. "It's a big win. Given the significant economic costs and absence of any safety benefit, the court made the correct decision," said ARA Chairman Harold Cooper. "The retail exemption has been in place for more than 20 years and OSHA should not have redefined it without an opportunity for stakeholders to comment."
Cooper said this could have easily gone another way. "As an industry, ag retailers tend to be complacent about regulations that come our way. We keep our heads down and do what's required," he said. "But this rule would have limited farmers and retailers options through an agency's improper regulatory overreach. Thankfully, ARA was uniquely prepared and positioned to defend our industry. They gave us a vehicle to fight and win this battle." Source: Agricultural Retailers Association
At the 2014 MO-AG Convention, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster receives MO-AG's Advocate for Agribusiness Award. Koster is seen here with members of the MO-AG Board of Directors and staff. Attorney General Koster is a candidate for Governor of Missouri
You have heard it said "elections matter." It is true, they do. The primaries are over and the table is set for the general election. Many organizations are making endorsements. MO-AG encourages you to go to the polls this fall and vote for advocates for agribusiness. If you are a faithful reader of the MO-AG Minute, you know the candidates who have a record of being advocates for agribusiness. You know Attorney General Chris Koster has fought against regulatory overreach and fought for amendment #1, the right to farm. And, you know MO-AG's 2012 advocate for agribusiness winner, Sen. Mike Parson, led the charge on amendment #1, the right to farm, and has supported agribusiness friendly legislation throughout his career in the Senate. You know U.S. Senator Roy Blunt as an advocate for agribusiness who has pushed back hard against the heavy burden OSHA's is placing on the fertilizer industry. You know members of the House in Congress like Blaine Luetkemeyer and Vicky Hartzler have consistently supported MO-AG priorities.
So, let your voice be heard. It needs to be heard. This November . . . VOTE! To see a list of candidates for federal and statewide office and candidates in your State Senate or House district, CLICK HERE.
MO-AG Advocate for Agribusiness Award winner, Sen. Mike Parson, addresses the crowd at the MO-AG Winter Convention in 2015. Sen. Parson is a candidate for Lt. Governor of Missouri
MO-AG Winter Convention
The Winter Convention is an event held annually in December and is held in conjunction with the MU Crop Management Conference. The convention features booths, speakers and entertainment for all who attend. The next Convention will be on December 15th at the Holiday Inn Executive Center, please click here for the exhibitor brochure, here for the booth layout and here for the attendee brochure.
Veto Override Session
HB 1713 allows additional representation from agriculture on the Clean Water Commission. Currently, agriculture and industry is limited to two representatives in the seven-member body. This bill will change the makeup so that at least two members must represent these interests and no more than four may represent the public. HB 1414 will protect agricultural data from Sunshine Law disclosure when collected by government agencies. SB 641 creates an income tax deduction for payments received as part of a program that compensates agricultural produces who suffer a loss due to disaster or emergency. SB 844 changes liability when a livestock animal causes damage to only being the owner's responsibility if the owner was negligent. All these bills were approved over the Governor's objections and now will become law.
Farm Bureau Endorses Koster
Munzlinger on Trump Committee
Donald J. Trump is pleased to announce his new Agricultural Advisory Committee. The men and women on the committee will provide pioneering new ideas to strengthen our nation's agricultural industry as well as provide support to our rural communities. Mr. Trump understands the critical role our nation's agricultural community plays in feeding not only our country, but the world, and how important these Americans are to powering our nation's economy. Mr. Trump said, "The members of my agricultural advisory committee represent the best that America can offer to help serve agricultural communities. Many of these officials have been elected by their communities to solve the issues that impact our rural areas every day. I'm very proud to stand with these men and women, and look forward to serving those who serve all Americans from the White House."
Source: Trump Campaign Press Release
Editor's Note: Missouri State Senator Brian Munzlinger, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is on the Trump Agricultural Advisory Committee. Also included is Rebeckah Adcock of MO-AG national affiliate CropLife America. For a complete listing of all committee members, CLICK HERE.
