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Managing for Profit copy

Lisa Behnken is a crop specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension service, based in Rochester.  In her state and other parts of the Midwest, she calls the beginning of the forage season interesting and challenging.

“Some people were able to get first crop done very early; they hit a window in May.  (For) others it dragged well into June because of the amount of rain showers.  So kind of an uneven cutting pattern.”

She says this can create potential problems.

“We are typically dealing with potato leaf hopper, especially in the southern half of Minnesota.  Leaf hopper comes in on our storms from the south, moves in with those wind patterns.  It’s usually during our second crop that insect issues come up.”

She says if the second crop of alfalfa is starting to come along, scout those fields to see if an insecticide is warranted.

Another issue has been finding the right time to put up the harvest, which Behnken says can lead to problems with hay quality.

“A lot of rain may have fallen on fields where alfalfa is in the field and tougher to put up.”

If the field is too wet, there is the risk of rutting up the field with the equipment, but the temptation will be there she says, especially for dairy producers.

“Dairy producers are looking for that higher quality hay.  They want to get the alfalfa at a younger stage versus beef producers that don’t need the higher quality.”

Behnken says to watch the maturity of the alfalfa for the pre-bloom or early bloom stage, and finding that window to cut when the weather allows the work to be done.

 

 

 

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Celebrating 65 years of Breyer model horses. Chances are, you, or someone you know has at least one Breyer model horse on a dresser or in a curio cabinet. So what makes Breyer model horses so popular? Kathleen Fallon is V.P. of Communications for Reeves International, the parent company of Breyer.

Audio: Kathleen Fallon, V.P. of Communications for Reeves International

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Cash cheese prices declined on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Thursday.  Cheddar barrels were 1.25 cents lower and blocks declined 1.75 cents.  Class III futures slipped as well.  Butter gained a penny and nonfat dry milk held steady.

More reports of skim milk being dumped in the Northeastern United States.  Bloomberg says dairies in the Northeast dumped 31 million pounds of skim milk in the first five months of this year including 7.9 million in May.  The plants are skimming the cream off of the milk then dumping what is left into manure pits as they have no market for it and no capacity to process it further.

 

Cheese production in the United States totaled 989 million pounds in May, up 1.8 percent from May of last year.  Italian cheese production totaled 423 million pounds up 1.9 percent from a year ago while American-type cheese output was 1.6 percent higher at 401 million pounds.

Wisconsin cheese production totaled 251.6 million pounds in May up 4 percent from a year ago.  California cheese production totaled 208.6 million pounds in May, 0.4 percent above May of last year.

Butter production was 169 million pounds in May, 1.9 percent above May of 2014.

Year-to-date, U.S. cheese production is running 2.2 percent above the same period a year ago while butter production is 2 percent lower.

 

The 5.9 percent decline at the Global Dairy Trade auction on Wednesday is putting additional pressure on the New Zealand dollar.  The “Kiwi” slipped to 67-cents against the U.S. dollar on Thursday as the New Zealand dairy industry continues struggle with over production and a limited export market.  The GDT index has lost 58 percent of its value since February and there is no turnaround in sight.

Dairy is a major component of New Zealand’s economy and exports provide the market.  Fonterra cooperative, which handles most of the milk in the country, is the largest dairy exporter in the world.

In an effort to increase exports, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand reduced its cash rate by 25 basis points last month.  The hope is a cheaper Kiwi will give New Zealand dairy products a price advantage on the global market.  Commonwealth Bank analyst Nick Tuffley tells the Sydney Morning News he expects three more cuts of 25 basis points each starting this week.

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QLF ADM

Quality Liquid Feeds (QLF) and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) have entered into a 50-50 joint venture for the production and sale of liquid feed supplements for livestock.

The venture, to be called Alliance Liquid Feeds includes ADM production facilities in Twin Falls, Idaho, Billings Montana, Fremont, Nebraska and Johnstown, Colorado.  It also includes the Loomix brand name.  Alliance Liquid Feeds will serve portions of the Western United States.

