READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 19th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, September 19th

African Swine Fever Shows Up in South Korea

South Korea is now the ninth Asian country to find itself positive for African Swine Fever. The pigs that tested positive for the disease were located near the border with North Korea, which has been ASF positive since May. The South Korean agriculture minister says the country’s first case of the highly-contagious disease was confirmed on Tuesday. Officials ran tests on five pigs that had died on a farm just miles south of the North Korean border. The South Korean government is making a stronger effort to disinfect farms and transport vehicles. The government also ordered a 48-hour standstill on all pig farms, slaughterhouses, and feed mills across the country to help prevent the disease from spreading further. South Korea has about 6,000 farms that produce more than 11 million pigs. The country doesn’t import any pork products or live pigs from China due to the severe outbreak of ASF inside that country. South Korea mainly imports from the United States and Germany. Pork imports account for about a third of the country’s total pork supply.

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Lawmakers Want India’s Trade Privileges Restored

Reuters says 44 members of Congress are asking U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to restore trade concessions to India. They say the U.S. withdrawal of that trade privilege has led to retaliatory tariffs, which hurt the U.S. ag industry. Back in June, the United States ended its preferential trade treatment for India. The Generalized System of Preferences Program allowed India to send up to $5.6 billion worth of imports into the United States duty-free. India retaliated with higher tariffs on 28 U.S. products, including almonds, apples, and walnuts. The letter from the U.S. lawmakers to Lighthizer says a lot of American jobs depend on trade between India and the United States. After President Trump decided to remove India from trade privileges, American and Indian trade negotiators met in July. However, neither side made much progress on the issue of tariffs and other protectionist measures imposed by each side. The U.S. and India resumed trade talks after meetings on the sidelines of the G20 summit in June and agreed to take steps to deepen the two countries’ relationship.

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NCBA Announces Woodall as New CEO

The Executive Committee of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says Colin Woodall will serve as the group’s new Chief Executive Officer. Woodall was named to the post this week after an extensive national search. He most recently was the Vice President of Government Affairs and managed NCBA’s efforts in Washington, D.C., for more than ten years. He first joined NCBA in 2004 and was instrumental in ensuring the interests of NCBA members and the beef community were well-represented in DC. “Colin has served NCBA members for 15 years, and in that time, he’s done a great deal for beef producers everywhere,” says NCBA President Jennifer Houston. “Much of his work and many of the victories registered by NCBA in Washington are the result of his ability to build coalitions and bring people together.” Ethan Lane was chosen to replace Woodall as the Vice President of Government Affairs. Most recently, Lane was the Executive Director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands. Houston says Lane has been a “driving force in many of NCBA’s most important policy wins.”

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Farmers and Ranchers Launch Pro-Green New Deal Coalition

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers for a Green New Deal coalition held a press conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday, along with a handful of Democrats from the House of Representatives. Sherri Dugger is an Indiana farmer who co-chairs the new coalition. She says a lot of the farmers that she talks to every day don’t understand what the Green New Deal is about. “I’m here to say we need to be involved in this discussion and we need to be at the table to have our voices heard,” she says. The coalition delivered a letter to Congress that calls for farming to have a key place in meeting the goals of the Green New Deal, which seeks to get to net-zero emissions between 2030-2050. The coalition says the U.S. economy needs to move away from fossil fuels and transition “toward family farm-based organic and regenerative farming.” The group also favors land-use practices that improve soil health and draws down and sequesters carbon. The coalition’s announcement this week is timed to coincide with the global Climate Strike event on Friday.

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Organic Farmers Association Opposes Genetic Engineering

Earlier this week, the Organic Farmers Association delivered a letter to USDA in response to a statement made by Undersecretary Greg Ibach (EYE-baw). The Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs recently spoke about possibly opening up a dialogue about gene-editing in organic agriculture. The letter speaking against the idea was signed by 79 organic farm organizations. It strongly opposes any form of genetic engineering into the organic standard and expressed opposition against the possibility of including it. Instead, the OFA is asking the USDA to build the organic market by focusing on building healthy soil and addressing the core issues that affect the domestic organic market. Kate Mendenhall, Director of the Organic Farmers Association, says introducing a dialogue on genetic engineering would be a “major distraction” within the industry. “We have crucial issues in organic agriculture that need the USDA’s full attention, such as stopping organic import fraud, closing certification loopholes, and enforcing current organic standards fairly and equitably,” Mendenhall says.

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Farm Bureau Wants USDA to End NRCS Abuses

Farmers and ranchers are being denied due process as part of an abuse of discretion by officials from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. That comes straight from a scathing ruling by the Seventh Circuit’s U.S. Court of Appeals. The ruling is highlighted in a letter sent from the American Farm Bureau Federation to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to enact much-needed reforms in the agency. The letter focuses on the case of an Indiana farm owned by David and Rita Boucher (BOW-cher). The battle between the Boucher family and the NRCS has gone on for 17 years. The Bouchers removed nine trees on 2.8 acres the agency declared a wetland, and the NRCS demanded they plant 300 trees per acre as compensation. The court found that the NRCS wrongly accused the Bouchers of harming a non-existent wetland on their property. The NRCS made no effort to correct the decision, even after the accusations were proven to be groundless. The Farm Bureau letter notes that the Bouchers aren’t the only victims of regulatory abuse. AFBF is asking Secretary Perdue to accept the Seventh Circuit’s decision and compensate the family for costs incurred during the battle against the government.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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