11-25-19 ASTA News: Agriculture Innovation is Necessary to Address Climate Change

ASTA News: Agriculture Innovation is Necessary to Address Climate Change

Alexandria, VA – November 25, 2019 – The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) submitted comments today in response to the Request for Information by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The comments highlight the necessary role of agriculture innovation in both combating and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

“The development and commercialization of innovative plant products is already playing a significant role in helping U.S. agriculture reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said ASTA President & CEO Andy LaVigne. “Further crop improvements using new precision breeding methods, including gene editing, can hasten these positive trends.”

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11-25-19 CSFS: New App Helps Design Buildings That Use Biomass for Heat

CSFS: New App Helps Design Buildings That Use Biomass for Heat

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – November 25, 2019 – With the coming of the winter heating season, the Colorado State Forest Service is debuting a new tool to help builders make new buildings more climate conscious and less dependent on non-renewable sources of energy.

The Biomass Ready tool helps builders, architects, engineers, planners and others in the building trade to design new buildings that can incorporate biomass as a heating source.

Biomass is woody plant material, derived from the trunks and branches of trees. Firewood, for example, is a commonly known form of biomass that provides fuel for heating. Like firewood, wood chips can be used as fuel for wood-burning systems that heat buildings.

“Woody biomass is a clean and renewable alternative for heating today’s new buildings,” said Tim Reader, wood products program specialist with the CSFS. “Unfortunately, many builders are not aware of the simple design considerations that make it easy and inexpensive to incorporate a biomass heating system as part of their new building construction.” Continue reading

11-25-19 US Senators Bennet, Gardner Announce $2.7 Million ReConnect Grant to Expand Broadband in Dove Creek

US Senators Bennet, Gardner Announce $2.7 Million ReConnect Grant to Expand Broadband in Dove Creek

Funding Will Expand Access to High-Speed Broadband on Colorado’s Western Slope

Denver – Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and Cory Gardner today announced that Emery Telecom will receive $2.7 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ReConnect Loan and Grant Program.

With new USDA funding, Emery Telecom will provide nearly 500 fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) connections to homes, farms and ranches, small businesses, educational facilities, and community anchor institutions in and around Dove Creek, Colorado. Bennet wrote a letter to USDA in support of Emery Telecom’s grant application in October.

“For residents in Dove Creek or anywhere in Colorado, high-speed broadband is not a luxury in the modern economy – it is a necessity,” said Bennet. “That’s why I’ve fought to secure USDA funding to expand broadband in our rural communities through my position on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and I am glad to see these investments finally coming to the Western Slope.”

“Increasing broadband access is critical to continuing economic development in Colorado’s rural communities and ensuring all four corners of Colorado are connected to the world,” said Gardner. “These investments will provide necessary resources to continue deploying broadband in unserved and underserved areas in Colorado, helping to bridge the urban-rural divide.” Continue reading

11-25-19 CSU NEWS: Blake Angelo selected as coordinator of Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council

CSU NEWS: Blake Angelo selected as coordinator of Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council

Blake Angelo

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has named the members of the newly seated Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council (COFSAC), whose mission is to advance recommendations that strengthen healthy food access for all Coloradans through Colorado agriculture and local food systems and economies. Under the recently enacted Colorado House Bill-1202, Colorado State University will provide staffing and support for the Council.

In his role with CSU’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Blake Angelo will staff and coordinate COFSAC beginning Dec. 1. Prior to this role, Angelo helped lead the development of the Denver Food Plan in partnership with the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council and guided strategic projects for CSU’s Office of Community and Economic Development, CSU Extension, Kaiser Permanente, and dozens of consulting clients in the food, agriculture and public health industries.

Strengthening healthy food access

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11-25-19 Ag Innovation Summit returns to CSU campus Dec. 5-6

Ag Innovation Summit returns to CSU campus Dec. 5-6

The fourth annual Ag Innovation Summit returns to the Lory Student Center on the Colorado State University campus Dec. 5 and 6. Since its debut in 2015, the summit has brought together representatives from higher education, industry and government with a range of diverse perspectives to spark conversations about the future of agriculture.

This year, the summit will focus on the theme of “Building the Innovation Mindset.” Registration and ticket information is available online.


Innovation in agriculture

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11-25-19 Colorado Receives Rural Broadband Grant

Colorado Receives Rural Broadband Grant

Polis administration committed to modernizing rural broadband infrastructure

DENVER — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a grant award of $2.7M to Emery Telecommunications & Video, Inc. (Emery Telecom) today, expanding western Colorado’s rural broadband access to an additional 494 homes, farms, businesses and community anchor institutions located in the town of Dove Creek and Dolores County. This weekend in Montrose, Governor Polis released the administration’s Rural Economic Blueprint, which outlines ways the administration will continue building a Colorado that works for everyone, especially those outside of the Front Range. Governor Jared Polis is committed to modernizing Colorado’s broadband infrastructure to expand internet access across the state and help rural communities overcome economic challenges.