Based in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, QLF will continue to market products from their 12 plants in the Midwest, East and Southwestern United States under the QLF brand.

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Jul. corn closed at $4.19 and 3/4, up 6 cents
Jul. soybeans closed at $10.45 and 1/4, up 1 and 1/4 cents
Jul. soybean meal closed at $357.40, down $2.40
Jul. soybean oil closed at 33.36, up 35 points
Jul. wheat closed at $5.85 and 3/4, down 1 and 3/4 cents
Aug. live cattle closed at $151.22, up 15 cents
Jul. lean hogs closed at $78.77, up $1.67
Aug. crude oil closed at $56.93, down 3 cents
Oct. cotton closed at 67.74, up 44 points
Jul. rice closed at $10.38, up 2 and 1/2 cents
Jul. Class III milk closed at $16.11, down 10 cents
Jul. gold closed at $1,163.00, down $6.00
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 17,730.11, down 27.80 points

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Scattered cattle sales were evident in parts of the North on Thursday. Some packers remained short bought, spending as much as 242.00 on the right kind of cattle, 2.00 more than Wednesday’s general advance, and 4.00 to 5.00 higher than last week. The South was quiet with trade wrapped up for the week at steady to 2.00 higher than the previous week at 150.00. Thursday’s cattle slaughter was estimated at 113,000 head, 1,000 more than last week, and 4,000 less than last year.

Choice boxed beef was sharply lower in the morning report, down 2.02 at 250.27, select was .84 lower at 248.42.

Live cattle contracts were mixed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Thursday’s abbreviated trade. Futures traded in a very narrow range as traders looked for additional outside market and fundamental support over the weekend. Overall beef clearance reports through the weekend and early next week are likely to help set the tone for trade activity once traders return to the market on Monday. August cattle were up .15 at 151.22, and October was .42 higher at 154.12.

Feeder cattle saw light to moderate losses during the lightly traded Thursday session. Following the wild swings in cattle futures, and especially the feeder market over the last couple of trading sessions, the market was in need of some time to breathe and focus on fundamental factors. August was 1.05 lower at 217.45, and September was down .95 at 216.10.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Huss Platte valley Auction, Kearney, Nebraska totaled 2465 head on Wednesday. Compared to two weeks ago, 850 to 925 pound steers sold 5.00 higher and heifers over 800 pounds were 2.00 to 5.00 higher. Demand was good from start to finish. Some yearling offerings came off of summer pasture with others out of back grounding lots. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 921 pounds traded at 216.30 per hundredweight. 926 pound heifers averaged 199.14.

Light trade once again characterized the lean hog futures trade as traders coasted into the early closing bell and long holiday weekend. Moderate gains held with July and August contracts leading the charge higher. There was some light pressure in deferred contracts as traders remained concerned overall supplies will still keep the market under pressure long term. July was up 1.67 at 78.77, and August was up 1.52 at 76.37.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade were.71 lower in the morning report, the West was down .67 with both at 73.82 weighted average on a carcass basis, nationally the hog market was .98 lower at 72.23. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was steady from 69.00 to 70.00. Midwest hogs on a live basis were lightly tested with several interests out of the market ahead of the holiday. Prices are fully steady from 46.00 to 50.00.

Choice boxed beef was sharply lower in the morning report, down 2.02 at 250.27, select was .84 lower at 248.42.

For the week ending June 27, Iowa barrows and gilts averaged 278.6 pounds, 0.8 pounds lighter than the previous week and 6.4 pounds smaller than 2014.

The Thursday hog kill was estimated at 424,000 head, 6,000 more than last week, and 25,000 greater than last year.

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Colin Woodall of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the USDA’s decision to allow beef imports from parts of Brazil and Argentina is political.

