READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 15th

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 15th

USDA to Speed Through GMO Labeling Rule

The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to finalize GMO disclosure standards within a nine-month time frame, what Politico calls a breakneck pace for any rulemaking. USDA in that timeframe will go from proposing the regulation to finalizing the rules. That includes a likely three-month comment period, revisions, and White House approval, a process that also takes about three months. A senior analyst at the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Livestock, Poultry and Seed program told the International Dairy Foods Association’s regulatory conference in Washington on this week that USDA has started to meet with farm, food and other groups in preparation to write the proposed rule, though it won’t follow through with the prior administration’s plan to make a public request for information. Politico suspects the rule will likely be challenged in court, no matter the outcome, because of the lack of public request for information.

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No USDA Nominees Until September

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told lawmakers this week he may be the lone political appointment at the Department of Agriculture until September, or later. Currently, 15 executive posts at USDA are vacant and await White House nomination. Perdue told the Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee the names of nominees for six positions, including that of deputy secretary, have been sent to the White House, but that he is “fearful” none of them will be ready for Senate confirmation before the summer recess, according to the Hagstrom Report. Perdue blamed the slowness on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the White House ethics office. Asked about decisions being delayed due to lack of personnel in decision-making positions, Perdue said: “Not many decisions are piling up, but I’m tired of working 22 hours per day.” Perdue himself waited nearly 100 days after being nominated before receiving Senate confirmation.

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New Zealand to Talk Trade with U.S.

Trade officials from New Zealand will meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other U.S. trade officials. The New Zealand government says the nation’s Trade Minister Todd McClay will make New Zealand’s first official ministerial visit to Washington under the Trump administration this week and will be pressing to advance the U.S.-New Zealand trade relationship. The U.S. is the biggest market for beef and wine from New Zealand, and the nation’s second-largest dairy market. McClay called the U.S. a “vitally important trading partner” for New Zealand, worth more than $16 billion in two-way trade. McClay says he will be “highlighting the strength of our bilateral relationship, the importance of continued New Zealand-U.S. cooperation and leadership on trade in the Asia-Pacific and our cooperation in the WTO against barriers to trade.”

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Meat Industry Lobbyist Injured in DC Area Shooting

A lobbyist for Tyson Foods was reported as one of the five victims wounded in the Washington, D.C. area shooting that targeted a Republican congressional baseball team practice. A spokesperson for Tyson Foods told meat industry publication Meatingplace that Matt Mika, Tyson Foods director of government relations in Washington, D.C., was injured in the shooting that took place at an Alexandria, Virginia ballpark. The spokesperson said Mika was taken to a local hospital for treatment, but offered no word on his condition at the time. Mika, a former senior director of legislative affairs for the American Meat Institute, reportedly is a member of the GOP baseball team that was practicing ahead of a charity game Thursday against the Democrat team at Nationals Park. Also wounded were House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (Scuh-leese)  of Louisiana, Zack Barth, a legislative correspondent who works for Representative Roger Williams of Texas, and two members of the Capitol Police who protect congressional members.

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Tractor Sales Up in May

The monthly survey of tractor sales in the U.S. shows increases in May. The Association of Equipment Manufacturer’s reports the sale of all tractors in the U.S. in May 2017 were up eight percent compared to the same month last year. For the five months in 2017, a total of 92,000 tractors were sold which compares to 86,000 sold thru May 2016, representing a seven percent increase for the year. For the month, two-wheel drive smaller tractors, under 40 horsepower, were up 13 percent from last year, while 40 and under 100 horsepower were up two percent. Sales of two-wheel drive 100-plus horsepower tractors were down 20 percent, while four-wheel drive tractors in the same category were up 26 percent. Meanwhile, combine sales were down nine percent for the month. Sales of combines for the year total 1,226 a decrease of 13 percent from 2016.

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House Ag Committee Farm Bill Field Hearing Announced

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a farm bill field hearing in Florida this month. The committee announced the hearing Wednesday, which is said to be the first of several committee activities across the country aimed at gathering input from farmers and ranchers. Committee Chairman Mike Conaway of Texas noted the “long history of getting out of Washington” and speaking with those farm policy serves, in making the announcement. Ranking Democrat on the Committee, Collin Peterson, says “hearing directly from farmers and others impacted by farm bill programs is necessary to writing a good farm bill.” The field hearing is scheduled Saturday, June 25th, in Gainesville, Florida.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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