A relative handful of contests in the Nov. 8 general election — one month away — will decide whether Democrats or Republicans control the House in 2023. Three of those toss-up races are in farm-state districts with seats on the House Agriculture Committee.
Anne Schwagerl would love to purchase an interseeder, a machine that plants cover crop seeds directly into a field where another crop like soybeans is already growing. But she and her husband, who grow a variety of grains on 400 acres in western Minnesota, can't afford the $80,000 price tag. So she was happy when the state legislature recently approved a cost-share program to help farmers to purchase such equipment.
Voters in politically conservative southern Minnesota chose Brad Finstad, a pro-Trump Republican, over Democrat Jeff Ettinger in a closer-than-expected special election on Tuesday to complete the term of the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who was a member of the House Agriculture Committee.
Bird flu will have a “meaningful impact” on turkey supplies in coming months, said the head of Hormel Foods, the second-largest turkey processor in the country, on Thursday. Chief executive Jim Snee said Hormel anticipated “large supply gaps” for its Jennie-O Turkey Store operations in the months ahead because of flock losses.
For the first time this year, officials identified highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in domestic flocks in Montana and Colorado. With the discoveries, bird flu has been found in 25 states, from Maine and North Carolina and Texas and Wyoming since early February and at 159 sites totaling 24.65 million birds, mostly chickens and turkeys, according to USDA data.
Turkey farmers in Minnesota, the No. 1 turkey-producing state, lost more than 557,000 turkeys in 12 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) this week, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. Total losses since the first outbreak was reported on March 25 are slightly over 1 million turkeys.
Nearly 11.8 million egg-laying hens — three of every 100 in the U.S. flock — have died in outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in less than a month, USDA data released on Tuesday show. The latest losses were 1.46 million hens in Guthrie County in central Iowa.
For the first time, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was confirmed in Minnesota, the top turkey-producing state in the nation, said agricultural officials over the weekend. Some 14.6 million birds in domestic flocks have died of HPAI or in culling of infected herds to reduce the spread of the viral disease this year.
The Biden administration took the first step to quash a proposed copper mine near the popular Boundary Waters wilderness area in northeastern Minnesota on Wednesday with an inter-agency request to block mineral leases in the area for 20 years. It was a change in course from the Trump era, when the government smiled on the proposed Twin Metals mine.
Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, a conservative Democrat in a Republican-leaning district, announced he would seek re-election in November, saying he was worried rural America is being left behind. President Trump has endorsed a Republican challenger against Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, in a contest that is regarded as a toss-up.
Rep. Collin Peterson “is a good fit for his district, but outliers like him have become less and less common,” said the political website Sabato’s Crystal Ball on Thursday, listing him as a toss-up for election to a 16th term.
In Minnesota, one of the country’s top farming states, just one man is responsible for dealing with farmers’ mental health needs. As low crop prices and farm closures weigh heavily on farming families, he is joining state legislators and advocates to push for allocating more resources to the pressing issue. (No paywall)
Last week, seven corporate agriculture interest groups sued the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to halt the extension of a public comment period on a proposed mega-dairy expansion in Winona County, Minnesota. The suit highlights broader efforts by agribusiness to silence opposition from rural residents who speak out against large concentrated animal feeding operations in their communities. (No paywall)
Even in the most agricultural districts of America, farmers are hardly thick on the ground, the result of decades of mechanization and consolidation, which has driven down farm numbers, as well as the United States becoming ever more urban. Nonetheless, the “farm vote,” while small in numbers, is a mighty force in U.S. politics.
As congressional debate on the next farm bill gathers steam, farmers in Minnesota are calling for changes to the crop insurance program. A new report from the Land Stewardship Project argues that the current version of the program favors bigger farms and places an undue burden on taxpayers.
Former two-term Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty says he will not run for the Senate this year, “dashing Republican hopes that he would mount a strong bid for Al Franken’s old seat,” said the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
With the 2018 farm bill on the horizon, Senate leaders have re-jiggered membership of the Senate Agriculture Committee, adding Republican Deb Fischer of Nebraska and newly appointed Democrat Tina Smith of Minnesota to the panel.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture set a June 20 cut-off date for spraying the weedkiller dicamba on GE soybeans and barred application of the herbicide when temperatures top 85 degrees, said the Associated Press.