AFIA offers FSMA Help
MO-AG's national affiliate, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), has been a leader in helping the industry with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). AFIA continues to provide leadership by offering free webinars covering the details of FSMA, the new rules in place for the feed industry and how to comply. To find out more about the webinars and to register, CLICK HERE
EPA on Brink of Banning Atrazine
The herbicide Atrazine is currently under EPA registration review. It appears that EPA is on the brink of ignoring sound science and taking action that will effectively ban the use of Atrazine. MO-AG has a long history of demanding that the government use sounds science when regulating agricultural product.
We need your help. We would ask that you learn more about the issue, send comments, and tell customers and friends to send comments. The environmental activists are flooding EPA with comments calling for the ban of atrazine. It is very important that we counter their efforts and get as many comments as possible to support the full re-registration of atrazine. This website (CLICK HERE) has background information on atrazine and the science supporting its re-registration. Use this website CLICK HERE to tell the EPA to listen to the recommendations of their own Science Advisory Panels and the more than 7,000 science-based studies that have consistently proven atrazine's safety.
To go directly to the government website that accepts official public comment, CLICK HERE for direct access to the atrazine docket (EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0266). Under the box "Atrazine Registration Review" at top of page, click on blue "Comments Now" box (to the right of "Draft Ecological Risk Assessments: Atrazine, Simazine, and Propazine Registration Review"). Type or paste your comments into box (max 5,000 words) and upload any documents, then press "Continue" button at bottom of page on right. On the preview page, 1) review your comments, 2) check box "I read and understand the statement above," and 3) press "Submit comment." The deadline to submit comments is October 4th, but, don't wait. Take action now.
Another Take On Illegal Herbicide Use
When the general media talk about agriculture we want them to focus on how we produce food, conserve resources and maximize every acre for crops and livestock. We don't want them thinking we're "poisoning" fields, yet I'm afraid that may be the message folks are getting thanks to the dicamba controversy unfolding in the Bootheel of Missouri and farther south. My take on this kind of thing is that consumers hear "blah, blah, blah, illegal use of a herbicide, blah, blah, blah" when they listen to the radio. So while 99.99% of you out there that chose to plant the dicamba tolerant technology did the right thing, the entire industry is getting smeared by a few bad actors. Though it's hard to measure how many bad actors there are since the impact acreage count keeps rising.
Farmers that took it upon themselves to skip the warnings and spray dicamba (and it had to be an older, more volatile form of the herbicide since the new stuff isn't really available) brought on just what our opponents to this tech warned us about; we'd cause off-target crop damage. So here's the deal - we in agriculture need to put on our big boy pants and act mature - that means following ALL label directions. The anti-GMO crowd already uses enough misinformation against us, this kind of thing could cause other problems down the road. As for you bad actors? A big ironic thank you for potentially causing problems we can't even identify yet - and well beyond a few burned soybeans or torched off-target crops. This is a self-inflicted public relations wound we didn't need. Shame on you.
Source: Willie Vogt, Farm Progress Editorial Director
Record Harvest Forecasted
Both U.S. corn and soybean growers are expected to harvest record-high crops this year, according to the Crop Production report issued today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). U.S. corn production is forecast at 15.2 billion bushels, while soybean growers are expected to harvest 4.06 billion bushels in 2016. Average corn yield is forecast at 175.1 bushels per acre, setting a new record-high. Soybean yields are expected to average 48.9 bushels per acre, reaching another record-high mark. Record soybean yields are expected in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Growers are forecast to harvest 83.0 million acres of soybeans this year. NASS interviewed more than 22,000 producers across the country in preparation for this report.
Source: Farm Journal's Agpro
MO-AG Sporting Clays Shoot
UPDATE: Time now 4:00pm
MO-AG members and friends plan to meet at River Hills Sporting Clays in Boonville, MO at 4:00pm on Wednesday, October 5th. Registration is not necessary this year. However, please do RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know if you are coming so we can have a headcount for the meal afterwards. BBQ is on the menu and it is free. You can pay River Hills for the sporting clays directly on site the day of the event. River Hills is a shotgun sports facility specializing in various types of clay bird games. They are located on the bluffs high above the Missouri River near Boonville, MO. For more information, CLICK HERE.
