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  • Wisconsin EPA approves filling of wetlands to build frac sand facility |

    Wisconsin’s environmental protection agency has authorized a Georgia timber company to fill more than 16 acres of Monroe County wetlands in order to build a $65 million frac sand facility.Meteor Timber, one of the largest private landowners in Wisconsin, has proposed building a processing and loading facility along Interstate 94 near the town of Millston to dry and ship frac sand the company will mine from a nearby site it acquired in a 2014 purchase of nearly 50,000 acres.The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on Friday granted the company a permit allowing it to fill the wetlands, including about 13 acres of “pristine” and increasingly rare hardwood swamp. Meteor must still receive permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before filling any wetlands. The company must also apply for permits allowing incidental loss of threatened and endangered species during construction. Meteor must still receive permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before filling any wetlands. The company must also apply for permits allowing incidental loss of threatened and endangered species during construction.After the proposal first received media attention, Meteor proposed to restore and preserve more than 640 acres of other land — including more than 296 acres of existing wetlands.“Our company knows that sustainability is an important part of operating responsibly,” Mathis said. “We have worked hard to go above and beyond other projects by developing a historic plan to permanently preserve and restore high-quality wetlands on more than 600 acres. This effort merits support from those who want to see growth, economic development and preserve the environment – because our project accomplishes all three.” However, the DNR determined those mitigation efforts “are not likely to fully compensate” for what it calls “permanent and irreversible” secondary impacts from activity on the site and may not compensate for the direct loss of 13.4 acres of “exceptional quality” white pine and red maple swamp, which is considered an imperiled habitat.The agency also said the permit approval “may lead to increased applications to fill rare, sensitive and valuable wetland plant communities.”Geers said those and other findings bring into question whether the project can be legally approved under state and federal law.

    Post date: Wed, 05/24/2017 - 06:34
  • FCC votes to begin dismantling net nuetrality | Live Science

    The Federal Communications Commission voted to start dismantling 2015 rules that regulated internet service providers the same way as utilities. So what does that mean for your internet access? The answer to that question will take months to hash out.   The debate swirls around two related issues: whether the internet is a public utility, and how (or if) to ensure a concept known as net neutrality. Net neutrality is the framework for an internet in which all data is treated equally. For example, a provider such as Comcast can't throttle back Netflix's streaming speeds because Netflix's video content competes with its cable offerings. Nor can a company block legal websites or apps, or require them to pay extra for a broadband boost. The net-neutrality debate is perhaps the biggest internet argument of all, and it's been going on since the late 1990s. In 1996, Congress passed the Telecom Act, leading the FCC to classify cable broadband providers as "information services" rather than "telecommunications services," which would have been subject to stricter regulation. The FCC did, however, want to do some regulating. In 2010, it passed the Open Internet Order, which prohibited ISPs from blocking, throttling or offering paid prioritization. Blocking is cutting off access to legal websites, devices or apps; throttling is degrading the service to certain devices, websites or apps so as to render them unusable; and paid prioritization is offering sites, apps or device-makers the opportunity to pay for a speed boost for their traffic

    Post date: Wed, 05/24/2017 - 06:23
  • Canada not at fault for what ails US milk market | Oberver Today

