Hi, lot’s of odds and ends this issue for the Presidents report.

Bill Bullard / R-CALF
First, and I’m still steaming, today (August 6th) Bill Bullard of R-CALF sent out a national press release slamming National Farmers Union for scheming with the NCBA, the American Farm Bureau, and the LMA to raise the beef checkoff amongst other charges.
A paragraph from the release reads:

Freed from the constraints of the member-interests of R-CALF USA, which is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States, the NFU, LMA, NCBA and other likeminded groups have now teamed up to formally propose an increase of the Beef Checkoff Program assessment to $2 per head.

This is simply not true. Having been personally involved in the National Farmers Union’s internal discussions on this topic, I can assure you that NFU has not–and has no plans to–advocate for an increase of the Beef Checkoff Program.

Both KFU and NFU have considered R-CALF an ally, working together in support of cattle producers. To say we are disappointed with R-CALF’s false accusation would be an understatement.

State of Kansas’ current & probable future fiscal condition meetings
Duane Goossen, former budget director for the state of Kansas is going to present his knowledge of the state of Kansas’s fiscal history, present condition, and likely future as it stands now at a series of meetings across the state that Kansas Farmers Union is hosting. The details are in a full story on the meetings in this Kontact. We all need to better understand of what condition Kansas is in now with all the political spin going on before the elections, this is your chance to visit with the former budget director for the past 3 administrations. Take advantage of it.

Rempe clan
We’ve heard that John and Gladys Rempe, longtime KFU members from Nemaha County, were blessed with their 25th grandchild on John’s 75th birthday. Word has it that John is pretty tickled about the dual birthdays. My kids are going to have to get hopping if they intend to try and catch up with them…..

Kansas hosting the next National Farmers Union convention in Wichita!
I want to start tooting the horn that KFU is hosting the 2015 NFU Convention in Wichita on March 14-17. If you’ve never had the chance to attend a national convention, this is the year. We want you all to be there to represent our great state in style and enjoy a exciting NFU convention that isn’t ever going to be any closer! Be sure to put it on your calendar!

Donn and Kansas Farmers Union
In the April Kontact I reported that I would be moving toward 90% time for NFU and 10% time for KFU. That didn’t turn out to be how it evolved. I am at 50/50 time now and running my butt off for both the state and the nation. I’m relying a lot on the great staff we have to pick up some of the slack for KFU, and there are some mutual benefits to both also. Mercedes agent membership promotion package has attracted NFU interest in supplying a similar promo to other states building a relationship to the insurances. We are collaborating on grants together with others that likely wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t working both sides of the barn, etc.

EPA / Waters of the U.S.
This isn’t going to be a popular blurb, I can’t even have a discussion with friends without being frowned at, but I think I need to comment on it.

As this proposed rule has moved forward it has been demonized by an outspoken part of our population. It is being used for political maneuvering and political spin. There is nothing that I can say that will allay the concerns of you reading this. I’m certainly not educated enough on the water laws to speak definitively on the issue.

Maybe the concerns are valid.

Certainly the big issue being raised is that there isn’t enough clarification in the proposed rule. That may be the case, but when it comes to the public distrust of the EPA, there will probably never be enough clarity to mitigate the skepticism.

What I can say is that Karl Brooks, the head of EPA region 7 (which includes Kansas) is an old friend dating back well before his appointment to the position. I asked Karl point blank if there were any new drainages in the proposed rule clarification. He promised me there is not. This exchange took place in a forum attended by representatives from all of the ag organizations in Kansas. Apparently they have chosen not to believe him.

With my KFU and NFU positions, I’m often expected to be an expert in all segments of agriculture and politics. That’s a pretty tall order for a Kansas farm boy! There are areas where I feel I am more than competent. For those areas where I think I am not, I rely on my contacts–relationships I’ve built with people over many years. Can I trust them?

I’m taking Karl’s word as truth until I’m proven wrong.
If you want to check it out yourself, here is the website.

The following news release was distributed by National Farmers Union:

NFU Asks EPA for Clarity on Key Points Under WOTUS Rule

July 17, 2014

WASHINGTON (July 17, 2014) – In a letter sent today to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson asked for more information about which bodies of water would be deemed jurisdictional under the proposed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The letter was a follow-up to a conference call held this week between the Administrator and members of the NFU board of directors, which consists of Farmers Union state and regional presidents.

“During our call, a number of questions were raised by NFU board members,” Johnson wrote. “The board asked for clarity surrounding some of the definitions in the proposed rule. The general sense was that the proposed rule has created less clarity, not more as intended.”

Johnson acknowledged that it is not always possible for EPA to make definitive determinations for all bodies of water at this point, but stressed that more information must be made available to rural America to alleviate confusion and resentment. Johnson also mentioned that EPA’s reputation was damaged in farm country with the proposed reductions in the Renewable Fuel Standard, which likely led to a more negative reaction to the WOTUS proposed rule.

In the letter, NFU asked EPA to provide a map with estimates of which bodies of water will be considered jurisdictional to EPA’s regulation. Questions were also posed about wetlands in the Prairie Pothole region, coordination with state agencies and the treatment of unconnected bodies of water that are seasonal.

During the conference call, NFU thanked the EPA for listening to the concerns of farmers and ranchers and for its efforts to educate and clear up misinformation about WOTUS. NFU is currently preparing formal comments about the proposed rule and hopes to have answers from EPA soon to ensure its comments are as informed as possible.

A full version of today’s letter is available here.