MO-AG Priority Legislation Signed by Governor
Governor Jay Nixon has signed the fertilizer control board bill (SB655) into law. I want to sincerely thank Sen. Brian Munzlinger for sponsoring the bill and Rep. Bill Reiboldt for handling the bill in the House. There are many others to thank as well. While MO-AG was intimately involved in the development of the legislation and was an early supporter, passage of the legislation was truly a group effort. The support of the major commodity groups and farm organizations was absolutely crucial. Also crucial were those MO-AG members who travelled to Jefferson City to testify for the bill and to visit one-on-one with legislators.
And now, the work really begins. SB655 authorizes a new board which will be responsible for directing Missouri's fertilizer program and determining how resources will be utilized. A Board made of up fertilizer dealers and their farmer customers who together pay the fertilizer tonnage fee will be deciding how best to utilize those funds. I expect the new board will take a broad look at the present program and discuss potential changes for the future. The Board will need to prioritize the regulatory program along with other priorities.
In addition to signing SB655 last week, Governor Nixon also signed SB665, SB657, and SB664. SB657 promotes the installation of blended fuel pumps while SB664 waives the requirement that farm corporations report to the Secretary of State when no changes in the reported information has occurred. SB665 re-authorizes the beef tax credit until 2021 and increases the credit up to $15,000. It also includes a tax credit for meat processing facilities and expands the eligibility of the Farm-to-Table (formerly Farm to School) Program. SB664 and SB665 were sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson and SB657 was sponsored by Sen. Brian Munzlinger. MO-AG thanks Governor Nixon for his support and for signing all these bills into law.
GMO Labeling Agreement?
Senators have a bipartisan deal to require labeling of genetically modified ingredients nationally. The deal would require labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in packaged foods nationwide. But it would be more lenient than Vermont's law, allowing food companies to use a text label, a symbol or electronic label accessed by smartphone. Vermont's law would require items to be labeled "produced with genetic engineering."
Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas have worked to find a compromise, saying a national solution is needed in the face of several separate state laws. The Grocery Manufacturers Association said it is backing the senators' deal. The group has opposed mandatory labeling nationwide, but advocated for electronic labels in negotiations. "This bipartisan agreement ensures consumers across the nation can get clear, consistent information about their food and beverage ingredients and prevents a patchwork of confusing and costly state labeling laws," said Pamela Bailey, president of that group.
"The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) welcomes the Senate's carefully crafted, bipartisan legislative agreement to finally move our country forward on the GMO disclosure issue," said Jim Greenwood, BIO's President and CEO. "We commend Senate Agriculture Committee leadership for making the issue a priority in this Congressional session." BIO urges immediate action towards moving the bill forward. "It is essential that the Congress - both the Senate and the House - act immediately to pass the Roberts-Stabenow agreement and send it to the President for his signature. Vermont's mandatory GMO food labeling law goes into effect on July 1, and it is already generating chaos in the marketplace." Source: BIO
FAA: UAS (Drones) Cleared For Takeoff
FAA has finalized the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems. According to industry estimates, the rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years. The new rule takes effect in late August. The regulations require pilots to keep an unmanned aircraft within visual line of sight. Under the final rule, the person actually flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate. If qualifying under the latter provision, a pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. The FAA strongly encourages all UAS pilots to check local and state laws before gathering information through remote sensing technology or photography. Source: PrecisionAg
OSHA Continues Targeting of Anhydrous Ammonia - Review & Update
Last year, Senator Roy Blunt led the effort to put language in OSHA's appropriations bill directing OSHA not to enforce the Process Safety Management (PSM) on ag retailers. Nevertheless, OSHA moved forward with its PSM efforts citing the West Texas tragedy. In a hearing this past March, Sen. Blunt told Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez that OSHA was ignoring Congressional intent and that anhydrous ammonia has not involved in the West Texas tragedy. On March 23rd, MO-AG, along with its state counterparts and national affiliates, sent a letter (CLICK HERE) to House and Senate appropriations leaders restating the fact that PSM was meant for chemical manufacturers and not ag retailers. The letter stated that PSM would place significant time and cost burdens on ag facilities and asked the appropriators to once again include language in the FY17 appropriations bill to stop OSHA. On May 26th, 52 bi-partisan members of the U.S House, including Missouri Representatives Hartzler, Luetkemeyer, and Graves, sent a letter to OSHA (CLICK HERE). In the letter, the members stated that "the continued attempts by OSHA to tie anhydrous ammonia to the West incident are in contradiction to the facts." The letter went on to state that a vast number of facilities "will likely require significant human and capital investments." And as all this takes place in Congress, TFI and ARA continue their legal actions in the DC circuit of the US Court of Appeals.
