Western United Dairymen Headline News

Western United Dairymen

  • WUD Statement on Immigration Executive Action

    Yesterday, President Obama announced a series of executive actions intended to provide relief from deportation and work authority to certain individuals who are not legally present in the U.S. The specific implications for agriculture are difficult to assess, but it is clear President Obama’s executive action is limited and only proposes temporary relief.

    WUD firmly believes that Congressional action is the only true path to a comprehensive solution for the current broken immigration system. For example, farmers with year-round labor needs are ineligible to participate in any existing program because the law requires the job to be seasonal and the worker to be temporary. Legislation appears to be the only way to eliminate this challenge to our country’s food security.

    The consequences of labor instability and Congressional inaction to address it have been severe.  We are committed to achieving a fair legislative solution that most importantly, legalizes the current workforce and provides a stable, legal, year-round workforce moving forward. Our dairy families depend on these experienced employees who understand the needs of our dairy farms and herds. Nov. 21, 2014 WUD Friday Update

  • Book your WUD convention hotel reservations early

    Book your hotel reservations for the Western United Dairymen annual convention at Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp, CA (Yosemite), March 18-20, 2015. Reservations may be made online or by telephone. Register by February 22, 2015 to get the discounted rate, starting at $129. Late reservations must still use the WUD group name/code, but will be made on a space-available basis and receive the hotel’s best available rate. To automatically be added to the Western United Dairymen (WUD) room block and receive the discounted rate starting at $129 per night, go to: http://www.WUDconvention.com and choose the “Hotel/Location” tab to find the link to the Tenaya Lodge. You can also call Tenaya Lodge reservations toll free at (888) 514-2167. Hours: 7:00am - 9:00pm Monday - Friday, 7:00am - 7:00pm Saturday and Sunday. Reference “WUD 2015 Convention” or group code“30X0V8”. WUD news

  • Costa and Bera win California congressional seats

    The most expensive congressional race in the nation ended Wednesday with no change: Democratic Rep. Ami Bera was re-elected to the Sacramento-area seat he wrested from Republican control just two years ago. Bera edged out his Republican opponent, former Congressman Doug Ose, by a little more than 1,400 votes out of 183,000 ballots cast. The final margin was 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent. Earlier in the day, Democratic Rep. Jim Costa won a sixth term to his San Joaquin Valley district after a low-turnout contest that was much tighter than expected and that neither party had targeted. They were the last of the House races to be decided in California, which has the nation's largest congressional delegation at 53 seats. <more>

    Nov. 19, 2014 AP

  • Obama, daring Congress, acts to overhaul immigration

    President Obama chose confrontation over conciliation on Thursday as he asserted the powers of the Oval Office to reshape the nation’s immigration system and all but dared members of next year’s Republican-controlled Congress to reverse his actions on behalf of millions of immigrants.

    In a 15-minute address from the East Room of the White House that sought to appeal to a nation’s compassion, Mr. Obama told Americans that deporting millions is “not who we are” and cited Scripture, saying, “We shall not oppress a stranger for we know the heart of a stranger — we were strangers once, too.”

    The prime-time speech reflected Mr. Obama’s years of frustration with congressional gridlock and his desire to frame the last years of his presidency with far-reaching executive actions. His directive will shield up to five million people from deportation and allow many to work legally, although it offers no path to citizenship.

    “The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every Democratic president for the past half-century,” Mr. Obama said. “To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.”

    In a series of rhetorical questions, he cast the immigration debate in emotional terms. “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” he asked. Later he added, “Whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in.”

    Mr. Obama intends to underscore the schism between the parties on the issue of immigration during a campaign-like rally on Friday at a high school in Las Vegas, where Hispanics are a powerful and growing voting bloc.

    The trip is part of a White House strategy to try to convince Americans in the next months that Mr. Obama’s actions are legal and right. Immigration advocates plan to use that time to push for greater protections while Republicans are devising ways to defy the president and exercise their new authority.

