November 28, 2015

Save the Honeybee! #NAFB15

Honeybee and pollinator experts agree that colony collapse disorder threatens to disrupt the human food chain, with a third of the foods consumed by Americans dependent on pollinators.

Researchers suspect that neonicotinoid pesticides may play some role in reported die-offs…But they don’t know much.

Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto are encouraging nonprofits, landowners and governments to plant more flowers and other plants that bees need to feed on.  Their representatives are speaking at beekeepers conferences and visiting universities.

Jerry Hayes is the Bee Health Lead for Monsanto.  He visited with farm broadcasters at the recent Trade Talk event in Kansas City about the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder for honeybees.

Monsanto Jerry Hayes

Honeybee colony losses in the U.S. the past five years have been especially acute, with reported annual losses of 30 to 45 percent, according to a study authored by university researchers.

The EPA is working on new risk assessments for neonics, while chemical companies are working on new bee-saving products like biological and chemical agents to fight mites and parasites.




Secretary Vilsack Responds to Lower Farm Income Forecast

Following updated farm income forecast numbers for 2015, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made the following statement:

“As one growing season comes to an end and another lies on the horizon, USDA continues to seek out new and innovative ways to expand opportunity for America’s farming families and support markets that will boost farm income. Roughly one in three American farm products are exported, but there is significant and as yet untapped opportunity in markets in Asia and Europe. By the end of the year, I will have met with key leaders in those regions to promote the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and further negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as well as expanded access in China. Expanded trade will help to drive higher commodity prices, additional farm income and agribusiness jobs that ultimately generate more cash flow in rural economies and support local businesses on main street.

“Thanks to its ability to remain competitive through thick and thin, American agriculture continues to enjoy some of the strongest years in our nation’s history, supporting and creating good-paying American jobs for millions, and positioning the United States as a reliable supplier of high-quality goods for domestic and foreign markets alike. Overall, today’s projections provide a snapshot of a rural America that continues to remain innovative, stable and resilient in the aftermath of the worst animal disease outbreak in our nation’s history and as the western United States unloosens itself from the grip of historic drought. For example, today’s projections indicate a rise in specialty crop receipts in 2015, while final farm income for 2014 was revised upward by $1.9 billion since August and $13.5 billion since February. Today’s estimates also indicate that new 2014 Farm Bill safety net programs are working as intended and helping producers protect their operations from changes in the marketplace.

USDA and the Obama Administration will continue to stand with America’s farming families, small businesses and rural communities as they build a brighter future for our country on the land that they love.”

Full Forecast:


Cramer Signs Letter Urging Passage of Port Performance Act

North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer announced Monday he signed a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as well as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and Committee on Environment and Public Works urging them to include the language of the Port Performance Act in any final transportation reauthorization bill.

The need for inclusion of act in the final transportation reauthorization bill was seen during the recent West Coast Ports Crisis between October 2014 and February 2015.  During this timeframe, the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers at 29 West Coast ports, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, representing employees at the same ports, experienced a breakdown in discussions surrounding contract negotiations.  The subsequent disruptions resulted in the nation’s farmers, retailers, and manufacturers being unable to get exports through ports to foreign customers and imports to stores and supply chains. By one estimate, national retailers suffered economic damages totaling more than $7 billion during thedisruption.

“North Dakota’s producers depend on a reliable transportation system to get products to market,” said Cramer.  “The interruptions at the West Coast Ports cannot be allowed to happen again.  The Port Performance Act ensures the federal government collects the data needed to effectively monitor the ports and correct any issues which may occur in the future.”

Cramer has closely monitored this situation.  In November 2013, and again on July 31, 2014, Cramer urged U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to take action on the delayed inspections at the western port due to the labor strikes requiring police escorts for inspectors reporting to work.

In addition, the North Dakota Grain Dealers Association and North Dakota Grain Growers Association signed separate letter along with other commodity groups in July 2014.