Agriculture in brief: House ag committee leadership makes history; workforce survey open

Candace Krebs
Special to Ag Journal

House Ag Committee leadership announced

Rep. David Scott, D-Georgia, will be the next chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, it was announced this week.

Scott will be the first African-American and first Georgia House member to hold the position. The longtime member of the ag committee and the Congressional Chicken Caucus grew up working on his grandparents’ farm.

The committee’s newly selected ranking member is Congressman Glenn Thompson, of Pennsylvania. Thompson was instrumental in crafting the 2018 Farm Bill.

Colorado conducting ag labor survey

Colorado Livestock Association is urging farmers and ranchers to participate in a Colorado ag labor survey being conducted by Colorado State University.

CLA is among several partner groups that also include Colorado Farm Bureau, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and the fruit and vegetable growers.

Recruiting and retaining qualified agricultural labor is an ongoing concern for many farmers and ranchers, and the issue is complex. The survey will look at such factors as job market competition, lack of interest in manual labor jobs, wages, affordable housing and H-2A policy.

It’s been decades since the last ag labor survey was done, but lack of accurate data impedes a broader understanding of the issues and effective advocacy for viable solutions, according to CLA.

Responses are due by Feb. 21. Email or to participate.

Colorado Corn leaders announced

The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee announced four directors have been elected to serve in leadership positions.

The elections were held virtually on Dec. 1 during the CCAC Board Meeting.

The newly elected leaders include: president Jeremy Fix, Wray; vice president Justin Self, Springfield; secretary Josh Hasart, Bethune; and treasurer Troy Schneider, Cope. Schneider previously served as CCAC’s president for the past two years.

Colorado Farm Show awards scholarships

The Colorado Farm Show recently awarded $27,000 in scholarships to high school seniors and first-year college students.

Recipients include:

  • $4,000 Rolling Scholarship: Ema Richardson of Yuma and Jed Sidwell of Gill 
  • $2,000 Chuck Urano Memorial Scholarship: Charles (George) Graybill of Keenesburg, Morgan Barba of Henderson, Niquole Knapp of Rocky Ford, Tristin Niccoli of Joes, Jayci Mekelburg of Eckley, Kaley Pieper of Fowler
  • $2,000 Carl Luther Memorial Vo-Tech Scholarships: Austin Hays of Eaton and Reid Grimes of Windsor
  • $1,500 Secondary Scholarship: Kirsten Wood of Weldona and Macy Collins of Meeker

AFBF backing farmers in Dean dispute

The American Farm Bureau Federation is standing up for hundreds of dairy farmers being targeted by predatory lawyers representing the estate of Dean Foods, which is currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings.

Almost 500 dairy farmers who once sold milk to Dean Foods received letters threatening legal action unless they refund money legitimately earned prior to the bankruptcy filing.

AFBF sent a letter to the law firm managing the Dean Foods estate calling for an immediate reversal of their “predatory shakedown” and threatening potential legal action if the firm fails to withdraw the letters sent to farmers. Many recipients of the letters are independent farmers already struggling through difficult economic times made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letters put producers in an impossible position: Either pay the amounts demanded or incur the cost of legal counsel to defend against the allegations.

U.S. lodges complaint over USMCA dairy violation

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is expected to unveil an enforcement action against Canada over its rules for U.S. dairy imports, according to a government official.

A report by Politico said the U.S. has informed Canada of its decision to file the enforcement action.

Canada maintains it is fully within its rights to apply tariff-rate quotas under rules laid out in the trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that went into effect in July.

The move represents the first enforcement action to occur under the new USMCA agreement.

Transportation declaration extended into 2021

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced an extension of the hours-of-service emergency declaration, through Feb. 28.

This declaration includes livestock and finished livestock feed. Transports of feed ingredients are ineligible. The declaration also includes medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19; supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants; and food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores.

New futures contract makes water a traded commodity

Water is joining gold, oil and other commodities traded on Wall Street, Bloomberg reports, a reflection of worries the life-sustaining natural resource could become scarce across more of the world in the future.

Farmers, hedge funds and municipalities alike will be able to hedge against — or bet on — potential water scarcity starting this week, when CME Group Inc. launches contracts linked to the $1.1 billion California spot water market. According to Chicago-based CME, the futures will help water users manage risk and better align supply and demand.

The contracts, a first of their kind in the domestic market, were initially announced in September.