READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 21st

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, March 21st

Stabenow Asking for USDA Bird Flu Response Information

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is asking the Agriculture Department to outline its avian influenza response. Stabenow specifically is asking Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary Michael Young to explain how the Trump Administration is responding to bird flu outbreaks around the country, according to the Hagstrom Report. Young is the highest ranking official at USDA right now. As Stabenow noted, USDA has found highly pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial flock of 73,000 chickens in Tennessee, and last week detected the same HPAI strain in a nearby flock. Two cases of low-pathogenic avian influenza were also discovered in Wisconsin and Tennessee, followed by three additional suspected cases in Alabama this month. In a letter to Young, Stabenow asked who is in charge of the effort to fight avian influenza, whether the Trump administration’s hiring freeze will affect the effort to fight the disease, and who will handle international trade questions about the presence of HPAI in U.S. commercial flocks, including restrictions that other countries place on imports of U.S. poultry.


Canada Blocks Poultry, Eggs from Alabama and Tennessee

Canada has moved to block imports of poultry and eggs from select areas in Alabama and Tennessee. The move stems from the two outbreaks of high pathogenic avian influenza in Tennessee and three suspected low pathogenic avian influenza cases in Alabama. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency last week announced restrictions on imports of uncooked poultry products, live birds and eggs from those two states until further notice. Commercial-level poultry and egg imports are restricted only from “specific quarantine zones” within the affected states, according to the agency. Before coming to Canada, cross-border travelers who buy poultry and eggs while visiting the U.S. must have proof that those products originated from states not under the restrictions, according to online publication AgCanada. Canada has been declared free of avian influenza since November of last year.


Japan, Germany, Pledge to Work Together on Free Trade

Japan and Germany over the weekend announced an agreement to work together on free trade. The announcement follows President Donald Trump’s removal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which included Japan. TPP was estimated to be worth $4 billion to U.S. agriculture. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (sheen-zoh ah-bay) both called for a free trade deal to be reached quickly between Japan and the European Union. Neither leader mentioned the United States, but Reuters says the move is seen as a positioning away from protectionists trade views demonstrated by President Trump. The comments also follow a meeting of TPP nations last week in Chile focusing on the next chapter of the trade agreement without the United States.


Senate Ag Sets Perdue Hearing Time

The Senate Agriculture Committee Monday announced the time for Sonny Perdue’s confirmation hearing. Perdue is the last in line for a confirmation hearing, after being the last cabinet nominee announced by then President-elect Donald Trump a day before his inauguration into office. The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold the hearing Thursday at 10 a.m. Eastern. The delay is likely attributed to the delay in announcing and then making the nomination of Perdue to be the next Agriculture Secretary. Following the January 19th announcement, Perdue’s ethics paperwork and FBI background check weren’t finished and forwarded to the Senate Agriculture Committee until earlier this month. Perdue, a former Governor of Georgia, has received widespread support from agricultural trade groups and is expected to receive little resistance from the Senate Agriculture Committee.


China Halts Meat Imports from Brazil

China is blocking meat imports from Brazil until the nation can provide more information about an investigation into a bribery scheme to release sanitary licenses for meat products. Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture agreed to provide all requested information, according to meat industry publication Meatingplace. China was the only country to officially communicate with the Brazilian government about the investigations. The move comes after an investigation that started last week into the bribery scheme. Brazil closed three meat packing plants and removed 33 public employees from their jobs. The investigation includes meatpacking plants owned by JBS and BRF. The Brazilian government and representatives of the meat industry in Brazil have said the processing facilities investigated by federal police represent only a very small part of the country’s meat industry. Only 21 meat processing plants out near 5,000 units subjected to federal inspection in Brazil have been cited in the investigation, according to the federal government.

Judge Dismisses Des Moines Water Works Lawsuit

A federal judge late Friday dismissed a lawsuit over nutrients runoff filed by Des Moines Water Works against Iowa drainage districts in the Raccoon River watershed. DTN reports the lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge who said the Iowa General Assembly is the appropriate body to address the state’s water quality issues and not the court. The lawsuit was filed in March of 2015 against trustees of 10 drainage districts. The complaint alleged the drainage districts were point-source polluters as defined by the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit sought damages against the districts for nitrates runoff polluting sources of drinking water. The ruling claims Des Moines Water Works has no authority to sue the drainage districts, but the ruling did not address whether agricultural drainage tile is a pollution point source in the Clean Water Act. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said in a statement that “the dismissal of this lawsuit is very welcome news.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service