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Missouri legislature passes Omnibus Ag Bill

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An agriculture bill containing many provisions for Missouri farmers and ranchers is on its way to the governor.

Among other things, the omnibus ag bill increases weight limits for grain trucks, allows for a vote on a state Beef Checkoff and protects livestock operators that are open to the public from frivolous lawsuits.

Senate Sponsor Brian Munzlinger, a farmer himself, says all the provisions are equally important, “It’s really hard to say one thing more than another – It’s just a very important bill for agriculture.”

Mike Deering, executive vice president of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, says expanding the state’s equine liability waiver to include all livestock operations is a big one. For example, he tells Brownfield Ag News, “If I had a member who invited a bunch of fourth graders over to their farm to get a better sense of what agriculture is all about in the state and one of them decides to go pet the bull and runs away and gets hurt – that family farmer should not be put out of business because of that.”

Deering says the livestock liability waiver is modeled after a bill passed in Arkansas.

Governor Jay Nixon has said he would sign the omnibus ag bill because it doesn’t contain the provision he didn’t like last year having to do with deer management. Nixon vetoed a bill WITH the deer provision in it last year.

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Strong finish for dairy markets

A pretty strong finish to the month in the dairy markets.  Cash cheese barrels gained 3.5 cents, blocks added 1.5 cents and butter increased 3.25 cents on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  Class III futures responded with April up 7 cents, May increased 11 cents, the June contract added 16 cents and October was up 26 cents for the day.

For the month: cash cheese barrels increased 10.75 cents, blocks are 3.5 cents higher, butter gained 9 cents and nonfat dry milk lost 18 cents.  March Class III slipped 19 cents, April lost 22 cents and May declined 25 cents from March 1st.

A day of mixed emotions for European dairy producers.  After 30 years, EU milk production quotas end at midnight.  Some welcome the opportunity to modernize, expand and better compete on the global market.  Others oppose the move fearing it will result in a rapid growth in milk production in a market already facing oversupply.

Under the quota system, producers were limited in the amount of milk they could produce facing stiff penalties for exceeding the quota.  There are reports that a number of dairy producers have been withholding milk from the market for the past few days waiting to move it once the quotas expire.  The Irish Independent says some farmers have been gearing-up production for April 1st and have had to dump milk or feed extra calves to avoid penalties.  The report says; “Fleets of trucks will be standing in yards tonight ready to collect supplies after midnight.”  There are concerns about how processors will be able to handle the extra milk.

Some dairy producers are using their tractors to clog the streets of Brussels in protest to the end of the quotas.  The farmers are demonstrating in front of EU headquarters saying the change will bring about the demise of small farms in the Union.  They contend increased milk production will put further pressure on prices forcing small farms out of business.  In the end, there will be fewer, larger farms.

Those who favor an end to the quota system say it will make European producers more competitive with the U.S. and New Zealand on the global market.  Their argument has been that as global demand increases, the quotas have limited European production and with it the ability to supply that increased demand.  There is a surplus of production on the world market right now but many believe that is a temporary situation.  Another argument for dropping the quota is that there is a shortage of young farmers in Europe who want to operate the small dairies.

A number of European dairy processors have been expanding in anticipation of more milk coming.  Another change, Euronext will begin offering dairy derivatives including futures and options for skim milk powder, whey powder and butter on April 13th.  As part of the introduction, the exchange will waive all trading fees through June 30th.

The rest of the world is watching to see just how European producers will react.  Some predict rapid increases; 20 to 50 percent in production in Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Poland by the year 2020.  Others question that number saying land prices and environmental regulations will hinder expansion

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Ducey vetoes Arizona animal abuse legislation


Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has vetoed a bill which would have separated farm animals from pets under the state’s animal abuse law.

While the bill kept the same standards in-tact for both farm animals and pets, animal rights groups were concerned that it could lead to a weakening of standards for farm animals in the future.  Farm groups fear anti-animal-agriculture groups could use the law to interfere in livestock production.

The bill would also require that anyone investigating animal abuse on a farm; notify the state Department of Agriculture which could choose to join the investigation.  Animal rights groups say that could lead to a “tip-off” for farmers from “a friendly agency

Governor Ducey issued a statement with the veto saying; “we must ensure that all animals are protected.”  He did say that he is open to working with the bill’s sponsors.

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Ohio Ag groups send TPA support letter

Several agricultural organizations in Ohio are urging Ohio’s Congressional delegation to support the passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).

A letter, signed by organizations representing farmers, processors and related industries in the state, emphasizes the need for greater access to foreign markets only possible through trade agreements and TPA.

In addition to the economic benefits, the letter highlights job creation as a result of robust exports. In Ohio, exports of agricultural products in 2013 totaled $4.4 billion, which generated an additional 29,000 jobs.

