READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, March 9th…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, March 9th…

National Milk Producers Federation Makes Farm Bill Recommendations

The National Milk Producers Federation has released recommended changes to the Margin Protection Program in the next farm bill. The Federation says the proposed changes will ensure an effective safety net for the nation’s dairy farmers. The recommendations range from changing the way dairy feed costs are calculated, to providing farmers greater flexibility in signing up for coverage and using other risk management tools. The proposal includes restoring the feed cost formula to levels first proposed in the 2014 farm bill that were cut 10 percent by Congress. Federation chair Randy Mooney says fixing the feed formula “would have a noticeable impact on the way margins are calculated” in the program. The request also seeks changes to how the Agriculture Department determines the individual monthly prices of feed, adjustments to premiums, making margin determinations monthly, rather than bimonthly, expanding the Livestock Gross Margin program and allowing producers to use both the Margin Protection Program and Livestock Gross Margin program simultaneously.

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Tennessee HPAI Not Linked to China HPAI

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the strain of high pathogenic avian influenza found in Tennessee last week is not connected to any strains of bird flu in China. USDA says the strain found in Southern Tennessee originated from North American wild birds. More than 73,000 birds at the infected farm have been depopulated and nearby farms are also being tested. The strain is also different from the strain that was responsible for the 2015 U.S. HPAI outbreak. Tennessee State Veterinarian Charles Hatcher told Politico this week “epidemiology studies are ongoing” to determine how the virus entered the farm. He suggested the infection could be the result of a mild security breach, or wild bird feces entering the chicken house through a ventilation fan. 27 nations, along with the European Union, have temporarily blocked poultry imports from Lincoln County, Tennessee, and the site of a low pathogenic avian influenza outbreak, Barron County, Wisconsin.

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Cattle, Wildlife, Suffer in Kansas Fires

As wildfires devastate rural areas of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, Kansas officials say livestock and wildlife losses are increasing. More than one million acres have burned over the last few days in the four states, while also burning up livestock and wildlife in the path of the flames. Kansas veterinarian Randall Spare of Ashland, Kansas speculated to the Kansas City Star, “if someone had 500 cattle on their ranch, I’d guess at least 80 to 90 percent were killed.” Many ranchers have searched their pastures with rifles to end the misery of cattle that would otherwise suffer to their death from burns and injuries related to the fires. Spare said conditions could not have been worse for endangering livestock. He says the cows were just starting to calve, and there was plenty of grass available for them. But he called the amount of grass a “double-edged sword,” saying “that’s a lot of fuel that can burn in a hurry.” Farmers and ranchers also projected worry over wildlife loses, noting seeing dead deer and quail and other animals along their farms in the aftermath of the fires.

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Watchdog Group Asking for Investigation into Icahn

Government watchdog group Public Citizen has asked Congress to investigate whether investor Carl Icahn (Eye’-kahn) should have been subject to lobbying disclosure laws when he advised the president on the U.S. biofuels program. Icahn is an unpaid adviser to President Donald Trump and submitted a proposal to change the point of blending under the Renewable Fuel Standard away from refiners and further down the supply chain. Because Icahn owns a controlling stake in a refinery that stands to benefit from the proposal, he may be required to disclose his discussion on the subject as lobbying under a 1995 lobbying disclosure law, according to Reuters. The group made the investigation request in a letter sent to Congress Wednesday morning. The White House has said it is reviewing Icahn’s proposal and has not yet taken a position.

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37 Farm Bill Programs Need Budget Baselines After FY 2018

The farm bill contains 37 programs that currently do not have a budget baseline after the 2018 fiscal year. The programs account for $2.6 billion in spending. The Congressional Research Service says some programs may not be assumed to continue in the budget baseline, because the program had estimated mandatory spending less than a minimum $50 million scoring threshold in the last year of the farm bill, or the Budget Committees and/or Agriculture Committees determined that mandatory spending shall not extend beyond expiration. With the budget for the upcoming farm bill reauthorization expected to be tight, the fate of these programs could be in question, according to Cansler Consulting. However, Congress did secure funding to keep the programs during the last farm bill. Programs needing baseline budget funding in the next farm bill include those under commodity, conservation, nutrition, rural development, research and energy, among others.

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NCBA Hails Senate Passage of BLM Planning Rule Repeal

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council celebrated Senate passage of a bill to repeal the Bureau of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 rule this week. The Senate passed the bill this week, that was earlier passed by the House of Representatives, sending the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature. NCBA and PLC have long expressed concerns about BLM’s Planning 2.0 Rule, which would represent a wholesale shift in management focus at BLM by prioritizing “social and environmental change” over ensuring multiple use of public lands, and by eliminating stakeholder and local input into the planning process. The Obama Administration finalized the BLM Planning 2.0 Rule in December. Under the Congressional Review Act, the U.S. House and Senate have up to 60 legislative days after a new rule becomes final to approve a joint resolution of disapproval, which will fully repeal the final rule if and when the resolution becomes law.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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