    Conservative lawmakers accused the president of abusing his office — Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority leader, called it a “brazen power grab” — and promised a fight when the Republicans take full control of Congress next year. But even before Mr. Obama’s speech, Republicans were divided about how to stop him and unsure how to express their anger without damaging their standing with Latinos. <more>

    Nov. 21, 2014 The New York Times


  • Feinstein shuts off California water talks until 2015

    Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on Thursday pulled the plug on secret, high-stakes negotiations over a water bill for her drought-plagued state, saying she and fellow lawmakers will try again next year.

    Feinstein’s unexpected move ends, for now, what had become an increasingly contentious fight over ambitious drought-fighting legislation whose details few people have seen.

    “You’ve got to work with people to get something done,” Feinstein said in an interview. “I’m going to put together a first-day bill for the next Congress, and it can go through the regular order.”

    Right up until Thursday, Feinstein and Republicans in the House of Representatives had been pushing hard to beat the Capitol Hill clock, as the lawmakers and their staffs swapped text language and haggled over details in hopes of completing a bill before a scheduled Dec. 11 adjournment. The negotiators had taken care of “a lot of low-hanging fruit,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a Republican from Butte County.

    Now, the clock will be reset when the 114th Congress convenes, with Republicans controlling both the Senate and the House.

    “We’ve come a long way,” said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare. “These type of things happen in negotiations.”

    Nunes, who wrote the original version of the bill eventually passed by the House in February, said “we’ll continue to try to work together” and that “we appreciate that Sen. Feinstein has negotiated in good faith.”

    Nunes also said he and his fellow House Republicans wouldn’t stop trying to accomplish water legislation this Congress. With time so short, that long-shot effort would probably require trying to add language to a must-pass spending bill, a dicey proposition for anything ambitious and controversial.

    Responding to the state’s devastating drought, the GOP-controlled House passed a far-reaching bill in February on a largely party line 229-191 vote.

    Introduced by freshman Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, and drawing largely on a bill previously introduced by Nunes, the House bill rolls back a landmark 1992 law that directed more water to protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The bill removes wild-and-scenic protections from a half mile of the Merced River, and it authorizes new water-storage projects on locations that include the Upper San Joaquin River, among other provisions.

    The House measure also repeals the expensive San Joaquin River restoration effort, which has cost more than $100 million to date and is anticipated to go higher. The bill replaces the restoration plan with something more modest.

    The legislation was passed without the usual committee hearing and markup, as House members insisted time was of the essence.

    “We have to make sure the crisis we’re facing today is addressed,” Valadao said at the time. “If the other side has a solution, bring it to the table. I’m happy to negotiate.”

    Feinstein countered in May with a slimmed-down bill passed through the Senate by unanimous consent, also without a committee hearing. Ever since, Democrats who voted against the 68-page House bill, and whose congressional districts span part of the 1,100 square-mile delta, have complained they have been shut out of the subsequent negotiations, in which Feinstein has taken the lead role.

    “She’s doing the bidding of a very small group of people,” Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, said Thursday, prior to Feinstein’s decision becoming public. “This is just money and politics talking.”

    In particular, Miller and other critics have contended that the legislation has appeared to be getting written for the benefit of the 600,000-acre Westlands Water District, whose general manager, Tom Birmingham, has been in Washington, D.C., this week for potential negotiations.

    A Westlands representative declined to comment Thursday.

    Miller called the exclusive negotiations “outrageous,” and the closed-door sessions prompted, in recent days, a flurry of negative newspaper editorials that Feinstein said Thursday were based on “misimpressions.” Draft copies of the legislation, some marked “confidential draft language, do not distribute,” were beginning to circulate on Capitol Hill in recent days, further prompting alarms in some Northern California circles.

    “It is good news Sen. Feinstein has indicated she wants to work with all interests to craft a bill and not circumvent the regular committee process,” environmental activist Patricia Schifferle said in an email. “To that end, Sen. Feinstein needs to release a copy of her current draft, the agency comments and issues that remain unresolved so everyone can comment.”

    Feinstein’s California Democratic colleague, Sen. Barbara Boxer, has played second fiddle on the secret water talks, saying in public only that she thought a consensus bill was possible. Gauging the enthusiasm of Boxer’s support has been complicated by the fact that a number of her traditional environmentalist allies are unhappy with the bill efforts.

