Issue Update: Proposed GIPSA Rules and TPP

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates was recently a guest of KTLF Farm Director Scott Colombe to discuss the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA)proposes rules, as well as prospects for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
For additional information, please contact RDL & Associates at (651) 247-5458 or


New presidential poll: And the choice for farmers and ranchers is…(via Agri-Pulse Communications)

With mounting concerns about the farm – and the U.S. – economy, a new nationwide poll indicates how farmers and ranchers will vote in the 2016 presidential election.

Some 55 percent of those surveyed in the latest Agri-Pulse Farm and Ranch Poll say they’ll support Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump while 18 percent are throwing their support behind Democratic Hillary Clinton. Only 2 percent plan to vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and just 1 percent for the Green Party’s Jill Stein. However, in another sign of how fluid the race remains in farm country with less than two weeks until the election, 15 percent of respondents said they were undecided and 8 percent refused to answer.

Trump attracted 59 percent of the male and 37 percent of female voters, while Clinton drew support from 15 percent of the males and 33 percent of the females. Some 18 percent of the female respondents said they were undecided. The GOP nominee scored particularly well in two battleground states, with support from 68 percent of the farmers and ranchers in Ohio and 58 percent in Florida.

The Agri-Pulse Poll, which was conducted by Aimpoint Research from Oct. 5-18, reached out to commercial operations of 200 acres or more. The sample was not selected to favor one party over another, but, reflecting the more conservative nature of farmers and ranchers in recent elections, about 67 percent of our sample identified as Republican or leaning Republican. Democrats or those leaning Democrat made up 20 percent of the 750 farmers and ranchers who picked up the phone during what is still a very hectic harvest season for many. Just 12 percent of respondents identified themselves as Independent.

Compared to a similar Agri-Pulse poll conducted in late January, respondents indicated an even greater dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, the farm economy and the regulatory environment. But those numbers were consistently higher among Republicans.

When asked if they were satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in this country, a whopping 86 percent said they were “somewhat” or “very dissatisfied.” That indicates an uptick from another Agri-Pulse poll conducted in late January of this year. At that time, slightly over three-quarters of the voters surveyed were dissatisfied with the direction of the country. Those levels of dissatisfaction were at 90 percent or higher in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

“Economic growth” rose to the top when respondents were asked to identify the one most important issue facing this country heading into the 2016 presidential election, with about 19 percent nationally selecting this option, up from 9 percent in January. That was the choice of about 19 percent of the Republicans, 16 percent of the Democrats and 18 percent of the Independents.

That represents a substantial shift from the January poll, when 19 percent of Republicans and Democrats listed “national security/terrorism” as their top choice, followed by “moral values” at 14 percent, “immigration/ag labor” at almost 14 percent and “deficit reduction” at 13.5 percent.

In the October poll, the second most important issue selected was “deficit reduction,” favored by about 16 percent, followed by “moral values” at 12 percent nationally. National security and terrorism dropped down to 7 percent.

There was a strong uptick in “climate change,” moving from slightly over 1 percent of farmers and ranchers concerned in the January survey to almost 10 percent in October. 

Part of the dissatisfaction could be based on concerns about the overall U.S. economy, and the farm economy, with low prices for many commodities and livestock products.  Net farm income is forecast to be $71.5 billion in 2016, down 11.5 percent. If realized, the 2016 figure would be the lowest since 2009. In the most recent poll, 60 percent of the farmers and ranchers expressed dissatisfaction with the ag economy, compared to about 50 percent in January. Among Democrats surveyed in October, the level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the ag economy was more equally split, with 49 percent satisfied versus 50 percent dissatisfied.

Still, despite the economic downturns and tightening farm credit conditions, almost half of those surveyed are planning to “stay the course” over the next year. About 16 percent said they would be borrowing more money, 4 percent said they would be selling off assets or renting out their land and only 3 percent said they had plans to terminate their operation.

If there is one thing that farmers and ranchers agree on – across party lines, geography, age and farm size – it’s that federal regulatory policies related to agriculture are moving in the wrong direction. Over 70 percent of those surveyed said that regulatory policies are on the wrong track – up from 66 percent in January. Nationally, over three-quarters of respondents in the 25-34 age group agreed that things were on the wrong track. (See breakdown tables, below.)