With the pressure mounting, OSHA has relented to initiating a small business advocacy review panel which is a 'first step' towards rulemaking. OSHA estimates the rulemaking process to take more than 5 years to complete. In the meantime, OSHA does not plan to stop enforcing PSM. Therefore, on June 9th, the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Roy Blunt, approved a FY17 appropriations bill and the committee report included language stating OSHA is to submit PSM to rulemaking, conduct a cost analysis, and establish a NAICS code for farm supply retailers. Also in the House, HR 5213, the Fertilizer Access and Responsible Management (FARM) Act has been introduced which would also prevent OSHA from enforcing PSM on ag retail facilities.
So, bottom-line, much work is being done to keep OSHA from enforcing PSM in the near term. In the longer term, whether ag facilities handling anhydrous ammonia will have to submit to PSM is anyone's guess. If you plan to be in the anhydrous ammonia business long term, you may wish to learn more about PSM and how to be in compliance, just in case. MO-AG members are encouraged to check out the ResponsibleAg website HERE for more information.
Asmark Institute Sponsors 25 ResponsibleAg Auditor Training Scholarships
The Asmark Institute announced plans to provide 25 scholarships through their affiliated State fertilizer and agrichemical associations to help encourage qualified individuals to become credentialed auditors under the ResponsibleAg Certification Program. At the heart of the ResponsibleAg initiative is the goal of providing accurate and credible audits consistently across the entire group of carefully trained ResponsibleAg credentialed auditors. There have been 84 auditors complete the training and pass the credentialing process so far. While the numbers of "internal" auditors, those trained to perform audits for their own company, has grown rapidly, there is a need for qualified "contract" auditors, those who will provide the service of performing audits for small and medium-size independent or cooperative businesses.
Each scholarship will offset the $2,150 registration for training and includes the credentialing application process. The scholarship program is designed to help offset some of the start-up costs for new auditors and help relieve some of the risk associated with launching a new national initiative of this magnitude. Recipients of the scholarships are expected to follow through and provide the service of performing audits.
"There are no better references than the State agribusiness association to help locate, select and foster the local highly-qualified individuals needed for this program," said Allen Summers, President of the Asmark Institute, "so it was an easy decision on our part to support our partners in each State and look to them for help with launching this vital program."
Individuals interested in learning more about this scholarship program should contact their participating State agribusiness association. To learn more about ResponsibleAg, contact the Helpdesk at 270-683-6777 or visit the website at http://www.responsibleag.org.%20
Source: Asmark Institute
MDA: Administrative Rule Changes
Below is a list of new or updated rules for Missouri grain facilities and commercial applicators that are published in the May 31, 2016 issue of the Code of State Regulations. The changes include a new range of capacity has been added for low capacity businesses (2 CSR 60-4.030), allow licensed grain warehouses to electronic warehouse receipts (2 CSR 60-4.050), remove requirement for licensed public grain warehouses to file a tariff each year when license is renewed only with original application (2 CSR 60-4.120), remove grain warehouse requirement of an irrevocable letter of credit be provided in lieu of a bond be issued by a bank chartered under the laws of Missouri and requirement that it would be only negotiable at financial institutions located within Missouri (2 CSR 60-4.150) and (2 CSR 60-5.080) and changes in acceptable insurance and bond forms for commercial applicators (2 CSR 70-25.065). You can find these rulemakings at http://www.sos.mo.gov/adrules/csr/csr.asp.
