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Current Issues

Updated October 17, 2016

Lanoue is Faces of Farming and Ranching Finalist

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) has opened public voting for its third class of Faces of Farming and Ranching, a nationwide search to help put real faces on agriculture. Lyon County Farm Bureau member and Speak for Yourself participant Paul Lanoue is one of eight national finalists.

Through October 23, you can visit USFRA's Facebook page to learn more about each of the finalists, including Paul. Facebook voting appears as a tab on the Facebook page, and one vote every 24 hours is allowed. These votes will then be factored into the final decision to determine the next Faces of Farming and Ranching, which will be announced on November 9 at an National Association of Farm Broadcasters press conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

All of the contenders for the current class are Farm Bureau members. Vote today by visiting this link.

USDA Announces a Second Round of Surplus Cheese Purchases

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a second round of surplus cheese purchases in an effort to boost low milk prices. The first round of USDA cheese purchases was announced in August 2016 and USDA subsequently purchased 3.4 million pounds of cheese valued at $7.2 million dollars (out of $20 million that was allocated). This second round of cheese purchases is also valued at $20 million.

Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935 authorizes USDA to purchase surplus food to benefit food banks and families in need through its nutrition assistance programs. A solicitation will be issued shortly, and cheese deliveries to food banks and other food assistance recipients are expected to occur beginning in March 2017.

In early August, AFBF wrote a letter to the Department supporting the request from 61 members of Congress asking USDA to provide emergency assistance to dairy farmers. AFBF requested the Department buy up to $50 million in dairy products to be used in USDA nutrition programs and for donations to food banks.

Minnesota Health Insurance Update

Minnesota families are experiencing unexpected hikes in their health insurance. Costs for 250,000 Minnesotans are expected to increase up to 66 percent next year with greatly increased deductibles and even denial of out-of-state coverage. Facing premium costs of $26,000 and up with deductibles of over $10,000, Minnesota's insurance market is in need of more sustainable options.

The Minnesota Farm Bureau would like to hear your story regarding how health insurance changes have/will impact you and your family. Please share your story by contacting Cole Rupprecht at 651-768-2107 or cole.rupprecht@fbmn.org.

To learn more about Minnesota health insurance hikes, visit this link. Farm Bureau, along with other agriculture organizations continue to work on this issue.

Farm Bill on the Fly

AFBF lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher discusses what farmers should be aware of with ARC payments levels and payment discrepancies, and what all this could mean going into the next farm bill. This video is the first in a series from the American Farm Bureau as part of an ongoing discussion of what farmers should keep an eye out for in the next farm bill.

Additional Farm Bill information and policy issues can be found on our Public Policy page by visiting this link.

AFBF, Coalition File Amicus Brief on WOTUS

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and a coalition of industry groups filed an amicus brief supporting a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to resolve the question of which court can consider challenges to a new "waters of the U.S." rule. While the Supreme Court considers the petition, the AFBF coalition will file its opening brief arguing the merits of the WOTUS rule with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit on November 1.

GIPSA Rules Submitted to OMB

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack has notified stakeholders that a new package of Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. These new "Farmer Fair Practices Rules" include one interim final rule on competitive injury and two proposed rules on undue preferences and contracts (presumably addressing tournament systems). Following OMB's procedural review, USDA will publish the rules for public comment (expected November or later).

In recent correspondence to meat industry stakeholders, Secretary Vilsack has suggested that the new Farmer Fair Practices Rules will exclude controversial provisions of the 2010 GIPSA rule that addressed: applicability to livestock production and marketing contracts, including formula and forward contracts; the requirement that packers, swine contractors or live poultry dealers maintain written records to justify differential pricing or any deviation from standard price or contract terms; the requirement that packers refrain from entering into exclusive agreements with livestock dealers; prohibiting packers from purchasing livestock from other packers; and requirements that packers and live poultry dealers submit sample contracts to GIPSA for posting to the public.

Once the rules are issued for public comment, Farm Bureau will review the proposals for opportunities to influence the final regulations.

Representative Tom Emmer Celebrates Minnesota's Farmers

Recently, National Farmers Day was celebrated. As a result, Representative Tom Emmer was asked about the men and women who feed our community and ensure that our economy continues to thrive.

21 days until Election Day

Are you registered to vote? Check your registration by clicking here to make sure!

If you still need to register to vote, find out how by clicking here. You can register online, by paper or update your registration at the polling place on Election Day. In addition, find how what to bring with you by clicking here.

Voting Early 
Did you know that you can vote early in Minnesota? Those who choose to vote early can do so with an absentee ballot starting 46 days before Election Day.
  • Vote early by mail
  • Vote early in person
  • Vote from abroad
  • Track your absentee ballot

Election Day
  • Where do I vote?
  • Voting hours
  • What's on my ballot?

Depending on when you register to vote, you may need to bring proof of residency to the polling place. Find out more by clicking here.

Sign Up for Text Message Alerts

Participation in calls to action by Farm Bureau members continues to be a critical function of sharing agriculture's story at both the state and federal level. We have now added the ability to send text messages to alert members when a new "Action Alert" has been initiated. Register to receive these alerts by clicking this link.

Complete your Green Star Farms Self-Evaluation

Now is the time to complete your Green Star Farms Initiative self-evaluation. The self-evaluation is a safe, easy, confidential way you can help demonstrate that farmers are committed to being good stewards of our water and soil resources. Your information is completely confidential.

Visit their website and click on "Getting Started." If you need assistance, contact Jeremy Geske at 612-756-1200 or jeremy@mawrc.org.