July 15-16, 2015
MO-AG Summer Meeting;
Lake Ozark, MO
August 7, 2015
Missouri CCA Exam;
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News You Can Use
MO-Pat Johnson, Manager of Fertilizer-Nutrition Compliance for Crop Production Services, testifies in support of SB469. Seated next to Johnson is the sponsor of SB469, Senator Brian Munzlinger. Seated directly behind Johnson is Bill Jackson of AGRIServices of Brunswick who also testified in support of SB469. Seated next to Jackson is Ronnie Russell, Missouri Soybean Association, and next to Russell is Jay Fischer, Missouri Corn Growers Association. Both Russell and Fisher also testified in support of SB469 on behalf of their respective associations.
This week the Missouri Senate Agriculture Committee considered Senate Bill 469. SB469 changes Missouri's fertilizer law by abolishing the current fertilizer advisory council and establishing a new fertilizer control board. SB469 received support from Missouri agriculture with many witnesses testifying in support. There were no witnesses to testify in opposition to SB469.
MO-AG President Steve Taylor testified on behalf of MO-AG. In his testimony, Taylor focused on the need for a Fertilizer Control Board with authorities established by state law rather than the current 'advisory council' whose role under current state law is advisory. Under SB469, the new Board would be provided the authority to conduct 'general supervision of the administration and enforcement of all rules and regulations'. Taylor also noted how the University, at the request of others, recently proposed increasing the fertilizer fee to $1.00 per ton, a move that would increase revenues to the program to over $1.0 million per year. Taylor noted:
MO-AG supports efforts to reduce nutrient runoff and specially endorses the fertilizer stewardship program, the '4R's, and advocated to MDNR that it be included in Missouri's Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. Regarding the proposed fee increase, MO-AG recognizes the potential need for additional money to promote stewardship and MO-AG's current position is that we do not actively oppose a fee increase. However, we support SB469 because it would give Missouri farmers and the fertilizer industry, the ones who pays the fees, greater assurance of influence over how Missouri's fertilizer program operates and how fees are expended, now and in the future.
During questioning, Senators asked Taylor how SB469 could potentially change current regulations on the fertilizer industry. Taylor stated that SB469 would set penalty limits and allow for appeals of penalties. Otherwise, SB469 shifted authority for regulatory oversight from the Director to the new Fertilizer Control Board.
Bill Jackson provided committee members valuable details about how Missouri's fertilizer program needs to reform the manner in which it administers its inspection program. He provided the Committee real world examples concerning a lack of responsiveness by the fertilizer program and he explained how important timeliness is to insure deficient fertilizer is not sold and applied to farmer's fields. As manager of compliance for all of CPS, Pat Johnson drew upon her wealth of experiences in dealing with fertilizer control programs not only in Missouri but in many other states as well. In addition, before having her current position at CPS, Johnson previously worked as a control official herself.
The witnesses for Missouri Corn Growers Association and Missouri Soybean Association testified in support of SB469. They noted how SB469 would provide farmers, and the fertilizer industry, more direct control of programs and over the use of the money generated by the fees. They particularly noted the challenges presented from environmental concerns here in Missouri and in other states and how the fertilizer program needs to address those concerns (editor's note: see related stories below about Iowa's lawsuit and nutrient reduction strategy). Missouri Farm Bureau testified that they have a keen interest in ensuring the state's fertilizer program is operated in an efficient manner and stated that it is vitally important that all parties understand the importance of accurate and timely analysis of fertilizer samples.
The Dean of the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (CAFNR) Dr. Tom Payne is Director of the Missouri Fertilizer Program. Dean Payne testified not in support or opposition of SB469, but for informational purposes. During questioning, some of the Senators took considerable time asking Dean Payne why more actions hasn't been taken to address the concerns. Dean Payne's testimony generally acknowledged some of the concerns expressed about the administration of the program. As Director of the program, Dean Payne told the Senators that he was committed to making the program work better for farmers and the fertilizer industry. Dean Payne also reiterated, as noted above, that the University only proposed the fee increase at the request of the industry. In addition to SB 469, Click here to see all legislation of interest.
Heads to Governor's Desk
The Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act of 2015 (HB 259), sponsored by Representative Bill Reiboldt, goes to Governor Jay Nixon for final approval. "We urge Governor Nixon to sign the legislation without delay," says Lloyd Gunter, Missouri Dairy Association (MDA) president and a dairy farmer from Conway. HB259 establishes a dairy producer insurance premium assistance program for producers who participate in the federal margin protection program for dairy producers. Furthermore, HB259 establishes the Missouri Dairy Scholars Program. This program makes available 80 scholarships at $5,000 each toward tuition. Additionally, under this act, the University of Missouri's Commercial Agriculture program conducts an annual study of the dairy industry. "Concern for job stability and economic activity in Missouri were the driving forces for support of these dairy provisions," says Gunter. "Missouri's dairy product manufacturing industry revenues translated into statewide total economic output worth $7.7 billion. When you include the jobs, created at the farm level and with additional suppliers, a total of 23,297 jobs were supported providing $1.2 billion in labor income to Missourians in 2011.
