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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News as heard inside the BARN for July 1st…

Posted by Brian Allmer on July 1, 2013

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

“House Republicans Disagree on Best Path Forward for Farm Bill”

Ahead of the 4th of July recess – there was talk amongst House Republicans about splitting the farm bill into two measures. Several Congressmen who voted against the measure would like to split farm programs from nutrition programs. Indiana Representative Marlin Stutzman actually offered an amendment to the Rules Committee to split the FARRM Act apart – but it was ruled out of order. He said last week (week of June 24) what has worked in the past didn’t work. He said during a House Republican Conference meeting that members could moan and groan and blame each other or admit times have changed, things are different and a different strategy is needed. Stutzman argued the best way forward is to separate the agriculture language of the bill from the nutrition program and work on them individually. According to Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina – a group of members told leadership they would vote for the agriculture portion with no problems if the bill were split. But according to House Ag Chair Frank Lucas – splitting the bill is unacceptable. Splitting the bill – he said – simply means not having a bill. Lucas said that is the least acceptable option – but everything else is on the table and he’s working through the scenarios with his friends. Lucas had said earlier in the week that leaders have to decide if they need to try for more Republican support or seek to bring on new Democrats.


“Legislation to Restrict Antibiotic Use in Farm Animals Introduced in Senate”

California Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2013. The bill directs the Food and Drug Administration to prohibit the use of human antibiotics in the feed and water of healthy farm animals if they jeopardize human health. The measure also requires drug companies and agriculture producers to demonstrate that antibiotics are used to treat clinically diagnosable diseases. Feinstein says antibiotics are the closest thing to a silver bullet in human medicine given their ability to wipe out a wide variety of bacterial infections. But she argues we are in danger of losing this weapon in the fight against infectious diseases. According to Feinstein – the irresponsible use of antibiotics is dangerous. She says we must preserve these life-saving drugs by carefully restricting their overuse in ag products.

Feinstein’s bill directs the Food and Drug Administration to prohibit the use of antibiotics in ways that accelerate antibiotic resistance; applies restrictions to only the limited number of antibiotics that are critical to human health; and preserves the ability of farmers to use all available antibiotics to treat sick animals.

The National Pork Producers Council has long stated the importance of having safe and effective animal health products available to maintain healthy and productive animals, prevent animal suffering and ensure consumers have access to safe and wholesome pork products. A section on antibiotics on the NPPC website notes the FDA must approve animal health drugs before they can be utilized. To win approval – a drug maker must demonstrate the product is effective and safe for the animal and safe for the environment. FDA also determines if new antibiotics for food animals are safe with regard to human health. NPPC points out that antibiotics are approved for treatment of illness, prevention of disease, control of disease and nutritional efficiency of animals- and according to the Animal Health Institute – just 13-percent of animal antibiotics are used for nutritional efficiency. NPPC says existing FDA regulations are increasingly strict and provide adequate safeguards against antibiotic resistance. In addition – the Take Care: Use Antibiotics Responsibly program demonstrates the pork industry’s fullest intention to provide veterinarians and producers the principles and guidelines for judicious antibiotic use.


“Renewable Power Sources Standing on Own Merit, But Policy Certainty Needed”

According to the second annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report – power generation from hydro, wind, solar and other renewable sources worldwide will exceed that from gas and be twice that from nuclear by the year 2016. The report is released by the International Energy Agency. The report shows renewable power is expected to increase by 40-percent in the next five years despite a difficult economic context. Renewables are the fastest-growing power generation sector. They will make up nearly a quarter of the global power mix by 2018. That’s an increase from an estimated 20-percent in 2011. The share of non-hydro sources like wind, solar, bioenergy and geothermal in total power generation will double – reaching eight-percent by 2018.

