READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, March 17th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, March 17th

HPAI Confirmed at Second Tennessee Farm

The Department of Agriculture has confirmed high pathogenic avian influenza at a second commercial flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee. Agri-Pulse reports the flock is less than two miles from the site HPAI was detected earlier this month. It is the same strain found 13 days ago at the first location in the county. The flock of 55,000 chickens will be depopulated, and surveillance and testing for the disease will be conducted in the immediate area. Tennessee State Veterinarian Charles Hatcher said that wild birds can carry the strain from different sites, and that “this is not unexpected.” He says the state will continue to work quickly to prevent the virus from spreading further. Two cases of low pathogenic avian influenza were also found in the area, along with cases in northern Alabama that were confirmed by USDA Thursday.

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Trump Budget Would Cut USDA Funding by 21 Percent

President Donald Trump’s budget plan includes a $4.7 billion, or 21 percent budget cut to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cuts would leave USDA with a $17.9 billion budget after cutting statistical and rural business services, according to Reuters. But, the budget detail did not give any information on which specific services would be cut. The White House also said it would eliminate the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program, which donates U.S. agricultural commodities to food-deficit countries. The cuts to USDA are drawing bipartisan opposition. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican, says he is concerned the cuts could “hamper some vital work of the department.” He says farmers and ranchers are struggling, and that Congress should “do all we can” to help them. His message to agriculture was that “this is the start of a larger process. It is a proposal, not the budget.” House Agriculture ranking Democrat Collin Peterson of Minnesota says the President’s budget request “demonstrates a lack of understanding of farm programs and their importance to rural America.” Peterson says: “The good news is this budget will be ignored, as it should be.”

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Budget Proposal Guts EPA

President Donald Trump is proposing to cut the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 31 percent by eliminating a fifth of its workforce and eliminating more than 50 programs. The proposal would drop the EPA budget from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion. If enacted, the proposal would cease funding the Clean Power Plan, a signature Obama administration effort to combat climate change. It would cut 3,200 positions, or more than 20 percent of the agency’s current workforce of about 15,000, according to the Washington Post. Funding for the massive Chesapeake Bay cleanup project, which receives $73 million each year, would be cut to zero. Funding for drinking water infrastructure would remain intact, but the agency’s scientific research would suffer massive cuts. The Washington Post says the proposal would undoubtedly hobble the EPA, leaving the work of safeguarding the nation’s water and air primarily up to local officials.

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Farm Groups Seeking More Farm Bill Funding

The American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and others, are seeking more funding for the 2018 farm bill. In a letter sent to Congressional Budget and Appropriations Committee leaders this week, the groups asked lawmakers to consider providing more funding for the next farm bill, citing the current state of the farm economy. The letter follows a budget and estimates letter that the House Agriculture Committee wrote to the House Budget Committee, citing the possible need for more money in the next farm bill. The groups are seeking a stronger farm safety net and more resources for key priorities within the farm bill. The letter states: “We were the only sector willing to contribute to deficit reduction when the farm economy was healthy. Now we look to Congress to provide the resources necessary to help America’s farmers and ranchers through this very difficult period.”

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American Soybean Association Testifies to Congress on Research Funding

American Soybean Association Chairman Richard Wilkins testified Thursday on the significant role that public-sector research plays in continuing the stream of technological innovations in agriculture. Wilkins testified in his capacity as vice president of the National Coalition for Food and Agriculture Research before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research. In his testimony, Wilkins spoke to the user-driven nature of the public-sector research industry, and how stakeholders from all points in the farm-to-consumer supply chain benefit from robust agricultural research. Wilkins says tools provided through publicly funded research will help agriculture meet the challenges of the future. He advocated continued funding and support for research functions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wilkins says the U.S. is “not investing enough in publicly funded research to permit discovery necessary to regain and then maintain our nation’s place as the leader in agricultural research.” China recently overtook the U.S. as the top government funder of agricultural research.

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Corned Beef Sales Hit Seasonal Trend, OK for Some Catholics Friday

Corned beef, which accounts for less than one percent of overall beef sales in the U.S. throughout the year, sees an increase of nine percent each March from St. Patrick’s Day celebrators. However, this St. Patrick’s Day, falling on a Friday, left Catholics without a chance to enjoy a traditional St. Patrick’s Day feast of corned beef and cabbage. But now, Reuters reports that at least 80 of the nearly 200 U.S. Catholic dioceses have issued some form of exemption, allowing Catholics to enjoy corned beef for the day. For example, one archdiocese in Nebraska says Catholics could eat beef on March 17th if they abstained from it on March 18th, and another in Texas says Catholics could eat corned beef provided they substituted a comparable penance. However, to be sure, it’s best to check with your specific church. The largest U.S. corned beef producer, Colorado Premium, accounts for 30 to 40 percent of about 70 million pounds of corned beef consumed on St. Patrick’s Day. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says St. Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July are the top two holidays for U.S. beef consumption at home.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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