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AG NEWS ON THE GO

Senator Mike Rounds Introduces a Bill to Remove Burdensome Regulations on the American Trucking Industry

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today introduced legislation that would remove burdensome government regulations, which are impacting the agricultural industry, school districts and trucking companies in South Dakota.  In 2012, then-President Obama signed into law legislation that set in motion a new rule that created a requirement for Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). The final rulemaking went into effect earlier this year. All new drivers who wish to obtain their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) must now complete ELDT, adding a burdensome requirement at a time when the American Trucking Association estimates a nationwide trucker shortage of 80,000 drivers. Additionally, this requirement is costly and time consuming. ELDT training classes range from $450 to $8,500, depending on the trainer, and can take anywhere from three days to 20 days to complete.  Rounds’ legislation, the Trucking Regulations Unduly Constricting Known Service-providers (TRUCKS) Act, would allow states to issue a new “Small Business Restricted CDL” so ELDT requirements would not affect small businesses with nine CDLs or less. This would make certain any driver obtaining a CDL without completing the ELDT process could not switch to a larger company and bring a “Small Business Restricted CDL” with them. Further, it would protect small businesses from these constricting regulations so they can fill their positions in a timely manner and remain competitive in the industry. Additionally, the TRUCKS Act would allow states to exempt employees of agriculture-related industries, school districts and local units of governments (including county, municipal and tribal), from ELDT requirements to obtain their CDL. “At a time when our nation is in a recession and faced with worker shortages and supply chain issues, American businesses should not have to battle the heavy hand of government,” said Rounds. “We should be working on policies to help our producers and consumers, not hurt them. This legislation eases the burden on small trucking companies, agricultural producers, school districts and local units of government. It also gives power back to the states so they can decide their own rules of the road.”  This legislation is supported by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota and has been endorsed by the U.S. Custom Harvesters. 
“While we understand the need for CDL standards, the new rules have a significant effect on local school districts trying to hire bus drivers,” said Wade Pogany, Executive Director of Associated School Boards of South Dakota. “In rural areas school bus drivers are hard to find. We are grateful to Senator Rounds who understands the needs of rural states. The exemptions he has proposed will be beneficial for schools.”  “We’re appreciative of Senator Rounds for recognizing the burden of duplicative regulation on our industry,” said JC Schemper, USCHI board president and co-owner of Schemper Harvesting, a multi-generation family owned and operated custom harvesting business. “The additional time and financial investment required by ELDT creates obstacles for harvesters to meet the demand of farmers. We support safety measures, however, when each state has existing strict safety measures and regulations in place that our members comply with, ELDT is unnecessary bureaucratic red tape.”  This bill has been cosponsored by Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).
“At a time when we already have a shortage of drivers and continued supply chain constraints, the FMCSA’s new training requirements impose higher costs and discourage new drivers from entering the workforce,” said Hoeven. “Our legislation provides important regulatory relief and flexibility by allowing exemptions for agriculture, small businesses and state and local governments. This will help ensure farmers, ranchers and other small businesses, as well as school districts and other government entities have access to the reliable and affordable transportation services they need while ensuring safety on our roads.”
“Custom harvesters across Kansas are overregulated by federal rulemakers who have never worked on a harvest crew,” said Marshall. “The ELDT requirements for new drivers are burdensome to small trucking companies, and this legislation is a common sense reform to eliminate barriers for small businesses, farmers, and custom harvesters crews who are already hard pressed to find an adequate amount of drivers.”

“With the current supply chain issues and shortage of truck drivers nationwide at a time of tremendous demand, the last thing the transportation industry needs is more overbearing, bureaucratic red tape placed on them by the Biden Administration,” said Cramer. “The TRUCKS Act allows states to exempt certain drivers from new ELDT requirements and provide regulatory relief to small trucking businesses ensuring we have drivers on the road to keep interstate commerce moving.”

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The suspension of poultry shows and public sales in North Carolina has been lifted, the state veterinarian said. State Veterinarian Mike Martin announced in a news release that all exhibitions, farm tours, shows, sales, flea markets, auction markets, swaps and meets pertaining to poultry and feathered fowl in North Carolina can resume. The suspension had been in effect since April 5. On May 12, the last High Path Avian Influenza control area was ended since no additional positive cases had been reported since April 11, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in the news release. Martin is encouraging poultry owners to follow strict measures and monitor their flocks for signs of illness. He said that with warmer temperatures, officials hope the threat of HPAI is minimized for now. Going back to March 29, avian flu was detected at seven commercial poultry facilities in Johnston and Wayne counties. More than 90,000 turkeys and more than 280,000 broilers were killed and composted on-site to prevent further spread of the virus. This type of avian flu is considered a low risk to people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.



