Braley Op-Ed: The Right Move for Iowa Farms PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 13:31

On April 26th, the US Department of Labor announced they were withdrawing a proposed regulation that would have severely limited the amount and type of work people younger than 18 years old could perform on farms.  As proposed, these onerous rules would have banned children younger than age 16 from using farm equipment like tractors and would have kept those younger than 18 from working in feed lots, grain silos, and stockyards.

As a longtime opponent of this proposal, I was relieved when I learned of the Labor Department’s decision to withdraw it.  Its demise is a victory for common sense and for farm families across Iowa.

Any Iowan knows that banning young people from working on farms would strike and the very heart of agriculture in the Midwest.  Working on the farm is part of growing up.  It’s part of our culture.

I started working on Iowa farms when I was in junior high.  Bailing hay, shelling corn, chopping thistles, walking beans, and detassling corn was exhausting – but it was rewarding.  We often shared a noon meal around the kitchen table.  It taught me the value of a hard day’s work for an honest day’s pay, and gave me memories I will always cherish.

Defenders of the Labor Department’s proposed rule said it exempted children working on their parents’ farms, so it wouldn’t be a burden.  This made me wonder if these supporters had ever been to an Iowa farm.  Most of our farms rely on labor beyond immediate family members.  I know I spent most of my summers in the fields working for neighbors.

There are definitely hazards working in agriculture.  But few people are more aware of those hazards and how to minimize them more than farmers.  A balanced, common-sense approach to farm safety that focuses on education, safety training, and prevention is the answer – not a one-size-fits-all blanket regulation that imperils the ability of farms to function.

This was an important fight for Iowa agriculture.  And I’m glad the federal government backed down and made the right move for Iowa farms.

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News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 08:37

WASHINGTON, DC, May 01, 2012 -- The nation's 100 largest agriculture cooperatives reported near-record revenue of $118 billion in 2010, USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager announced today. This was an increase of 4 percent over 2009 figures. Net income for the 100 top agriculture co-ops was also up more than 10 percent in 2010, reaching $2.39 billion, up from $2.16 billion in 2009.

"Farmer and rancher-owned cooperatives are a mainstay in the American economy, not only helping members market and process their crops, milk and livestock and creating jobs, but also helping producers keep more of the earnings derived from their products at home, in rural counties and communities," Tonsager said. "The end result is a huge net benefit for producers, their communities and the overall rural economy. Farmer co-ops also account for significant numbers of jobs and economic activity in many cities."

CHS Inc., a farm supply, grain and foods cooperative based in Saint Paul, MN, topped the list with 2010 revenue of $25.3 billion. Land O' Lakes, a dairy foods and farm supply co-op, also based in Saint Paul, ranked second, with revenue of $11.1 billion; Dairy Farmers of America, based in Kansas City, Mo., was third with $9.8 billion in 2010 revenue.

USDA's top 100 ag co-op list shows that 23 co-ops had 2010 revenue of more than $1 billion. Another 47 co-ops had revenue between $506 million and $1 billion. The 100th ranked co-op had sales of $276 million.

Leading the revenue increase from 2009 to 2010 were dairy cooperatives, which saw 2010 revenue climb more than 14.5 percent from the previous year, to $29.5 billion. Dairy cooperatives accounted for more than half of the revenue increase recorded by the top 100 ag co-ops in 2010.

Gross margins, as a percent of total sales, were up slightly, from 9 percent to 9.2 percent. The increase in gross margins partially covered higher expenses. Gross margins plus service revenue climbed to $684 million.

Total expenses for the top 100 ag co-ops were up $575 million in 2010. The largest cost increase was for labor, where expenses climbed by 7 percent, to $4.6 billion. On the other hand, lower interest rates and less debt caused interest expense to drop 11 percent.

"While it is encouraging to see the nation's largest farmer-owned cooperatives reporting strong revenue and income, it is also noteworthy that the nation is seeing a surge in the formation of small-farmer cooperatives and quasi-cooperatives that have been created to meet the growing demand for locally produced foods," Tonsager said.

The asset base for the top 100 ag co-ops grew by $2.3 billion between 2009 and 2010. Current assets accounted for nearly two-thirds of that increase. Fixed assets also showed an increase of $600 million.

For a complete list of the top 100 cooperatives, go to For a more detailed look at the top 100 Ag Co-ops, see page 16 of the March-April issue of USDA's "Rural Cooperatives" magazine:

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas.


ISU Extension and Outreach Calendar PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 08:57
April 24, 2012

May 1, 2012:  Master Gardeners Spring Seminar Series, “Heirlooms,” Scott County Extension Office-7:00p.m.

May 4, 2012:  Commercial & Private Pesticide Applicator Testing, Scott County Extension Office-10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.

May 19, 2012:  Master Gardener’s Dig and Divide Plant Sale, Scott County Extension Office-9:00 a.m

May 22, 2012:  Master Gardener Summer Webinar Series, “Garden Goodness,” Scott County Extension Office- 6:30 p.m.

June 1, 2012:  Commercial & Private Pesticide Applicator Testing, Scott County Extension Office-10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.

June 26, 2012:  Master Gardener Summer Webinar Series, “Garden Goodness,” Scott County Extension Office- 6:30 p.m.

Visit our events calendar at our web site:

Center for Rural Affairs applauds amendment of Senate Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 08:47

Farm payment limit loopholes closed for first time

Lyons, NE - Today, the Center for Rural Affairs praised the Senate Agriculture Committee for closing loopholes in the farm payment limitation.

“We applaud the Senate Ag Committee for passing a Farm Bill that for the first time in a generation closes the gaping loopholes that have made a mockery of the farm program payment limitation,” said Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for Rural Affairs. “Most of all, we thank Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for his tireless advocacy for reducing subsidies for mega farms to drive family farms out of business.”

According to Hassebrook, closing the loopholes is a critical step. And the next step is to apply those limits to uncapped premium subsidies for federal crop insurance, the most expensive element of the farm program. “If one corporation farmed every acre in America,” said Hassebrook. “The federal government would pay 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre, every year.”

“Crop insurance subsidies are highest in times of high prices - when they are needed least. That’s because it costs more to insure $6 corn than $4 corn. Crop insurance costs have doubled in the last 5 years and quadrupled in the last 10 years,” Hassebrook continued.

The Center for Rural Affairs also praised Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for working to fund rural development programs through the farm bill. “If passed as it now stands,” said Hassebrook, “this farm bill will be the first in a generation to include no funding for rural development.” Brown and Nelson are pressing to change that before the bill comes before the full Senate.

The Center also praised Senators John Thune (R-SD), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Mike Johanns (R-NE) for winning a sodsaver provision that will reduce federal crop insurance subsidy premiums for breaking out erosion prone native grasslands for crop production.

Braley Statement on Reversal of Proposed Labor Dept. Rule on Farm Youth Labor PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 01 May 2012 08:41

Labor Department announced it will drop proposed rule to limit youth labor on farms

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement after the US Department of Labor announced it was withdrawing a proposed regulation that would have made it more difficult for farmers and ranchers to hire youth to work in agriculture:

“The demise of the Obama administration's proposed rule to require children be a minimum age to work on farms is welcome news. A regulation prohibiting youths from working on farms would strike at the very core of agriculture across Iowa and the Midwest.  This is Iowa. Working on the family farm is part of growing up.  I know -- I remember many hot summer days I spent as a kid detassling corn in the fields. I'll keep working to ensure misguided regulations like this one don't see the light of day."

In December, Braley wrote to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis urging her to drop the proposed rule.


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