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In the months following passage of a federal farm bill that gave the green light to certain types of industrial-hemp cultivation and research, legislators in at least two Midwestern states have adopted new laws of their own.

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In a case involving management of a watershed hundreds of miles east of his state’s border, and that will be decided by a U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has taken much more than a passing interest.
He is leading a coalition of states that have filed an amicus brief asking the federal court to reject the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to require states in the Chesapeake Bay region to develop processes to reduce nutrient runoff (nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment).

Quagga and Zebra Mussels continue to spread in the West, despite efforts to curtail or prevent their spread. Quagga Mussels first arrived in the Great Lakes in the late 1980s and since then have spread throughout the country. On February 25, 2014 National Park Service and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials announced that thousands of adult quagga mussels have been found in various locations in Lake Powell.

The new Farm Bill, which was signed by President Obama February 7 in East Lansing, Michigan, contains an amendment that would legalize the industrial production of hemp in certain parts of the United States. The amendment, authored by Reps. Jared Polis (CO), Thomas Massie (KY) and Earl Blumenauer (OR), does not out-right legalize growing hemp, which is still illegal according to federal law. The amendment does, however, allow for hemp to be grown in states where the cultivation of hemp is already legal. State agriculture departments...

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The Farm Bill that passed the House of Representatives last week, and the Senate just Feb. 3, has seen an overwhelming amount of bipartisan support, with very little opposition. Though the only thing standing in the way is a signature from President Obama, some important questions about the bill remain, including the effect the bill will have on state eligibility requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients and what an increase in Federal Crop Insurance Payments will mean for farming states.

Wyoming Representative Sue Wallis passed away early last week. She was 56. Representative Wallis was an active participant in many CSG programs and we are saddened to lose such a dynamic and passionate individual.  Wallis was known for her willingness to speak up and share her thoughts, and as a woman of principles. 

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While grain producers across the Midwest have been anxiously awaiting a new farm bill, produce farmers are just as anxious about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act — the largest reform of the nation’s food safety laws in 70 years. The act itself was signed into law in 2011, but exactly how it will impact the Midwest’s producers won’t be known until final FDA rules are approved.

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In mid-November the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed reducing the amount of biofuels in the nation’s fuel supply for the first time, potentially dealing a major setback to the ethanol industry.
The change would require almost 3 billion fewer gallons of biofuels — mainly ethanol — to be blended into gasoline in 2014 than under the current federal mandate. The proposal comes at a time when domestic oil production has exceeded oil imports for the first time in years, and when falling motor fuel demand has made ethanol an unexpectedly large part of the total fuel supply.
For many years, the livestock industry in Canada and the U.S., especially for cattle and pigs, has been integrated, with animals moving both ways across the border for feeding and slaughter. But new U.S. country-of-origin labeling requirements may change this relationship. 

A decade ago, Minnesota became the first U.S. state with a biodiesel mandate, a move that has since been followed by six other states (none in the Midwest). The state now hopes to advance production and use even further, with plans in place to adopt a first-in-the-nation B10 mandate: a requirement that all diesel fuel sold in the state contain 10 percent biodiesel and 90 percent petroleum. The higher mandate, set to take effect in July of next year, will only apply in warm-weather months.