“This is a case where our own government was looking out more for a foreign entity than it was for their domestic producers,” Woodall told Brownfield Ag News Wednesday.

The USDA failed to do adequate risk assessments relating to those countries’ previous foot and mouth disease issues, said Woodall. The reason, according to Woodall, is so that President Obama could present the import news to Brazil’s president while she was in Washington this week.

“We think they’re all political,” said Woodall, commenting about what he thinks are the reasons the USDA made the decision to allow the imports.  “Because there is no reason why the United States Department of Agriculture, who is supposed to be looking out for our interests, is brushing our concerns aside in order to hand this present to the Brazilians.”

Woodall says the NCBA wants to stop the USDA’s import plan until site visits to both countries can be made.

AUDIO: Colin Woodall (5 min. MP3)

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Futures Markets copy

Soybeans were narrowly mixed, mostly firm, ahead of Independence Day weekend. Contracts posted strong gains over the past week due to acreage concerns and strong demand. Weekly old crop export sales were a net reduction, but it was another very strong week for physical shipments. Five day forecasts are generally showing a drier weather pattern for some areas. Soybean meal was lower and soybean oil was higher on the adjustment of product spreads.

Corn was higher on short covering. Week to week, the most active corn contracts posted big gains, thanks to solid demand and yield concerns following a very wet June. Export sales were good, but shipments were a little slow, leaving the weekly numbers neutral. Corn’s also watching the weather, with drier conditions expected in the near term from Missouri to Ohio. Ethanol futures were higher.

The wheat complex was mixed, with Chicago mostly firm, Kansas City steady to weak, and Minneapolis mostly lower. Weekly export numbers were bearish, reflecting the continued slow demand to start this marketing year. There are more harvest delays in the forecast for the soft red winter region and dry weather for the northwestern Plains and western Canadian Prairies.

 

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The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Farm Bureau, National Pork Producers and other groups have filed suit to block the Waters of the U.S. final rule.

Cattlemen’s President Philip Ellis of Wyoming says cattlemen have asked for greater clarity around the Clean Water Act, but he says the rule does the opposite.  Ellis says the rule’s jurisdictional determinations are so vague that farmers can’t decide what activities will subject them to penalties under the Clean Water Act.

In the words of Pork Producers President Ron Prestage from South Carolina, “We all want clean water.”  However, Prestage says the rule isn’t about clean water, it’s about EPA and the Army Corps taking over private property, growing the size of government and micromanaging farming and business activities.

This lawsuit follows four similar suits filed by officials representing 27 states, all within two days of the rule’s publication on June 29.

The complaint is filed in federal district court in Texas.

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Friends of the Earth (FOE) this week unveiled “Spinning Food,” a 62-page issue manifesto/pity party, and the most naïve publication I’ve ever seen created by an activist group.  Sent to the media and subtitled “how food industry front groups and covert communications are shaping the story of food,” this overwritten whine is supposed to be an expose, a prose warning to the Fourth Estate that the “industrial food and agriculture sector” is spending big bucks to “manipulate the public conversation about our food.”

All I can say is FOE’s correct, we’ve been unmasked.  The food industry is talking to consumers about where their food comes from – and it’s about time.

My initial reaction to the report was that it was a spoof from The Onion.  It’s not.  It took three people to write it, half a dozen to review, “fact check” and design it, and “generous support” from the Food & Farm Communications Fund (www.foodandfarmcommunications.org) and in-kind donations from the Real Food Media Project (www.realfoodmedia.org).  None of these folks – including the mob of TV chefs and restaurateurs affiliated with the underwriters – is to be held responsible for the opinions in the report, any errors or omissions.  Those fall on the shoulders of the authors and FOE, and based on the number of “errors” I found just scanning the report, those shoulders must be, well, huge.

