September 20, 2014

State Ag Commissioners Unanimously Call For EPA to Drop Waters of the US

At the Annual Meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), NASDA Members, composed of all 48 state Agricultural commissioners both democratic and republican, unanimously called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the proposed Waters of the U.S. Rule. The action item, submitted by North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture Doug Goehring, also urges the EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers to collaborate with state departments of agriculture and other stakeholders on the appropriate scope of federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction. Goehring had this to say during a follow up press conference by the Republican Commissioners of Agriculture that took place Monday:

Goehring WOTUS

NASDA’s CEO Dr. Barbara Glenn concurred, issuing a statement after the NASDA meeting saying, “As it stands, this proposed rule dramatically expands EPA’s jurisdiction and creates too much uncertainty for our farmers and ranchers. This rule must be withdrawn.” She continued, stating “It is critical that the agencies engage state regulators and stakeholders to work together to find a path forward before the agencies move towards implementation or further rulemaking.”

NASDA previously submitted comments expressing concerns about the highly controversial Interpretive Rule for Agricultural Conservation Practices.

“Conservation and environmental protection are among our members’ chief responsibilities as state regulatory agencies. We feel the agencies’ proposals will dissuade the use of critical conservation practices needed to preserve American farmland,” said Glenn.

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North Dakota Stockmans Association To Host Annual Convention

Eighty-five years ago, ranchers across western North Dakota recognized the need for an outfit to help rid the region of rogue cattle rustlers who threatened their livelihoods. They needed solutions “right here, right now.” That’s why they organized the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) – an organization that has been committed to helping ranchers solve problems for eight-and-a-half decades. Today, the need for the organization is just as great. Pressures from the outside – from overzealous government agencies to activist organizations – add to the challenges the NDSA must work to address.

The NDSA is calling upon its members to weigh in on issues that impact their businesses during the 85th Annual NDSA Convention & Trade Show, “Right Here, Right Now,” Sept. 25-27 in Dickinson, N.D.

The special anniversary event begins at 9 a.m. MT, Thursday, Sept. 25, with a Golf Scramble and Hole-In-One Contest at Pheasant Country Golf Course near South Heart, N.D. To register for the golf outing, contact NDSA member Daryl Zarak, who is chairing the event, at (701) 590-3590.

That afternoon, convention-goers will head to Dickinson State University’s (DSU) Ag Building on the West Campus for the popular Cattlemen’s College. Michelle D. Reines of PeopleFirst Human Capital Solutions, a leadership development, performance and communication strategist, will present a hands-on workshop, which will include a personality analysis and an explanation of how cattle producers can apply the results to help them with transition planning, employee retention and business management. Entire ranching operations – including spouses, children and employees – are encouraged to participate in this unique workshop.

Thursday’s activities will conclude with a social and supper at DSU’s Biesiot Activity Center.

On Friday, Sept. 26, convention activities will take place at the Grand Dakota Lodge. Participants will be encouraged to peruse the aisles of the Trade Show from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Forty industry-related vendors will be exhibiting.

The opening general session begins at 8:45 a.m. and will include welcome addresses, a chief brand inspector report, committee reports and a special recognition of long-time NDSA members. During the Candidates’ Forum, members will also learn more about their peers who are vying for NDSA leadership positions. Steve Brooks of Bowman, N.D., and Warren Zenker of Gackle, N.D., have been nominated for president and vice president, respectively.

Policy development is planned for Friday afternoon from 1 to 5 p.m. Policy committees will explore topics ranging from property and income taxes to the Endangered Species Act; hear from a variety of experts, including the State Board of Animal Health veterinarians to senior-level officials of the processing plant in Aberdeen, S.D.; and establish resolutions that explain cattle industry perspectives on important issues.

That evening, it will be time to “hang-10″ at the Stockmen’s Luau, where members will enjoy a Polynesian-inspired taste of the islands with Hawaiian-themed food, games, prizes and dancing. Registrants are encouraged, but not required, to dress the part. The evening will also include the NDSA Product Auction and Stockmen’s Foundation Rifle Raffle Drawing.

