READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 20th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 20th

Agriculture Offers Strong Support for Perdue

Agriculture groups in droves announced support for Agriculture Secretary Nominee Sonny Perdue. The Trump administration transition team confirmed the selection of Perdue Thursday. The announcement this week drew immediate praise from general farm groups to livestock and grain organizations. Perdue first met with then President-elect Donald Trump in November after the election. Following that meeting, several candidates were considered for the job before Trump came back to Perdue. He must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas, said he looks forward to the process. In a statement, Roberts said: “Everyone in farm country is having a hard time. We need a Secretary who can recall the 1980’s and will do everything within their power to make sure we do not return to those conditions.” In regards to Perdue, Roberts added: “together, we must get to work addressing these immediate and future challenges.”

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Who is Sonny Perdue?

By now, agriculture is familiar with his name, but what about the history behind Donald Trump’s nominee for Agriculture Secretary? Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is set to become the next Agriculture Secretary if confirmed by the U.S. Senate. After switching parties, the now 70-year old was first elected as Georgia’s governor in 2003 and was the state’s first Republican Governor in nearly a century. In his two terms as governor, Perdue presided over the state’s top-ranked agricultural economy. Perdue is a trained veterinarian but is more familiar with crop production. He is a founding partner for AGrow Star, a grain business with 11 elevator locations across Georgia and South Carolina, according to DTN. At the time of the announcement, he was serving on several boards, including the National Grain and Feed Association and the Georgia Agribusiness Council. Perdue also served as president of the Southeastern Grain and Feed Association in 1988.

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Georgia Agriculture Under Former Governor Sonny Perdue

Agriculture can rest assured that former Georgia Governor and now Agriculture Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue will be friendly to farmers and ranchers. With strong ties and being very much involved in agriculture, Perdue saw somewhat of a transformation in the sector while serving as governor of Georgia. A Wall Street Journal reporter found that since first being elected as Governor of Georgia in 2003, the state saw an increase in agricultural sales under Perdue’s watch. In 2002, USDA Data shows 49,000 farms made $4.9 billion in sales. By 2012, the number of farms decreased to 42,000, but sales jumped to $9.3 billion. That’s a 17 percent drop in farm operations, compared to a nationwide downturn of just one percent, but nearly twice the sales. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Cattle and hog farms evaporated, and tobacco acreage was halved during that time. Meanwhile, the broiler flock swelled and corn, soybeans and peanut production doubled in the state. During his time as governor, he focused on agriculture issues including water management and making tax code changes that were beneficial to farmers.

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Uncertainty Ahead for Organic Animal Welfare Rule

While the outgoing administration dumped a last-minute organic animal welfare rule on agriculture,  Congress seems poised to block the new regulation, according to Politico. Bipartisan leadership from both the House and Senate agriculture committees condemned the rule following its announcement by the Department of Agriculture. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service administrator said the new standards “allow producers to compete on a level playing field.” However, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts said the costs of complying with requirements that livestock and poultry have outdoor access could put some producers out of business.” The Kansas Republican promised to work with USDA under the new administration to “ease this overregulation.” Ranking Democrat from the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow expressed disappointment in the rule, saying USDA “missed an opportunity” to set standards that did not risk unintended consequences. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway blasted the outdoor access requirements under the rule. The Texas Republican linked the requirement to susceptibility to highly pathogenic avian influenza, saying the rule was “particularly concerning” given the detection of the virus in a wild duck in Montana earlier this month.

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Business, Agriculture Pressing Trump to Salvage TPP

Business interests, along with agriculture groups, want the new administration to reconsider the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal incoming President Donald Trump vowed to drop on “day one” once in office. The Wall Street Journal reports the groups are arguing that the Trump administration does not have to accept the current agreement negotiated by the Obama administration. Rather Trump could look to make changes to the deal, rename it and turn TPP into a Trump initiative to boost U.S. exports to Asia and write new trade rules for the Asia Pacific region. Among those urging the Trump team to take another look at an Asia-Pacific deal are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the American Farm Bureau and a number of companies. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would mean billions of dollars in agriculture sales thanks to improved exports, but chances are still slim of seeing the agreement move forward in the near future.

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USDA Announces Citrus Greening Research Grants

The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced $13.6 million in grants to combat citrus greening disease. The funding from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture comes in the form of four grants through the Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program in the 2014 Farm Bill. As part of the funding, Clemson University will receive $4.7 million, while Regents of the University of California, Riverside, will receive $5.1 million. Iowa State University was granted $2.4 million, while the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Athens, Georgia, was granted $1.8 million. According to USDA, citrus greening is currently the most devastating citrus disease worldwide. The disease was first detected in Florida in 2005 and has since affected all of Florida’s citrus-producing areas leading to a 75 percent decline in Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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