READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 18th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 18th

Ag Secretary Pick Expected Soon

The incoming Donald Trump administration is expected to fill its final cabinet seat possibly before Inauguration Day. Interviews are ongoing as of Tuesday, according to those close to the process. That came despite another false report on Tuesday that former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue was to be named Agriculture Secretary. Perdue may still be in the running, but the selection process continues and other candidates are being considered. Incoming Vice President Mike Pence over the weekend said it’s very possible the cabinet will be filled before Friday. When leaving the Department of Agriculture last week, former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack criticized the incoming administration for delaying the selection of a nominee for the position. Vilsack said the delay will make it difficult for the next USDA leader to “hit the ground running.”

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Vilsack Takes Post at U.S. Dairy Export Council

In an expected move, now former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join the U.S. Dairy Export Council. The council announced Tuesday Vilsack will become its CEO at the beginning of next month. Vilsack’s final day at USDA was last Friday, leaving Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse as the acting USDA Secretary. However, Scuse was expected to attend a confirmation hearing this week to again serve as the Agriculture Secretary of Delaware. Regarding the move, Vilsack says he looks forward to partnering with the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the agriculture industry to “advance the council’s mission and strengthen trust in American dairy.” As president and CEO, Vilsack will provide strategic leadership and oversight of the council’s global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives.

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USDA Seeking Comments on Organic Checkoff Proposal

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced it is seeking public comments to a proposal for a nationwide research and promotion checkoff program for the organic industry. The organic industry proposal estimates the organic checkoff could raise more than $30 million a year to spend on organic research, according to the Organic Trade Association. The association called the action a significant step that will help advance the organic sector. OTA officially submitted an application to USDA in May of 2015 on behalf of the organic industry to consider implementing the program. The association submitted a revised application a year later to reflect alternatives presented to USDA from organic certificate holders. USDA established a 60-day public comment period for interested parties to now weigh in on the proposal. Comments on the proposal are due March 20th.

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Bayer Promising Billions in Research, Jobs in Merger with Monsanto

Bayer AG has promised U.S. President-elect Donald Trump the Bayer-Monsanto merger will bring billions of dollars in research and development spending in the U.S. and make a significant commitment to creating jobs. Trump’s transition team confirmed a deal was reached between Trump and Bayer despite the agreement still being analyzed by regulatory authorities. Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Bayer has committed to $8 billion in new U.S. research and development. Bayer will also keep 100 percent of Monsanto’s 9,000 plus U.S. workforce, and add 3,000 new U.S. high-tech jobs. The National Farmers Union called the announcement “deeply disturbing” if it leads to an approval of the Bayer-Monsanto acquisition by the incoming Trump Administration. NFU President Roger Johnson urged Trump to “reject the notion that corporate consolidation benefits family farmers and rural America.”

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NCBA Calls on Senate to Confirm Pruitt as EPA Administrator

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works this week expressing strong support for the nomination of Scott Pruitt as the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. NCBA President Tracy Brunner, said in the letter that Pruitt “led the fight to bring common sense back to environmental regulation.” NCBA has sued the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to block the Waters of the U.S. Rule, and is calling on Congress and the incoming administration to kill the regulation. Pruitt has also spent years attached to different lawsuits against the EPA, including its WOTUS rule, while serving as Oklahoma attorney general.

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Wyoming Bill Would Outlaw In-State Renewable Energy Sales

A bill introduced in the Wyoming state legislature would forbid utilities from providing any electricity to residents that comes from large-scale wind or solar energy projects. Online publication Inside Climate News reports the bill’s nine sponsors, two state senators and seven representatives, largely come from Wyoming’s top coal-producing counties. The state is the least populous in the U.S., and ranks second in overall energy production, first in coal production, fourth in natural gas and eighth in crude oil. The bill doesn’t completely outlaw renewable energy, however. Selling Wyoming-made solar and wind energy to other states would remain legal. Under the proposal, if a utility provided energy produced by a large-scale wind or solar plant to Wyoming residents, it would be fined $10 per megawatt sold.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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