Missouri's agriculture groups were united in their support of HB259 with many testifying at various hearings including the Missouri Dairy Products Association, Dairy Farmers of America, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Cattlemen's Association, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Agribusiness Association (MO-AG,) MFA Inc. along with students from the University of Missouri.
Source: Missouri Dairy Association
IARC On Glyphosate
"The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A). In addition, there is convincing evidence that glyphosate also can cause cancer in laboratory animals. On the basis of tumours in mice, the US EPA originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group C) in 1985. After a re-evaluation of that mouse study, the US EPA changed its classification to evidence of non-carcinogenicity in humans (Group E) in 1991. The IARC Working Group that conducted the evaluation considered the significant findings from the US EPA report and several more recent positive results in concluding that there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals."
Source: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO)
Editor's Note: MO-AG is concerned by how IARC references EPA science but ignores the conclusions of that science after only a week-long meeting where IARC 'working group' reviewed Glyphosate for the first time. Glyphosate is routinely under review by regulatory authorities in many countries. As noted by the IARC, the EPA in the U.S. has reviewed Glyphosate several times over many years. In January, the German government completed a four-year study of glyphosate for the European Union. These studies all concluded "glyphosate was unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk in humans."
Fear-mongering "Expert" Opinions
Across America, confusion reigns in the supermarket aisles about how to eat healthfully. One thing on shopper's minds: the pesticides in produce. In fact, a recent Consumer Reports survey of 1,050 people found that pesticides are a concern for 85 percent of Americans. So, are these worries justified? And should we all be buying organics-which can cost an average of 49 percent more than standard fruits and vegetables? Experts at Consumer Reports believe that organic is always the best choice because it is better for your health, the environment, and the people who grow our food. "We're exposed to a cocktail of chemicals from our food on a daily basis," says Michael Crupain, M.D., M.P.H., director of Consumer Reports' Food Safety and Sustainability Center. "We just don't know enough about the health effects." Source: Consumer Reports
Statement from USDA: "The Pesticide Data Program provides reliable data through rigorous sampling that helps assure consumers that the produce they feed their families is safe. Over 99 percent of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances."
Statement from FDA: "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for assessing whether pesticide chemical residues found on food make the food unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. FDA is able to conduct its own tests, interpret the reported violations, and determine if additional testing is needed in order to take enforcement action, as appropriate."
Statement from EPA: "The newest data from the PDP confirm that pesticide residues in food do not pose a safety concern for Americans. EPA remains committed to a rigorous, science-based, and transparent regulatory program for pesticides that continues to protect people's health and the environment."
Statement from the American Cancer Society: "Pesticides and herbicides can be toxic when used improperly in industrial, agricultural, or other occupational settings. Although vegetables and fruits sometimes contain low levels of these chemicals, overwhelming scientific evidence supports the overall health benefits and cancer-protective effects of eating vegetables and fruits. At present there is no evidence that residues of pesticides and herbicides at the low doses found in foods increase the risk of cancer, but fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before eating."
Farm Income/Farm Bill
Farm bill costs are projected to be down another $5 billion beyond the anticipated $23 billion saved under the 2014 rewrite. The farm bill is a tiny portion of the overall budget, comprising just 1.9%, with farm bill safety net provisions for producers and crop insurance standing at less than three-tenths of 1 percent. Miraculously, amidst a 43% decline in farm income, the farm bill safety net provisions are still mustering savings compared to the repealed direct payment. Had the direct payment continued, producers would have received help against a 43% drop in farm income this past fall. But under the new farm bill, producers will wait until October 2015 for the first sign of help. Source: The Hill
But Insurance Payments Up
The old system of direct payments to growers of corn, soybeans and a few other crops have been replaced by two heavily subsidized "insurance" programs that ostensibly protect only against price swings and natural disasters beyond the farmers' control. In fact, though, the programs insure against such relatively common risks that they are tantamount to direct payments, and nearly as lucrative - sometimes more so. Overall, the "insurance" programs will pay out more than $24 billion between 2014 and 2018 which is $2.4 billion more than direct payments cost in the previous half-decade. The report also projects that the government's total crop insurance costs will hit nearly $85 billion between now and 2024, compared to the $67 billion paid out between 2005 and 2014. Like so many of its predecessors, the 2014 farm bill promised cheaper, more efficient federal agricultural policy, but delivered the opposite. Source: Washington Post
Size Doesn't Matter
What comes to mind when you think of a "family farm?" What about the phrase "corporate farm" or "big ag?" Do you see a giant, impersonal and industrial-looking operation? Unfortunately, these common misperceptions are regularly promoted in everything from TV ads to online chats. But the reality is that "big" does not equate to "bad," and "small" doesn't necessarily mean "good" when it comes to sustainable farming. In fact, it's the wrong debate altogether.
Take Christine Hamilton, for example, whose family farm produces corn, soybeans, winter wheat and cattle across 14,000 acres in South Dakota. For years she's been participating in USDA conservation programs, using no-till practices, planting trees to limit erosion, and utilizing variable rate technologies to improve the environment and her yields. Many small-farm operations implement sustainable practices as well. But, I've visited small farms where livestock roam freely into streams, soil erosion destroys riverbanks, and nutrient management plans are nonexistent.