Asked to list which types of federal regulations are most burdensome, about one-third of those responding cited federal pesticide regulations, followed by slightly over 20 percent who said water quality and farm labor regulations topped their list.

Reflecting the demographics of commercial agriculture, two-thirds of the farmers polled were 55 years of age or older, including the 40 percent who were at least 65. Some 83 percent of those surveyed were male. Sixty percent raised cattle, while 25 percent each raised dairy cattle and hogs. Only 3 percent had chicken operations. There is a margin of error of 3.6 percent with 95 percent confidence, according to Aimpoint.


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Minnesota Vikings’ Chad Greenway: From pigs to pigskin (via AgDaily)

When Minnesota Vikings veteran Chad Greenway steps up to the line of scrimmage, many fellow NFL players might not realize he perfected his tackle from loading pigs and tagging calves.

“When I was a kid and we were working calves, that was before we had a chute, so you were throwing in every calf and holding each calf down,” Greenway said. “Calf for calf …  it definitely can’t hurt.”

The 33-year old linebacker was drafted 17th overall by the Vikings in 2006 and has since appeared in 143 games over 11 NFL seasons. Greenway ranks fourth in team history with 1,289 career tackles, and he’s appeared in two Pro Bowls.

Greenway credits much of his success on the field from his years on the farm.

Growing up on his family farm just northwest of Mount Vernon, South Dakota, Greenway spent mornings loading pigs before school and sports. The family farrow-to-finish operation sold about 5,000 pigs per year through a confinement barn. During his high school years, the Greenway family had a finishing program, raising nursery pigs for the Pipestone System. They also ran a 300-head cow/calf operation and 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Greenway and his two older sisters were also active in Mount Vernon sports. Besides leading his nine-man Mt. Vernon High School football team to back-to-back state titles as the quarterback, Greenway was a budding star in basketball, track and field, and baseball.

“It was kind of a juggling act of trying to do a bunch of things we can on the farm, whether it be loading pigs with my sisters in the morning before you go to school or what it might be you are doing, there was already a lot of activity and a lot of work to be done,” Greenway said. “It was a major way to grow up and definitely gave me a much better advantage when I went off to college to do my own thing in football. It was a definite advantage over a lot of other guys that I had that built-in ability to react to leadership, react to tasks, react to work ethic.”

After graduating from Mount Vernon in 2001, Greenway uprooted to the University of Iowa, where he played all four years for the Hawkeyes, starting in 38 of 45 games. He was a two-time first-team all-Big Ten honoree. His 416 career tackles rank fifth on the all-time Iowa tackle charts.

Greenway remains active in Iowa today, joining the University of Iowa and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to support the America Needs Farmers organization. The ANF initiative was originally launched by the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and former head coach Hayden Fry during the 1985 Farm Crisis to honor the contributions of farmers and to help bridge the connection from farm to fork. IFBF joined the initiative in 2011 to heighten the awareness of today’s diverse farms, while raising donations for Iowa food banks.

Many former farm-raised University of Iowa football players, including Greenway, have joined the program to share their farm heritage and to promote farming, not just in Iowa, but throughout the Midwest.

“For me, it is pretty easy to be part of it. It’s a great program and promotes farming in so many ways,” Greenway said. “I think it does a good job of bringing recognition to people who deserve it and obviously it is easy to promote one of the greatest professions in the world.”

Greenway and his wife, Jennifer, also give back through the Chad Greenway Lead the Way Foundation. Established in 2008, the primary focus of the charity is to provide seriously ill and physically challenged children throughout the Twin Cities with daily support and life-changing experiences.

Just this past month Greenway’s Lead the Way Foundation made a $75,000 donation to a Ronald McDonald house in Minneapolis, which covered more than 80 percent of costs to replace the site’s playground with a new, inclusive, handicap-accessible play area for young patients and their siblings.

“Over the years it has really grown much bigger than we anticipated, and we have seen it not only affect kids’ lives, but adults’ lives as well in a good way,” Greenway said. “We definitely want to strive for more within our foundation and grow that if we can. Really, our goal would be to provide foundation opportunities for our fans down the road through the Lead the Way Foundation.”

