By Steven Thomas, BMO
Transitioning from summer to fall brings with it the excitement of the fall sports seasons. Friday night football, volleyball games, and cross country meets. A new quarterback in Green Bay. New leaders for Wisconsin Badger Football. New schools, new classes, new students, and new routines for parents, children, and teachers as they get back to school.
Transition is the name of the game for our household as my wife and I prepare for empty nesting. It certainly feels strange after 10 years of having an Onalaska High School student in our household. Our oldest has entered his third year in the financial training program with Ecolab in Houston, TX. Our middle child graduated UW–Madison and has transitioned to working on her Masters at Winona State for Athletic Training. Our youngest heads to the collegiate ranks to study Sports Psychology and has been aggressively working on preparing for the UW–La Crosse Track and Field team. We are excited about the career advancement and experiences the future holds for them.
Fall also presents expectations for harvest and transitioning from the growing season to harvest push. Drought conditions have persisted across the Midwest in varying degrees. In my travels from western Iowa, southern Minnesota, and southern Wisconsin corn, soybean, and alfalfa fields look to be in pretty good condition with fourth crop hay giving more substantial yields than many second and third cuttings. Most of the wheat is harvested. Pollination for corn appears to have been successful with many getting prepared for corn silage harvest. It is advisable to be checking moistures regularly as drought stressed corn looks to be drying down and nearing harvest targets. Weather conditions in late August and early September with temps approaching triple digits will certainly accelerate harvest timing.
For those of us who like to eat, the U.S. Agriculture industry will be transitioning this year as our elected officials are in negotiations toward the development of the new 2023 Farm Bill. The new rendition is due on September 30. Wisconsin 3rd District Congressman Derrick Van Orden hosted a listening session last week in La Crosse with U.S. House of Representatives Ag Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson and Sen. Ron Johnson fielding questions and listening to comments from representatives of the agricultural community. Agriculture is the number one industry in 49 of 50 states, despite having an ever-diminishing number of producers actively involved in production. Hawaii is the only state where ag is not number one due to their tourism industry. Rep. Van Orden expressed that agriculture and food security are key to national security and that discussions on the new farm bill are critical in this legislative session.
Over 300 people attended and those offering comments expressed questions and thoughts on a wide variety of topics. Primary areas of interest included milk pricing and revisions to the milk marketing orders and producer price differentials. Dairy Margin Coverage and Crop insurance programs were mentioned with Chairman Thompson expressing continued support for the funding and potential expansion of these successful programs
Negotiation on trade agreements were raised with Mexico, Canada, and China being major trading partners. The war in Ukraine was mentioned for the world and national impact. Proposition 12 and its potential impact on interstate trade. Border policy and related impacts on the labor force. Other topics included biofuels, organic certification standards, foreign land ownership, autonomous agriculture, dairy supply management, cannabis regulations, conservation programs, and farm ownership transitions.
Thompson, Van Orden, and the rest of the Ag Committee will be working to develop a bipartisan bill supporting our number one industry. They are continuing to collect verbal and written comments. If you have feedback, I encourage you to reach out to your state or U.S. representatives or Rep. Van Orden at 202-225-5506.
For this ag transition, Chairman Thompson expressed appreciation for everyone attending and quipped that “if you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” He welcomed the input received and is certainly a champion for agriculture at the federal level.
Make your voice heard and enjoy your transitions this fall.
Thomas is vice president – commercial relationship manager at BMO in Onalaska. Thomas also serves as a member of the 2023–2024 WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board of Directors.
Photo courtesy of Christy Besonen, East Wisconsin Savings Bank