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News & Press: Minnesota Milk Minute

Minnesota Milk Minute - March 25, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Eliot Briggs
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Minnesota Milk Minute 

March 25, 2016

A reliable source of timely market information, news and current events. 

In This Issue

Weekly Legislative Update

Let’s Meet at Central Plains Dairy Expo

Strategizing Options with Low Dairy Commodity Prices Workshop

AgREETT Funding Waits for Designation

Will Dairy Base Plans Be Triggered This Spring?


Upcoming Events

March 30: Central Plains Meet & Greet Reception, 4:30-6 p.m., Room 10, Sanford Premier Center

June 15-20: New York Dairy Tour

Featured Members

Special thanks to
Minnesota Milk
Associate Members.
This week’s featured members:


Minnesota DHIA

Quality Liquid Feeds, Inc


Minnesota Milk Legislative Update (Lucas Sjostrom, MMPA & Daryn McBeth, Gray Plant Mooty)

​We’ve completed the third week of 11-week 2016 Legislative Session, and much like Dairy Day at the Capitol for MMPA last week, many trade associations and interest groups are still converging on St. Paul. Among the groups around the Capitol complex this week were the Farm Credit Association, ethanol producers and Howling for Wolves, to name a few.

The first big deadline is Friday, April 1, by which date bills must be approved by committees of jurisdiction in either the House or Senate. Lobbyists sometimes like to see the deadlines come and go, meaning fewer bills to track, both friend and foe. The major priorities of the 2016 session remain a bonding bill, a transportation bill and a tax bill.

Within bonding priorities, the dairy industry is focused on a $5 million request for the City of Litchfield, home of the state’s largest cheese processing plant, First District Association. The request is for an upgrade to an electrical power station providing back-up power to the community. The plant is on the verge of a capital expansion to handle more milk – but city infrastructure is critical to the expansion. Representative Dean Urdahl (R – Grove City) and Senator Scott Newman (R – Hutchinson) have been trying to ensure the request for Litchfield makes it into the final bonding bill.

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. John Marty (DFL – Roseville), has been active on two fronts. First, the committee now oversees finance/appropriation matters for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Board of Soil and Water Resources, and Environmental Quality Board. This role will match up more closely with the equivalent committee in the House, chaired by Rep. Denny McNamara (R – Hastings). 

The other area of activity in Senator Marty’s committee is SF 2384, to reestablish the MPCA Citizen’s Review Board, which passed out of committee. There is no viable companion bill moving in the House. Senator Dan Sparks (DFL – Austin), the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, originally agreed to co-sponsor the Marty bill but has since removed his name as a co-author as the bill started to move through committees.

Legislation to modify new buffer requirements passed last year has been under discussion. Committee time in considering buffer legislation has been split between receiving agency updates on implementing the 2015 law, and evaluating proposed changes. Some of the buffer law modifications being proposed by Rep. Paul Torkelson (R – Hanska) and Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL – Clearbrook) in HF 3000/SF 2503 include:

  • Clarifying that the law does not apply to private ditches;
  • A requirement that when landowners are compensated for damages arising from the installation of buffers, the payment they receive is calculated based on the value of the land before the buffers were installed;
  • Allowing counties and watershed districts to enforce buffer requirements by ordinances or rules, in addition to administrative penalty. This is meant to create certainty about who has jurisdiction and how that works. If counties or watershed districts don’t assume the jurisdiction and enforcement, it would fall to BWSR; and
  • Establishing an aid program for local units of government to implement the buffer requirements and a statutory appropriation from the General Fund for it.

This week in the House Agriculture Policy Committee a bill (HF 2974) passed that would eliminate state requirements that H-2A visa workers be provided time-and-a-half overtime pay for hours exceeding 48 hours per week. Federal regulation requires overtime pay after 40 hours, but exempts agricultural workers. (Minnesota state law, however, does not exempt agriculture or dairy farm workers from overtime pay after 48 hours – and is something MMPA would like to change.)

The Legislature will take a special recess this weekend for Easter, not meeting Friday or Monday, and reconvening Tuesday, March 29, at noon.

Let’s Meet at Central Plains Dairy Expo!

Minnesota Milk, together with the state trade associations from Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, are hosting a Meet and Greet Reception on Wed., March 30 from 4:30-6 p.m. at Central Plains Dairy Expo, You’ll find us in Room 10 (next to the main entrance) of the Sanford Premier Center Complex. It’s a great opportunity to discuss areas of growth and prosperity for the Midwest as we work together. The reception is FREE, so we look forward to seeing you for some networking and refreshments before you head out for the evening.

Strategizing Options with Low Dairy Commodity Prices

It is important to have a plan to survive when the prices are low, but it is also equally important to have a strategy to prepare for the next downturn when it occurs. A workshop on “Strategizing Options with Low Dairy Commodity Prices” will be held next Wednesday, March 30 from 1:00 until 3:00 p.m. in the community room at Pine Country Bank in Rice (750 County Hwy 21). Regional Extension Dairy Specialist, Jim Salfer, will be presenting along with a panel of local business partners (veterinarian, FBM instructor, nutritionist, banker, FSA loan manager) to answer questions about how they can help you make it through the tough economic times. Contact Emily Wilmes (320-255-6169 ext 3) with University of Minnesota Extension for more information.

AgREETT Funding Waits for Designation

By 2015 Minnesota statute, the Minnesota commissioner of agriculture was charged with consulting with members of the state commodity councils to help prioritize the funding for the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer Grant program (AgREETT). Those groups include Minnesota's Dairy Research and Promotion Council (MDRPC), whose members hold concurrent appointments with the Midwest Dairy Minnesota Division board. Ken Herbranson, Clitherall, as chairman of Midwest Dairy, serves on the AgREETT board on behalf of the MDRPC.

The money is focused on emerging plant and animal diseases while also expanding and retaining ag education. The state appropriated $4.483 million in 2016 and $8.5 million in 2017 to AgREETT. Grant funds will be prioritized across the many facets of the University of Minnesota system.

Minnesota Milk is advocating for funding to fill needs in the dairy faculty at the University, through Extension, Veterinary Medicine, and the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences. The deans of those three entities are meeting now to find the biggest gaps in their current teams. With dairy as an entity that can both utilize many feedstuffs and contribute needed protein and economic activity to the state of Minnesota and surrounding region, MMPA insists dairy will be a wise investment for these dollars.

Many more details need to be worked out, but MMPA thanks the legislature and Department of Agriculture for their foresight in seeing that agricultural research needs a boost in Minnesota.

Will Dairy Base Plans Be Triggered This Spring? (AgWeb)

University of Wisconsin economist Bob Cropp says it’s a possibility dairy co-ops in the eastern U.S. will have to activate base plans to slow milk production in the coming months. Plants in New York and Michigan experienced overflow last spring and production has continued to rise. Read more.

“Don't find fault - find a remedy.” -- Henry Ford


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