With Greenway now in his 11th season with the Vikings, some media sources have reported this is the last year for the linebacker.

“That is the question of the year,” Greenway said. “You never say never.”

No matter what the future brings for the NFL football star, his thoughts never stray far from his family and the farm.

“I mean I don’t think I would be in the position I am in now without growing up on the farm and just the values that were provided for me and the examples that were given to be my family.


His uncle Brad Greenway is one of four finalists for the National Pork Board’s America’s Pig Farmer of the Year award.

“Uncle Brad and Aunt Peggy are both incredibly passionate about our industry, and they are fearless leaders in our state promoting farming, promoting the operation they run and pork production in general,” Greenway said. “I’m very proud of those two and what they accomplished. I couldn’t think of a better family than Brad to be the U.S. face for that.”

After Greenway’s father, Alan, passed away in December 2014, his mother, Julie, took over the family farm along with one of his sisters and her husband.

“She felt when my dad passed away, in her heart, she should keep the farm going, and obviously that is her passion,” Greenway said. “My mom is such a hard worker and such a strong woman, and she kept that going on her own.”

Greenway hopes that when his football career is over, he will have more time and opportunities to come back and help with harvest in the fall, help his mother work cattle, and just be able to be back on the farm.

“It’s been hard initially to be away so much from the farm as I’ve had to, but it is nice to always get back,” Greenway said. “You never lose that edge from being out there working and just enjoying the outdoors.”

Guest Commentary: Developing new markets will help MN corn farmers become the most sustainable and environmentally responsible in the U.S.

Did you know that corn is an ingredient in more than 4,000 consumer products? Or that every gallon of regular unleaded fuel you put in your vehicle contains 10 percent ethanol made from corn?

Yes, corn is used for more than just feeding livestock. It touches our lives in many ways, whether we’re brushing our teeth (corn is an ingredient in tooth paste), going for a run (the soles of tennis shoes include corn), or receiving medical care (corn is used to make penicillin).

Jerry Demmer

Jerry Demmer

I’ve been growing corn for nearly 45 years on my family’s farm in Southern Minnesota. I also serve on the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council (MCR&PC), an organization that invests in research to help corn farmers reduce their impact on the environment and add value to their product by developing new markets for corn.

The MCR&PC, working in close partnership with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, recently set an ambitious goal: We want to help Minnesota corn farmers become the most sustainable and environmentally responsible in the United States. It’s a bold goal, but it’s a goal we’re already progressing toward.

Farming in a way that protects our state’s valuable land, water and soil resources is a big part of our goal. That’s why our initiative contains action steps to help famers better manage nitrogen fertilizer and explore sustainability programs that can help them become better stewards of the land.

However, as any corn farmer knows, sustainability means more than just addressing environmental concerns. Corn farmers need to be financially sustainable, too. We need to remain in business so we can continue investing in new conservation efforts and working to leave the land we farm in good condition for the next generation.

One of the ways corn farmers remain financially sustainable is by developing new markets for corn. That’s why our plan also includes new investments for cleaner-burning homegrown biofuels like ethanol. Within a year, the MCR&PC, working closely with a broad coalition of partners, expects to have supported the installation of hundreds of flex-fuel pumps throughout the state.

Our plan also calls for investments in things like sustainable biopolymers, which are plastics made from renewable sources like corn plants instead of petroleum sources that require large amounts of water and emissions to convert into plastics. Products made from sustainable polymers include plastic cutlery, food containers, fibers for clothing and cell phone cases.

Other unique market opportunities MCR&PC are exploring include using corn to feed fresh shrimp. One Minnesota startup company sees the potential of using Minnesota-grown corn to increase the demand for fresh shrimp in the U.S. by 450 million pounds. There are also opportunities to use distillers’ dried grains – a by-product of the ethanol-making process commonly used as livestock feed – in human foods like cookies and flatbreads.

Growing the use of homegrown biofuels like ethanol, as well as using corn in sustainable biopolymers, as feed for fresh shrimp, and to make human foods using distillers’ dried grains are just a few examples of helping Minnesota corn farmers become more financially sustainable while also contributing to a healthier planet.

When you factor in the growing popularity and effectiveness of conservation practices used by corn farmers like myself – no-tilling the soil, buffer strips and grass waterways to name a few – the environmental benefits are multiplied.