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven presented the report in New York at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum. She said renewable power sources – as their costs continue to fall – are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil fuel generation. Van der Hoeven says that’s good news for a global energy system that needs to become cleaner and more diversified. But that shouldn’t be an excuse for government complacency. According to Van der Hoeven – policy uncertainty is public enemy number one for investors. She said renewables still need long-term policies that provide a predictable and reliable market and regulatory framework compatible with societal goals. Van der Hoeven also pointed out that worldwide subsidies for fossil fuels remain six times higher than economic incentives for renewables.


“Several Crops See Increased Planted Acreage”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its June Acreage report Friday – showing that even though the growing season didn’t get off to a good start due to cold, wet weather – U.S. farmers planted slightly more corn acreage from last year – 97.4-million acres. This is the 5th year in a row that planted corn acreage has increased and marks the highest acreage planted to corn since 1936. This year is estimated to be a record-setting year for U.S. soybeans – too – as farmers planted a record 77.7-million acres of soybeans this season – also up slightly from last year. An increase also occurred in planted wheat – estimated at 56.5-million acres. However – cotton acreage planted is significantly lower than last year with just 10.3-million acres planted – which is 17-percent lower than last year.


“Grains Council Hosts Japanese Barley Team in U.S.”

The U.S. Grains Council hosted a Japanese barley team last week (week of June 24). Compound feed manufacturers, international traders, millers and large food companies traveled through parts of Idaho, Washington, Montana and North Dakota. The purpose of the program was to provide a hands-on assessment of the U.S. barley crop throughout different stages of maturity so the team could accurately evaluate their barley positions back in Japan; educate the team on different varieties and breeding programs in the pipeline; and expose the Japanese team to different marketing and contracting strategies used by other countries and companies. Grains Council Manager of Global Trade Kevin Roepke says the trip was a tremendous opportunity for Japanese barley buyers to not only understand some of the non-traditional marketing methods that exist for barley contracts – but also to gain firsthand experience of a wide array of U.S. crops. According to the Grains Council – the Japanese expressed interest in learning more about forward contracting.


“ASA President Reminds Folks Science Shows Biotech Crops are Safe”

American Soybean Association Danny Murphy recently responded to the study claiming a link between feed made from biotech soybean meal and stomach inflammation in hogs with a letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Murphy noted there are many holes in the study’s science and methodology that have since been pointed out by well-versed scientists who routinely conduct studies in the biotechnology, physiology, toxicology and veterinary fields. But Murphy’s focus was the statement of study author Judy Carman regarding the need to investigate if people are getting digestive problems from eating genetically modified crops, too. Murphy noted 17 years and literally trillions of servings of food and rations of feed without a single adverse human or animal health effect since biotech crops were released. Further – Murphy said the investigation Carman calls for already exists in droves. He said hundreds of existing studies look at the potential health impacts of biotech crops in human and animal applications – and all say biotech crops are as safe as their conventional counterparts. Given the mountain of preexisting science – Murphy said it appears Carman is less interested in more investigation and more interested in investigation that agreed with her anti-biotech viewpoint. According to Murphy – that’s not science – it’s cleverly-cloaked advocacy.

Murphy went on to state the challenge farmers, activists and consumers face. Within the next 40 years – as the population grows to more than nine-billion people – Murphy said we’ll need to produce more food than we’ve produced in the 10-thousand years before it. He said we need every tool at our disposal to meet that challenge -including biotech, non-biotech, organic, conventional, local, regional, national and global. To limit our use of any one tool as Carman and her fellow anti-biotech activists would suggest – Murphy concluded – is to limit our ability to feed our friends, our neighbors and ourselves as our collective need grows.


“USDA Announces More Grants Available Through DLT Program”

With access to the latest technology – Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says America’s rural citizens can compete in today’s global economy. That’s why USDA is providing up to 17.5-million dollars in grants through its Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program to help modernize equipment, improve healthcare services and educational opportunities for rural residents and also generate jobs in small towns to revitalize rural economies. Eligible applicants must serve a rural area, demonstrate economic need and provide at least 15-percent in matching funds. USDA must receive completed applications by August 12th.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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