Those signing the letter include:

Ohio Agribusiness Association
Ohio Cattlemen’s Association
Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association
Ohio Dairy Producers Association
Ohio Farm Bureau
Ohio Pork Council
Ohio Poultry Association
Ohio Soybean Association

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Smithfield to expand Patrick Cudahy plant

Patrick Cudahy

Smithfield Foods is planning a $12 million expansion of its Patrick Cudahy plant in Milwaukee.  Ground will be broken Thursday for the 17,000 square-foot expansion which will house four bacon-slicing lines.  This will increase Smithfield’s bacon capacity by about 10 million pounds.  The expansion should be fully-operational by December.

Patrick Cudahy meatpacking dates back to the 19th century in Milwaukee.  The expansion will be in an area where a large portion of the plant was destroyed by fire in 2009.  Two brothers, celebrating the 4th of July in the neighborhood, launched a military flare which landed on the roof of the plant.  The fire caused $208 million in damages.

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MFU lobby day timing a little off

MOFU_Basement_EDITAs Missouri Farmers Union members gathered at the Capitol in Jefferson City today to lobby against proposed legislation they consider anti-family-farmer – the state legislature passed an omnibus ag bill the group does not like.  MFU President Richard Oswald says the broad ag bill has a provision making it easier for foreign entities to own land in Missouri, “I think we need to quit carrying water for foreign governments and foreign corporations like Smithfield and we need to start doing more to help our own kids.” Oswald says lawmakers ought to, instead, make it easier for young people to get into farming.

His group also doesn’t like a provision in the bill to create a state Beef Checkoff program – especially now that the national Beef Checkoff appears to be doubling, “That money, I think, is not always spent in a way that’s friendly to family beef producers in Missouri.”

And, Oswald says two House bills have been introduced (HB 882 & HB999) that are “CAFO friendly” and “anti-local control,” in his words, “Because they step in the way of local county government, either county commissions or health boards, and their ability to regulate what happens in their communities.” Oswald farms in northwest Missouri.








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ACEP funds available for Indiana farmers


Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced over $330 million in funds available through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.

Jane Hardisty, Indiana state conservationist says the easement program provides long-term protection for America’s farm, ranch, grass, and wetlands.

She says over $3 million will be available in Indiana.  “For this year, we’re receiving about $2.7 million for our wetland easement program,” she says.  “And then for the agricultural land easement program portion of this we’re receiving $296,000.”

Hardisty tells Brownfield there are two components to the ACEP program.  One is to continue to protect wetlands and the other is to protect ag land.  “If a land owner is interested in enrolling eligible land into permanent easements or 30 year easements, they can do so,” she says.  “We provide financial and technical assistance to put their land into easements that protect wetlands.”

Applications are being accepted through May 15.  For more information, Hardisty says farmers should contact their local Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

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Wisconsin farmers getting ready


The first day of April has Wisconsin farmers getting a little anxious about starting field work.  The latest U.S. Drought Monitor lists all of Wisconsin as “abnormally dry”, U.W. Extension Agent Matt Lippert in Wood County says it was pretty wet last fall so the heavier soils are still ok but “some concern in our lighter soils.”

The light snowfall also left some of the alfalfa uncovered but Lippert says much of the state should be fine; “Really too early to tell but so far I think it should be ok.”  Although there is still the risk of freezing-and-thawing in the coming weeks.

Overall, while it is not an early spring in Wisconsin, it is still better than a year ago says Lippert: “We still had snow on the ground last year at this point.”  Lippert talks about the situation:

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Corn, wheat lower following USDA numbers


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Soybeans were higher on fund and commercial buying. USDA sees this year’s planted area at a record 84.6 million acres, 1% above 2014. Quarterly stocks were up 34% on the year, but did indicate strong quarter to quarter demand. The numbers may even signal a reduction in ending stocks in April. Still, the overall tone of soybeans is now supply bearish. Soybean meal was higher and bean oil was lower on the adjustment of product spreads.

Corn was lower on fund and commercial selling. Corn acreage is pegged at 89.2 million acres, 2% lower than a year ago, and the third straight year with a decline. Quarterly stocks for corn also indicated good quarterly demand, but were larger than what analysts’ expected and up 11% from last year. There’ still a lot up in the air regarding planting, but corn is looking at a supply bearish situation. Ethanol futures were lower.

The wheat complex was lower on fund and commercial selling. Planted area for all types of wheat was 3% below a year ago and stocks were up 6%, with slower demand. Wheat does have domestic weather concerns, especially dry conditions for the hard red winter crop, but the overall fundamentals remain bearish. According to DTN, India bought 70,000 to 80,000 tons of wheat from Australia.


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