Digest highlights

House ag committee sets dairy hearing, farm bill listening sessions

The U.S. House Agriculture Committee will continue hearings and a series of listening sessions as it prepares for the 2023 Farm Bill.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

A hearing to review dairy provisions of the farm bill will be held June 22, 10 a.m. (Eastern time zone). It will be streamed live via Zoom. Click here for more information.

The first listening session in the series will be held June 25, 11 a.m. (Mountain time), at Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Arizona. It will be hosted by Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Arizona), a member of the House Ag Committee’s subcommittees on Conservation and Forestry and General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. The session will be chaired by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois), a member of the Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit Subcommittee. The session will be streamed live online via YouTube here.

A second listening session will be held July 7, 11 a.m. (Pacific time) at California State University – Fresno in Fresno, California. It will be hosted and chaired by House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Jim Costa (D-California). The session will be streamed live online via YouTube here.

Rep. David Scott (D-Georgia) House Agriculture Committee chairman also announced that Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-New York) will serve as chair of the subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit for the remainder of this Congress.

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Dairy exports improve via Port of Los Angeles

Exporting U.S. dairy products around the globe has improved as a result of a new partnership between the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the Port of Los Angeles, and shipping and logistics company CMA CGM.

Under the partnership, in place since January at Fenix Marine Services in Los Angeles, there’s been increased control of cargo, better access to space and equipment, as well as improved efficiencies and communication, according to Michael Dykes, IDFA president and CEO. Since January, CMA CGM vessels have processed 110% more dairy exports through the Port of Los Angeles compared to the same period last year.

NMPF expresses concern with proposed SEC climate rule

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) submitted comments expressing concern over a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposal mandating extensive climate disclosures that could extend all the way back to the dairy farm. The comment period on the proposal closed on June 17.

As proposed, “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate Related Disclosures for Investors” rule requires publicly traded companies to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including emissions from upstream and downstream activities in its supply chain, known as Scope 3.

According to Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, the rule could undermine the dairy industry’s progress toward its sustainability goals and create far-reaching technical and financial challenges for American dairy farmers and their cooperatives and risks undermining the extensive efforts the dairy industry has made toward developing trust and buy-in for its voluntary GHG assessment program.

Mulhern said the dairy industry already has a platform in place to provide comprehensive estimates of GHG emissions and energy use on dairy farms. The environmental stewardship (ES) platform, launched in 2017 through the FARM Program, also provides a suite of tools and resources for farmers to measure and improve their environmental footprint. Currently, over 80% of U.S. milk is handled by cooperatives and processors participating in FARM ES.

USDA announces Houston port partnership, Northwest expansion

The USDA announced plans to increase capacity for exporting chilled and frozen agricultural commodities at the Port of Houston in Houston, Texas. The USDA will lease additional chassis, used to position and store refrigerated shipping containers while waiting for vessels to arrive.

The Port of Houston is the public port handling over two-thirds of the Gulf of Mexico’s container cargoes – the sixth busiest container gateway in the U.S. Foreign sales of U.S. poultry, beef and pork through the Port of Houston totaled a half-billion dollars in 2021, but the USDA said millions in sales are at risk due to limited availability of equipment, specifically chassis to move and position refrigerated containers. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will cover 50% of the cost of obtaining and leasing chassis at the Port of Houston during the first year of its five-year lease of an additional 1,060 chassis.

In addition, USDA announced an expansion of its existing partnership with the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA). The expansion will enhance access to a 16-acre “pop-up” site to accept either dry agricultural or refrigerated containers for temporary storage at NWSA in Tacoma, allowing the containers to be more quickly loaded on ships at the export terminals.The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide payments of $200 per dry container and $400 per refrigerated container to help cover the additional logistical costs of moving the container twice, first to the preposition site and then to the terminal loading the vessel, along with the cost of temporary storage.

IRS increases mileage rate for remainder of 2022

With fuel prices rising, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has increased the optional standard mileage rate to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and certain other purposes. For the final six months of 2022, the standard mileage rate for business travel will be 62.5 cents per mile, up 4 cents from the rate effective at the start of the year.