2 CSR 60-4.030 Warehouse License-Fees
2 CSR 60-4.050 Warehouse Receipts
2 CSR 60-4.120 Tariffs
2 CSR 60-4.150 Letters of Credit
2 CSR 60-5.080 Letters of Credit
2 CSR 70-25.065 Acceptable Insurance and Bond Forms for Commercial Applicators
Source: Missouri Secretary of State
Triazine Network Tell EPA to Abide by the Law and Science
An EPA draft report on the herbicide atrazine is cause for alarm says the Triazine Network, a national coalition of farm organizations representing well over 30 agricultural crops in over 40 states. The group insists if the EPA continues to use the same false logic or endpoints as noted in the preliminary risk assessment, it could lead to a de facto ban on atrazine. "EPA's flawed atrazine report is stomping science into the dirt and setting farmers up for significant economic hardship. We challenge this latest proposal and insist EPA abide by federal law that requires the agency to make determinations based on credible scientific evidence," said Triazine Network Chairman Gary Marshall. Marshall is executive director of the Missouri Corn Growers Association.
EPA is recommending aquatic life level of concern (LOC) be set at 3.4 parts per billion (ppb) on a 60-day average. "At the proposed level, atrazine would be rendered useless in controlling weeds in a large portion of the Corn Belt, effectively eliminating the product," notes Marshall. The Triazine Network and other farm groups have met with top EPA officials twice in the past few months asking them to follow a robust, science-based regulatory process established by Congress for regulating pesticides. "We did not receive a positive response from the agency. EPA appears to be strongly committed to using flawed studies previously thrown out by their own science panels," Marshall said. "EPA risks its very foundation of being a science-based federal agency that makes decisions without bias." EPA reregistered atrazine in 2006 and began its regularly scheduled registration re-review June 2013. The process typically takes six years to complete. Once the draft report is published in the Federal Register, EPA will begin collecting comments for 60 days. For more information, click HERE.
Source: Triazine Network
ATF Reports West Fertilizer Was a Criminal Act
More than three years after the West, Texas tragedy,the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office called a press conference and announced the origin and cause of the plant fire and explosion at West Fertilizer. ATF has determined that the fire started in the seed warehouse that was connected to the fertilizer storage building and the cause of the fire has been determined to have been a criminal act. The criminal act is still under investigation with ATF issuing a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Source: Asmark Institute
PSM Lawsuit Update: Just Tell Us Yes or No
Did OSHA overstep their authority on July 22, 2015 when they rescinded the letter of interpretation that originally granted the "retail exemption" to our industry? ARA and TFI have petitioned the court to dispense with oral arguments asking simply for a "yes" or "no" opinion to this question. We were looking to this decision as a key indicator of the future of PSM until OSHA's Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels sent a letter to every member of Congress on May 6th. In the letter, OSHA appears to be doubling-down on their position as he advises members that the agency has already begun amending the PSM Standard to define the retail exemption. He is asking them to "not take further action that would limit the scope or applicability of the guidance during such time as OSHA conducts rulemaking." The letter also indicates the agency plans to begin enforcement of PSM on October 1, 2016.
Source: Asmark Institute
OSHA's Letter Sparks Controversy
Given the close timeframe of the ATF announcement and the letter to Congress by Dr. Michaels, industry has pushed back with a new fervor wanting to know how PSM came to be when anhydrous ammonia was not involved in the West, Texas tragedy-and now reportedly a criminal act and not the potential safety incident scenario. Also at issue is OSHA's intention to begin enforcement on October 1st despite their plan to complete rulemaking sometime within five years. Add the "wildcard" of being an election year-with special emphasis on "wild" this year, and the future of this issue becomes exponentially harder to predict the outcome. Source: Asmark Institute
Are Your GHS Efforts on Track?
OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard in 1983 gave workers the "right to know," but the new Globally Harmonized System gives workers the "right to understand." Since 2012,OSHA has been bringing the United States into alignment with the Globally Harmonized System (GHS)of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals
with the following deadlines:
So, what should I have done already?
•Train employees on the new label elements and safety data sheet (SDS) format. (12/1/2013)
•New SDSs should be in a uniform format. (06/01/2015)
•Comply with either the final standard or the current standard, or both.(5/31/2016)
What do I need to do by June 1, 2016?
•Update alternative workplace labeling and hazard communication program as necessary and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Update your Hazard Communication Program to discontinue use of the term "MSDS" and other outdated information. Retailers are fortunate that practically all of the products they receive are already marked with GHS labeling, however, if you have any "left-over" products in your facility, you
may need to apply the correct GHS labeling. Source: Asmark Institute
West Texas Criminal Arson
The fire that led to the deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant in April 2013 has been determined to be arson, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives. The agency arrived at its conclusion after conducting more than 400 interviews, did a fire-scene examination and reviewed videos and witness photos. As a result of the findings, the agency is now offering a reward of $50,000 to help find the person who started the fire, which is now being considered a crime. So far, no arrests have been made and it is unknown what the motive was for setting the fire.
