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.
State agriculture commissioner Doug Goehring announced “North Dakota-specific” rules on use of the weedkiller dicamba on GE soybeans in the new crop year. They include a ban on spraying when temperatures top 85 degrees and a total cutoff of dicamba use after June 30.
State officials should set a cut-off date for spraying dicamba on genetically engineered soybeans as well as a temperature cut-off of 85 degrees to reduce greatly the chance of damage to neighboring crops, says a task force of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. The state restrictions would be in addition to the more stringent rules recently adopted by the EPA.
Minnesota ruled that biofuels will need to contain a mix of 20 percent soybeans or other renewable fuel sources, cutting the amount of emissions while boosting demand for soybeans, said MPR News. "This is an opportunity to add value to farmers' products," state agriculture commissioner Dave Frederickson said last Thursday, according to the report. "Given the fact that the first B10 mandate actually added about 63 cents per bushel, on every bushel sold, we're hoping to double that as we move into a B20 mandate."