READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 29th…

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, March 29th…

Senate Ag Schedules Perdue Confirmation Vote

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a business meeting Wednesday to consider the nomination of Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary. Committee Chairman, Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, announced the meeting Tuesday. A favorable vote for Perdue will move the former Georgia Governor a step closer to taking his post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s unclear, however, whether the full Senate will then move to confirm Perdue before it leaves for its two-week April recess at the end of next week. The Atlanta Constitution-Journal reports that if senators don’t get to Perdue before they leave, he won’t be able to get sworn in until the last week of April, at the earliest. When asked if the Senate will confirm Perdue before the Easter break, Chairman Roberts replied: “Hope springs eternal.”

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Trump Document Proposes Cuts to 2017 USDA, FDA Spending

An internal budget document by the Donald Trump administration outlines a plan to cut funding to the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration this fiscal year. The document, sent to the House and Senate appropriations committees last week and obtained by Politico, offers detailed recommendations to make $18 billion of cuts in spending legislation that lawmakers must enact by April 28th to avoid a government shutdown. The cuts are aimed at the last five months of the current fiscal year and would compound the 21 percent proposed reduction for USDA that the administration included in its 2018 budget outline. The proposal includes a $40 million cut to the FDA, a $363 million cut from the Food for Peace program, a $136 million cut to eliminate funding for the McGovern-Dole food program and a $49 million cut to Rural Business and Cooperative Grant Programs.

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Judge Approves Settlement to Protect Farmers’ Privacy

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council this week closed the final chapter of their lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s release of farmer and rancher personal information. A federal judge has approved a settlement that secures the private information of thousands of livestock and poultry farmers in 36 states. AFBF and NPPC filed the lawsuit in 2013 after EPA released a compilation of spreadsheets containing personal information about farmers and ranchers in 29 states who raise livestock and poultry. In some cases, the data included the names of farmers, ranchers and sometimes other family members, home addresses, email addresses, GPS coordinates and phone numbers. EPA was poised at that time to release more spreadsheets containing similar information on farmers in an additional six states. The settlement agreement, reached with current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, eliminates the need for a court order by spelling out exactly what information can remain in the spreadsheets released by the agency: only the city, county, zip code and permit status of an operation will be released.

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Beef Industry Urges Trump to Talk Trade with China

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is urging President Donald Trump to raise the restoration of U.S. Beef access to China when he meets with China’s President next month. NCBA signed a letter, along with the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the North American Meat Institute asking the President to talk beef trade with Chinese President Xi Jinping (she-gin-ping) in April at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. American beef producers have been denied access to China, a $2.6 billion import market, since 2003. Last fall China announced that it had lifted its ban on imports of U.S. beef, but attempts since then to negotiate the technical terms of access have been unsuccessful. NCBA CEO Kendal Frazier told Trump in the letter that “we strongly encourage you to take this important opportunity to convey the urgent need for China to reopen its market to U.S. beef.” In 2016, American beef producers sold $6.3 billion worth of U.S. beef to customers around the world, with three of the industry’s top foreign markets located in Asia.

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No Farm Bill Without SNAP

The Ranking member of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition says there will be no farm bill without the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Democrat James McGovern of Massachusetts at the opening of a hearing titled The Next Farm Bill: The Future of SNAP, warned lawmakers, by saying “don’t even think of separating the nutrition title from the farm bill.” He said such a move would be a “huge mistake” and guaranteed there “will be no farm bill,” if the committee separates SNAP from the farm bill. Further, he wanted the House Agriculture Committee to not “screw around with the program.” McGovern says there is no reason to undermine SNAP through structural changes or further restrictions. McGovern says he has read reports that the committee may consider changing provisions to able-bodied adults without dependents. However, he says, the committee needs to find a way to make SNAP better, including increasing SNAP benefits.

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NFU Says EPA Executive Order Reverses Climate Change Progress

In a sweeping and regressive executive order on energy, The National Farmers Union says President Donald Trump reversed years of progress in the U.S.-led fight against climate change. The order dismantles Obama-era policies that NFU says prepare the United States to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the order “sends a very clear message to Americans and the rest of the world that our country will not lead the global effort to curtail climate change.” Trump’s executive order rescinds more than half a dozen federal regulations and guidance that aid in making the U.S. food system more climate resilient, according to NFU. This includes an August 2016 White House guidance for federal agencies to consider climate change in environmental reviews and a November 2013 order instructing the federal government to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Johnson says the Obama-era climate policies “created a path of sustainability” for farmers dealing with climate change by curbing carbon emissions that trap heat and change the climate.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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