The ARA said it and its member companies remain committed to community and employee safety through the secure and responsible handling of ammonium nitrate and other essential crop production nutrients. In an effort to further enhance a culture of safety and accountability within the fertilizer industry, ARA and TFI established ResponsibleAg. Using third-party audits and other tools, ResponsibleAg assists agricultural retailers with federal regulatory compliance surrounding the safe handling and storage of fertilizer.
GMOs are safe
Genetically engineered crops present no more risk to human health than conventionally bred crops, but the evolution of resistance in both insects and weeds caused by growing such crops has become "a major agricultural problem," according to a long-awaited study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. "Policy regarding (genetically engineered) crops has scientific, legal, and social dimensions," according to the report summary. "For example, on the basis of its review of the evidence on health effects, the committee does not believe that mandatory labeling of foods with GE content is justified to protect public health, but it noted that the issue involves social and economic choices that go beyond technical assessments of health or environmental safety; ultimately, it involves value choices that technical assessments alone cannot answer." While genetically engineered crops have benefited some farmers, the report said, there's also evidence of insects developing resistance to crops intended to thwart them, and weeds growing resistant to the glyphosate-based herbicide commonly sprayed on genetically modified crops, when the crops are not properly managed. The report also found no direct link between bioengineered crops and harm to the environment.
In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the report "adds to the long list of research that shows genetically engineered foods are safe" and called on Congress to take action to "prevent further confusion." Source: Chicago Tribune
Organic Attacking Conventional Agriculture
Big Ag is losing the war of public opinion to organic marketers who are eroding consumers' trust in their products, Jay Byrne, a former Clinton official, told attendees of the Animal Agriculture Alliance Summit on Thursday in Arlington, Va. "We are under attack in conventional agriculture by organic marketing," said Byrne, who heads an agriculture PR firm. "And nobody is coming to our side. And we are losing."
Byrne, a communications director for the Clinton campaign in 1992 who went on to serve as the chief spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development, encouraged livestock farmers and producers to fight negative media coverage and cultivate an aura of empathy with consumers. He said conventional food producers haven't been aggressive enough, as evidenced by the negative perception of genetically engineered crops. "We didn't do very well with that, quite frankly." Source: Politico
WHO Finally Lands On Right Answer For Glyphosate
The WHO's Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) announced that it believes glyphosate is "unlikely to cause cancer in people via dietary exposure." The announcement contradicts the opinion expressed earlier by another WHO body, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, that the chemical is "probably carcinogenic to humans." Phil Miller, Monsanto's vice president for global regulatory and government affairs, described JMPR's decision as a form of exoneration. "IARC's classification was inappropriate and inconsistent with the science on glyphosate," he said. "Based on the overwhelming weight of evidence, the JMPR has reaffirmed the findings of regulatory agencies around the world that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a cancer risk." Source: Politico
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, testifying before the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, said she and the agency were "distressed about the use of the money and the tone of the campaign," and that the agency has cut off funding to the group. EPA's Inspector General announced there will be an investigation of the spending. EPA funded an anti-agriculture billboard campaign in Washington State urging state voters to contact their lawmakers to ensure the agriculture industry is held to the same standards as other industries when it comes to runoff and river pollution.
Source: Asmark Institute
Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Update
Agriculture and other industry interests opposed to EPA's controversial "waters of the U.S." rulemaking were disappointed recently when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider its decision on its jurisdiction over the rulemaking. The agricultural industry wanted the case heard by the federal district courts, leaving the appeals court as second resort in the challenge. The appeals court earlier blocked implementation as various state and industry court actions work their way through the system. Source: Asmark Institute
Missouri Legislature Update
MO-AG's priority legislation appears well positioned as the legislature enters the last weeks of session. The fertilizer control board legislation, SB665, needs only a vote on the house floor in order to be sent to the Governor and signed into law. The fertilizer preemption bill, HB1729, was brought to the Senate floor for a vote last week, but, was not voted on due to an issue with an amendment which added seed to the bill. MO-AG supported the amendment especially given that seed preemption has come before the legislature of other states this year and have passed. (For a list of states passing seed preemption and other seed related state legislation, see THIS from ASTA). MO-AG is hopeful that HB1729 will be brought back up on the Senate floor very soon. The fertilizer language was also added to this year's agriculture omnibus bill, SB703. SB703 needs a vote on the House floor as well as the Senate floor before being sent to the Governor. Besides the fertilizer language, SB703 also contains the ethanol incentive fund, ag disaster payments, and the show-me rural jobs, as well as other provisions.