    “I’m really glad that Sen. Feinstein is taking the time to get more feedback on her updated legislation,” Boxer said. “As I have said from the beginning of this process, we need to hear from all the stakeholders who rely on a fair allocation of California’s water supply.” 

    Nov. 20, 2014 Fresno Bee          

  • WUD and Idaho Dairymen's Association urge Congress to restore tax code‏

    Western United Dairymen together with the Idaho Dairymen’s Association and 40 other agricultural groups, delivered a letter to the House of Representatives on Tuesday encouraging lawmakers to restore a tax code provision allowing farms and dairies to write off capital purchases, instead of depreciating them over time.

    The letter asks Congress to focus on Section 179 which allows farmers to deduct large investments the year purchases are made, up to $500,000. The expired code only allows for an immediate deduction of $25,000. They also encouraged leaders to reinstate the 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including farm equipment.

    Western United’s CEO Michael Marsh who is also a CPA noted, “Congress needs to move expeditiously to extend these expired provisions as dairymen will soon be huddling with their CPA’s to formulate yearend tax planning strategies. The renewal of these expired provisions makes sense for our dairy farmers as well as for the economy as a whole as the provisions will stimulate the US economy, spur investment and create jobs right here in America.”

    The tax provision encourages dairy operators to invest in their businesses and reduces burdens on farm families facing an already unpredictable industry climate.

    “From California to Idaho, dairy owners manage the challenge of large investments in machinery and equipment,” adds Bob Naerebout, executive director of Idaho Dairymen’s Association. “The extension of this tax code provides some incentive for producers to invest in the businesses that are the backbone of rural American.”

    The groups encouraged lawmakers to take up a multi-year tax extenders package, including Section 179, by the end of the year.

    Nov. 19, 2014 WUD press release 

  • WUD leadership to lead discussion at 2014 California Alfalfa, Forage, and Grains Symposium, Dec. 10-12, Long Beach

    The 2014 California Alfalfa, Forage, and Grains Symposium will take place at the Long Beach Convention Center, Dec. 10 – 12. The event is a comprehensive meeting to focus on critical issues related to alfalfa and grain crops, particularly global issues, economics, and practical 'how to' talks on crop production techniques. Included in the program is a discussion on dairy trends and the issues and impacts of feed prices led by WUD CEO, Michael Marsh. A collaborative session by Paul Sousa, WUD director of environmental services, and Dr. Deanne Meyer, UC Specialist, UC Davis, will cover the requirements for manure and nutrient management on dairies. For program information and event registration click <here>.

  • USDA, Chevrolet and Ducks Unlimited help ranchers sell carbon credits

    USDA, General Motors and Ducks Unlimited are part of a project unveiled today that creates a market for carbon credits generated on working grasslands.

    As part of the project, landowners voluntarily place lands under a perpetual easement but retain rights to work the land, such as raising livestock or growing hay. The carbon storage benefits are quantified, verified, and formally registered, resulting in carbon credits.

    The carbon credits are made available to entities interested in purchasing carbon offsets. In turn, the landowners receive compensation for the carbon credits generated on their lands. "Ranchers benefit from new revenue streams, while thriving grasslands provide nesting habitat for wildlife, are more resilient to extreme weather, and help mitigate the impact of climate change," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release.

    In the “first-of-its kind” transaction detailed at a Washington press conference, Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, purchased almost 40,000 carbon dioxide reduction tons generated on working ranch grasslands in the Prairie Pothole region of North Dakota.

    Robert Bonnie, USDA's under secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, explained USDA's involvement in the project. He was joined by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and representatives for General Motors, The Climate Trust, and Ducks Unlimited. <more>

    Nov. 17, 2014 Agri-Pulse


  • WUD co-sponsors seminars in Dec. on tax exemptions for agriculture

    WUD along with several county Farm Bureaus, the California Automotive Wholesalers Association and member of the Board of Equalization, George Runner, will host six seminars from Dec. 1 - Dec. 5 on valuable tax incentives available to California producers.

