Tag Archives: farm bill

Farm Bill website building momentum

One of the projects that Michigan State University Extension educators have been working on has been in response to the Agricultural Act of 2014 – commonly called the 2014 Farm Bill – that was signed in early 2014. It is quite different from what farmers and landowners were accustomed to in former farm bills, so our educators and campus specialists from the Farm Information Resource Management (FIRM) Team are working together to provide farmers with information to navigate Farm Bill programs.

Although there may be similarities to past farm bills, it is very important that farmers begin to learn as much as they can before deciding on what program is best suited for their current situation. Farmers can find answers by checking out the Farm Bill page full of resources, important dates, email newsletters and upcoming educational events hosted throughout Michigan.  Each farm location and each farmer’s individual needs vary, therefore, choosing which programs are a good fit will depend on farm-specific variables.

Adam Kantrovich, an Extension educator for the southwest region of the FIRM team, manages the website for this project. He shared the stats of this program page with me, saying that the Farm Bill page is the Number 1 program on the MSU Extension website. From Dec. 12, 2014, to Jan. 11, 2015, the pages have had more than 4,300 visits. We hope to continue to see success with the program as we move forward.

Please feel free to explore MSU Extension’s Farm Bill page, and share it with those in your network who would be interested.

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When the president comes for a visit …

On February 7, Michigan State University was part of a historic moment when President Barack Obama visited the MSU campus to sign the Farm Bill. Many of our colleagues were at work behind the scenes, helping the event run smoothly. Others got to be part of the action front and center. And still others have been lending their expertise to the bill’s foundation.

Thanks to Doug Buhler, director of MSU AgBioResearch and senior associate dean for research for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who was part of the advance team from MSU. The event cost Doug a week, with the myriad security, program and planning meetings beginning on Friday, January 31. But because this was the Farm Bill, CANR was front and center, and Doug did a great job of making sure President Obama learned about the role we all play in turning federal policy into improvements in agricultural production, environmental management, food safety, bioenergy innovation, and community and youth development. Thanks to Doug for all he did to represent us so well.

A big shout-out to Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications and in particular Beth Stuever. In a Michigan Farmer story on Jennifer Vincent Kiel, the magazine’s editor, Jennifer acknowledges the vast contacts and deep understanding of the communications manager. Jennifer said she enjoys working with “the many, many great people at MSU Extension. Beth Stuever is priceless there. I’m always calling on her for help, and she’s always there.” Read the story here: http://magissues.farmprogress.com/mif/MF02Feb14/mif013.pdf

Then there’s Greening Michigan Institute Extension educator Julia Darnton. U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee invited Julia to be his guest at the signing of the Farm Bill. Julia was asked to come because she helped the congressman promote his bill “Local Food for Healthy Families,” which is designed to expand SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) incentive programs such as Double Up Food Bucks. Mark Tower of the Saginaw News featured Julia in an MLive article: http://www.mlive.com/news/saginaw/index.ssf/2014/02/obama_in_east_lansing_saginaw.html

We’ve had other media mentions related to our work. Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero mentioned the contributions of Extension and the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems to the support of Lansing area food hubs and markets in a Lansing State Journal editorial:


MSU student Domonique Clemons experienced what may be the highlight of his life. Invited to attend the Farm Bill signing, the former 4-H’er from Flint got to shake President Obama’s hand. Domonique is a public policy major who helps organize the 4-H Capitol Experience event coming up in March.

But how did we finally get to this moment in the first place? It happened because of people like Dave Schweikhardt, professor of agricultural, food and resource economics, who studies farm policy, providing Extension programming on that policy. Dr. Schweikhardt is one of a number of MSU faculty who were tapped as experts by Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s staffers as they worked through the policy changes in the bill.

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The good news continues

As if the governor’s budget message wasn’t enough, we’ve had several other favorable developments in the past two weeks. The U.S. Senate passed the Farm Bill on Tuesday, Feb. 4, after the House passed it the previous week. The Farm Bill has many elements, but among them is the authorization for the work we do in Michigan State University Extension and the federal funding that supports it. I shared details of the Farm Bill in Monday’s MSU Extension Update Webinar (http://connect.msu.edu/p7qm9h3muxx/).

