READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 23rd…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, December 23rd…

Agriculture Secretary Search Continues

The search for Agriculture Secretary under President-elect Donald Trump continues and looks to be still far from closing in. DTN reports Trump will meet next week with Elsa Murano(mur-ron-oh), a former Texas A&M president and a USDA undersecretary for food safety under President George W. Bush. Lately, the Trump transition team has turned its focus to Texans for consideration of the post. Besides Murano, Vice President-elect Mike Pence has also spoken with Susan Combs, a former Texas agriculture commissioner. Politico speculates a decision will not be made until possibly early January on who Trump will pick to lead the Department of Agriculture. A Trump spokesperson said Thursday the search would continue into at least early next week. Currently,  Brian Klippenstein (clip-in-stine) from Protect the Harvest is the lone  listed transition team member for USDA.

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Lawmakers, Ag Groups Support USTR Action Against EU Ban on American Beef

Agriculture groups and lawmakers representing the Senate Agriculture Committee applauded a move by the U.S. Trade Representative against the European Union over discriminatory trade practices against U.S. beef imports. At the request of U.S. beef producers, the USTR office announced it would start the process of reinstating retaliatory tariffs on goods and products from the EU due to its unfair treatment of U.S. beef. In 2009, the U.S. and the EU signed a memo under which the EU agreed to create a new duty-free quota for imports of specially-produced beef to compensate the United States for losses arising from the EU’s ban on the use of hormones in beef production. Imports under the quota have grown steadily since then, and for the past two years, the entire 45,000 metric ton quota has been filled, though from countries other than the United States. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Tracy Brunner said the EU “has left us no choice but to seek compensation.” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts said the EU practices established “non-science based barrier to trade.” Roberts said the U.S. government must act, and applauded the USTR for taking the step towards tariffs.

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Farm Bureau, NASDA Seek Delay of Unlawful EPA Rule

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to delay the January 2017 start date of its worker protection safety rule. The two groups cited EPA violations of federal law as well as incomplete and undelivered compliance and enforcement tools to support their petition. AFBF and NASDA told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy the rule “fails to advance the purpose of furthering the safety of farmworkers.” The petition from AFBF and NASDA claims EPA did not meet the law’s requirements when it failed to provide congressional agriculture committees a final copy of the regulations along with the copy sent to the agriculture secretary. 

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Industry Groups Making Case for WOTUS in Supreme Court

Industry groups in a legal battle over the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. rule want the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their challenge, instead of going through district court first. The groups took issue with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that it should hear petitions challenging the rule. Industry groups, such as the National Association of Manufacturers, argues the Supreme Court should hear the case because the incoming Trump administration’s vows to kill the rule, according to Politico. In a court brief filed with the Supreme Court this week, the National Association of Manufacturers said:” The parties, the judiciary, and taxpayers should not be required to endure that enormous expenditure of money and effort in a case that is proceeding in the wrong court,” especially with the Trump administration likely to set off a new wave of legal maneuvering.”

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Georgia Dock Poultry Pricing Suspended Indefinitely

The Georgia Department of Agriculture has suspended the Georgia Dock weekly chicken-price index indefinitely. The Department this week announced the move, ending the index that companies operating in that state have used to determine prices for nearly 45 years. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the department tried to implement a new system to require participants to submit affidavits and other documentation to prove that the purchasing and selling data they are reporting to the Georgia Dock are accurate. But that system didn’t take, and a new one will go live next year. The Georgia Department of Agriculture is expected to introduce the Georgia Premium Poultry Price Index. Official reporting of the index is expected to start in February. The Georgia Dock prices were collected via phone survey of chicken companies without independent verification and had been as much as 40 cents per pound higher than other price indices. A recent media report prompted the state to take action.

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Women Earn Nearly Half of Ag Doctorates, Hold Just 23 Percent of Academic Post

Despite earning 44 percent of the doctorates in agricultural sciences, women hold just 23 percent of the tenure-track faculty positions at U.S. land-grant universities, according to a new study by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Although the 23 percent is nearly double the 12 percent reported in 2005, the University says females hold very few administrative positions in agricultural academia. They also hold fewer significant roles on the editorial boards of scholarly journals in their field, serve on relatively few agricultural industry boards and hold fewer significant positions in global peer groups. One of the researchers says efforts should be made to understand the gap between Ph.D.-level training and the rate of progression to the faculty level and above. Women are getting plenty of graduate training at agricultural colleges, but it’s not translating to top-level positions, according to the research. Of the 50 institutions surveyed, only four had a female department chair for crop and soil sciences. Among the colleges of agriculture, nine have female deans.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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