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Senators Secure Language in Tax Relief Legislation
WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) announced that his amendment to maintain the fair tax treatment of cooperatives, which he authored with Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), has been included in the conference committee’s final tax relief package. The elimination of Section 199 in Congress’ draft tax bills presented a significant problem for cooperatives, threatening to increase their taxes and leading to higher costs for their members. The Hoeven-Thune language included in the final bill fixes this provision, ensuring cooperatives in North Dakota and across the nation will benefit from Congress’ tax relief legislation.
“We worked hard to ensure the final tax relief legislation provided certainty for cooperatives and treated them fairly,” Hoeven said. “Cooperatives provide vital services for our communities and agriculture producers and fill an important role in our economy. I appreciate Senator Thune, as well as our colleagues in the Senate and the House, for working with us to secure this important provision for our cooperatives. I look forward to advancing this and the rest of our tax relief legislation to help grow our economy and benefit middle-class Americans, workers, small businesses, farmers and ranchers.”
“Throughout the debate on tax reform, Senator John Hoeven has worked tirelessly to ensure that farmers and their co-ops were treated fairly. In particular, the Senator recognized early on that the elimination of the Section 199 deduction threatened to raise the tax burden of many producers and cooperatives. The provisions that he and Senator John Thune were able to secure in the bill will, we believe, keep money in the pockets of family farmers across the country at a time when low commodity prices mean that every penny counts. We strongly support this bill and thank Senator Hoeven for his leadership.”--Chuck Conner, President & CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Tom Astrup, President and CEO of American Crystal Sugar Company, applauds Senator Hoeven for his hard work on behalf of family farmers. Senator Hoeven fought effectively to craft a good alternative to Section 199, the Domestic Production Activity Deduction, which is eliminated under the tax bill. We think the alternative will continue to provide important job creating incentives to rural America, which is extremely important given this challenging period for the farm economy.
“Senator Hoeven’s leadership in the tax reform debate means that CHS members—both farmers and local co-ops—will continue to be engines of economic activity in North Dakota and across the territory we serve. The Section 199 deduction helped to create jobs and broaden the tax base in many rural communities and the loss of the deduction would have had impacts far beyond agriculture. Senator Hoeven has prevented that scenario through his efforts to make the new tax code work for co-ops and their members. On behalf of CHS and our farmer-owners, I would like to thank him for being a champion of agriculture.” – Jay Debertin, President & CEO of CHS Inc.
“Land O’Lakes and our members thank Senator Hoeven today for his dedication to making the tax reform package work for family farmers and the co-ops they own. Senator Hoeven led the effort to ensure that eliminating the Section 199 deduction does not have the unintended consequence of raising taxes on producers during hard times across the countryside. The provisions included in the final package will offset the loss of this deduction, we believe, and help encourage job creation and growth across rural America.”--Chris Policinski, President & CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc.
Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) worked to gather support for the Hoeven amendment in the House of Representatives, along with Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Mike Conaway (R-Texas). Other cosponsors of Hoeven’s amendment in the Senate included Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tom Cotton (R-Texas) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).
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December 19, 2017 at 12:53PM
Driving those trucks, a few overlooked harvest workers are just trying to make it in the world doing what they love — all while working toward a degree that will one day help them do just that.
By Emma Vatnsdal | WDAY
How they got started
For Adam Meister, a senior majoring in agricultural systems management (ASM) from Hanover, Minn., working during harvest while going to school full time is nothing new. He has worked for B&B Farms in Kindred, N.D., for two harvest seasons, but he doesn't stop there.
"I worked there all summer-long," Meister said. "I pretty much am a hired hand and do what I am told. I helped with spraying activities, work in the shop. During harvest now, I just help where I can."
Many students who work for area farmers during harvest work jobs similar to Meister. However, some students find their time to shine after the crops come out of the ground.
Adam Walter, a senior also majoring in ASM from Centerville, Minn., has found his niche the past two harvest seasons at the CW Valley Co-op in Comstock, Minn.
"I talk to farmers, dump (the grain) trucks, take care of the shipping process mainly, and keep up on maintenance," Walter said.
The mounds of sugar beets that pile up between Canada and South Dakota need someone to haul them. Jeremy Rhines, a senior general agriculture and agriculture economics student from Sidney, Mont., is the man for the job.
Working for Ackerman Farms in Hillsboro, N.D., Rhines gets his turn driving many different crops to the elevators.