AG NEWS ON THE GO

Growing TWO crops per-year on ONE piece of land

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There is only so much farmland in the United States, so when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last spring prompted worries that people would go hungry as wheat remained stuck in blockaded ports, there was little U.S. farmers could do to meet the new demand. But that may be changing. Earlier this summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture instituted new policies to encourage American farmers to begin growing two crops on one piece of land, one after the other, a practice known as double-cropping. By changing insurance rules to lessen the risk of growing two crops, the USDA hopes to significantly increase the amount of wheat that U.S. farmers could grow every year, lessening the reliance on big wheat producers like Ukraine and Russia and eliminating bottlenecks. The idea is an intriguing development from the Ukraine war that hasn’t received widespread attention. As fall approaches, it’s unclear how many farmers will actually try the new system, but some who already grow two crops say it’s something farmers should consider.

Breaking down the "cost vs benefits" of No-Till Farming. 

To determine how no-till and cover crops might affect farmers’ bottom lines, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and Datu Research analyzed data from several farms. The analyses suggested that economic benefits to corn and soybean farmers adopting cover crops or no-till can run as high $100 per acre. The research analyzed several categories of on-farm costs and income over three years from 2014 through 2016. The analysis examined the impact of no-till and cover crops on each of the farm’s bottom lines, using previous years’ economic data as the baseline figure. Overall, the data indicated fertilizer costs could be cut by $50 per acre; costs for erosion repair could be reduced by $16 per acre, and revenue from yield increases could amount to $76 per acre. Three of the farms profiled here are located in Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa. The researchers compiled case studies for each farm, which are published at nacdnet.org/ soil-health-research/.
A significant finding on one corn and soybean farm in central Illinois showed that 20 years of no-tilling alone, without growing cover crops, had a positive economic impact of more than $100 per acre above the baseline, which was an average of the farm’s budgets for 1992 and 1993. The farm is operated by K.F. Farms in Effingham County, Illinois. The NACD analysis focused on 1994, the first year of no-till on the farm; 2004, the midpoint in the farm’s no-till history; and 2016. The case study says: “Our analysis of the three selected years confirms the positive economic impacts of no-till, showing increases each year ranging from $54.72 to $107.81 per acre above the baseline. “The main savings in the first year and midpoint year were accounted for by fertilizer reduction (which includes all machinery, fuel, and labor costs associated with fertilizer application), while the primary positive income change in the most recent year (2016) was an increase in yield,” the case study says. The analysis of the farm looked at negative and positive income changes attributed to no-till on 11 budget categories. The study traced changes in quantities of inputs and then used standard valuation to monetize them. The dollar amounts were then adjusted to their equivalents in 2015 dollars. The study showed that switching to no-till added costs for machinery changes and increased use of herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. Decreased costs resulted from a reduction or elimination of tillage as well as reduced fertilizer use and lower costs for erosion-related repairs. The savings in fertilizer costs resulted from switching from broadcasting to in-row application. According to the case study, “… more precision in the application reduced nitrogen by 23 pounds per acre, phosphorus by 73 pounds per acre, and potassium by 105 pounds per acre.”

Nebraska Governor hopeful gets endorsement from NCBA

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Republican governor hopeful Jim Pillen scored the endorsement Thursday of the Nebraska Cattlemen, a top advocacy group for the state’s ranchers. Pillen, a veterinarian and the owner of a hog farm operation, is running to replace current Gov. Pete Ricketts, a fellow Republican who leaves office in January because of term limits. Brenda Masek, the chairwoman of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s political action committee, said Pillen has “walked in our shoes” as an agricultural producer and would be a strong advocate for the industry at the Capitol. “Jim understands the concerns of the agriculture industry because he experiences them firsthand,” Masek said in a statement. Pillen is running against state Sen. Carol Blood, a Democrat and former Bellevue city council member who was born and raised on a farm and has worked on various agricultural issues in the Legislature. Pillen won Nebraska’s Republican primary last month out of a crowded field that included an opponent backed by former President Donald Trump. Before he won the primary, Pillen secured support from Ricketts and the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

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