FOE alleges the food industry writ large – including farmers, ranchers, input companies, vet drug companies, tech companies, processors and retailers – used 14 industry groups to spend $126 million in “covert communications” to mislead consumers about the benefits or lack thereof of organic foods; the value and use of technology generally, but biotech specifically; the use of third party experts to provide dispassionate opinions and expertise, as well as “coordinated messages by seemingly independent spokespeople” to tell the planet, among other things that “organic food isn’t worth the money” and “GMOs are needed to feed the world.”

I know – because it’s in the report – that FOE and its ilk use social media and I assume have benefitted over time from “in kind” PR advice and support to convince the public food producers are in business to poison consumers for profit, whereas “advocates” are righteous messengers of truth.  The report criticizes the food industry for “deploying front groups…in fact, made up of industry or PR professionals to promote their messages,” targeting female audiences by “trying to coopt female bloggers,” and “elevating female spokespeople,” promoting messages to disparage ‘organic moms’ as “elitist bullies,” yadda, yadda, yadda.

The report includes a list of the “Top 11 Food & Agriculture Industry Front Groups.”  Among these “front groups” are organizations around since 1978.  In the case of one of the groups listed – the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) – I can personally attest for its reason for being because I founded the group.

In 1987, AAA was born as the Animal Industry Foundation (AIF). It was created because producers were increasingly frustrated by activist groups disparaging, nay, lying about what farmers and ranchers do 24/7/365, how well they do it and the contribution these efforts make to every citizen’s quality of life. Because of the food industry’s collective silence and the increasing drumbeat of the anti-technology activists, no one was providing the truth about modern agriculture to the consumer, so AIF was born, morphing into AAA.

Another list resident, the Alliance for Food & Farming (AFF), founded in 1989, sees it’s listing in the FOE report as a sorta kinda left-handed compliment.  AFF spends its $250,000 annual budget generally countering claims organic produce is somehow safer than conventional produce.  In a blog post, AFF said, “FOE’s report acknowledges the AFF’s impact with a ‘relatively small budget.’  Really, the inclusion of AFF by FOE should be viewed as yet another indicator we are having success in our mission to provide credible, science-based information to consumers so that facts, not fear, can guide shopping choices.”

The rest of the “top 11” exist for fundamentally the same reasons as AAA and AFF, that is, to get the truth out while debunking the myths spread by the “foodies” and groups like FOE.

The FOE hissy fit is apparently inspired by the fact the food industry is worlds more sophisticated in its use of social media and communications than it has been over time.  Apparently, FOE and its cohorts must feel they’re starting to lose the battle for the hearts and minds of consumers.

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ODA Entrance Sign (3)_editA provision in the state budget signed by Governor Kasich transfers the Division of Soils to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA).

ODA Director Dave Daniels says from the agency’s perspective he’s excited.

“This is going to give us more of an opportunity to be a resource for more farmers, all across the state,” Daniels said. “It’s going to give our department more of an opportunity to work directly with those folks and be a resource to them.”

The Director says both the Department of Agriculture and ODNR are working to make the transfer as seamless as possible. And while the transfer doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2016, ODA is ready for employees to make the move at any time.

“We’re going to be transferring all of the personnel over here,” said Director Daniels. “So the people in the field are still gonna be working with the same people that they worked with at ODNR, those people are gonna come over here and work out of our shop.”

Audio: Director Dave Daniels, Ohio Department of Agriculture

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Cheese

Cheese production in the United States totaled 989 million pounds in May, up 1.8 percent from May of last year.  Italian cheese production totaled 423 million pounds up 1.9 percent from a year ago while American-type cheese output was 1.6 percent higher at 401 million pounds.

Wisconsin cheese production totaled 251.6 million pounds in May up 4 percent from a year ago.  The Badger State made 125.5 million pounds of Italian-type cheese in May, 3.5 percent more than a year ago.  Mozzarella production jumped 4.9 percent to 85.9 million pounds.  American-type cheese production was up 5.4 percent at 76.6 million pounds with Cheddar output up 6.6 percent at 52.5 million.

