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POLICY WATCH

Nebraska Farm Bureau Hosts Farm Bill Listening Session for Nebraska Congressional Delegation 

On June 19, Nebraska Farm Bureau members had the opportunity to attend a Farm Bill listening session with all five members of Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation. Held on the campus of Doane University in Crete, Nebraska Senators Deb Fischer, Pete Ricketts, along with Congressmen Adrian Smith, Mike Flood, and Don Bacon, heard from Nebraska Farm Bureau members along with leaders from many Nebraska agricultural organizations about what the next Farm Bill should look like. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue told the delegation, “as has been said time and time again, food security is national security, and the development of strong farm policy helps support a strong domestically produced food system.” The preservation of federal crop insurance, support for increased funding for trade promotion programs, and finding a legislative solution to prohibit states from moving forward with food production regulations similar to California’s Proposition 12, were all common themes. “I continue to feel extremely optimistic about the future. Nebraska’s farm and ranch families today have an amazing story to tell. Nebraska remains the nation’s third agricultural producing state. Our story is one that is focused on innovation, sustainability, hard-work, and determination. I have no doubt that no matter what challenges we face in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers will succeed,” McHargue said.

Farmers Along Missouri River Secure Court Victory 

Recently, hundreds of farmers along the Missouri River who had their lands intentionally and permanently flooded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) scored a huge legal victory in Ideker Farms v. United States. The trial court had previously ruled in favor of the farmers on their Fifth Amendment taking claim for the lost land but found that the government did not owe them anything for the seven-year time period prior to when the flooding “stabilized” during which the farmers lost their crops nearly every year. On appeal, the Court of Federal Claims agreed that the lost land was a taking, but reversed the trial court in holding that the government also owed the farmers damages for the destroyed crops. The ruling is important because, otherwise, the government would have a perverse incentive to take property incrementally over time, knowing that there would be no liability for losses that occurred while the taking stabilized. The decision also reaffirms that just compensation must include past, present, and future losses caused by the government’s taking of property. The farmers at issue own land alongside the Missouri River in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. We are very happy with this result as it will not only benefit the hundreds of farmers in Nebraska but sets important precedent protecting farmers from the government taking their land, crops, and product of their hard work. 

Farm Bureau Continues to Advance Farmers’ Right to Repair 

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU)  with CLAAS of America, providing even more farmers and ranchers the right to repair their own farm equipment. The MOU follows similar agreements AFBF entered with John Deere, CNH Industrial Brands (which includes Case IH and New Holland), AGCO and Kubota. Combined, the five MOUs cover approximately three quarters of the agricultural machinery sold in the United States. 

“The memorandum of understanding with CLAAS demonstrates AFBF’s continued commitment to ensure farmers have access to the tools they need to keep their farms running, and America’s families fed,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Farmers and ranchers are more dependent on technology than ever before and they asked us to find a private-sector solution to the right to repair issue. This agreement is another step toward guaranteeing timely repairs for farmers regardless of the equipment they use.” 

Eric Raby, senior vice president, Americas, for CLAAS said, “CLAAS is delivering on our continuing promise to provide solutions that improve our customers’ businesses, as their success and our success go hand in hand. We are pleased to announce our MOU with AFBF solidifying for farmers the right to repair.” 

The agreement creates a framework for farmers and independent repair facilities in all 50 states and Puerto Rico to access technical manuals, tools and product guides to self-diagnose and self-repair machines, while respecting intellectual property and legislated legal requirements of the manufacturer. It also reconfirms the ability to lease diagnostic tools, purchase products and parts from CLAAS dealers. 

Read the MOU here

AFBF Encourages FMMO Hearing; Recommends Specific Reforms 

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) submitted multiple recommended reforms of Federal Milk Marketing Orders to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and encouraged the department to move forward with a long-overdue hearing on federal milk pricing. The goal is to modernize milk pricing, protect dairy farmers from unfair treatment and ensure consumers have access to affordable fresh milk and dairy products. 

The proposals were submitted in response to USDA’s tentative action plan to hold a hearing, which was released after AFBF joined the National Milk Producers Federation in urging the department to move forward with a hearing.  

“The time is now for USDA to hold a hearing to modernize Federal Milk Marketing Orders. Our dairy farmers deserve transparency and a fair price for their milk,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s actions thus far, including calling for the dairy industry to come together and find solutions, which we were proud to do last October with our FMMO Forum in Kansas City. The discussions that took place at that Forum, along with policies formed during our grassroots policy development process, have been incorporated into our proposed reforms. We look forward to continuing these conversations with the Secretary and others in the dairy sector.” 

In addition to eight new proposals created through AFBF’s grassroots policy, AFBF also submitted comments and refinements to the five reforms submitted by NMPF. AFBF’s proposals include adjusting yields and make allowances based on a mandatory and audited survey; creating and implementing universal milk check transparency requirements, including clarification of the value of pooled milk; and eliminating advanced pricing of Class I milk and Class II skim milk, and their components. 

For the full text of AFBF’s suggested reforms and an explanation of each, click here. They are the result of over three years of work by AFBF farmer members, which culminated in the FMMO Forum convened by AFBF in October. At the Forum, representatives from NMPF, dairy cooperatives, processors, state dairy associations and dairy farmers from across the country met for two days to find common ground on modernizing FMMOs. 

In addition to submitting modernization reforms, AFBF reiterated that USDA does have authority under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act to collect and audit – on a mandatory basis – the processing and yield information needed to inform make allowances. 

USDA must decide by late July whether or not to move forward with hearing proceedings. A virtual pre-hearing information session was held on June 16.  

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