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Monday, December 19, 2016 – WEEKLY NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Monday, December 19, 2016 – WEEKLY NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Merry Christmas! — The guessing game continues over who will lead USDA in the new Trump Administration. At this point, the agriculture secretary post is one of the only Cabinet decisions remaining. That announcement could happen this week. In the meantime, the Red River Farm Network wants to pause and extend our wishes for a blessed Christmas season. The holidays are a perfect time to remind you how much you are appreciated. Our thanks and good thoughts go to our listeners, readers, radio partners, advertisers and news sources. You’re the best! We’ll still be reporting agriculture’s business over the holidays so listen to RRFN daily on your local RRFN radio affiliate. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter for news and event updates and photos. The RRFN team, Carah, Mike, Randy, Jay and Don, are also on Twitter

GIPSA Rules Released — USDA has updated the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration rules. Changes to the controversial GIPSA rules were first proposed in 2010, but were bogged down in an ongoing battle with Congress. The new rules address anti-competitive buying practices for livestock and poultry. The National Farmers Union and R-CALF USA praised the announcement, but the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council are upset. NCBA President Tracy Brunner made one comparison, saying this decision is like having Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack throw “a grenade in the building as he abandons it.” The NPPC also said the rule is an attack on rural America. At a news conference, Vilsack said that was absurd. “I say it’s absurd, because this is a rule that is designed to finish the work of the 2008 Farm Bill passed during the Bush Administration. It was a rule we proposed early in the Obama Administration. It was stopped by Congress and restored by Congress. It has nothing to do with the election of 2016. It has everything to do with what’s fair to producers.”


Coping with Farm Stress — In agriculture, the only constant is change. There’s no way to control Mother Nature or what happens at the Chicago Board of Trade. Prairie St. John’s director of business development Monica McConkey is seeing stress levels increase on the farm. “It’s tough because we’ve had several good years with prices and good crops and now we’re seeing a downturn. That causes stress just by itself, but in farming there are additional factors that add to the stress. Throw the holidays in and maybe we can’t spend the money we’ve done on gifts or trips.” It may be human nature to ignore obvious signs of stress, but McConkey encourages farm families to look for any noticiable change in behavior. “Common signs of depression are isolating, a lack of motivation, sleeping more. If their change in functioning is noticeable, that’s the time to perk up and pay attention.” According to a Centers of Disease Control report, the national suicide rates for people working in agriculture are much higher than the general population. Surprisingly, the suicide rates among male farmers is 50 percent higher than they were at the peak of the farm crisis in the 1980s. The Red River Farm Network is airing a special series on this topic this week.


Don’t Forget to Tax Plan — Farmers should do tax planning before the end of the year, based on the information known at this time. While there is a downturn in the farm ecoomy, North Dakota State University Extension farm economist Ron Haugen says limiting tax liability may not be an issue. Farmers can carry a loss back five years for a refund, so they may elect to carry the loss back only two years or choose to carry the loss forward up to 20 years. Haugen reminds farmers that self-employment tax is not refundable. Another reminder, don’t forget any income that was deferred to 2016 from a previous year. Depreciation also needs to be estimated.


Protecting Equipment — With farmers holding onto equipment longer, warranties are expiring on that iron. Todd Monroe, who is the manager of branded lubricants for CHS, said that puts the farmer at risk. “If there was an engine hydraulic transmission fuel system failure, they will have to pull money out of their pockets,” said Monroe. “The average claim on an engine is roughly $16,000 to $20,000. The average claim on a hydraulic system is $20,000 to $25,000. We’ve seen claims on hydraulic transmission to exceed $70,000 and engine claims exceeding $50,000.”   CHS has a total protection plan available to provide risk management. This plan also includes an oil analysis program. This analysis offers information on the condition of the engine, transmission and hydraulics.


Buffer Law Changes — Minnesota canola growers got updates on the state’s new buffer law as well as the state’s special registration review of neonicotinoids Wednesday in Roseau. Matt Fischer, a conservationist with the Board of Water and Soil Resources, explained the latest changes to Minnesota’s buffer law. “Probably the biggest one is clarifying that private ditches weren’t included in the law. It’s only the public waters and drainage systems. Other than that, it was mainly clarification on other issues as far as jurisdiction.” Fischer says BWSR’s goal is 100-percent local enforcement. The compliance date is November 1, 2017 for public waters and November 2018 for public drainage systems.


BWSR Seeks Input on Buffer Law — The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources is seeing feedback on the state’s buffer law. In particular, BWSR want input on its jurisdiction policy, enforcement procedures and the model county and watershed district rules. Comments will be accepted through January 9.


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Source: Red River Farm Network