California cheese production totaled 208.6 million pounds in May, 0.4 percent above May of last year.  Italian-type cheese production slipped a half-percent to 132.8 million pounds in May.  Production of American-type cheese was up 3.2 percent at 56.5 million pounds although Cheddar output was 1.1 percent lower at 30 million pounds.

Butter production was 169 million pounds in May, 1.9 percent above May of 2014.

Other dairy product production in May compared to a year ago:

  •             Nonfat dry milk; 178 million pounds ( 9.9%)
  •             Skim milk powders; 36.7 million pounds (-38.3%)
  •             Dry whey; 80 million pounds (-3%)
  •             Lactose; 88.9 million pounds (-10.2%)
  •             Whey protein concentrate; 44.1 million pounds (-5%)
  •             Regular ice cream; 63 million gallons (-10.8%)
  •             Low fat ice cream; 41.5 million gallons ( 5.3%)
  •             Sherbet; 3.72 million gallons (-3.8%)
  •             Frozen yogurt; 5.8 million gallons (-4.9%)

 

Year-to-date, U.S. cheese production is running 2.2 percent above the same period a year ago while butter production is 2 percent lower.

Read the full NASS report here:

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submerged soybeans
Mother Nature was tough on Indiana farmers this June.  Following his tour of Indiana farms yesterday, Governor Mike Pence says the damage to the crop is devastating.
But, as of June 30th, afflicted counties hadn’t reached the 30 percent threshold for the state to pursue a disaster declaration.  “We believe that is likely to change as more information comes in and more of the producers reports come in,” he says.
He tells Brownfield his team is working with local offices to assess the damage.  “The state of Indiana intends to work with our partners to be very aggressive about seeking the assistance that would be available with a disaster declaration,” he says.
If there is crop damage – Pence says it is vitally important for farmers to contact their local Farm Service Agency office as soon as possible.

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Swap meet

As an extra precaution in the fight against avian influenza, Wisconsin State Veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw is prohibiting poultry from all swap meets in the state for the remainder of the year.  An earlier order was for swap meets at county, regional and state fairs.

McGraw says the broader restrictions are needed to ensure the virus does not spread to new areas of the state.

It is still acceptable for bird owners to advertise and privately sell birds directly from their premises.

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NFU NYAC

Six young adults have been elected to the Farmers Union National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC).  Andrew Cotter and Ali Slaughter of Wisconsin, Kiana Brockel, Jesse Carlson and Alexandra Farber of South Dakota and Karly Held of North Dakota will spend the next year representing Farmers Union youth at events such as the annual NFU Convention, Washington Fly-In and the All-State Leadership Camp.

National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson says the future leaders will represent their peers, learn about the legislative process and make presentations before members and the press as part of the experience.

(From left to right) Top Row: Jesse Carlson, South Dakota; Andrew Cotter, Wisconsin; Middle Row: Alex Farber, South Dakota; Ali Slaughter, Wisconsin; Bottom Row: Karly Held, North Dakota; Kiana Brockel, South Dakota.

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A few scattered bids were reported on the cattle In Nebraska on Thursday following a light to moderate trade there on Wednesday. Dressed deals in the North ranged from 238.00 to 240.00. Kansas live sales ranged from 150.00 to 151.00. Texas cattle traded from 148.00 to 150.00. While it sounds like business is essentially done in the South, it is possible the North will need to see a little more action. Asking prices are around 152.00 to 153.00 live and 242.00 plus dressed.

Choice boxed beef was sharply lower in the morning report, down 2.02 at 250.27, select was .84 lower at 248.42.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Huss Platte valley Auction, Kearney, Nebraska totaled 2465 head on Wednesday. Compared to two weeks ago, 850 to 925 pound steers sold 5.00 higher and heifers over 800 pounds were 2.00 to 5.00 higher. Demand was good from start to finish. Some yearling offerings came off of summer pasture with others out of back grounding lots. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 921 pounds traded at 216.30 per hundredweight. 926 pound heifers averaged 199.14.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade were.71 lower, the West is down .67 with both at 73.82 weighted average on a carcass basis, nationally the hog market is .98 lower at 72.23. Missouri direct base carcass meat price is steady from 69.00 to 70.00. Midwest hogs on a live basis are lightly tested with several interests out of the market ahead of the holiday. Prices are fully steady from 46.00 to 50.00.