“Colorado’s rural communities need access to affordable and reliable broadband is critical to our economy and our future. This project will further Colorado’s goal of providing rural broadband access to 92% of rural households by June 2020,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Closing the rural broadband gap requires creativity, bipartisan collaboration, and investment. Colorado has stepped up to the challenge recently, committing to invest at least $115M over the next five years. Working together with federal and state policymakers we believe we can help problem-solve and provide solutions.”

This project will further Colorado’s goal of providing rural broadband access to 92% of rural households by June 2020.

“We thank the Colorado federal delegation, USDA Secretary, Sonny Perdue, Chad Rupe, Administrator for Rural Utilities Service and Sallie Clark, State Director, USDA Rural Development for this critical investment in Colorado’s rural broadband infrastructure,” Polis added. 

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11-25-19 USDA Statement on U.S. Sugar Market

USDA Statement on U.S. Sugar Market

(Washington, D.C., November 25, 2019) – Consistent with the Commerce Department’s Agreement Suspending the Countervailing Duty Investigation on Sugar From Mexico (the Agreement), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today notified the Department of Commerce (Commerce) of an additional need for sugar in the U.S. market of 100,000 short tons of refined sugar.* Consequently, Commerce has increased the quantity of Mexican refined sugar permitted to be exported by 100,000 short tons. This increase in Mexico’s refined sugar export limit will not change the total amount of total sugar imports from Mexico, just the mix between refined and other sugar. Continue reading

11-25-19 CDPHE News: State takes action after finding elevated benzene in Greeley

CDPHE News: State takes action after finding elevated benzene in Greeley

DENVER — The state’s air monitoring mobile lab measured a benzene level that is above the health-based screening guideline for short-term health impacts. The state health department does not believe people were harmed by this single elevated measurement but is taking swift action to investigate the cause of the elevated level and conduct additional monitoring. The state has been conducting targeted air monitoring after releasing the findings of the Human Health Risk Assessment for Oil and Gas Operations in Colorado study in the fall.

The mobile lab measured a benzene level of 10.24 parts per billion (ppb) at Bella Romero 4-8 Academy in Greeley on Nov. 5 and confirmed the results late last week. The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) short-term health-based guideline is 9 ppb. Health-based guidelines are set to protect people and are much lower than the levels at which people would typically experience negative health effects. Continue reading

11-25-19 USDA National Organic Program’s Origin of Livestock Proposed Rule Comment Period — Open Now

Origin of Livestock Proposed Rule Comment Period — Open Now

On October 1, 2019, the National Organic Program (NOP) reopened the public comment period for the Origin of Livestock proposed rule originally published in 2015. The comment period is open for 60 days: October 1 – December 2, 2019.

The proposed rule would change the requirements related to origin of livestock under the USDA organic regulations. NOP received 1,580 public comments during the original comment period in 2015. USDA will consider all public comments in developing a final rule. This includes public comments from 2015 and from this new comment period. Continue reading

11-25-19 USDA Invests $5.1 Million in Rural Broadband for Utah and Western Colorado

USDA Invests $5.1 Million in Rural Broadband for Utah and Western Colorado

LAKE POINT, Utah, Nov. 25, 2019 – Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service Administrator Chad Rupe announced USDA has invested $5.13 million in two separate high-speed broadband infrastructure projects that will create or improve rural e-Connectivity for more than 675 rural households in Utah and western Colorado. This is one of many funding announcements in the first round of USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program investments.
“Both of these projects are providing critical communications investments in some truly rural areas of Utah and Colorado,” Rupe said. “Through USDA’s ReConnect program, these counties will get access to the latest broadband technology, and that will have a positive economic impact for the farms and ranches, small businesses and families that live in these communities. Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to this strong partnership with rural communities in deploying this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America prospers, all of America prospers.”

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11-25-19 USDA Clarifies Terms for Livestock Export Sales Reporting

USDA Clarifies Terms for Livestock Export Sales Reporting

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2019 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) today published a final rule clarifying the requirements for reporting foreign sales of beef and pork under the Export Sales Reporting Program.

Today’s rule clarifies that “muscle cuts” of beef and pork include whole carcasses, whether divided in half or further subdivided into individual primals, sub-primals, or fabricated cuts, with or without bone. Carcasses that are broken down, boxed, or sold as a complete unit are muscle cuts. Total weight of carcasses reported may include minor nonreportable items (e.g., hooves) attached to carcasses. Meats removed during the conversion of an animal to a carcass (e.g., variety meats such as beef/pork hearts and beef tongues ) are not muscle cuts, nor are items sold as bones practically free of meat (e.g., beef femur bones) or fat practically free of meat (e.g., pork clear plate) removed from a carcass. Continue reading

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, November 25th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, November 25th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Phase One Trade Agreement may be Heading to 2020

U.S. legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters didn’t stop China’s trade chief from making a phone call recently to invite U.S. negotiators to a new round of trade talks. The Wall Street Journal says U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (Muh-NOO-chin) were invited to Beijing for more face-to-face trade negotiations. While it wasn’t immediately clear if U.S. officials said yes to the invitation, the Wall Street Journal says U.S. trade officials were willing to meet with their Chinese counterparts. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has yet to respond to requests for comment. The report on the Chinese invitation comes shortly after U.S. legislation on Hong Kong had threatened to push trade talks between the world’s biggest economies off track. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills intended to show support for protesters in Hong Kong. Beijing then accused the U.S. of interfering in its domestic affairs. Trade experts and people close to the Trump Administration say the limited trade agreement could be pushed into next year, news which is not good for U.S. agriculture. The U.S. and China have both imposed tariffs totaling billions of dollars on each other’s goods.


