Ag Chat with Kristin Smith - June 12

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- As expected, the Senate Agriculture Committee has unveiled its draft farm bill. The proposal is over 1,000 pages in length, but it is not a drastic change from the current farm bill. For the ARC and PLC programs, this proposed bill directs the Farm Service Agency to use the Risk Management Agency's data as the first choice for county yields.

The Senate plan increases the cap for Conservation Reserve Program acreage, but not to the level seen in the House bill. The Senate plan includes support for a vaccine bank and also aims to renew subsidy, conservation, nutrition, rural development and commodity programs set to expire on September 30.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the bill also includes a measure to legalize industrial hemp. The bill will be marked up in the committee Wednesday morning.

In a relief to produce haulers and the industry in general, the federal government has said hours-of-service rules don't kick in until a driver goes 150 miles from the original pickup. As of June 7th, the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published clarifications to trucking regulations that defined when electronic logging devices should start the clock on hours-of-service deadlines. Since a federal mandate to use the ELDs went into effect in December, questions about the 150-mile rule for ag haulers have been in the air in the transportation industry. The documents also state truckers whose clocks run out while waiting to be loaded or unloaded can use "personal conveyance" time (counted as off-duty) while seeking a place to sleep without violating the hours-of-service rules.
Election results for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board formerly known as the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, Board of Directors have been certified by Wisconsin's Agriculture Secretary, Sheila Harsdorf, resulting in eight directors beginning three-year terms starting July 1, 2018. Directors from our area are Kay Zwald, from Hammond, District 5 which is St. Croix and Dunn counties, Steven Sternweis, Marshfield, District 8, that's Marathon County, he ran unopposed and Patricia Kling, Taylor, District 14, she will cover Jackson, La Crosse and Trempealeau counties.
The Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America has awarded 64 grants to support fairground enhancement projects in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. The grants, which total $180,000, were made to local and county fairs through the fund's Fair Facility Upgrade Grant Program. A few that in the state that will receive support are Dunn County Fair - for a permanent structure for meat animal scale, Eau Claire County Fair - Purchase new rabbit and poultry cages and Pierce County 4-H /FFA Livestock Committee - Upgrade animal scale. The grant program is designed to help fund upgrades and repairs of fairgrounds and facilities so fairs can continue to offer the best possible experience to fair-goers year after year.

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