We’ve come a long way in corn farming since I started 45 years ago, both in how we grow the crop and what we use it for. By continuing to invest in new market opportunities and conservation research, I’m confident that Minnesota corn farmers can, in fact, become the most sustainable and environmentally responsible in the country.

Jerry Demmer farms near Clarks Grove and is the former Chairman of the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council.

Trump, Clinton surrogates clash over Ag regulations (via Agri-Pulse Communications)

Surrogates for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump clashed sharply over agricultural regulations and the estate tax at a Farm Foundation Forum on Wednesday, but they agreed that Congress should protect nutrition spending in the next farm bill.

Kathleen Merrigan, a former deputy agriculture secretary speaking for Clinton the forum, said a new farm bill needed to be “passed on time” in the next Congress, and said Trump should reject the Republican platform’s call for splitting farm and nutrition programs.

Sam Clovis, a co-chair of the Trump campaign and Trump’s lead adviser on agriculture policy, responded by agreeing that nutrition programs should stay in the farm bill, and he took another step from Republican orthodoxy by saying that the way to reduce nutrition spending is to promote economic growth that will put more people to work, rather than cutting programs.

House Republicans have been pushing to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but Clovis said that any reductions to SNAP spending “should be natural cuts.”

“If we have an economy that’s growing at 4 percent and we’re able to get people off the sidelines – we have fewer and fewer people who qualify for nutrition assistance programs – then I think we reduce that number and we reduce the cost of our food stamp program. That’s really the approach that ought to be taken on this issue,” Clovis said.

Clovis probably raised eyebrows of many in agriculture by saying that “irresponsible farming” methods on marginal lands because of high commodity prices had contributed to the “dead patch” in the Gulf of Mexico, a reference to the hypoxic zone at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Clovis said the government needed to “incentivize” more conservation on the part of farmers.

Clovis also said policy makers should “start taking a look at weaning ourselves” from price supports. But asked by reporters after the forum to elaborate on the comment, Clovis said he was talking about the need to assess how current commodity programs are working.

Merrigan, who teaches food policy at The George Washington University and co-chairs AGree, a group working on bipartisan agricultural policy proposals, criticized Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, for voting repeatedly against the 2008 farm bill when he was a member of the House. Pence has a “dismal record” on farm policy, she said.

Clinton, then a senator from New York, voted for the 2002 farm bill and also voted to override a presidential veto of the 2008 version.

“What I can say with 100 percent certainty is that I have never met a member of Congress who liked everything in a farm bill,” said Merrigan, who worked as a Senate aide as well as at USDA earlier in her career.

Clovis emphasized the Trump campaign’s message that farmers are being over-regulated, citing the “waters of the United States” rule that the candidate has promised to kill. He also said that tax reform would be the “highest priority” of a Trump administration. Trump’s plan includes reducing corporate tax rates to 15 percent and ending the estate tax.

Merrigan acknowledged that there is a “lot of anxiety” among farmers about the WOTUS rule, but she said the concerns about its impact on agriculture have been “blown out of proportion” with “bogeyman worries.”

“We just need to tamp down the rhetoric here,” she said.

Merrigan said the “anti-regulatory drumbeat is not helpful. We need to get more calibrated in our discussion.” Regulations “give certainty to our businesses … and farmers and ranchers,” she said.

She also used her closing remarks to defend the estate tax, saying that issue also was overblown. “It’s going to hit you if you have a billion dollar farm.” What farmers need is better estate planning, she said.

The surrogates offered little new on trade and immigration policy.

On immigration, Clovis reiterated the campaign’s promise to streamline the H-2A visa program to make it easier for farms to import the labor that they need. Merrigan emphasized Clinton’s pledge to enact immigration reform legislation that would provide a path to citizenship to immigrants who are now in the country illegally.

Both she and Clovis were pressed on how the candidates would approach the Trans-Pacific Partnership if elected president, but the surrogates offered few clues.

“What’s pretty clear for all of us in agriculture … is that we haven’t made a very convincing case to the American people about the importance of trade to American agriculture,” said Merrigan.

Clovis said Trump was worried about Americans who would lose their jobs under the TPP. Beyond that issue, he said Trump would “make sure that you (in agriculture) have access to as many markets as possible.”

