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Farmers need to do a better job at connecting with the public when talking about the benefits that biotechnology brings to producers, consumers and the environment, said Joanna Lidback, a dairy farmer from northeast Vermont, today. Lidback, who also keeps a blog documenting her family’s life on the farm (farmlifelove.com), testified during a hearing of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture.

“I believe that biotechnology plays a major role in our collective ability to not only feed a growing global population but also to make individual improvements on our own farms, be it 45 cows or 4500; a row crop operation or an apple orchard; a multiple-generation farm or a beginning farmer,” she said. “The science shows that GMOs are safe and bring tremendous benefits, but we in agriculture have failed to communicate this effectively with the public.”

Lidback testified on behalf of Agri-Mark, a dairy cooperative with more than 1,200 members in New England and New York, and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, a national association representing America’s farmer cooperatives. Agri-Mark is a member of both the National Milk Producers Federation and NCFC.

Lidback also highlighted the impact that being forced to use non-GMO feed would have on the 45 cow dairy farm that she operates with her husband.

The National Milk Producers Federation on July 7th asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw recent guidance concerning when farmers must seek Clean Water Act permits for a long list of normal farming activities near wetlands.

NMPF, the voice of more than 32,000 dairy farmers in Washington, said the EPA’s proposal could have the perverse effect of discouraging water conservation, by changing the long-standing relationship between farmers and the Agriculture Department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The EPA guidance, officially called an Interpretive Rule, was issued in March. It says producers are only exempt from needing Clean Water Act permits for more than 50 routine farming practices if they comply with detailed NRCS technical conservation standards. Until now, these standards have been voluntary, and the farming practices exempt from the permit process.

In comments filed Monday, NMPF said the guidance changes NRCS’s role from that of a conservation partner to an enforcer of the Clean Water Act on EPA’s behalf. 

CEO’S CORNER


Jim Mulhern
NMPF President
& CEO
 
July 1, 2014
 
To no one’s great surprise, President Obama recently confirmed what has long been suspected here in Washington:  the chances of Congress passing immigration reform legislation in 2014 have gone from slim to none.  Late last month, the President said Speaker John Boehner informed him the House of Representatives will not move forward with the issue this year. 

Introducing the New Margin Protection Program

It took five years of work, but Congress finally responded by including a new Dairy Producer Margin Protection Program in the 2014 farm bill. The 950-page bill does feature the most significant rewrite of dairy policy in more than a generation, based on idea developed by NMPF's members. The program will help address the volatility in farmers’ milk prices, as well as feed costs. 
The MPP is schedule to be implemented by the USDA by Sept. 1, 2014.


Use our website www.futurefordairy.com to read about what the new program is, why it was needed, and, most importantly in the months ahead, how it is being implemented.

 

NEW:  A regular, detailed update on the margins between milk prices and feed costs can be downloaded from the Margin Protection Program page.

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