Even better, President Obama has announced not only that he plans to sign the legislation this week but also that he is coming to MSU for the signing ceremony. His stop in East Lansing will be brief and will not include any public gatherings. But he will learn about some innovative agricultural research at MSU and will sign the Farm Bill at the Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Center. I don’t think it’s an accident that he will be signing this landmark legislation at the alma mater of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. Her leadership was critical to the success of this legislation. And her alma mater happens to be a hotbed of agriculture, food and natural resource research and extension, which ties in well with the investments the Farm Bill will be making in research and translation for these important industries.

The Farm Bill completion follows a positive outcome of the federal appropriations process for the current fiscal year. In January, Congress and the president approved budgets for all federal programs, including the funding for research and extension, administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nation’s land-grant university system. Funding for the budget lines that affect our programs were increased over the 2013 budgets. This reversed the reductions our funding experienced under the sequestration process.

There’s a lot of other good news to share, but I’ll save some of that for next week. It’s good to have good news, and it’s even better to have a bunch of it. We wouldn’t have these results if it weren’t for the hard work of everyone who is a part of MSU Extension and AgBioResearch. I appreciate having a group of colleagues who are committed to our mission, who are willing to work hard in order to fulfill it and who have a high tolerance for uncertainty. And that’s the best news I can share. Gordon was right, it IS a great day to be in Extension!

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Filed under Funding

Sen. Stabenow discusses farm bill

On Aug. 21, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow held a discussion on the new Farm Bill at the Michigan State University Extension Kent County office in Grand Rapids. This was the last of five sessions she held around the state. A number of MSUE colleagues have attended these, including the one that MSUE hosted this week. Because we hosted the Grand Rapids meeting, Betty Blase, district coordinator for MSUE District 7, provided the introduction of Sen. Stabenow. About 70 local agricultural producers and agribusiness leaders attended the meeting in Grand Rapids.

The Farm Bill comes up for renewal every five years and among its elements is the authorization for federal funding of Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station partnerships with land-grant universities. It also sets broad policy direction for the nation on food, food production, food safety, food security, rural development, conservation, development and production of bio-energy and bio-materials, and risk management for agricultural production. The current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30, 2012. The U.S. Senate has approved a revision of the Farm Bill and is waiting on the House of Representatives to approve their version so the two chambers can reach compromises on the language through the conference committee process. The House Agriculture Committee approved a revision of the Farm Bill, but House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has not allowed it to come to a vote on the floor of the House.

You can find more about the revision of the Farm Bill that passed the Senate at http://www.ag.senate.gov/issues/farm-bill.

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Farm Bill hearing takes place May 31 at MSU

This coming Tuesday, May 31, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will hold the committee’s first Farm Bill field hearing here at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The hearing, “Opportunities for Growth: Michigan and the 2012 Farm Bill,” will focus on the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill, examining agriculture as well as energy, conservation, rural development, research, forestry and nutrition policies that affect Michigan. Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow chairs the committee. Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon, MSU president; Dr. J. Ian Gray, MSU vice president for research and graduate studies; and I will lead the opening panel discussion. Witnesses for the second and third panels will consist of various leaders in the agriculture industry.

 Sen. Stabenow is an alumna not only of MSU, but also of MSU Extension. She participated in 4‑H in Clare County as a youth, served as an intern for MSUE in Lansing as a student at MSU, and for many years supported MSUE in Ingham County as a county commissioner. Senator Stabenow was appointed to chair the agriculture committee earlier this year and has the opportunity to lead the committee through the very important reauthorization process for all laws associated with food and agriculture policy in the Farm Bill. This includes authorization for funding of research, extension and education such as the Smith-Lever funding that supports Cooperative Extension in Michigan and every other state.

 The public may participate in the hearing by submitting written testimony, which will be included in the official record of the hearing. Three copies of your testimony can be submitted at the hearing or can be sent to the committee no later than June 7, 2011. Send your testimony to aghearing@ag.senate.gov or to U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, 328A Russell Senate Office Bldg, Washington, D.C. 20510.

 For up-to-date information on the hearing and Farm Bill process, you can visit the Senate Agriculture Committee website at ag.senate.gov.

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