READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 8th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 8th

Former Ag Secretary Working on Milk Export Program with China

Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Agri-Pulse a new deal to allow more milk producers to enter the Chinese market is in the works. Vilsack, who now heads the U.S. Dairy Export Council, has been working for months to change a registration process that keeps new U.S. processors from entering the Chinese market. Vilsack told Agri-Pulse the deal is a matter of weeks away, and will give immediate clearance for 80 U.S. processors to begin shipping milk to China. In 2014, China created new food safety regulations that required all foreign milk suppliers to be registered and certified by their domestic regulatory agencies before they could ship to China. For the U.S., that’s the Food and Drug Administration. The China regulations went into effect last year, and the U.S. FDA offered a voluntary registry for U.S. milk producers, but the registry has not been effective. Through Vilsack’s work, the U.S. Dairy Export Council helped develop a new registry program that is gaining approval by U.S. and Chinese regulatory authorities.

NFU Urges Immediate Adoption of Farmer Fair Practices Rules

The National Farmers Union is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finalize the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. Through comments submitted to USDA as part of the public comment period for the rules, NFU tells USDA the rules will likely result in a more transparent and business-like relationship between farmers and the processing companies. The rules were released in December of last year, but are under review by the new Donald Trump Administration. Livestock groups, including the National Pork Producers Council, oppose the rules. Groups opposed to the rule say it will lead to more lawsuits within the livestock industry, and the possibility of consolidation. NFU President Roger Johnson says the interim final rule on competitive injury “plainly restates the intent of the Packers and Stockyards Act” to provide individual farmers and ranchers with protection from the abuses by meatpackers. The rule would change the competitive injury that must be proven for a lawsuit to continue. USDA is seeking public comment on the competitive injury interim final rule through June 12.

Pork Board Creating Secure Pork Supply Plan

The National Pork Board, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is creating a Secure Pork Supply plan to help America’s pig farmers respond quickly to a major threat, such as a foreign animal disease. The plan, announced Wednesday, will enhance communication and coordination of all pork chain segments to help producers keep their farms operating and all related business activities functioning, according to the National Pork Board. Newly elected NPB President Terry O’Neel of Nebraska said of the plan that: “If we get the news that FMD, African swine fever or another foreign animal disease has arrived, the Secure Pork Supply plan will pay big dividends by getting pork production back to normal much faster.” An Iowa State University study estimates potential revenue losses to U.S. pork and beef industries from a foot and mouth disease outbreak would run $12.8 billion per year or $128 billion over a 10-year period. Related losses to corn and soybean markets over a decade would be $44 billion and $24.9 billion, respectively. The Secure Pork Supply plan will provide procedures that pork producers, processors and federal/state agencies agree are feasible should a foreign animal disease occur in the United States.

Finding the Next Big Thing in Corn

A new innovation challenge seeks to find the next big use for field corn. The National Corn Growers Association has partnered with NineSigma to launch the global competition. NCGA says the program was created to identify new and innovative uses for field corn as a renewable feedstock for making sustainable chemicals with significant market demand. The “Consider Corn Challenge” is geared to inspire new concepts, approaches and technologies that will help drive innovation, according to an NCGA spokesperson. United States corn production has increased from 105.5 million metric tons in 1970 to 345.5 million metric tons in 2015. NCGA is inviting innovators around the world from industry, academia and other research institutions to consider new ways to utilize corn and maximize its contributions to the economy. Up to six winning proposals will be selected, and winners will each receive $25,000. Winners will be announced in February 2018. The program is part of the NCGA strategic plan that includes a goal to establish three new uses of corn that each utilize 25 million bushels or more by 2020. Learn more online at NCGA dot com (

Organic Research Institution Launches Industrial Hemp Research Project

The Rodale Institute has started a new industrial hemp research project focused on examining the crop’s role in soil health and regenerative organic agriculture. Proclaimed as the nation’s leading organic farming research institution, Rodale is overseeing one of 16 pilot projects to grow industrial hemp in Pennsylvania, the first legal cultivation of the crop in the state in 80 years. Jeff Moyer, executive director of Rodale Institute, said the project could provide the “opportunity to expand farmers crop rotation, while helping farmers combat weed pressure, improve soil health, and sequester carbon.” Rodale Institute is conducting a four-year research project focusing on utilizing Industrial Hemp as a cash or cover crop to address weed pest issues and enhance soil health in organic agriculture. They are conducting two field trials and one greenhouse study. The research aims to identify which varieties of hemp will be effective for future use by organic farmers to manage weed pests and enhance soil health.

Connecticut Farmers Oppose State Agriculture, Energy Department Merger

Connecticut farmers rallied outside the state’s capitol earlier this week in hopes to stop a plan to combine the state’s agriculture and energy departments. The Connecticut Mirror, a non-profit online newspaper, reports about two-dozen farmers attended the rally against a state budget proposal that the publication says has largely flown under the radar. The bill would eliminate the stand-alone Department of Agriculture in Connecticut, and combine it with the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The state’s governor, Democrat Dannel Malloy (mah-loy), joined the farmers along with the state’s agriculture commissioner during the rally. Malloy said he is opposed to merging any departments, and continues to support a stand-alone agriculture department. Agriculture is a growing, $3.8-billion industry that provides 28,000 jobs in Connecticut, which is why the Connecticut Farm Bureau says the industry deserves its own “strong, stand-alone” department to “nurture the next wave of agriculture” in the state.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service