Doubt Growing on USMCA Passing in 2019

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appears doubtful that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement will be passed this year. After she met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal last week, there was no deal and not much time left on the legislative clock. “We’ve made progress,” she said after leaving the 90-minute meeting. “I think we’re narrowing our differences.” She said earlier in the day that they’ll still have several steps to take even after they finally reach an agreement. The clock is ticking. Last Thursday was the last day before the House takes its Thanksgiving break. The Trump Administration and some Democrats hoped to strike a deal before the week-long recess to give lawmakers time in December to take up the pact. The House only has eight days of official session left in the 2019 calendar year. Lawmakers will stay on for an extra week in December to resolve budget issues and avoid a government shutdown.


Michigan Joins Four Other States as Cage-Free

A new law says the 15 million egg-laying hens in Michigan’s poultry flocks will have to lay their eggs in cage-free housing systems before 2025. An Associated Press report says Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist (GILL-krist) signed the legislation last week as Governor Gretchen Whitmer is on a trade trip to Israel. The law also prohibits non-cage-free eggs from being sold in Michigan starting in 2025. Gilchrist says the measure ensures Michigan standards for animal welfare are among the strongest in the U.S. At the same time, he says the law ensures egg producers can thrive. Under an older law, each hen was going to have to be confined in a one-square-foot space by April. The new law says each hen has to be housed in a cage-free system by the end of 2024. Michigan is the fifth state and the largest egg-producing state to adopt a cage-free law. The bill is part of a broader update of the state’s animal industry laws. Large restaurant and grocery chains like McDonald’s, Walmart, and Kroger have said they’ll only buy eggs from cage-free farms by 2025.


Farmers Employing More Farm Workers, Paying Higher Wages than in 2018

U.S. farmers are hiring more laborers than they were a year ago and they’re paying higher wages too. The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a new report saying that farm operators directly employed 809,000 workers during the week of October sixth. That’s three percent higher than the same time last year. The USDA says farmers paid an average gross wage of $15.02 per hour during the same week in October, four percent more than last year. Field laborers averaged $14.38 per hour, which is five percent higher than last year. Livestock workers earned an average of $13.77 per hour, which is three percent higher than last year. The combined livestock and field worker wages average $14.21 per hour, four percent higher than last year. The report says the 2019 all-hired worker annual average gross wage rate comes in at $14.91 per hour, five percent higher than in 2018. The 2019 field worker’s annual average gross wage rate was at $14.11 per hour, six percent higher than the annual average in 2018. Field workers in Oregon and Washington were among the highest-paid this year, averaging $16.56 per hour, up from $15.62 last year.


Feed Industry says China still has Partial U.S. Poultry Ban in Place

The American Feed Industry Association says China’s lifting of its ban on U.S poultry imports is only a “partial” lifting. The association has received official confirmation from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that the announcement only includes poultry imports for human consumption. It doesn’t include other poultry products, such as those used in pet foods. At this time, the import restriction for pet foods with poultry products is still in effect. The association says there’s no difference in the risk of introducing poultry diseases between importing poultry for human or animal consumption. AFIA says it is “extremely disappointed to learn that China is implementing only a partial lifting of the ban and we look forward to working with APHIS and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to rectify the situation.” AFIA’s President and CEO, Constance Cullman, says, “China is a valuable market for the entire U.S. animal food industry, for exports of feed, feed ingredients, and value-added products such as meat and poultry.”


Hoeven, Peterson Ask USDA to Help Sugar Growers

Senate Ag Appropriations Chair John Hoeven (HOH-vehn) of North Dakota and House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson of Minnesota asked the USDA to assist to sugar growers in the Red River Valley. Producers in both states were unable to harvest their crops because of severe weather. The Hagstrom Report says USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey recently made a trip to those areas to see how producers were hit by a wet fall and early snowstorm. Hoeven says, “This has been an unprecedented year of challenges in farm country and we’re working to do all we can to support our producers.” He says sugar growers in the Red River Valley left 118,000 acres of sugar beets unharvested, which is one-third of their entire planted crop. Peterson says, “A tough harvest season has challenged sugar beet growers more than anyone would have anticipated. We’re committed to working with USDA to see if they have a way to access help.” USDA recently announced that the domestic sugar crop was smaller than anticipated due to weather problems. That means the agency expects it will allow an increase in imports.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service