Farm Bureau Asks USDA to Authorize Emergency Haying, Grazing
Nebraska Farm Bureau is encouraging the Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) to authorize emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands in all Nebraska counties that meet the appropriate drought qualifications. Two counties currently meet the automatic qualification being designated as D2-Severe Drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor Map. In addition, Farm Bureau is encouraging FSA to work with all Nebraska counties designated as D1-Moderate Drought to examine whether they meet the necessary 40 percent forage loss threshold to also qualify for emergency haying and grazing of CRP.
USDA Issues Cattle Markets Report/Investigation
The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report on its investigation into disparities between prices paid to producers and beef prices at grocery stores this week. “We appreciate the USDA’s thorough examination of the beef markets. There’s little doubt that something is wrong when consumers are paying higher prices for meat and at the same time America’s farmers and ranchers are being paid less,” said Zippy Duval, American Farm Bureau president. “We are pleased the USDA responded to our call for an investigation, but it’s important to note the scrutiny of the markets is not concluded. USDA indicates their examination continues and investigations by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as well as the Department of Justice, are ongoing.” Farm Bureau is working through a review of the policy recommendations the USDA put forth in the report.
Bill Expanding Overweight Exemption for Hauling Ag Advances
A bill to expand the existing overweight exemption for the transport of agricultural commodities has advanced in the Legislature. Under current law, farmers are allowed to exceed weight limits on loads by 15 percent when hauling seasonally harvested crops from the field to storage, market, or stockpile, or from stockpile to market, if travel is within 70 miles and the owner of the commodity provides the driver of the load with a signed statement of origin and destination. LB 931 expands the overweight exemption to apply to the transportation of seasonally harvested commodities in transport from “farm storage” to market. The Legislature’s Chair of the Agriculture Committee, Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings, introduced the bill on behalf of Nebraska Farm Bureau. Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango prioritized the bill. The idea was originally suggested by members of Adams County Farm Bureau. The bill awaits a final vote of approval by lawmakers.
Broadband Enhancement Bill Passes
State lawmakers gave final approval this week to a Nebraska Farm Bureau backed bill establishing the Broadband Data Improvement Program. Introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth, LB 996 would complement broadband data submitted by service providers, leverage the Federal Communications Commission and its Digital Opportunity Data Collection docket to improve Nebraska’s broadband map, and encourage Nebraskans to participate in crowdsourcing efforts to improve the map. The map is a critical part of broadband expansion as its used to determine where federal assistance dollars are targeted to helping improve broadband access. The bill awaits the governor’s signature to become law.
Moving on Up…
Several other bills Nebraska Farm Bureau supports advanced to the final round of approval in the Legislature this week. Included among those bills are:
LB 899 – Introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango, prioritized by Sen. Mike Moser of Columbus, the bill authorizes a public power district to develop, manufacture, use, purchase, or sell biofuels and biofuel by-products;
LB 1152 – Introduced by Sen. Steve Halloran of Hastings and designated an Agriculture Committee priority, the bill is necessary to ensure Nebraska’s laws and regulations governing industrial hemp are compliant with federal (USDA) regulations; and
LB 803 – Introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes of Venango and designated a Speaker priority, the bill would adopt a pulse crop (dry peas and lentils) checkoff.
Court Denies Petition to End Registration of Enlist Duo Herbicide
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied a petition to vacate the registration of Corteva Agriscience’s Enlist Duo herbicide, a 2,4-D-choline and glyphosate premix designed for use over 2,4-D-tolerant Enlist crops. Enlist Duo is registered for use on genetically engineered corn, cotton, and soybeans. The petitioners claimed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) followed the wrong procedures in registering Enlist and argued that EPA had not considered the risks of increased herbicide use or volatility potential from the Enlist Duo registration. The only error the court found is that EPA failed to consider harm to monarch butterflies caused by killing target milkweed, which the court described as “not serious.” This decision does not affect the availability of Enlist Duo.