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State Ag and Rural Leaders


  • Governor Reynolds urging Congress to pass agriculture law |

    DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- Governor Kim Reynolds is urging Congress to pass a law that she says would help protect the agriculture industry.

    Governor Reynolds joined ten other Republican Governors in supporting a bill that would prevent states from impeding agricultural trade between states.

    This is in response to the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold a California law that regards pork sold in its state.


    The law, Proposition 12, requires that pork needs to come from pigs whose mothers were raised with the ability to lie down and turn around.

    In total, it requires that pigs have 24 square feet of space. If the pork does not meet those requirements, it can not be sold in California.


    Iowa is the leading pork producer in the United States.

    Post date: Wed, 06/14/2023 - 11:41
  • New agriculture committee puts focus on region |

    Western Massachusetts will have ample representation on a new legislative committee focusing on agriculture.

    Sens. Ann Gobi, D-Spencer, and Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, were named Senate chair and co-chair of the new Agriculture Committee while Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Deerfield, will serve as vice chair on the House side, with Rep. Paul Schmid, D-Westport, as House chair.

    The panel was created as part of the new committee assignments announced by House Speaker Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, and Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, earlier this month. Previously there was an Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee.

    “I’m excited, part of what my job is in the Senate is to advance my own position on behalf of constituents,” said Comerford, who will also serve as Senate chair of the Higher Education Committee and assistant vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The Northampton Democrat’s other assignments include committees focusing on economic development and emerging technologies, racial equity, civil rights and inclusion and Senate committees on global warming and climate change, and rules.

    Comerford said there are hundreds of farms that continue to be underrepresented in the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester district. She said that this new and focused committee will help farmers and their “bottom lines.”

    Among the bills it will consider are five Comerford has filed, including measures strengthening local food systems and promoting equity in agriculture.


    Post date: Wed, 05/03/2023 - 11:52
  • Colorado passes first right-to-repair law; others could follow |

    Colorado’s first-in-the-nation law allowing farmers to repair their own equipment could be “the first chink in the armor” that has allowed only manufacturers to complete some repairs, said Rusty Rumley, senior staff attorney for the National Agricultural Law Center.

    Farmers have long been accustomed to repairing their equipment or turning to a nearby independent repair shop to make speedy fixes during planting, growing, and harvest. In the last decade or so, farmers have found those efforts thwarted not only by increasingly complex technology and lack of manuals and tools, but also protection of intellectual property that goes along with software-driven machinery.

    Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill on April 25, hailing it as “a common-sense bipartisan bill to help people avoid unnecessary delays from equipment repairs.”

    Starting January 1, 2024, the Colorado law will require manufacturers of agricultural equipment to provide parts, embedded software, firmware, tools, or documentation, such as diagnostic, maintenance, or repair manuals, diagrams, or similar information resources, to independent repair providers and owners of the manufacturer's agricultural equipment to allow them to service or repair the owner's agricultural equipment.

    “Farmers and ranchers can lose precious weeks and months when equipment repairs are stalled due to long turnaround times by manufacturers and dealers,” Polis said.

    For the manufacturers, there are worries over trade secrets.

    “How much of the computer code are they going to say they can’t release because competitors could take it and use it themselves,” Rumley said. “They might say that this should be protected by trade secrets, so there may be some litigation on aspects such as that. For a lot of these companies, the repair side of the industry is, or has been, a really important economic driver. It’s not just selling the new tractor or combine, it’s the repair work.”


    Rumley said agriculture equipment is only one aspect of a larger story. Similar issues exist with motorized wheelchairs, phones, tablets, and other electronic equipment. The Colorado law includes motorized wheelchairs, but not consumer electronics items.

    “There are some 50 pieces of right-to-repair legislation floating out there amongst the states,” he said. “There’s a lot of push out there, and this is the first one to get past, at least on the ag side.”

    One characteristic of the Colorado law is “it specifically says, if Congress ever passes a national right-to-repair act, the Colorado one goes away and they'll live with whatever the federal one is,” Rumley said. “I don’t think we’re close to a federal one yet.”

    Back in January, ag equipment maker John Deere signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation to ensure farmers and ranchers retained the right to repair their own equipment.

    Post date: Wed, 05/03/2023 - 11:49
  • North Dakota Governor signs corporate farming bill |

    North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum has signed a bill, which modernizes the state's corporate farming law to encourage growth in the animal agriculture sector.

