On Wednesday, the Legislature reconvened and I listened to a couple of Senate Finance and Tax bills that potentially could have gone sideways but it looks like they will stay in bounds. HB1044 related to the uniform definition of a primary sector business. The new crush plant planned for Jamestown, for instance, can qualify for a 10-year (Ag related) property tax exemption up to 100% if the county so chooses because it is a primary sector business. The other one was HB1048 which took away a corporate tax credit. Turns out it was invented in 1989 but had not been used between 2006 and 2014. With only a $2,000 cap anyway, no one opposed taking the credit away.
Today (Thursday) was the weekly Ag breakfast meeting in the Capitol cafeteria. Rep. Dennis Johnson discussed Wisconsin folks coming up to Devils Lake and working on a facility that takes cow manure and turns it into material used for degradable plant pots and mats which fertilize as they decompose. Tiling bills and the 129,000 lb. truck harmonization bill came up for comment, but no big changes were discussed.
In the House Ag Committee today, SB2262, the uniform fertilizer bill which passed the Senate 44-1 after a 6-0 Do Pass Recommendation had a hearing in which no one opposed. However, some committee members questioned the transporting of fertilizer language which may handcuff local governments where traffic routes might be affected. In the same committee, so many members were out of the room testifying that they delayed hearing SB2289 – the farm machinery and dealer practices bill, until next week.
• HB1342 was in Senate Ag this morning and the bee industry is thriving in our state (already #1 in honey production with registered colonies, apiaries and licensed beekeepers increasing every year since 2010). This bill has some minor adjustments which our Ag Dept. hopes will improve communication within the bee community and the public. You probably are aware that soybeans are self-pollinators, but I did a little digging and found an article from Corn and Soybean Digest of January, 2009, that cites three examples of improved yields:
• A short-term Canadian study found bees’ presence was associated with much higher yields in food-grade soybeans.
• Australian researchers demonstrated yield increases of 10-40% in honey bee-pollinated soybeans, compared to self-pollinated beans.
• In 2005, a Brazilian research project compared soybean seed production with and without honey bee colonies by raising plants in cages, and reported 50% higher yields when bees were present.
So, maybe it is helpful to know that. Presumably, many of you do have apiaries on your land.