November 30, 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.




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.


Market Turn Prompts ARC/PLC Payments in NoDak

USDA North Dakota Farm Service Agency Executive Director Aaron Krauter says approximately 26,000 North Dakota farms enrolled in the new safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill are receiving financial assistance for the 2014 crop year.

The programs, known as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), are designed to protect against unexpected drops in crop prices or revenues due to market downturns.

“These new safety-net programs provide help when price and revenues fall below normal, unlike the previous direct payments program that provided funds even in good years,” said Krauter. “The county-based option of ARC protects against lower revenue from a combination of price and yield. For example, corn producers experienced a 30 percent drop in price below the historical benchmark price established by the ARC-CO program. Payments by county can vary because average county yields will differ.”

Crops receiving assistance in North Dakota include barley, corn, grain sorghum, lentils, dry peas, soybeans, and wheat. In the upcoming months, payments will be made for other crops after average prices for the marketing year are published by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Payments to participants in ARC-County or PLC for minor oilseeds, including canola and sunflowers, and chickpeas will occur in December. ARC-Individual payments will also begin in November.

Statewide, approximately 50,500 farms enrolled in ARC-County and 36,500 farms participated in PLC.