The pork carcass cutout value is .99 lower at 80.48 FOB plant.

For the week ending June 27, Iowa barrows and gilts averaged 278.6 pounds, 0.8 pounds lighter than the previous week and 6.4 pounds smaller than 2014.

 

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submerged corn_0615
Crop damage from flooding is widespread and varies throughout the Corn Belt.  Jason Alexander, vice president of crop insurance for Farm Credit Mid-America says it is important for farmers to be well educated on all their options.  “Once you get into this critical stage –  you’re past the late planting date but you’re still within the late planting window,” he says.  “If you’re talking through prevented planting options you need to evaluate how many eligible acres you have.”
With lower commodity prices, Alexander tells Brownfield it is important for farmers to look closely at the balance sheets when thinking about replanting this late in the season.  “And if you do – you need to ask how much coverage are you losing on those,” he says.  “Ask your self does it pencil out and does it make sense from a revenue standpoint.  Losing coverage and late crop and comparing that to potential revenue.”
Before making any final decisions – Alexander says farmers should consult their crop insurance agent.

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The Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule is not good for Nebraska, according to Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau.  The state manages its natural resources just fine without federal intervention, said Nelson.

“We believe that this is marginally a local issue and we’ve done a good and we just don’t think that having EPA come in like this is good for the state of Nebraska or for Nebraska agriculture,” he said, during a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

The biggest concern about WOTUS among farmers is that they don’t know the extent of the agency’s jurisdiction, said Nelson.

“There’s uncertainty related whether or not our land, our particular land or fields or areas are covered by the rule,” said Nelson.  “Do they have the features that would make them covered by the rule?”

The Nebraska Farm Bureau leads a coalition it calls Common Sense Nebraska, consisting of organizations that have come together in response to EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule.

The coalition’s purpose is to build awareness and understanding of the EPA proposal and the impacts it would have on Nebraskans.

AUDIO: Common Sense Nebraska conference call (29 min. MP3)

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Martin Barbre's flooded field in southeast Illinois

Martin Barbre’s flooded field in southeast Illinois

Twelve-hundred acres of Martin Barbre’s crops are under water and he tells Brownfield he’s thankful for Crop Insurance. Barbre farms in southeastern Illinois, near Carmi, where two rivers have overflowed.  It’s mostly soybeans that are affected.

“River levels are staying high and it will probably be mid-July before we really get into a replanting situation. Most of the ground, fortunately for us, most of our acres underwater this year are beans. Some of our neighbors aren’t so fortunate. But, the corn acres, as soon as it dries up, we’ll replant them to beans and then probably after July 15th we’ll replant the beans.”

Barbre says the drought a few years ago and now this year of too much rain in much of the Corn Belt shows the importance of crop insurance…

“Huge, of huge importance. In 20-12 we used, we had it because of the drought and now we’re using it because of the flooding.”

Barbre is chairman of the National Corn Growers Corn Board. He says they’ve worked hard at NCGA to keep the crop insurance program sound and workable for producers across the country in times like these.

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Photo courtesy of POET

Photo courtesy of POET

A group of Senators is asking for a unified biomass energy policy – addressing their concerns to the USDA Secretary, EPA Chief and the U.S. Energy Secretary.

Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran – who is one of 46 who signed the letter says federal agencies must remove regulatory barriers “that hinder forest biofuel production, which could be more widespread throughout the Southern states.”

Also signing the letter – Missouri Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken of Minnesota, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and John Thune of South Dakota.

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