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May 26, 2017

Minnesota Milk Declares New Truck Weight Law a Success for Dairy

One of Minnesota Milk Producers Association’s top legislative priorities became law this week as Governor Mark Dayton signed HF 1725. The measure allows smaller (single-unit) milk trucks a 10 percent increase in their weight capacity, assuming they follow bridge limits and recommended tire load weights.

According to Lucas Sjostrom, Minnesota Milk’s executive director, the change was critical for the continuation of milk transport from farms to processing plants. Rules limit the weight between front and back tires of short milk trucks, making trucks that are otherwise legal on a per-axle basis out of compliance.

“Working to fix issues like this one is exactly what Minnesota Milk does best on behalf of all dairy producers,” said Sjostrom. “We’re thankful to Representative Drazkowski and Senator Goggin for championing this measure and helping to keep Minnesota’s milk trucks running safely but efficiently.”

Another of Minnesota Milk’s priorities, increasing processing capacity, will be helped by two new $1 million grants available to plants which are expanding.

Two budget items backed by Minnesota Milk will also help contribute to new and beginning farmer profitability.

Sjostrom says the legislature continued Livestock Investment Grants and began a new tax credit program for beginning farmers, which will be available for the first time in 2018.

In addition, Minnesota Milk worked to pass a $4 million bonding measure for the City of Litchfield to upgrade its backup power to fully accommodate First District Association’s dairy processing plant.

“Minnesota’s dairy farmers will benefit from these important steps taken by the legislature and the governor this session,” said Dave Buck, a Goodhue dairy producer and chairman of Minnesota Milk Producers Association. “Initiatives we weren’t able to address this year will remain part of our discussion with lawmakers throughout the year, in hopes of future action.”

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House Appropriators Plan to Make Ag Funding Cuts with a Scalpel, Not an Axe – Audio

President Trump’s 10 year budget proposal for USDA handed down on Tuesday is facing blowback on Capitol Hill, even among Republicans.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are hesitant to lower spending on the farm safety net, rural development, foreign market promotion and food aid – given the current economic environment in rural America.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue had the task of testifying Wednesday — at the Rayburn House Office Building before the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies — regarding the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

The budget was essential crafted by the White House Office of Management and Budget.  Lawmakers will have the final say.

Subcommittee Chair Robert Aderholt of Alabama opened the hearing by stating the panel’s mission.

Budget Hearing 1

Still, Aderholt recognized the current budget environment on Capitol Hill in his opening remarks.

Budget Hearing 2

Subcommittee Ranking Member Bishop of Georgia used his opening remarks to express concerns about the White House’s plan to reorganize USDA.

Budget Hearing 3

Secretary Perdue tried to reassure the panel about the administration’s commitment to rural development, with the White House calling the reorganization an “elevation of rural development.”

Budget Hearing 4

House appropriators on both sides of the aisle expressed concern over losing funding for rural housing, clean drinking water and small business development under the reorganization plan.

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White House Proposal to Cut SNAP Funding Draws Fire from Rep. DeLauro – Audio

President Trump’s proposal to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is facing a tough sell in Congress.

Republicans in Congress are eyeing cuts to the program, but none as large as what Trump has proposed.

Many Democrats oppose changes to the program, which now serves 44 million people and cost $70 billion dollars last year.

During a Wednesday hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration hearing, California 3rd District Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro voiced her concerns about the President’s proposal to recently-confirmed USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

DeLauro on SNAP Cuts

While a majority of SNAP recipients are in urban areas, there has been an increase in rural areas. Of the 10 states that have the most food stamp recipients, seven went Republican in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Associated Press.

After the White House proposal was released, House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, tweeted that SNAP plays a crucial role in protecting citizens that have fallen on tough times.

Still, Chairman Conaway and Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, have indicated they will support some sort of SNAP overhaul in the next farm bill, due next year.

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