The general session begins at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, and will include four featured speakers.

The first will be Mike Murphy, who serves the team that focuses on risk management analysis for beef, cattle and grain sectors at CattleFax. Murphy will discuss market opportunities available to U.S. ag producers during this unprecedented period of all-time high prices and extreme volatility.

NDSA members will also have the opportunity to engage the Environmental Protection Agency’s Allison Wiedeman, the second speaker of the morning, in an open discussion about topics like Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and the interpretive rule.

Third, NDSA Past President and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Region 7 Vice President Jason Schmidt of Medina, N.D., will explain the role he plays in the national organization to give cattlemen and cattlewomen in the Upper Midwest a voice in national industry policy-making and introduce Kristina Butts, NCBA executive director of legislative affairs, the morning’s final speaker. Butts leads NCBA’s lobbying efforts on food safety, nutrition, energy, animal welfare and animal health issues. She will report on important developments on Capitol Hill on issues like WOTUS, country-of-origin labeling, Dietary Guidelines, international trade, taxes and the Farm Bill.

During the noon luncheon, the North Dakota Stockmen’s Foundation will award seven Endowment and Legacy Scholarships and recognize Mentoring Program graduates.

The closing session, where NDSA members will adopt resolutions and elect directors and officers, will follow. The top membership recruiter will also be named and awarded the top prize – a one year’s lease on a Platinum aluminum stock trailer from Leanin’ Pole Arena.

The convention will close with a social and banquet beginning at 6 and 7 p.m., respectively. The banquet will feature the unique musical stylings of Jessie Veeder and the inspiration of Josh Sundquist, a cancer survivor, amputee and Paralympic ski racer.

The NDSA will salute several outstanding members at the banquet, including outgoing President Jason Zahn of Towner, N.D., and the late Stanley Pope of Bowman, N.D., and Terry Robinson of Bismarck, N.D., who will receive Honorary Membership Awards; the Woroniecki Brothers Ranch of Hebron, N.D., which will be honored as the Rancher of the Year; Delbert Eszlinger of Ashley, N.D., who will receive the Honorary Local Brand Inspector Award; and an Environmental Stewardship Award recipient. The organization will also recognize employees who have reached special career milestones, such as Rodney Lutz of Hettinger, N.D.; Joe Roshau of Dickinson, N.D.; Cliff Sanders, Jr., of Durbin, N.D.; Arlyn Schumacher of Hazelton, N.D.; Willy Sevland of Granville, N.D.; and retiree Brian Pfeifle, formerly of Mandan, N.D.

Registration information is available at www.ndstockmen.org. Those who pre-register by Sept. 11 will receive discounted prices and a commemorative t-shirt.

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House Passes Waters Of The U.S. Over-regulation Act

The House of Representative’s passed the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 Tuesday afternoon.  Passage is largely an attempt to halt the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ proposed Waters of the U.S. rule.  Senate action is unlikely however before the end of the year, or at all.  Still, passage was applauded by groups such as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council.

 NCBA’s Ashley McDonald said “the interpretive rule actually narrows the scope of what is considered normal farming and ranching practices.” National Pork Producers Council President Howard Hill stated “NPPC wants EPA to rescind its agricultural exemptions rule immediately and to either withdraw the WOTUS rule or work with agriculture to make changes in the proposal that reflect real on-farm conditions.” House Ag Chair Frank Lucas said he was pleased that “the House approved this bipartisan, commonsense bill to block the EPA from expanding its control of our nation’s land and water resources.

Under current regulation, states have primary responsibility for regulating waters within their boundaries and twice the Unites States Supreme Court has reaffirmed this authority. The proposed rule strips this balance and expands federal jurisdiction to nearly every water in the country, including ditches, puddles and ponds. Southerland’s bill, which prevents EPA and Corps from finalizing, implementing, adopting or enforcing the proposed rule, has the bipartisan support of 120 co-spons

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