A recent rule announced by the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on what constitutes Waters of the United States or WOTUS is not being well received by many agriculture groups who call the measure a bureaucratic overreach. Warren Formo with the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center joined the Linder Farm Network to shed some light on what the new rule could mean for Minnesota farmers.


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Farm News

January 4, 2023

The 2023 Minnesota legislative session began yesterday. The Minnesota House of Representatives convened with nearly one-third of the members being new to the position. Rep. Melissa Hortman was elected Speaker of the House. After nearly three years of meetings held remotely because of the pandemic, the House passed a temporary rule to meet exclusively in-person.

In the Senate, 24 new members were sworn in. The Senate elected Senator Bobby Joe Champion as President of the Senate, the first person of color to hold the position.

A key order of business for the legislature will be how to address an estimated $17 billion surplus. 

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a final rule that determines what constitutes Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, under the Clean Water Act. The rule rolls back the Trump administrations Navigable Waters rule and returns to language that was in place during the Obama administration. 

The rule was released even though the U.S. Supreme Court is still preparing to decide a case, Sackett vs. EPA, which will provide more clarity on the issue. 

Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center Director Warren Formo says Minnesota farmers are already dealing with tighter regulations than what WOTUS delivers, so the federal action won't likely have much short-term effect on the state's farmers. Listen

The University of Minnesota Strategic Farming program is being held in the months of January, February and March. This year the program will consist of weekly webinars to help address pressing issues for farmers. U of M Extension Educator Liz Stahl says the program kicks off January 11 with a forecast for the upcoming season, which includes a look at weather, economics and supply chain concerns. Listen

Future topics include corn insects, climate, nitrogen placement and weed management. Farmers can register for the free seminars here

Members of the Minnesota Biofuels Association (MBA) will be active at the Minnesota legislature promoting a number of issues related to ethanol and biodiesel.

Executive Director Brian Werner says among the issues the association will be addressing includes pushing for higher blends of ethanol, including a national solution to year-round E15 availability. Werner says there will also be discussions about a low-carbon fuel standard in Minnesota which would ramp down the carbon intensity of transportation fuels, something biofuels already achieve. Listen

The Minnesota Milk Producers Association (MMPA) has developed their priority issues for the upcoming Minnesota legislative session, which includes using some of the expected budget surplus to invest in agriculture. Executive Director Lucas Sjostrom says the MMPA also supports funding for foreign animal disease prevention efforts as well as funding for infrastructure. Other issues include taxes, regulations and research. Sjostrom says soil health programs are also a priority. Listen. 

USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer expects U.S. meat exports to achieve mixed results in 2023. Meyer expects pork and broiler exports to achieve modest increases in 2023, while he less optimistic about beef exports. Despite higher prices and challenges in the livestock industry, Meyer says meat demand has remained strong. Listen

Portions of the Dakotas and Minnesota picked up substantial snow and mixed precipitation this week. Parts of southeastern South Dakota received over 20 inches of snow, while parts of Minnesota were buried under more than a foot of new snow.

Dr. Dennis Todey, Director of the USDA Climate Hub in Ames, Iowa, says the moisture that's been falling this winter in the Midwest should help ease some of the low water challenges on the Mississippi River. Listen

Upcoming Events

Jan. 6-11            American Farm Bureau Federation Convention,                                    San Juan, Puerto Rico

Jan. 11               UMN Strategic Farming Webinar

Jan. 12               UMN Winter Crops Day, Waseca

Jan. 18-19          MN Ag Expo, Mankat0

Feb. 7                 Nitrogen Conference, Mankato

Feb. 7                 Women in Ag Network Conference, Willmar

Farm Fun Fact

The world's first ag-focused satellite launched this week. The first of seven satellites for agriculture launched into space by SpaceX. Built by Dragonfly Aerospace, the satellite is part of the Transporter-6 mission for customer EOS Data Analytics. The remaining six satellites of the constellation will be deployed over the next three years. The EOS Data Analytics project is the world's first agriculture-focused satellite constellation providing the industry with high-quality data to support efficient and sustainable practices.