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GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS – WEEK OF JUNE 9, 2017

Aurora Cooperative 5 years ago

Federal Issues

Proposed Budget Seeks Slight Cuts For OSHA; Reflects Changed Priorities
“The White House says the budget proposal places a priority on helping protect American workers and helping employers understand and comply with worker protection laws by putting an emphasis on compliance assistance and outreach.”

Analysis by the law firm Conn Maciel Carey suggests that the budget may result in fewer inspections, with the emphasis shifting away from enforcement and toward compliance assistance and cooperative programs. As well, Conn Maciel Carey predicts the budget would result in a decrease in resources for rulemaking by OSHA and other DOL agencies. The firm advises, “Notwithstanding expected cuts to DOL’s enforcement and regulatory programs, employers should remain vigilant in ensuring compliance with Wage and Hour, OSHA, and other DOL rules.”’ (Source: Safety.BLR)

Chad Carlson, Director of Grain Operations at Aurora Cooperative, attended the NGFA meeting in Washington, D.C. and was able to visit all Nebraska offices except Fortenberry. Key topics discussed at the meetings included waterway infrastructure, ChadCarlsonNAFTA, and CRP. Chad was also privileged to have a visit with Senator Pat Roberts, who is the Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee. In total, more than 50 members of the NGFA’s Country Elevator and International Trade/Ag Policy Committees, along with several state/regional associations were able to meet with more than 90 congressional offices carrying their united message.

Dawn Caldwell, Head of Government Affairs at Aurora Cooperative, visited with staff from the offices of Sasse, Fischer, and Smith about the proposed idea of a boarder adjustment tax. She got varying responses, from the mere idea won’t get anywhere to we need to stay on top of it. Fischer’s staff was the one who had the least concern that boarder adjustment tax would ever get implemented. Dawn is looking forward to visiting directly about this issue with the Senators and Congressmen in a couple of weeks.

Growth energy is launching a seven-figure TV and digital ad buy in D.C. and other markets to promote Sen. Deb Fischer’s bill to allow year-round sale of 15 percent ethanol fuel. The bill is set to get a hearing at EPW next week.

State Issues

The Nebraska Cattlemen Midyear meeting took place this week in the northeast part of the state. Many state senators were in attendance, along with staff from national congressional offices. All of the state senators present spoke in each of the committee meetings. Major topics of discussion were property taxes, state spending (education), local spending, and more property taxes. Secretary of State, John Gale was on hand to discuss the process of placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot. Aurora Cooperative farmer-owner, Trey Duensing, was on hand to talk about his experience in working through the zoning process to obtain a permit to build a new feed yard.

A meeting was held in the Aurora Cooperative office, June 9th, with Senator Curt Friesen and Dr. Randy Gilson (a school superintendent), along with Craig Grams and Dawn Caldwell. Dr. Gilson did an excellent job of discussing areas where efficiency could be achieved, while still prioritizing the quality of education desired for students. Senator Friesen greatly appreciated the meeting and will use what he learned when working on plans for the session that begins early next year. He and his colleagues have already begun meeting to work on strategy and language.

NEWS ARTICLES OF INTEREST:
LOBBYING BLITZ AS EPA WEIGHS ETHANOL POLICY
TRUMP TOUTS WATERWAYS, AG SHIPPING NEEDS. SPEAKING ON THE BANKS OF THE OHIO RIVER AT CINCINNATI YESTERDAY, PRESIDENT TRUMP PROMOTED HIS COMING INFRASTRUCTURE INITIATIVE BY EMPHASIZING THE NEED TO IMPROVE THE INLAND WATERWAYS.

That represents an important shift from the Obama administration, which had long resisted funding the rebuilding of locks and dams on the upper Mississippi River. Trump said the inland waterways were “critical corridors of commerce” that “depend on a dilapidated system of locks and dams that is more than half a century old, and their condition continues to decay.”

There was no sign, however, that Trump was backing off his plan to rely heavily on private investment to fund his program. Agricultural interests and waterway operators say that’s unrealistic because investors would expect shippers to pay tolls that the industry can’t afford.

Farm interests encouraged. Trump noted that executives of several companies that rely on waterways were in attendance – including Tony Will, CEO of CF Industries and vice chairman of The Fertilizer Institute. Also attending were executives from the Soy Transportation Coalition, Bunge North America and Land O’Lakes.

Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the soy coalition, said it was notable that Trump “emphasized the critical role that waterways play” and linked them to agriculture. The president of the Illinois Corn Growers Association, Justin Durdan, said that Trump raised the waterway issue “to a position of prominence in our national consciousness.”

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