Ethanol plant keeping up at harvest (via Brownfield Ag. News)

The general manager of a southeast Minnesota ethanol plant says the facility is running near capacity with harvest in full swing.

Randall Doyal with Al-Corn Clean Fuel in Claremont tells Brownfield the staff is operating around the clock to keep up.

“We’re grinding and consuming the volume of corn on a daily basis and we’re not seasonal in that regard.  Our farmers are, and they tend to try to push forward and deliver as much as they can when they need to.”

Grain storage is a concern for many farmers this fall, but Doyal says producers he works with have been preparing for harvest by increasing on-farm capacity while taking steps to ensure quality.

“Frankly, we get better quality from our farmers than we do from commercials because (farmers) have gotten so good at being able to maintain and take care of that corn.  And they deliver rate-ably through the year at a cooperative facility like ours, or they deliver when the market sends signals or they choose to make a sale.”

Doyal expects bin space at Al-Corn to remain close to full through December, with inventories dropping steadily after the holidays.

The full interview can be accessed here:

Overview: Prospects for TPP in the Lame Duck Session of Congress

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, was recently a guest on the Linder Farm Network regarding prospects for passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership following the November elections.

The interview can be accessed here:

If your company or organization is giving consideration to enhancing your current efforts or developing a management plan for your policy and political capital, RDL & Associates would welcome the opportunity to assist you in developing a game plan for success.

For additional information and updates, please contact Dave Ladd at (651) 247-5458 or via e-mail at

U.S. per capita consumption of cow’s milk cheeses continues to expand (via USDA Economic Research Service)

Per capita consumption of cow’s milk cheese rose in 2015, adding to strong growth from 2014. On average, Americans consumed roughly 35 pounds of cheese in 2015. The two most common cheeses, cheddar and mozzarella, accounted for 61 percent of consumption. Consumption of cheddar, which totaled about 10 pounds per person in 2015, increased just over 3 percent.

By comparison, mozzarella consumption grew at about 1 percent. Other cheeses—such as cream cheeses, Swiss, and Hispanic cheeses—collectively grew the fastest at nearly 4 percent. Taken together, the growth in U.S. per capita consumption was the highest since 1999, at almost 3 percent. Relatively strong economic growth in the United States helped increase its domestic cheese consumption.

Amidst the recession, by comparison, per capita consumption shrank in 2008 and grew minimally in 2009. Relatively low prices likely also encouraged cheese consumption. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, retail cheese prices fell by 0.2 percent in 2015. The data for this chart comes from the ERS Dairy Data product, updated in September 2016.

Farm income seen flat in 2017 (via Agri-Pulse Communications)

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2016 – Net farm income is likely to be flat next year despite an increase in government payments but should improve somewhat in the following two years, according to a new analysis.

The report by the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) projects that net farm income will fall by more than $10 billion this year to $69.6 billion despite falling production costs and rise only slightly to $70.3 billion in 2017.

Farm earnings are expected to rise to $73.7 billion in 2018 and $74 billion in 2019 “because of a modest recovery in crop prices and cash receipts,” the report says.

FAPRI projects that farmers will receive $13.4 billion in government payments this year, up from $10.8 billion in 2015. The economists see even higher payments in 2017 at $14.4 billion before they drop to a projected $9.9 billion the following year.

Much of the increase this year and in 2017 is due to payments under the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, which is tied to a moving average of average crop revenue. Payments under the program are expected to drop sharply because of the prolonged slump in prices for corn and other commodities.

ARC payments are expected to peak at $6.4 billion for the 2015 crop marketing year before dropping to $5.8 billion for 2016 and $2.2 billion for 2017. ARC payments for 2015 are being made this month.

The report projects that debt-to-asset ratios will rise from 12 percent last year to 14 percent in 2019 because of slipping land values. Cropland rental rates and average farm real estate values have declined this year, according to USDA data cited by the report.

FAPRI’s latest forecast for net farm income is actually $15 billion higher than its March estimate largely because of historical data revisions. USDA reduced its estimates of 2015 production expenses by more than $21 billion, with reduced capital consumption accounting for nearly half the difference, according to FAPRI.