READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, May 25th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, May 25th

Trump Budget Proposal Puts Perdue in Awkward Position

The deep cuts to the nation’s agricultural support programs proposed by President Donald Trump have put Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in an awkward position with both lawmakers and farm groups. Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says a good example of this is the plan to cut funding for trade promotion programs and to eliminate more than 230 jobs geared toward boosting U.S. exports. These proposed cuts follow a promise from the secretary that the administration would focus on expanding foreign market access to help farmers. The plan also proposes to cut $193 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over the next decade. However, that idea runs completely opposite of comments that Perdue made about SNAP before the House Agriculture Committee that said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In a budget hearing with reporters on Tuesday, Politico says Perdue didn’t speak much, passing off the telephone to acting USDA Deputy Secretary and Budget Director Michael Young. During the briefing, Young was quick to point out that USDA and the secretary had little to no part in putting together the budget proposal.

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Heritage Action Praises Trump’s Budget Proposals

Heritage Action is a conservative think tank known for criticizing programs at the USDA. The Hagstrom Report says the group applauds White House budget proposals released this week. However, the group did say it was disappointed the proposals didn’t include structural changes to Medicare and Social Security. Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham calls budget proposals “visionary documents,” saying that the Trump proposal would put taxpayers first by directing their dollars toward the most effective programs. “It’s the type of document our president promised on the campaign trail,” he says, “including some serious, structural reforms to our nation’s entitlement system.” He added that the failure to address Social Security and Medicare would make it difficult for the nation to address its ever-growing debt. “The Trump budget presents an opportunity for Republicans to unite around fiscally responsible reform for food stamps, disability insurance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit,” Needham says.

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Organic Ag Sector Posts New Records in U.S. Sales

The organic sector stayed on an upward trend last year, gaining new market share and setting new records as consumers across the country ate more organic products than ever before. That news comes from the 2017 Organic industry survey that was released during the OTA policy conference this week. Organic sales in the U.S. totaled $47 billion last year, $3.7 billion more than the previous year’s total. The total marked the first time the organic market broke through the $40 billion dollar mark in sales. Organic food sales also make up more than five percent of overall food sales in America, at 5.3 percent. That’s another high water mark for the organic industry. Organic sales increased by 8.4 percent from 2015. The sales growth rate was 8.8 percent higher in 2016, a number that easily surpassed the growth rate of .8 percent in non-organic foods. The $15.6 billion dollar fruits and vegetable market held onto its position as the largest of the organic food categories in 2016. Sales of organic meat and poultry products shot up by more than 17 percent in 2016 to $991 million, the category’s biggest yearly gain ever.

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Elanco Seeks Injuction Against Deceptive rbST Advertising

Elanco initiated legal action last week in an eastern Wisconsin U.S. District Court against international dairy conglomerate Arla Foods last Friday. Elanco wants the court to force Arla to stop what it calls a deceptive advertising campaign and false business practices against rbST. It’s a supplement marketed and sold by Elanco under the brand name Prosilac. Elanco says the technology has been proven safe and effective since it was first approved by the FDA in 1993. The Arla campaign is called “Live and Unprocessed,” launching across America in late April. The campaign is based upon a child’s understanding of what rbST is and then brings the perception to life as an animated monster with razor-sharp horns and electrified fur. Elanco’s complaint says it believes that Arla is intentionally deceiving the public about the safety of rbST. The product has been used for more than 20 years, with rbST used to help cows give more milk without changing the safety and quality of American dairy products.

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AZ Rancher Wants Burden of Federal Regulations Lifted

Arizona rancher David Cook is calling on Congress to remove layers of red tape and federal bureaucracy that have made it much harder to effectively manage and care for public lands. He testified this week before the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Cook told lawmakers he doesn’t believe it was the intent of Congress to disenfranchise communities like his when it enacted the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the Wilderness Act, but that’s exactly what happened. “The burden of compliances with these regulations, plus the struggle to get our voices heard as stakeholders have become the dominant consumer of time and resources,” he said, “for anyone or entity interacting with federally-managed lands.” Cook and his wife, Diana, own DC Cattle Company and partner with other ranches in their local county. The agreement between the entities covers 4,800 square miles, but less than five percent of that is deeded as private lands. Cook says the delegation of authority from Congress to land management agencies has resulted in unchecked authority over land-use planning and has been abused by administrators and capitalized on by environmental groups through continuous litigation.

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New Proposal Could Protect Farm Workers from Deportation

The American agriculture industry relies on foreign workers, especially at harvest time. The website Eater Dot Com reports a group of Democrats has introduced legislation that would give farm workers some protection from possible deportation. The bill is called the Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1034). It would protect undocumented workers from deportation if they can prove a history of working in American agriculture. The bill may also provide them a path to long-term residence and citizenship. Workers that can prove 100 days of employment in American agriculture over the previous two years can apply for a blue card, which grants temporary residency and authorization to work, pending background checks. A blue cardholder that meets more stringent requirements may apply for a green card. Those who hold green cards for five years and meet other requirements may eventually apply for full citizenship.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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