    "These narrowly defined changes in state law will take the handcuffs off our farmers and ranchers and allow capital investment to flow into our state, growing animal agriculture, adding value to crops, creating opportunities for the next generation, and helping rural communities and schools to thrive in North Dakota once again," Burgum said. "With House Bill 1371, we can level the playing field with other states and expand animal agriculture with environmental stewardship. We're grateful to the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Paul Thomas of Velva, Commissioner Goehring and all of the bill sponsors, commodity groups and other supporters for their collaboration on this groundbreaking legislation."


    Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring noted that in neighboring states, 40% to 50% of agricultural receipts come from livestock, compared with only 16% to 18% in North Dakota.

    "This will add so much more (value) to every bushel of grain. It'll help offset expenses because we're going to be able to utilize the manure, something that's more natural, more balanced more beneficial, and improves soil health. And then it turns around and it creates more value in our backyard, with swine, with dairy, maybe some more feedlots, also opportunities maybe to get into the poultry business," Goehring said. "Now, I believe we have the environment to support our farmers, to support our rural communities and to support animal agriculture."


    In his State of the State address on Jan. 3, Burgum urged the legislature to modernize the corporate farming law with the goal of growing the state's dairy, livestock, feedlot, swine and poultry production and adding value to North Dakota crops.

    Lawmakers delivered with HB 1371, which allows an authorized livestock farm corporation or limited liability company (LLC) to own or lease farmland or ranchland if the entity has no more than 10 shareholders or members. For corporations, shareholders holding 75% or more of the shares must be actively engaged in farming or ranching; for an LLC, the percentage is 51%. Shareholders must be U.S. citizens, and no corporation or LLC may own, lease or have an interest in more than 160 acres of farmland or ranchland.

    "(House Bill 1371) brings a modernization of the capital that's needed to support animal agriculture amongst our family farms and ranchers. This bill provides that important tool," Thomas said. "These animal agriculture facilities are not only going to drive animal ag numbers, they're going to add value to the feed grains that we've worked to develop in this state through soybean processing plants, corn ethanol production facilities, the canola crush plant in my local community. We're exporting value out of this state, but with these animal ag operations coming into the state, we're going to add that value back into our local communities."

    The bill has an emergency clause, so it will take effect immediately, allowing potential projects to begin construction this spring.

    Co-sponsoring the bill were House Majority Leader Mike Lefor and Reps. Dick Anderson, Jay Fisher, Jared Hagert, Craig Headland, and Senate Majority Leader David Hogue and Sens. Cole Conley, Larry Luick and Terry Wanzek. The House approved the final bill by a vote of 72-20, and the Senate passed it 41-5.

    Post date: Wed, 05/03/2023 - 11:47
  • What’s the Future of Agriculture? |

    California agriculture is the envy of the world and despite myriad challenges — drought and the pandemic being at the forefront — farmers and ranchers are innovators who can be part of the climate solution.

    That was the theme of the keynote message from Karen Ross, California’s Secretary of Food and Agriculture at the “What’s the Future of Agriculture?” symposium held Thursday at Fresno State.

    Just as important, especially to local producers, is the need for increased flexibility and adaptability on the part of the state. Ross praised California’s farmers for thriving during a time of great hardship.


    “Our most recent numbers are for 2021, which was in the heart of the drought. And just like in 2014, when I had to explain to Gov. Brown how we broke our gross revenue picture, in the midst of the worst drought we broke a new record with $51.1 billion in revenues in 2021,” said Ross, who pointed out that 70 percent of all farms in California are less than 100 acres. “That seems remarkable because were (also) in the midst of a pandemic. We know how disrupted our markets were at that time, we know how disrupted getting exports out was at that time, we know all the additional things that we were doing. … It shows the power of what we do in California, which is increasingly more with less.

    “The fact that we sit here in the Central Valley, where all eight counties (Stanislaus, Merced, San Joaquin, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern) are in the Top 10 producing counties of the country. And almost all of them produce more than the ag revenues of many, many countries in the world. They do that because people don’t give up.”