    In recent weeks, on the U.S. side of the border with Canada, much noise has been made about a festering dispute with our Canadian neighbors over ultra-filtered milk in U.S.-Canadian dairy trade. Ultra-filtered milk is condensed skim milk; a high protein, fat adjusted, reduced cost ingredient, used to fortify cheese and yogurt products. It did not exist at the time the North American Free Trade Agreement, (NAFTA) was signed. Ultra-filtered milk is an American contrivance deliberately designed to make a “trade loophole” to facilitate an end-run around Canadian negotiated NAFTA import tariff restrictions. An ever increasing amount of Canadian milk was being displaced in Canadian cheese and yogurt processing plants. From 2011 to 2016, U.S. exports of ultra-filtered milk to Canada increased from $33 million, (US) to $98 million; a threefold increase. As matters were progressing, either Canada could rollover and watch its dairy farms be forced out of existence or they could stand-up to what was seen as a gross injustice and protect a vital national interest. In 2016 the Canadian farmers devised a solution: changing their pricing structure to allow Canadian produced ultra-filtered milk and other milk protein products to be sold at world market price to Canadian dairy processors. The Canadian government did not impose any tariff restriction on U.S. sourced ultra-filtered milk, as has been erroneously claimed in some U.S. media reports; it merely allowed Canadian milk protein products to compete with U.S. products, head to head, on a level playing field. Once again, Canadians were buying Canadian.Canada’s contention that U.S. over-production of milk is the real cause of U.S. dairy farmers’ difficulties has a solid basis in fact. For the last three spring seasons vast amounts of U.S. milk have had to be dumped because milk supplies out stripped U.S. processing capacity. More than 400 tractor trailer loads of milk per month were dumped on several occasions in Federal Milk Marketing Order No. 1 alone.

    Post date: Wed, 05/24/2017 - 06:16
  • Trump Administration's USDA budget proposal “fails agriculture” | Michigan Farm Bureau

    As USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue outlined major department budget cuts, including a 10 percent overall reduction in personnel, representing 5,263 staff - 973 of them Farm Service Agency positions – for 2018, he didn’t mince words.  Perdue said. “I just don't think it's moral to continue to kick a $20 trillion debt down to our grandchildren without any relief. Overall farm bill spending would be cut $240 billion over a 10-year period. Approximately $46 billion of those reductions would come from agriculture programs – while the other $194 billion would be slashed from the nutrition programs. This includes funding cuts for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children WIC, Rural Development, Forest Service, food safety, research, and conservation activities. It eliminates a number of programs including the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. Proposed 2018 funding for mandatory programs is  $7 billion below 2017.These outlays include crop insurance, nutrition assistance programs, farm commodity and trade programs, and a number of conservation programs. The Trump Administration’s 2018 budget also calls for new user fees to cover inspection, regulatory, and oversight activities of meat, poultry, and eggs, enforcement of animal welfare requirements, and user fees for grain standardization and a Packers and Stockyards license fee to cover program costs. Crop Insurance is also targeted for cuts in the 2018 budget proposal, including a proposed $40,000 cap on crop insurance premium subsidies for any one operation. Saying that agriculture has already done its fair share to help reduce the federal deficit during the 2014 Farm Bill debate, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said the budget proposal “Clearly fails agriculture and rural America.”  “It would gut federal crop insurance, one of the nation’s most important farm safety-net programs,” Duvall argued. “It would drastically reshape important voluntary conservation programs and negatively impact consumer confidence in critical meat and poultry inspection. This proposal would hamper the viability of plant and animal security programs at our borders and undermine the nation’s grain quality and market information systems. It would stunt rural America’s economic growth by eliminating important utility programs and other rural development programs.”

    Post date: Wed, 05/24/2017 - 06:12
  • Rural Manufacturing Resilience: Factors Associated With Plant Survival, 1996-2011 | USDA

    The ERS Rural Manufacturing Survey is linked to employment records to examine the relationship between survival and plant- and community-level factors from 1996 to 2011.

    Post date: Tue, 05/23/2017 - 20:01

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Farmland Taxes Under Discussion in the Midwest Again

23 January, 2017

Senator Jean Leising knows it’s going to be another tough year for beef and hog producers, and 2016’s record national yields for corn and soybeans indicate that farm profitability will decline for the third straight year.  She is convinced that “the drop in net farm income again this year makes the changes Indiana made to the farmland taxation calculation in 2016 even more important.”  


Are corporations taking over America’s food supply?

15 March, 2016

Family farms.  The foundation of America’s food security.  According to the USDA, 97 percent of farms are family farms, and they grow 90 percent of the food produced. But national policies to keep food affordable (American’s spend less than 7 percent of their paycheck for food) and the boom and bust cycles of farming have resulted in larger, more concentrated farming practices.