News Bites

News bites-Schneider-Legislative kick_00442017 Campaign School dates announced—The 2018 midterm elections will, believe it or not, be here in no time. If you are interested in running for office, or if you know someone who is, keep Indiana Farm Bureau’s Campaign School in mind.

INFB will be hosting two sessions in 2017:  Feb. 7-8 and Sep. 12-13. The two-day course provides a comprehensive overview of the basic techniques necessary to running a successful political campaign. The material is taught by seasoned veterans of federal, state and local campaigns.

Be on the lookout for registration information coming soon. Class sizes are usually limited to 30 participants, so start thinking today if you or someone you know is interested in running for office in 2018 or beyond. Attending INFB’s campaign school will be one of the best investments a candidate makes. (INFB 10/28/16)

Cheese purchases to ease burdensome dairy markets—The American Farm Bureau Federation says USDA purchases of surplus cheese will help dairy farmers, but more help is needed because of low prices.

The purchases should help to lower inventories, increase consumption and provide much-needed support to dairy farmers, AFBF said. In August, AFBF requested that USDA buy up to $50 million in dairy products for nutrition programs and donations to food banks.

AFBF market intelligence director John Newton said USDA announced a second round of purchases in October to offset the lowest milk prices since 2009.

“They’ve rebounded somewhat this year, especially after the first announcement that USDA was going to do some cheese purchases, but then after it was announced it was only about 20 million and only about $7 million of that was actually spent, we saw milk prices come back down a little bit. And so there was a sense in the industry that something else needed to be done,” he said.

While the purchases along with more than $11 million in Margin Protection Program payments to dairy producers are helping, Newton says dairy farmers need more assistance.

“Dairy farmers understand that milk prices are very volatile. They go up; they go down like a roller-coaster. But this past year and a half, it’s been more like a death of a thousand cuts because prices have come down and they stayed down. And they’re not catastrophically low in that 9- or 10-dollar range, but they’re in that 14-, to 15-, to 16-dollar range, and for a lot of farms, that’s below their breakeven cost of production.”

He added that AFBF is evaluating what other options may be available for dairy farmers, particularly in the next farm bill.

“We have a farm bill working group that’s put together about 45 to 50 white papers, a webinar and survey. Some of those are on the dairy policy in the next farm bill and those can be found online.” (AFBF 10/14/16)

INFB’s Justin Schneider elected to AALA board leadership—Justin Schneider, director of state government relations for Indiana Farm Bureau, assumed the role of American Agricultural Law Association president during AALA’s 37th annual Agricultural Law Symposium, Oct. 6-8 in Oklahoma City.

AALA is a national association of agricultural law professionals from across the United States focusing on the legal needs of the agricultural community. It offers an independent, nonpartisan forum that brings together diverse viewpoints to provide information to resolve complex agricultural law problems.

“The national network that I’ve met through AALA has been invaluable to me both professionally and personally,” said Schneider. “As president, I want to make sure we focus on providing that same kind of value to our members. There are some great things happening within AALA, and I am excited to be a part of growing and strengthening our organization.”

Schneider received his undergraduate degree in agribusiness management from Purdue University and his law degree from IU Maurer School of Law-Bloomington. As INFB’s director of state government relations, he oversees the organization’s regulatory and legislative advocacy efforts at the state level.

Prior to assuming the presidency, Schneider served as an AALA symposium presenter, a member of their programming committee and board of directors, and organized the 2016 Agricultural Law Symposium. (INFB 10/12/16)