06-20-19 Signing Ceremony Sets Terms of NBAF Transfer From Homeland Security to USDA

Signing Ceremony Sets Terms of NBAF Transfer From Homeland Security to USDA

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2019 – Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today signed aMemorandum of Agreement (PDF, 166 KB) that formally outlines how the departments will transfer ownership and operational responsibility for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) from DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate to USDA.

The agreement was signed by USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics Scott Hutchins, and DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology William Bryan. Continue reading

06-20-19 Western Senators Introduce Bipartisan Drought Legislation

Western Senators Introduce Bipartisan Drought Legislation

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) today introduced the bipartisan Drought Resiliency and Water Supply Infrastructure Act, a bill to improve the nation’s water supply and drought resiliency.

The legislation builds on Senator Feinstein’s 2016 California drought legislation that was included in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act.

“The effects of climate change are here to stay, and one enormous effect on the West is more – and more severe – droughts,” said Senator Feinstein. “As California continues to recover from a historic drought, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory now estimates that the Sierra snowpack, a primary source of water for California, will decrease by 79 percent by the end of the century. If we fail to prepare for this contingency, life in California will be forever altered. Longer and more severe droughts will change the face of our state, undermine our economy, result in more wildfires, devastate our agriculture sector and require draconian water restrictions. To counter this, we must act now, and this bill will help toward that goal.”

“In Colorado and the West, combatting drought requires a comprehensive approach. Storage and conservation are key parts of our water resource management,” said Senator Gardner. “Tens of millions of people in the western United States rely on Colorado rivers to provide water for agricultural, municipal and consumptive use, as well as support for our growing recreation economy. In the face of these challenges, I’m proud to be joining this bipartisan legislation that will aid efforts to prevent severe water shortages.”

Key provisions Continue reading

06-20-19 American Agri-Women raise key issues with Washington, D.C., lawmakers & regulators at 26thannual Fly-In

American Agri-Women raise key issues with Washington, D.C., lawmakers & regulators at 26thannual Fly-In

AAW also recognized its 2019 Champions of Agriculture and presented President Donald J. Trump with the Chief Champion of Agriculture award

COLCHESTER, Vt. (AgPR) June 20, 2019 — Women involved in agriculture from throughout the U.S. met in Washington, D.C., recently for the 26th annual American Agri-Women (AAW) Fly-In & Symposium. The group met with elected officials and policymakers to discuss key issues, including agricultural labor; rural infrastructure; rural broadband and telecommunications; trade and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement; Electronic Logging Device regulations; and agricultural technology innovations.

This year’s Symposium, “Federal Land Policies: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly,” featured land use specialists Myron Ebell, Brenda Burman, Harriet Hagema, and Andrea Travnicek.

Recognizing Champions of Agriculture
Continue reading

06-20-19 NRCS-CO: Flooding Averted as Watershed Dams are Called into Action

NRCS-CO: Flooding Averted as Watershed Dams are Called into Action

DENVER, CO, June 20, 2019 – On May 28, 2019 heavy rain and hail hit Colorado’s Northeastern Plains, wreaking havoc on agricultural crops and livestock. However, the impact could have been much worse. Flooding could have been a part of that mix. Thanks to nine dams installed by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the areas below these watershed dams were protected from flooding. These inconspicuous earthen structures protect people, livestock, rangeland and cropland. They also safeguard several irrigation ditches, county roads, bridges and buildings from being damaged by flash floods after large rainfall events. Continue reading

06-20-19 US Senator Bennet Joins 51 Lawmakers in Challenging Trump Roll Back of Methane Waste Prevention Rule

Bennet Joins 51 Lawmakers in Challenging Trump Roll Back of Methane Waste Prevention Rule

Amicus brief makes case that Interior’s rollback violates federal law by authorizing waste of public oil and gas resources, harming the public interest

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today joined a group of 51 lawmakers, led by U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), in filing an amicus brief challenging the U.S Department of the Interior’s decision to revise and effectively reverse the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 2016 Methane and Waste Prevention rule.

“Despite Congress upholding the BLM methane rule, the Trump Administration sought to undermine the will of Congress, the American people, and the law by illegally suspending this rule,” said Bennet. “More methane waste will pollute our air and water – exacerbating climate change and unleashing devastating effects on public health and our environment. Colorado’s commonsense methane standards are bringing cleaner air and a thriving economy to our state. Instead of following in Colorado’s footsteps, the Trump Administration is weakening the very measures that protect our air and curb one of the biggest drivers of climate change.” Continue reading

USDA – FAS Weekly Export Sales Report for June 20th

USDA FAS - Foreign Agricultural Service header

Weekly Export Sales for June 20th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 20th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 20th

Fed Signals Economic Uncertainty, Future Interest Rate Cuts Could Follow

The Federal Reserve bank left the benchmark interest rate unchanged following a Wednesday meeting, but amid economic uncertainty, signaled that future cuts could be warranted. During a news conference following the meeting, Fed chairman Jerome Powell stated that due to uncertainties in the economic outlook, the Committee will “closely monitor” the economy and “act as appropriate to sustain the system.” The central bank left the target range for the federal funds rate at 2.25 to 2.5 percent. Worrisome factors include the uncertainty in trade with China and others, as the Trump administration works through crafting and implementing new trade agreements. President Trump has previously argued that the Fed should cut rates, even considering removing Powell from his position, which Trump nominated him for. Trade could improve, however, lessening the worry, as hopes are growing Trump and China’s President can resume negotiations next month starting with a meeting at the G20 Summit. Unchanged, or lower interest rates, may reduce worry in farm country, regarding the depressed farm economy, as well.