What really matters is performance, not size.
Source: Suzy Friedman, Director of Agricultural Sustainability for Environmental Defense Fund and Field to Market Board Member
Iowa Farmers Sued for Fertilizer Runoff
The Des Moines Water Works has elected to pursue litigation against farmers and their drainage districts saying the high levels of nitrates in groundwater runoff threatens the water supply for customers who depend on it for drinking water. Recent upstream water monitoring by Des Moines Water Works has shown nitrate levels as high as 39.2 mg/L in groundwater discharged by drainages districts. Nitrate levels above the MCL increases the cost of drinking water treatment for more Des Moines Water Works customers, the outfit said. In 2013, when nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers were at a record high, Des Moines Water Works incurred approximately $900,000 in treatment costs and lost revenues, Water Works said.
The state of Iowa has implemented its Nutrient Reduction Strategy which directs efforts to reduce nutrients in surface water from both point sources, such as wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, as well as nonpoint sources including farm fields. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has been an outspoken advocate of a voluntary, rather than regulatory approach to improving water quality. He said Des Moines Water Works is taking the wrong approach and their decision to pull back from collaborative partnerships in the Raccoon River Watershed and pursue costly litigation does not appropriately recognize both the "complexity of improving water quality and the importance of maintaining productive agriculture" in the state. A regulatory process would likely require 10 years battling lawsuits, another five years of determining regulations required from those lawsuits, and an additional 10 years to conclude if the regulations in place had any impact. "I think we can get a lot more done in the next 25 years in a non-regulatory process than using lawsuits to create a regulatory process," said Northey.
Bill Stowe, chief executive officer and general manager at Des Moines Water Works, said, "We are not seeking to change agriculture methods, but rather challenging government to better manage and control drainage infrastructure in order to improve water quality within the state. Because drainage districts transport nitrate pollution through a system of channels and pipes, they should be recognized and held accountable like any other point source polluter." It is important to note though that Iowa's city nitrate removal systems can dump the excess nitrates they filter out back into the water or local sewer system for other city utilities to have to deal with in their own drinking water. Source: Feedstuff
Iowa Agriculture Responds
The announcement by Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) to pursue legal action against drainage districts in three Iowa counties reveals a startling disconnect from the scope and complexity of nonpoint water issues. It risks slowing the momentum of the nationally recognized Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy implemented with bipartisan legislative support in 2013.
Nitrate levels in Iowa Rivers are complex, fluctuating with weather and soil fertility but not significantly affected by fertilizer application rates or management. Our weather and nutrient-rich soils, which are ideal for growing plants, dominantly influence what happens in Iowa's waters.
Merely enacting regulation will do nothing to improve water quality. We will remain focused on empowering farmers and land owners to select and use scientifically proven practices that can have a real impact on water quality, which benefits all Iowans. Today's decision undermines the strong relationship that once existed between Iowa's largest water utility and farmers upstream. However, the DMWW litigation will not distract us from collaborative efforts that bring continual improvements in water quality.
Source: Joint statement of Agribusiness Association of Iowa, Agriculture's Clean Water Alliance, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, Iowa Cattlemen's Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa State Dairy Association and Iowa Turkey Federation.
Bi-Partisan Support for Chemical Safety
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act fixes broken chemical regulatory scheme and ensures EPA can act based on latest science to protect all Americans. The legislation creates a predictable and transparent federal system to regulate the safety of chemicals based on the latest science, provides greater regulatory certainty to the chemical manufacturing industry and strikes a balance between state and federal roles in chemical safety management.
"I am proud to be a cosponsor of this groundbreaking legislation that will modernize our severely outdated chemical regulatory system," U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said. "In honor of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, who dedicated his life to chemical safety, I urge my colleagues to move forward and pass this bipartisan bill that protects the health and safety of all Americans by making sure the chemicals we use in everyday products are not hazardous. This bill proves that bipartisan compromise can still work in Washington when people are committed to coming together to find commonsense solutions, and I hope it serves as a model for future agreements."
The current 40-year-old law governing the use of chemicals in everyday products, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is widely considered to be ineffective since it has failed to ban even dangerous chemicals like asbestos. After years of unsuccessful efforts to rewrite the law, in 2013, Senator Manchin helped strike a deal between the late Senator Frank R. Lautenberg and Senator Vitter to introduce the first-ever bipartisan proposal to update TSCA.
The act builds on and strengthens the 2013 proposal by ensuring that cost cannot be considered in determining the safety of a chemical; defining "vulnerable populations" and requiring their protection; strengthening deadlines for the EPA to evaluate existing chemicals; adding new structure and requirements for confidential business information claims; and mandating that new chemicals cannot be manufactured until the EPA has approved them.
The sixteen cosponsors for the act includes seven additional Democrats and nine Republicans, including Missouri Senator Roy Blunt
Source: U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D) West Virginia
FOR MORE INFORMATION, REFER TO THE ADVOCACY PAGE CLICK HERE.