Murphy’s Law #9

February 13, 2017

A lot going on that has effect on producers these past two days. Yesterday in the Senate Ag Committee were two bills that took the entire day. The first, SB2245, was about 45 minutes long and is a farmer-friendly idea about using state owned land for wetland mitigation by creating a kind of wetlands bank. The idea is that a farmer who wants to make a swap could potentially use public land. One opposing argument is that we would be using public land for private interest. No action was taken. Then came SB2263, the tile drainage bill. Testimony for took up until noon and then opposed after lunch. Again, no action on the bill was taken.
One I ducked into yesterday that we thought might be of interest to producers was SB2171 which would change newspaper notice of sale of property at a public sale from three weeks to two. Most notification requirements are two weeks and this would bring land sales into common timelines.
Today, Friday, I heard four bills, three of which you might be interested in. SB2262 would regulate fertilizer use at the state level so that cities, counties and townships do not begin to pass conflicting regulations which would become problematic for producers operating in multiple townships or counties. The ND Dept. of Ag, farm organizations and commodity groups were in agreement. The issue is being pushed by problems in other states so we are getting ahead of it. Florida, for instance, has around 40 regulations for fertilizers and three different labels for the same fertilizer by usage; Homeowner, Agricultural and Specialty (golf courses, etc.). The penalties differ for each. ND wants to avoid this.
Then SB2269 which adds Stutsman county and a couple of cities to the Lake Agassiz water authority and is an attempt to move along the Red River Valley water supply project.
Lastly but of great significance is the truck harmonization bill, HB1255. This would establish the (129,000 lb.) large truck primary highway network. It allows the bigger weight with lesser damage to roads by distributing the weight over more axles/tires. I will give you the two preferred axle configurations next week. This was the first hearing and the many years it has taken to get to this point over many studies garnered the support of the ND Trade Office, ND DOT, the ND Motor Carriers, multiple commodity groups and the Ag Coalition as well as individual exporters who welcome the savings and efficiencies of hauling more with less trips and fuel, etc. Only the short line railroads opposed, with even their testimony stating support for using the shipping containers which larger trucks make possible. They fear that these larger trucks would eat into their business.