    In 2004, WUD was one of the leading trade organizations that supported legislation to exempt farmers from applicable state sales tax on certain products to be used in the raising of animals (dairy, cattle and poultry, including most construction materials used in dairy barns); gas used for the production of product, as well as use as a heating source for farm residences; tractors and tractor implements, and parts used to repair tractors and tractor implements. This legislation has provided significant monetary relief to California farmers, in particular to the dairy industry.

    Be sure to attend one of the following seminars to gather vital information related to these valuable tax exemptions. Please RSVP to the numbers provided.




    Event   Sponsors

    Dec. 1

    9:00 AM

    801 S.   Mt. Vernon Avenue, Bakersfield - RSVP 661-397- 9635

    Kern   County Farm Bureau, Western United Dairymen, California Automotive Wholesalers Association

    Dec. 2

    10:00 AM  

    737 N.   Ben Maddox Way, Visalia - RSVP 559-732-8301

    Tulare   County Farm Bureau, Western United Dairymen, CA Automotive Wholesalers Association

    Dec. 2

    2:00 PM

    1274 W.   Hedges Avenue, Fresno - RSVP 559-237- 0263

    Fresno   County Farm Bureau, Western United Dairymen, CA Automotive Wholesalers Association

    Dec. 3

    9:00 AM

    1102 S.   Pine Street, Madera - RSVP 559-674-8871

    Madera   County Farm Bureau, Western United Dairymen, CA Automotive Wholesalers Association

    Dec. 4

    10:00 AM  

    646 S.   Hwy 59, Merced - RSVP 209-723-3001

    Merced   County Farm Bureau, Western United Dairymen, CA Automotive Wholesalers Association

    Dec. 5

    9:30 AM

    680 N.   Campus Drive, Han-ford - RSVP 559-584-3557

    Kings   County Farm Bureau, Western United Dairymen, CA Automotive Wholesalers Association


    Continuing into early 2015, the Board of Equalization will assist in the coordination of additional workshops throughout the state. Upcoming seminar details will be posted in your WUD Friday Update and Headline News. For additional information about exemptions for farm equipment and machinery, including solar equipment, visit the "Tax Help for the Agricultural Industry" webpage at boe.ca.gov/ag.

  • Senators to FDA: get data on antibiotics in food-producing livestock

    For the second time this year, a group of U.S. Senators is pressing the FDA to strengthen its oversight of antibiotics that are used in food-producing livestock. In a letter sent yesterday to the agency, the senators say they want FDA officials to collect data on the extent to which these medicines are used by food producers. At issue is growing concern that humans are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics that are widely used in food-producing animals.

    Antibiotic resistance has been blamed for at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually in the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which called for minimizing use. More recently, the Obama administration released a game plan for coping with the problem.

    But the FDA has been criticized by some lawmakers and consumer groups for relying on a voluntary plan to curb antibiotic use. The agency has received commitments from 26 drug makers to remove from product labeling any mention of antibiotics for promoting animal growth. Weight gain makes animals better suited for increased food production.

    The FDA plan goes into effect in 2016. But the senators wrote the FDA last July about concerns the agency may not be able to determine the extent to which improper use actually declines. They also asked the FDA officials which, if any, steps they are prepared to take if no change in usage is seen and how the agency plans to collect data on antibiotic use.

    This latest missive about data collection is somewhat more explicit, though. The senators – California’s Dianne Feinstein, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand and Iowa’s Tom Harkin, all of whom are Democrats – are now asking the FDA to issue a rule to increase data collection and develop a plan specifically to collect data on how antibiotics are used on farms.

    The “current antibiotic use and resistance monitoring system has shortcomings,” they write. “… Data on antibiotic use and resistance enables federal agencies to take action to protect the public health and supports research into better understanding complex questions related to the development of antibiotic resistance and potential links to human health.”

    Will the FDA take their advice? This is uncertain. We asked the agency for comment and will update you accordingly. It is worth noting that Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Ca.) last year introduced a bill to gather data on antibiotic use in food-producing livestock. And Gillibrand did the same in the Senate, but these efforts have stalled.

    As we have reported previously, consumer groups had pressed the FDA to ban antibiotic use for food-producing livestock, but last July, a federal appeals court ruled that the agency does not have to do.

    Nov. 13, 2014 The Wall Street Journal

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