Farmers Union Minute

Read the latest from North Dakota Farmers Union!

Feb. 5, 2023

NDFU LEADS CONSERVATION PILOT  
NDFU is leading a new pilot program that will reward farmers and ranchers for adopting or maintaining high-value conservation practices. The Alliance to Advance Climate-Smart Agriculture will reward farmers with $100 per acre or animal unit for utilizing practices like no till, reduced till, prescribed grazing, cover crops and more. The program is available to producers in Cass, Foster, McKenzie, Mercer, Rolette, Stark, and Ward counties, and eastern Billings.

The Alliance is funded through USDA’s $3.1 billion Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. NDFU is administering the program in partnership with the North Dakota Conservation District Employees Association, the North Dakota Grain Growers Association and seven soil conservation districts. NDFU hosted a webinar on the program on Thursday. A recording of the webinar can be found here.

NDIC APPROVES FERTILIZER INVESTMENTS
Last Wednesday, the North Dakota Industrial Commission approved $125 million in forgivable loans for two fertilizer production projects. Based on a recommendation from the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority, the NDIC allocated $75 million to the Prairie Horizon Energy Solutions project in the Dickinson area. The remaining $50 million will support a venture by NextEra Energy Resources near Jamestown. 

During October’s special legislative session, state lawmakers passed a bill to incentivize local fertilizer production. The incentives are in the form of loans that will be forgiven once the plants begin operation. NDFU and a coalition of agriculture groups supported the legislation during the special session.

BURGUM NOT SEEKING RE-ELECTION
Last week, Gov. Doug Burgum announced he will not seek a third term, causing a shakeup in North Dakota politics. The next day, three-term U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong jumped into the race for governor. Travis Hipsher, a Democrat from Neche, also announced his candidacy this week. 

Armstrong’s decision to run for governor leaves North Dakota’s lone U.S. House seat up for grabs. Former state Sen. Tom Campbell (R-Grafton), who previously planned to run for governor, pivoted to the congressional race. Campbell and former state Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) are vying for the Republican nomination. In early January, military veteran Trygve Hammer (D-Minot) announced his plans to run for Congress on the Democratic-NPL ticket. The primary election is set for June 11.

SENATORS INTRODUCE FOREIGN OWNERSHIP BILL
bipartisan group of senators introduced a new bill to improve tracking of foreign ownership of agricultural land. The AFIDA Improvements Act would streamline data sharing between USDA and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The bill would also require implementation of an online public database and empower USDA to improve data collection and validation.  

The bill largely follows recommendations from a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The report highlighted problems with how the USDA’s Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act system tracks foreign ownership.  USDA is currently collecting feedback on how it collects information disclosing foreign ownership of agricultural land. Elected officials around the country are pushing for stricter regulations on foreign investment in U.S. agricultural land.

NDFU SUPPORTS RIGHT TO REPAIR
NDFU recently supported, a petition urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue a rule addressing farmers’ right to repair agricultural machinery. In comments submitted Friday, NDFU President Mark Watne stressed the benefits of technology improvements but said restrictions on repair have “made it increasingly challenging for farmers and ranchers to address issues with equipment.”  NDFU’s member-driven Policy and Action supports “fair repair and right to repair legislation.” 

Ask NDFU

Have a question, comment, or concern? Focused on a policy issue we didn’t discuss here? Send Matt Perdue an email at mperdue@ndfu.org, and we will try to include it in the next edition.