READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, January 17th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, January 17th

Ag Groups Press Trump on Cuba

Over 100 U.S. agriculture groups are urging President-elect Donald Trump not to undo the changes that President Obama made in relation status between the U.S. and Cuba. Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says they also want the President-elect to give his own stamp of approval on normalizing relations between the countries. The groups want Trump to throw his support behind legislation that would allow private financing for the sale of agricultural products to make those goods easier to sell to the island country. In a letter, the groups say, “It’s time to put the 17 million jobs associated with U.S. agriculture ahead of a few hardline politicians in Washington. Your support for removing outdated financing and trade barriers for exporting agricultural products to our neighbor could significantly strengthen an industry which supports 17 million American jobs.” The letter also says Trump’s support would pave the way for the Cuban people to have access to high-quality American food.

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Senate Resolution Would Roll Back WOTUS

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. Rule, or “WOTUS,” was first introduced to the public in May of 2015, and it’s been largely unpopular since then. Ag Web Dot Com says Iowa Republican Joni Ernst and Nebraska Republican Deb Fischer have introduced a resolution that expresses a need for the Senate to vacate the rule. WOTUS expanded the authority of both the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers authority to regulate water, which is already written into the Clean Water Act. Almost 100 percent of the American agriculture industry reacted negatively to the rule, calling it a prime example of government overreach. In a statement this week, Fischer called WOTUS completely unprecedented. “This rule would hurt all Nebraska families, communities, ag producers, and businesses,” says Fischer. “This resolution signifies our intent to get to work quickly and stop WOTUS in its tracks once the new administration takes office.” Ernst calls WOTUS a power grab and wants farmers and landowners to be able to manage their lands without what she calls the “heavy hand of the EPA” determining their every move. Fischer and Ernst both were quick to acknowledge that the Clean Water Act is vital to protecting natural resources but then added that WOTUS took it a step too far.  

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Five Myths About the Veterinary Feed Directive

The new requirements for the Veterinary Feed Directive were officially in effect as of January first, but not without misconceptions. Producers must obtain authorization or a prescription to purchase medically important antibiotics for use in animal feed and drinking water. Medically important antibiotics are those used in treating human diseases as well. Chris Richards, Oklahoma State University Extension, is a beef cattle specialist that debunked a few of the common myths. One is that antibiotics will not be available to treat animals. “Antibiotics will still be available to treat disease,” he says. Another is that a VFD is needed for any additives. “There are many additives that don’t require a VFD unless fed in combination with antibiotics,” Richards says.  Another myth is feed dealers can’t keep feed on hand until a producer has a VFD. Richards says, “Feed mills can make the product ahead of time, they just can’t sell to a producer without a VFD.” Another myth has to do with a lot of paperwork. Richards says, “A producer who has a steady relationship with a vet won’t have any trouble completing the paperwork twice a year.” The last is some species won’t have antibiotics available to them. Richards says, “Guidance documents do give vets some discretion in using antibiotics in species that don’t typically have a lot of antibiotics available to them, like goats, sheep, and llamas.

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Grasslands Conservation Program Expands to Smaller Producers

The Farm Service Agency says it will accept 300,000 acres offered by producers in 43 states during the recent ranking period for the Conservation Reserve Program enrollment. The emphasis during this time was placed on smaller-scale livestock operations. The voluntary CRP Grasslands Program allows lands threatened by either development or conversion to row crops to remain as livestock grazing areas while providing important benefits to the environment. Roughly two-thirds of the acres accepted were offered by small-scale producers. “Producers of all sizes are interested in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program,” says FSA Administrator Val Dolcini. “This latest round of enrollments features grasslands that came from smaller livestock operations, which shows that our nation’s farmers and ranchers can have a big impact on environmental conservation.” This was the first ever CRP grasslands practice that was specifically tailored for smaller livestock operations to encourage more participation. Larger producers may offer acres under the normal enrollment process.  

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Legislation Targets Fake Milk

New legislation introduced into the Senate this week would enforce the proper labeling on imitation dairy products, drawing positive response from the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation. The organizations both said in statements that proper steps need to be taken to defend the integrity of current federal food labeling standards, preventing the misbranding of what they call “dairy imitators.” A Milk Business Dot Com article says Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin introduced the Dairy Pride Act, with the goal of protecting food labeling standards, requiring the Food and Drug Administration to enforce the requirements. Those federal standards say that dairy products like milk and cheese must come from dairy animals. The Baldwin legislation would require the FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of these standards within the next 90 days. National Milk Producers President Jim Mulhern says the FDA has turned a blind eye to federal law that says milk comes from animals and not vegetables or nuts.

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40 Percent of California Out of Drought

Federal drought watchers said this week that more than 40 percent of California is out of drought. This announcement comes after powerful storms sent people in the northern areas fleeing from flooding rivers and doubling snowpack in the Sierra Nevada’s in a little more than a week. Jay Lund, Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California at Davis, says “It’s hard to say we have a drought here right now.” The weekly drought report says that 42 percent of California is now out of drought. Last year at this time, that number was only three percent. Southern California didn’t get the severe storms residents did further north, but they have had enough rain to be pulled out of the most severe category. Only two percent of the state is left in the most severe category, a stretch of land between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. 43 percent of the entire state was in the most severe category a year ago at the same time.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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