"I usually drive tractor and truck. Beets, soybeans, corn, barley, stuff like that," Rhines said.
Many of the NDSU students who work as hired hands on farms during harvest grew up in agriculture or, at the very least, have a background in it.
"I grew up on a decent-sized farming operation," said Rhines, who works on his family farm in Sidney, Mont., during the summer.
For Meister, the farm experience he gained before finding himself in this job came from a small, family operation. "We helped out a lot around my uncle's farm, but I haven't learned or done as much as I have done here," Meister said.
Juggling a busy schedule
Most college students spend some of their free time after class doing what interests them—working out, hanging out with friends or going out downtown. But for these young men, when class dismisses, it's only the beginning of the day.
"Usually I put in at least 10 hours (a day). I start at 11 and work until midnight, usually after classes are done. I guess that is more than the average farmhand, but I get my stuff done," Meister said, and that is just the three days a week he works after classes.
On the weekends the real work gets done. While many NDSU students are gearing up for Bison football games and tailgating, Meister has already been working for a few hours.
"Usually on the weekends, if we start at 8, we usually go until 11 at night. We usually put in 13- to 15-hour days, I guess." Meister said.
For a full-time student, working that many hours per week can be draining.
"I would guess (I work) maybe 60 hours a week. I only sleep around 4 hours a night," Meister said.
While 60 hours per week is on the extreme side of the spectrum, for Rhines and Walter, seeing a 40- to 50-hour workweek is common. For Rhines, a 12- to 14-hour workday is typical during beet season, and that doesn't include his commute from Fargo to Hillsboro.
How harvest affects them
Working between 30 and 60 hours a week doesn't come without consequences, though.
"I would say the biggest commitment that I give up is sleep. And my personal life," Meister said. "I have no time to go out with friends and stuff like that. And that is 60 hours a week not working Tuesdays or Thursdays."
Megan Ratke, an NDSU freshman and Meister's girlfriend of two years, worries that with Meister working so much, he is going to miss out on much more.
"I just feel like there is no time for him to have fun in college. And I feel like he is working his college years away," Ratke said.
Even though all girlfriends of young farmers know what they are signing up for when harvest rolls around, the demanding schedule these young men keep can be a major strain on even the strongest relationships.
"I know it is his job, and it is something that he loves, but you have to do what you can," Ratke said. "There is no time for dates or anything. Trying to hang out with him after work is usually a no-go because he is tired and the only time he is home is when he is sleeping. Plans are always changing, so that is hard, too ... but he loves his job so I can't really get mad at him. You can't get mad for working."
Haley Stephenson, Walter's girlfriend of two years, agrees.
"Oh yeah, you get put through the ringer," said Stephenson, a sophomore at Northland Community College in East Grand Forks, N.D. "The little things become huge that really don't need to be. Little things build up until they're World War III."
The young men aren't oblivious to the situation.
"It affects my relationship big time," Walter said. "It is hard to see each other, plus Haley lives two hours away from me ... you end up staying up later to finish schoolwork and trying to finish stuff while I am working, too. "
Why they do it
Although they deal with challenges that would make many want to throw their hands up and quit, the work ethic these young men have, coupled with the work that they do, has positives, too.
If they were to work only during harvest, their earnings could potentially carry them through the whole year. However, many work year-round to keep their pocketbook padded when it comes time to pay the bills.
"If I just did straight harvest, I would be able to pay the bills. If I needed it to, I could easily make it. I do work year-round, though, so I never feel like I am behind when I have to pay bills and stuff," Walter said.
Although the money they make working like this is nice, it isn't the only motivator. A lot of it has to do with getting out of the city and having a little peace in nature.
"I really like being out in the field," Rhines said. "The rural farm area and the fields. Also the thought that I am feeding the world."
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November 6, 2017 at 10:03AM
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October 21, 2017 at 06:05PM
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service released the sugarbeet crop progress report for week ending Oct. 15th.
North Dakota is 89% complete with the 2017 sugarbeet harvest. That is now ahead of the five-year average of 81% and is an increase from 61% completed last week.
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October 13, 2017 at 06:59PM
Beet Harvest Going Well — American Crystal general agronomist Tyler Grove says the cooperative has been working around the areas impacted by rains. "We're getting beets in anywhere we can.” Grove says the sugar content and yields have been good. “Sugar content is a little easier. Even with the rain, we’re pleased with how things are progressing. We are still in the 29.7 (ton) yielding range estimate.”