    More than 700 individuals registered to attend the free, one-day in person and virtual summit. Sponsored by The Maddy Institute, in partnership with the Livermore Lab Foundation, Stanislaus State, Fresno State, CSU Bakersfield, UC Merced and Climate Now, the summit offered an opportunity for key agricultural stakeholders to discuss not only California’s 2045 net-neutrality deadline, but specific challenges related to water, pricing, subsidies and legislation. University-led panels offered innovative ideas on economics, repurposing lands, enhancing, and preserving water as well as what an experimental ‘smart farm’ might look like in the future.

    Ross highlighted state policies and grant opportunities available to the agriculture community, but she made it clear the state’s goal was a partnership to achieve results. “There are 69,000 farms in California, 70 percent of which are under 100 acres,” she noted. “We want to partner with our farmers and ranchers to achieve results and not just rely on the regulatory process.

    There is a place for regulation, but when it comes to restoration, habitat, and biodiversity, working directly with farmers and ranchers, environmental conservation and restoration groups is where we want to be.”


    In addition, farmer and producer panels throughout the date also addressed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), passed by California in 2014. “In the long-term, SGMA is the right thing to do, said Dennis Parnagian owner, Fowler Packing Company. “But it’s challenging to get there.”

    In a panel on ag policy, Fresno State President Saul Jiménez-Sandoval called on the state to value agriculture as highly as the movie industry in LA and Silicon Valley tech. Bill Smittcamp, president and CEO of Wawona Frozen Foods, emphasized the need for flexibility and adaptability at the state level.

    “In agriculture, we can plan, we can forecast, but it’s never the same year to year.” Said Smittcamp. “When things change, we have immediate needs, and we need to have to be able to change on a dime.”

    Joe Del Bosque, owner of Del Bosque Farms near Firebaugh, concurred.

    “Government is failing to react nimbly,” said Del Bosque. “We need new measures and new protocols.”


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory senior staff scientist and soil expert Jennifer Pett-Ridge provided the overall technical context for the event by identifying local and national opportunities for sustainable and productive farming. As a Department of Energy national laboratory, LLNL has placed climate resiliency as a core science and research value. In 2020, LLNL issued the comprehensive report “Getting to Neutral,” which identified pathways for California to reach net neutrality by 2045 —including natural land, bio-mass, direct air capture and geological storage solutions.

    “Soils are at the nexus of carbon and energy, water and food security,” said Pett-Ridge. “We’re focusing on sustainable production systems, incentives, just outcomes and the scientific rigor to ensure climate benefits are measurable. Lawrence Livermore National Lab wants to provide the tools and data to shape state and national climate action plans.”

    Throughout the day, specific panel discussions were led by each of the four universities including:

    * Revenue growth opportunities for landowners facing fallowing land, including what land repurposing looks like in the Central Valley and how it can be done equitably — sponsored by CSU Stanislaus and moderated by CSUS professor Chantelise Pells.

    * The California Water Institute and a discussion of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and how a water trading market might be developed in California — sponsored by Fresno State.


    * The new UC-Merced experimental “smart farm,” featuring data-collection technologies, renewable energy micro-grids and sustainability options.

    * The business and economics of agriculture, and how climate is impacting agriculture supply chains and business strategies. Sponsored by CSU Bakersfield.

    Steve Blumenshine, CSU’s interim executive director of Water Advocacy Toward Education and Research saw value in the event.

    “There are so many water interests and stakeholders in California, there wouldn't be any point in convening just CSU, UC or within a specific government agency,” said Blumenshine. “Everyone brings a different set of perspectives, values and currencies and deserves to be heard and represented in these conversations.”

    Post date: Thu, 04/06/2023 - 11:01

The State Ag and Rural Leaders group was formed as a 501 c(3) non-profit in 2006 at the 5th Annual Legislative Ag Chairs Summit in Tempe, Arizona. The first Legislative Ag Chairs Summit was in Dallas in 2002.

Ag and Rural Leaders

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is dedicated to promoting and fostering cooperation, leadership and educational opportunities among and for state and provincial legislators that are passionate about agriculture and rural communities.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, to provide and promote educational opportunities for state officials and others on technology, policy, processes and issues that are of concern to agrculture and rural communities.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS produces the national agriculture and rural enewsletter - Ag Clips, webinars, white papers and the annual Legislative Ag Chairs Summit.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is managed by an elected board of state and provincial legislators.

STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is where state leaders find the answers they need on agriculture and rural policy issues.