READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, September 27th…

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State Ag Directors Say next Farm Bill Could Provide Relief

A group of state agriculture directors says the next farm bill could offer relief to farmers in the midst of lower commodity prices and lower farm income. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture met in Nebraska last week. Politico reports members mulled over issues including dairy prices, water quality issues and disaster relief funding as farm bill priorities for the group. NASDA expects to finalize its farm bill priority list early next year. The group discussed adding a title to the farm bill related to land transition. South Carolina Agriculture Secretary Hugh Weathers said “if getting new people into farming is seen as that vital, then it has a place in the farm bill,” in regards to helping new farmers get farmland. Vermont Agriculture Commissioner Chuck Ross added “Capitol Hill tends to listen to state agriculture officials when it comes to the farm bill,” that’s because nearly all of NASDA’s priorities for the 2014 Farm Bill were included in the final legislation.


USDA Waiting on More Funding

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the U.S. Department of Agriculture needs more funding to continue distributing aid to farmers hit by low commodity prices. Vilsack said last week “hopefully with the continuing resolution, we can take a look at what additional steps we might be able to provide” to farmers and the agriculture industry. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, introduced a stopgap funding measure last week that would also accelerate reimbursement funding for USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, a USDA-run entity that helps farmers endure unstable market prices by providing loans and purchasing surplus commodities. Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today reports President Barack Obama requested the provision in August, saying the Commodity Credit Corporation would exceed its $30 billion borrowing limit during the period of the continuing resolution and needed its annual reimbursement moved forward to continue operating.


Court Strikes Down Tighter Anhydrous Ammonia Restrictions

The Ag Retailers Associations says Friday’s court decision to strike down tighter anhydrous ammonia restrictions will save U.S. retailers an estimated $100 million in compliance costs. A U.S. appeals court ruled against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, because the Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Last year, OSHA issued a memo redefining the retail facility exemption to the Process Safety Management Standard without seeking industry input. The appeals court ruled OSHA should have posted for public comment the proposed changes to the PSM standard. Process Safety Management applies to any facility storing 10,000 pounds or more of anhydrous ammonia. However, retail agriculture facilities selling more than 50 percent of the fertilizer to farmers have been exempt from PSM. OSHA’s 2015 memo eliminated the exemption.

Farm Bureau Survey Shows Lower Food Prices

The annual Fall Marketbasket survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation shows lower retail food prices compared to the same time last year. The survey released Monday showed an eight percent decrease, or four dollars in price, to total $49.70. The marketbasket survey features 16 common food items including eggs, whole milk, cheddar cheese, chicken breast, sirloin tip roast and ground chuck. Of the 16 products, 13 in all decreased in price while just three increased in average price. Egg prices saw the most significant price drop, down 51 percent compared with last year. Farm Bureau’s John Newton says that is because egg production is recovering well from the 2014 avian influenza outbreak. Prices for bagged salad, apples and potatoes all increased. Newton says apple prices are higher because of dry conditions in apple growing areas, and salad prices are up because of lower output by farmers in California and Arizona.

NCBA, PLC: Fish and Wildlife Service Addressing ESA Deficiencies

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, along with the Public Lands Council say a Federal Fish and Wildlife Service final rule is a step to “address rampant abuse of the Endangered Species Act listing process. The rule announced Monday limits petitions for new listings to one species and will require more substantive justification to file a petition for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Public Lands Council executive director Ethan Lane says the rule is “progress toward increasing local input into the process” and applauded the rule. Currently, the Endangered Species Act has a less than two percent recovery rate. The Fish and Wildlife Service says the changes will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the petition process to support species conservation. The rule was expected to be published to the Federal Register Tuesday.

USDA Launches Cage-Free Egg Report

Last week’s Cage-Free Shell Egg Report was the first of a new monthly report by the Department of Agriculture. The department launched the Monthly Cage-free-Shell that USDA says will add transparency to the cage-free shell egg market. The new monthly report includes wholesale price information for cage-free shell eggs traded on a contract basis and negotiated spot market basis. The report also includes retail feature price information for extra-large and large sized cage-free shell eggs, and information for both brown and white eggs. The report also provides information on cage-free shell egg estimated production in the United States, based off of organic and cage-free flock size estimates collected by USDA. Information for the report is collected from weekly retail advertised specials from more than 29,000 retail stores across the country. USDA says the monthly report will be released on the first Monday of each month.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service