Ag Briefs

FSA reminds foreign buyers of requirements

The Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) requires all foreign owners of U.S. agricultural land to report their holdings to the Secretary of Agriculture. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers this program for USDA.

All individuals who are not U.S. citizens, and have purchased or sold agricultural land in the county are required to report the transaction to FSA with 90 days of the closing. Failure to submit the AFIDA form (FSA-153) could result in civil penalties of up to 25 percent of the fair market value of the property. County government offices, Realtors, attorneys and others involved in real estate transactions are reminded to notify foreign investors of these reporting requirements. 

Contact your local FSA office for more information. To find your local FSA county office, go to

MSGA has first drift task force meeting

MANKATO — The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association convened its first drift task force meeting Monday at the organization’s headquarters.

Minnesota’s first-ever farmer led task force assembled to examine the data and science behind suspected dicamba damage reports in Minnesota and find a solution to develop best management practices concerning the use of dicamba in dicamba-tolerant soybeans in the state. The drift task force aims to work with industry and researchers to help glean answers and options for maximizing the potential of this technology.

“Dicamba has been around for many years and shown to be effective with timely application,” said Bob Worth, Lake Benton farmer and chairman of the drift task force. “This meeting was an opportunity to discuss dicamba concerns with industry, university and state government regulators. Our job, as members of the task force, is to represent the 27,000 Minnesota soybean farmers when it comes to conversations between industry and government regulators. While at times these conversations were difficult, we were effective in finding common ground on issues such as clarification and improvements to the label, enhanced education practices and application timing.”

The farmer led task force is comprised of MSGA and Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council farmer leaders. Joining Worth on the task force is Joel Schreurs, Cole Trebesch, Pat Sullivan, Steve Commerford and Bob Lindeman.

Others present at Monday’s meeting were University of Minnesota extension specialists, representatives from agricultural chemical companies and cooperatives and Minnesota Department of Agriculture officials.

“Farmers are choosing seed right now and should continue to make seed decisions based on yield and agronomic characteristics, not concerns for protection from dicamba,” Commerford said. “Choosing soybean seed as a protection to dicamba should not be a part of your seed selection.”

The second drift task force meeting will convene at a later date, aiming to deliver its investigative reports and best management practices to growers after receiving and reviewing off target incidents of dicamba application.

Vermont Milk Commission seeks solutions fordairy industry

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Milk Commission is working to learn more about the health of the state’s dairy industry in hopes that solutions to challenges facing the industry can be addressed by the next federal farm bill, which is due to take effect in a year, Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said Tuesday.

The commission met in Montpelier on Tuesday for the first time in six years. It plans to meet several more times over the next several weeks so members can gather opinions from dairy farmers, milk handlers and consumers to learn what they would like to see to ensure that farmers have a “fair, predictable pricing system,” he said.

Recommendations are to be delivered to the congressional delegation for dairy policy that could be included in the five-year farm bill that will be decided upon by Congress next year, said Tebbetts, who is a dairy farmer.

“We need to get to a better place, that’s for sure,” he said of the current status of the dairy industry. “It’s pretty clear farmers need to be paid a better price for their product.”

Dairy remains by far Vermont’s largest agricultural sector, accounting for more than 70 percent of Vermont’s agricultural sales and contributing $2.2 billion in economic activity each year.

Under Vermont law, the Milk Commission is required to hold hearings to be informed of the status of the state’s dairy industry.

Milk prices, now $17.36 per hundred pounds, are up slightly compared to the $15.25 paid a year ago, but they are nowhere near the $23.63 paid in 2014, according to statistics kept by the agency.

“We’ve had highs and lows. Right now it really hasn’t recovered,” Tebbetts said of milk prices. “History has shown that it should have recovered by now, but it hasn’t. So I think that’s a red flag for a lot of people. Why hasn’t it recovered? Why haven’t farmers gotten a better price?”

There are currently 786 cow-only dairy farms in Vermont, down from 838 a year ago and 1,051 in 2009, statistics show. There are now about 129,000 cows in the state down from about $135,000 in 2009.