Other legislation that MO-AG has supported is the MDA tax credits. That legislation has now been added to Sen. Parson's AgriMissouri trademark bill, SB665. The legislature also passed appropriations legislation that appropriates all monies for FY 2017. HB2006 funds MDA and MDNR and includes $9.9M for biodiesel incentive fund, $2.5M for the dairy revitalization act, $2M for the beef initiative, $1M for MDA to open international offices, and many other items. For MDNR, the legislature directed that MDNR not use any funding to implement or enforce the EPA's federal water quality rule 'WOTUS'. The passage of the appropriations bills comes ahead of the constitutional deadline for appropriations which will allow the legislature to override any vetoes by the Governor during the regular session.
To see all of MO-AG's 'legislation of interest', CLICK HERE
Other Legislation of Note
Lawmakers have sent roughly a $27.2 billion state budget to Gov. Jay Nixon that increases spending on higher education as a whole, while specifically cutting funding from the University of Missouri System. House and Senate Republicans insisted on sending a message to the UM Board of Curators expressing their disapproval over how last fall's unrest on the Mizzou campus was handled. That message manifested itself in a $3.8 million cut that targets the administration.
The final version of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget also revives the Department of Transportation's cost-share program, in which local governments would pay part of the cost of a road or bridge project in exchange for speeding up construction. The program was suspended two years ago due to MoDOT's bleak transportation funding outlook, but the picture has improved a bit due to last year's federal highway bill and recent increases in fuel tax collections. Bringing back the cost-share program was one of House Speaker Todd Richardson's top priorities, who's also opposed to a Senate bill that would raise the state's fuel tax. "A tax increase of any kind is going to be very, very difficult to do," Richardson told reporters Thursday. "(But), we've got some (House) members that are interested in giving it a fair hearing...we'll see where it goes from there." Source: St. Louis Public Radio
Beef Checkoff Fails
Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce announced that the state will not establish a new beef checkoff. This announcement comes after the director approved a petition to conduct a referendum of Missouri cattle producers, at the request of the Missouri Beef Industry Council and pursuant to section 275.352 RSMo as amended, to establish a $1.00 per head state beef checkoff assessment on Dec. 23, 2015. On April 4, 2016, ballots were mailed to the 8,480 Missouri beef producers who registered during the registration period. Of those, 6,568 valid ballots were returned to the Missouri Department of Agriculture postmarked no later than April 15. 1,663 producers (25.33%) voted for the checkoff and 4,903 producers (74.67%) voted against it. Source: MDA
Farm Income Forecasted Down Next 10 Years
"The USDA forecasts real (adjusted for inflation) net farm income will be in the low $50 billion range annually for the next 10 years, which is down dramatically from recent highs and similar to the 1980s," said Jeff Swanhorst, executive vice president, credit and chief credit offer of AgriBank. What Swanhorst said at the end of his quoted comments is the most interesting aspects of the news about farmers and challenges. "All we know for sure is the forecast will be wrong. Farmers will make many adjustments, depending on their circumstances, and they'll be rewarded for their entrepreneurial spirit, management and good old-fashioned hustle."
At this point in the spring season, those farmers who will defy the predicted dire situation have headed down a course of adjustment and dealt with borrowing operating funds. And from all the bank reports, the bankers are not worried about the farmers that have a management plan in place-some kind of plan whether it be "crisis" plan or an entrepreneurial change in operations. Maintaining operations and dealing with bugs, disease and crop nutrient needs have to continue and will be dealt with as needed-ignoring the problems to simply throw away a crop isn't going to happen. Farmers will complain but not burn you in effigy. Source: Ag Professional