Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday, February 24: SDARL's traditional ABA Day

Tuesday, February 24th started at the American Bankers Association with Nate Franzen, President of Agribusiness for First Dakota National Bank, giving a presentation on staying in touch with activities in Washington, D.C.
Nate Franzen
Nate is a SDARL class I graduate, and he spoke on the growing disconnect between agricultural and policy makers, and how we as South Dakotans can keep that from happening.  We as producers also have an obligation to pay attention to the rest of the world, because leadership is not a spectator sport.
Even and Pravecek
Brittany Dengler, senior research manager with the ABA, spoke on national economy trends.  Consumers are behind the modest growth in the GDP, and they benefit from steady job growth.  There is, however, concern over the number of unemployed long term, over 27 weeks.  Also troubling is the slow gains in construction and manufacturing jobs lost in the recession.  This leads to well below normal gains in the housing sector.
Michael Torrey, originally of Kansas, now of Michael Torrey Associates of Washington, D.C., talked to the class about how his firm lobbies for and helps manage their clients. They focus on building relationships between clients and policy makers that produce substance on issues.  They lobby legislative and executive branches of the government.
Haugen, Youngblom, Osterman and others
Michael Holland thanked by Jim Kanable
Michael Holland, Director of government affairs for Monsanto, visited with the class about their top priorities in ag.  They're focusing on maintaining the Renewable Fuels Standard, trade, and section 179 dealing with taxation and accelerated depreciation.  GMO labeling is a hot topic that is driven by opponents to rid the country of those products, and they're working diligently to influence legislation on his issue.  One of Monsanto's stated goals is to double the national average yield by 2030.

ABA Vice President of Congressional Relations Ed Elfmann focused on how the ABA deals with all legislators and ag committees in the federal government.  They are dealing with record farm incomes, even though it has declined recently.  FDIC insured that lenders have been diminished by nearly two-thirds in the last 28 years.  Farmers have been restrained in their borrowing for capital investments.  He also communicated that 84% of the farm bill is geared to fund nutrition.  He commented on congressional issues facing ag lending in 2015.
Farmer Mac is a bridge between capital markets and ag producers, helping provide security and coverage on loans.  They graciously sponsored the noon meal, and Larry Jones gave a presentation on how their process works.  Ag producers get more options because their lender can spread risk out.

The day switched gears a little when Ryan Bennett, the director of government affairs for the National Milk Producers Federation, gave a presentation on what they do.  They represent dairy cooperatives in all 50 states, and are ran by a board made up of mainly producers.  In addition, they also help manage several other non-coop dairy institutions and other check-off funded organizations.  Major policy interests range from dairy policy to trade to immigration.
Reuvekamp adding insight in dairy topics

In keeping with producer oriented speakers, Matt Mika with Tyson Foods, Inc, gave his talk as Director of Government affairs.  Tyson is number 1 in chicken, number 1 in beef, and number 2 in pork, so they wield a big stick when it comes to ag policy.  They are following issues like Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), trade, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HSS) dietary guidelines.
Rusche, Johannsen
CropLife America representative Rebeckah Adcock is the Senior Director of Government Affairs stopped by to talk shop regarding policy on issues that affect pesticide and herbicide use, among other things.  WOTUS is one of the major issues they're facing now, stemming from some states' lack of action on non-navigable, new state waters.  CropLife America see this as a Clean Water Act issue that needs to have a rule written that makes sense.
Kristina Butts speaking; Schley making notes
Kristina Butts is with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) as the Director of Federal Relations.  After a brief synopsis of what NCBA does and how it's organized, she explained more about how they're trying to influence the USDA and Health and Human Services (HSS) dietary guidelines.  The major issue taken with this issue is that the advisory board does not contain the proper personnel and is not addressing issues within the scope of the guidelines.  She also spoke to trade opposition of WOTUS.
Bryan Dierlam
The Cargill Federal Relations Director, Bryan Dierlam, came before the class last and encouraged us to fight any fight united as producers, and fight it on the battlefield of our choosing, rather than fight and die a battle we can't win.  He spoke to worldwide development of food production ability as well as infrastructure investments for food distribution.  Trade issues and labor were also discussed.

Samson, Johannsen
The ABA-day was being concluded by hosts Ed Elfmann and Nate Franzen, followed with a -for SDARL groups traditional- walking tour led by the newly retired John Blanchfield. Blanchfield took us on a brisk hike to Farragut Square and the White House, keeping us entertained with historical stories.

Submitted by Warren Symens