READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 23rd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, January 23rd

USDA to Reopen Farm Service Agency Offices Nationwide

The Department of Agriculture will soon reopen Farm Service Agency offices nationwide. USDA has temporarily recalled all of the more than 9,700 FSA employees to keep offices open from 8 am to 4:30 pm weekdays beginning January 24th. However, operations will slim to just three days a week next starting February 8th. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Tuesday afternoon announced the plan as an effort to provide additional administrative services to farmers and ranchers during the lapse in federal funding. Select FSA offices were previously opened for a three-day period offering limited services to farmers. The list of services offered during the period includes the Market Facilitation Program, Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, and the Dairy Margin Protection Program, among others. Additionally, Secretary Perdue announced that the deadline to apply for the Market Facilitation Program, which aids farmers harmed by unjustified retaliatory tariffs, has been extended to February 14th. The original deadline had been January 15th.

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EU Doesn’t Include Ag in Trade Goals for U.S. Agreements

In a list of goals last week, the European Union left out agriculture for its upcoming negotiations with the United States. An expected move, the action starts the talks off on a sour note as agriculture was one of the objectives for the United States. The Trump Administration goals included a desire to “secure comprehensive market access for U.S. agricultural goods by eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers for farm goods,” according to Politico. A deal without agriculture has little U.S. support from lawmakers. Also last week, U.S. Representative Roger Marshal of Kansas said in an editorial that if agriculture isn’t in the deal, he and other in Congress “will not consider it or support it.” In the editorial, Marshall urged the Trump Administration to continue to fight for farmers in the trade negotiations. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. domestic exports of agricultural products to the EU totaled $11.5 billion in 2016.

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FDA Considers Calling Back More Inspectors

The Food and Drug Administration is considering calling back more furloughed workers to help with inspections of high-risk foods. The FDA last week said it would restart inspections of high-risk foods that had been stopped due to the federal government shutdown. Over the weekend, Gottlieb took to Twitter to say, “more staff could be on the way depending on needs.” He says the FDA has called back about 100 investigators and 35 supervisors for high-risk food inspections. Among the foods the FDA considers high risk are seafood, select dairy products, unpasteurized juices, fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, shell eggs, sandwiches, prepared salads and infant formula. Meanwhile, The National Pork Producers Federation reminded the nation over the weekend that federal meat inspectors are working in meat packing plants despite the government shutdown. NPPC and other livestock groups a year ago urged USDA to deem inspectors as essential employees, because without inspectors, “meat and poultry processing plants are prohibited by law from operating.”

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AFIA Refutes LANCET Study

In response to a new report launched by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, The American Feed Industry Association calls the report “yet another organized attack on animal agriculture.” A statement released by AFIA says the report is not reflective of the current and accurate science on the industry’s substantial sustainability advances. AFIA’s President and CEO Joel G. Newman says the report’s calls to “return to primarily an ‘agrarian lifestyle’ will undo years of research and innovation, while likely keeping nutritious and high-quality protein and dairy products out of the hands of the people who need them the most.” The 50-page report advises consumers to drastically reduce their meat and dairy consumption for their health and for the good of the planet. It plans to promote the report vigorously over the next month.

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Pork Brought to Australia Confirmed to Contain ASF

Officials in Australia say six pork products brought to the nation’s airports have tested positive for African swine fever. The testing was done through routine border checks at Australian airports and mail processing centers as they were about to enter the country. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports that two weeks of testing by the Australian Animal Health Laboratory uncovered six pork products among 152 seized and tested that were contaminated with the ASF virus. The detection does not change Australia’s ASF-free status, but does serve as a warning that “the threat of ASF spreading to Australia remains serious.” Australia has an estimated 2,500 pig farmers and 36,000 pork supply chain workers. African swine fever outbreaks in China, meanwhile, have reached 24 provinces and have resulted in the culling of more than 900,000 pigs since late last summer.

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USDA Confirms Newcastle Disease in Backyard Birds in Utah

The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the presence of Newcastle disease in a small flock of backyard exhibition chickens in Utah. USDA says this is the first case of Newcastle disease in the state. The case is believed to be connected to the current outbreak of Newcastle disease in California, as three of the birds at the premises were recently moved to Utah from Los Angeles County, California.  Since May of 2018, 299 cases of Newcastle disease have been confirmed in Southern California, primarily in backyard exhibition birds. Newcastle disease is not a food safety concern.  However, the disease is a contagious and is a fatal viral disease affecting the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry. The disease is so virulent that many birds and poultry die without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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