The new rates become effective July 1, 2022. The IRS provided legal guidance on the new rates here.

For travel from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2022, taxpayers should use the rates provided here.

Midyear increases in the optional mileage rates are rare. The IRS normally updates the mileage rates once a year in the fall for the next calendar year. The last time the IRS made midyear increase was in 2011.

While fuel costs are a significant factor in the mileage figure, other items enter into the calculation of mileage rates, such as depreciation and insurance and other fixed and variable costs.

The optional business standard mileage rate is used to compute the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business use in lieu of tracking actual costs. This rate is also used as a benchmark by the federal government and many businesses to reimburse their employees for mileage. Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

Rates for deductible medical or moving expenses (available for active-duty members of the military) are also raised.

April fluid sales lower

Here’s an update on U.S. fluid milk sales data from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service for April 2022.

  • Total sales: Sales of packaged fluid milk products totaled about 3.64 billion pounds, down about 2.1% from the same month a year earlier. At 14.72 billion pounds, year-to-date (January-April 2022) sales of all fluid products were down 2.5%.

  • Conventional products: Monthly sales totaled 3.4 billion pounds, down 2% from the same month a year earlier. Year-to-date sales totaled 13.75 billion pounds, down 2.4% from January-April 2021.

  • Organic products: Monthly sales totaled 240 million pounds, down 3.4% from a year earlier. At 964 million pounds, year-to-date sales of all fluid products were down 4.3%. Organic represented about 6.6% total fluid product sales in April and year to date.

The U.S. figures are based on consumption of fluid milk products in Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) areas, which account for approximately 92% of total U.S. fluid milk sales, and adding the other 8% from outside FMMO-regulated areas. Sales outlets include food stores, convenience stores, warehouse stores/wholesale clubs, nonfood stores, schools, the food service industry and home delivery.

USDA, Innovation Center for Dairy sign sustainability MOU

The USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to continue working toward the dairy industry’s 2050 environmental stewardship goals while addressing growing consumer demand for food that is produced in a way that’s good for the planet.

The MOU, which extends and builds on a pact originally signed in 2009, will leverage USDA programs to encourage the adoption of economically viable technologies and practices that improve sustainability and assist in addressing environmental needs of U.S. dairy farmers. Efforts will accelerate and streamline programs focused on resource recovery, sustainability improvement, soil health management and GHG reduction.

The MOU will leverage USDA’s expertise in science and conservation to collaborate with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy in working with farmers to create sources of income tied to climate-smart practices and emerging market opportunities.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will work with the USDA to enhance communications and outreach to farmers regarding participation in its programs. The organizations will offer support for practices, projects and programs that seek to further reduce GHG emissions. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will also look to develop partnerships that bring additional financial investment to enhance dairies’ participation in USDA conservation programs.

Previous and current USDA and Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy collaborations have resulted in research, resources and a variety of programs that have advanced dairy sustainability, including on-farm anaerobic digesters, food waste reduction and the development of nutrient recovery technologies through the NRCS and the checkoff-created Newtrient company.

Additionally, the Farm Smart Project led to the FARM Program environmental stewardship module, a voluntary tool that empowers farmers to identify opportunities for sustainability improvements on their farm. About 78% of the U.S. milk supply participates in the FARM Program.

To learn more about U.S. dairy’s environmental commitment, click here.

USDA: File crop acreage reports

The USDA reminds agricultural producers to meet crop acreage report filing deadlines to remain eligible for federal programs, including disaster assistance. July 15 is a major deadline for most crops, but acreage reporting deadlines vary by county and by crop.

An acreage report documents a crop grown on a farm and its intended uses. Filing an accurate and timely acreage report for all crops and land uses, including failed acreage and prevented planted acreage, can prevent the loss of program benefits.

Perennial forages are eligible for continuous acreage reporting, which allows producers to report their acreage once and keep their certification in place until they make a change.

For more information or to file crop acreage reports, make an appointment with a local FSA service center before the applicable deadline.  end mark

Dave Natzke