China Blocking More Canadian Pork Shipments

China is blocking more Canadian pork imports, prompting more trade frustration between the two nations. China recently announced it would block pork imports from a third Canadian firm after China claimed a shipment contained ractopamine, according to Reuters. China does not accept pork that contains the banned feed additive. China will also strengthen inspection for ractopamine residue in all pork imports from Canada. China previously halted imports from two other Canadian firms over labeling concerns in April, and has also blocked imports of Canadian canola. Canadian Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau (Bee-boh) says food inspectors are investigating the latest case, telling exporters to “be very vigilant” to “respect all the rules” regarding exports to China. In the first four months of 2019, China was Canada’s third-biggest pork export market, worth $310 million, according to Statistics Canada. China is also facing the lingering effects of African swine fever in its domestic pork market. Last month, China warned Canada that inspection would increase after “recent cases of non-compliance” in pork shipments.

Trade Groups Claims Americans Have Paid $22 Billion in Tariffs Through Trade War

New data released by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland shows Americans have paid nearly $22 billion in additional tariffs since the trade war with China began. The data, which is broken down by individual tariff action, shows American businesses and consumers have paid $15 billion in higher costs due to tariffs on Chinese imports. The data runs through April 2019, the most recent month available through the U.S. Census Bureau. A spokesperson for the pro-free trade group says the tariffs are “erasing the benefits of tax reform,” and raising costs for U.S. businesses and families. The data shows more than 70 percent of the additional tariffs collected during the trade war have come from Section 301 tariffs on China. Many of those tariffs increased from 10 percent to 25 percent in May. Through April, more than $15 billion in all tariffs has come from China 301 tariff actions. The data also shows exports generally decreased by 2.5 percent from April 2018 levels.

Cobank: Poultry Well Positioned to Withstand Profit Pressure

Poultry profitability is coming under pressure as prices decline amid growing supplies. A new report from CoBank says the U.S. chicken industry has experienced an unprecedented run of historic profitability since 2012 and responded by significantly increasing production and processing capacity. Six new poultry processing plants are expected to be operating by 2020, while production and supplies of competing animal proteins are expanding. Current projections for chicken production growth are 1.5 percent, which is well below the 2.5 percent average rate in the last five years. However, CoBank economist Will Sawyer says lessons learned from the last market downturn have driven important changes, strengthened the industry and made it more resilient to a potential market slide. Many chicken companies found themselves with burdensome levels of debt that became unsustainable when corn prices more than doubled in 2008 and 2009. Today, the average chicken producer has almost as much cash on hand as debt on their balance sheet, making them far more resilient to any downturn in chicken prices and margins.

Seth Meyer to Depart Ag Outlook Board, to Join MU FAPRI

The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced Seth Meyer will depart the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board chair position. Effective July 13, Dr. Mark Jekanowski will become the chair of the board that coordinates, reviews, and approves the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, and long-term agricultural projections. Meyer was named chairman in May 2014 after joining the USDA Office of the Chief Economist as chief economist for domestic agricultural policy in 2013. He will be returning to the faculty of the University of Missouri’s Department of Agricultural Economics. Pat Westhoff, Director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, or FAPRI,  at the University, said via Twitter that Meyer will join the staff in August as associate director. Before joining the World Board, Jekanowski was with USDA’s Economic Research Service, first as chief of the Crops Branch, and more recently as deputy director for the commodity outlook program. Previously, Jekanowski was a senior vice president and head of the Washington office of Informa Economics.

EPA Grants Sulfoxaflor Exemption Approval for Sorghum

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently granted exemptions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act for use of sulfoxaflor (so-fox-uh floor) on cotton and sorghum. The exemptions were originally granted earlier in 2019 and late 2018 for the 2019 growing season. National Sorghum Producers Chairman Dan Atkisson says sorghum growers are “grateful the EPA is standing by U.S. farmers,” as sulfoxaflor is critical for sorghum crop protection. The invasive sugarcane aphid, first confirmed in the U.S. in 2013, has had a devastating impact in many sorghum-producing states. In just the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas A&M calculated sugarcane aphid infestations reduced farmer profit by $20.3 million, or $64.29 per acre, in 2014 and $11.21 million, or $36.17 per acre, in 2015. Sulfoxaflor is vital to control of the invasive pest and is the best tool to avoid devastating impacts, according to National Sorghum Producers. The EPA first acknowledged the emergency exemption in 2014 and has approved the use of sulfoxaflor in grain sorghum each subsequent year.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service