READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, October 17th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, October 17th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Panel Calls for Congress to Pass Senate Version of the Farm Bill

A panel formed by Food Policy Action says Congress should pass the Senate version of the farm bill. The organization took aim at the House version of the farm bill that includes work requirements for food stamp recipients. During an event this week, Food Policy Action  executive director Monica Mills said, “we want to see a farm bill that is good for the Americans we represent.” The group says the House version of the bill barely passed the chamber, while the Senate bill passed with an 86-11 vote. Work on the farm bill remains stalled as both the House and Senate are out of session ahead of the November midterm elections, and three of the top four farm bill lawmakers are up for reelection, as noted by the Hagstrom Report. Meanwhile, Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council said, “Congress is at a crossroads.” Referring to the Senate bill, he says “It may not have been the bill we would have drafted ourselves … but it is a serious compromise.”

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Trudeau Says USMCA Keeps China Trade Door Open

Canada’s Prime Minister says the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement allows Canada to move forward with trade talks with China. Despite a provision in the text of the agreement that allows the U.S. to opt-out of the deal if Canada or Mexico engages with China, Justin Trudeau (True-doh) claims the provisions were “watered down” in the final version of the agreement. He told the Globe and Mail this week that he is ready to reopen talks with China. The USMCA replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement and a clause in the agreement is interpreted to forbid deals with “non-market” countries, such as China. Specifically, the provision specifies that if one of the current NAFTA partners enters a free trade deal with a “non-market” country such as China, the others can quit in six months and form their own bilateral trade pact. However, Trudeau says the clause does not stop Canada from doing business with “whom it pleases.”

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Livestock Groups Petition for DOT Hours of Service Flexibility

Livestock organizations this week sent a petition to the Department of Transportation requesting additional flexibility on Hours of Service requirements. The petition asks for a five-year exemption from certain Hours of Service requirements for livestock haulers and encourages the Department of Transportation to work with the livestock industry to implement additional fatigue-management practices. Current rules limit drive time to 11 hours and limit on-duty hours to 14. Instead, the organizations request that livestock haulers be granted approval to drive up to 15 hours with a 16-hour on-duty period, following a 10-hour consecutive rest period. The petition states the current requirements “place the well-being of livestock at risk during transport and impose significant burdens on livestock haulers.” The petition was signed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Livestock Marketing Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association, and the National Aquaculture Association.

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Hurricane Michael Damage Estimate to Ag at $1.3 Billion

Agriculture damages from hurricane Michael are estimated at more than $1.3 billion. The Hurricane struck Georgia, Alabama and Florida last week, impacting cotton and pecan growers the most, according to CNBC. In Georgia alone, the latest farm-related damage estimate from the storm is $1.2 billion, and in Florida another $100 million to $200 million, as reported by the University of Georgia. President Donald Trump toured damaged areas earlier this week, as did Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The hurricane caused an estimated $300 million worth of losses to Georgia’s cotton crop as only about 15 percent of the crop was harvested before the hurricane struck. Meanwhile, the storm caused an estimated $600 million loss to pecans. Georgia’s poultry operations lost an estimated two million chickens, as the Georgia Department of Agriculture has received reports of 84 chicken houses that were destroyed. Losses were less in Florida because of less farmland in the path of the storm. in Alabama, only about 10 percent of the state’s cotton crop was harvested before the hurricane hit. Cotton is the most valuable crop for Alabama and producers expected a record-high yield this year.

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USDA Approves Low Gossypol GE Cotton

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has deregulated Texas A&M’s cotton variety genetically engineered to have ultra-low levels of gossypol (goss-e-pull) in its seed. Gossypol is a naturally occurring compound in the pigment of cotton plants and protects them from pests and diseases. This genetically engineered variety, according to USDA, maintains protective levels of gossypol in the plants, but the compound is significantly reduced in the seed. This benefits agriculture by lowering cottonseed oil refining costs, and potentially expands the use of cottonseed in the livestock and aquaculture feed industries, as well as for human food uses. The move follows a public comment period that was opened in August. APHIS concluded in its final assessment that this variety of GE cotton is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants in the United States and is deregulating this variety of GE cotton.

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USDA Announces Support for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday the U.S. Department of Agriculture will issue $9.4 million in grants to provide enhanced training, outreach, and technical assistance to underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers. The funding is available through USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program managed by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. Perdue says the grants “ensure veterans and underserved farmers and ranchers are well positioned to start their careers in agriculture and continue to give back to the American people.” The program was created through the 1990 farm bill to help socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and foresters, who have historically experienced limited access to USDA loans, grants, training, and technical assistance. Provisions were expanded in the 2014 Farm Bill to include outreach and technical assistance to military veterans.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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