READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, November 13th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Trump Veto Threat Not Taken Seriously

As Congress is back in D.C., both House and Senate Ag leaders are promising to take action on a new farm bill during the upcoming lame-duck session. While the negotiations are in the stretch-run, questions remain on just how dug in the president is on stricter SNAP work requirements for program recipients. During a press conference, Trump blamed Democrats for farm bill delays because of their opposition to stronger work requirements. The president says he wants “work requirements” in the bill, a demand that some interpreted as a subtle veto threat. Politico says many food and agricultural lobbyists are shrugging off President Trump’s latest comments.  They’re betting Trump wouldn’t veto a farm bill without the new work requirements if it landed on his desk. Bob Greenstein, founder and president of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, says Trump’s threat to refuse to accept a bill if it doesn’t contain those work provisions doesn’t make sense. “If he refuses to accept such a bill, the farm bill would then die in the lame duck, and the next Congress, with a Democratic House, will start over,” Greenstein says. The resulting new farm bill would be even less to the president’s liking.

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U.S. Ag Coalition Heads to Cuba Despite Crackdown

A coalition of ag groups, agribusinesses, and related industries sent a group of representatives to Cuba for a three-day conference aimed at increasing sales and cooperation between the two nations. Reuters says the conference was held in spite of President Donald Trump’s repeated threats to tighten trade sanctions against the island nation. The U.S. Ag Coalition for Cuba wants the trade embargo lifted and they want more trade between the two nations, so they sponsored the trip. Going as far back as 2000, U.S. farmers and agribusinesses have sold $5.7 billion worth of food to the communist nation. It was back in 2000 that an amendment was added to the trade embargo allowing cash-only sales. Cuba imports up to $2 billion in food every year and American farmers and ranchers want a bigger slice of that pie. Paul Johnson, a co-chair of the Ag Coalition for Cuba, says, “Rural America supported President Trump and will continue to support him. We want him to remember those same people also want him to open up the Cuban market.” Johnson says trade hasn’t reached its full potential with Cuba, and changes underway in the Cuban government represent an opportunity ahead for American farmers and ranchers.

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Perdue Applauds Department of Labor Rulemaking on H-2A

U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue applauded the proposed rulemaking from the Department of Labor regarding the H-2A Visa Program. The proposed new rule would require American employers looking for temporary help to advertise their job openings to domestic workers online, instead of in expensive newspaper ads that reach a limited audience. This is one of the first steps in H-2A regulatory reform that was promised in May through a joint statement from the Secretaries of Agriculture, Labor, State, and Homeland Security. Perdue says one of the biggest concerns he hears about from farmers during his travels around the country is the shortage of legal farm labor. “Our farmers and ranchers are the most productive in the world and they want to obey immigration law,” says Perdue. “When American workers aren’t available, farmers turn to the H-2A program that is overly bureaucratic and cost prohibitive. Using regulations like this is one way to modernize H-2A to reach more American workers while providing relief to farmers from one of the high costs of the program.” Perdue says it’s good to see government using 21st Century technology, rather than limiting farmers to placing notices in want ads.

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California Animal Activists Face Felony Charges after Chicken Theft

Back in September, six animal activists were arrested for stealing chickens from a poultry farm in Sonoma County, California. The industry website Meating Place Dot Com says they now face felony burglary, theft, and trespassing charges. The six people are members of the “DxE” Bay Area chapter, with the group’s self-proclaimed goal of “total animal liberation.” The group conducted a protest at McCoy’s Poultry Services in Sonoma County on September 29th. The six members say they believed they were following the law when they were trying to help “chickens that were in distress.” Sonoma County officials took possession of 15 chickens after the arrest, six of which were dead. The Sonoma County Sheriff says law enforcement tries to balance between First Amendment rights and the rights of private property owners in situations like this one. The sheriff’s department also says this move suggests an escalation in tactics by activist groups in Sonoma County. Quoted after the arrest, the sheriff says, “Our concern is the trespass and the theft of animals.” Law enforcement officials in the area are recommending that producers boost their security with fences, lights, and surveillance cameras.

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Rural Population Growing Again

The decline in the nation’s rural population first began in 2010, before reaching its lowest level in 2011-2012. Rural areas lost nearly 62,000 residents that year, alone. However, since then it’s begun to reverse. The Economic Research Service at the USDA made that announcement in its annual report titled “Rural America at a Glance.” As recently as 2016-2017, the ERS says rural counties added population for the first time this decade due to people moving in as the economy improved. The rural unemployment rate peaked at 10.3 percent in 2010, dropping steadily since then to 4.3 percent in 2017. After peaking in 2013, rural poverty rates across all racial and ethnic groups have also declined since then. However, the overall graying of rural America is still continuing. Rural areas are attracting retirees and losing new people coming into the workforce. Rural counties are still more attractive to retirees who are looking for scenic or lifestyle amenities.

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Poultry Worker Safety Record Continues to Improve

Occupational injuries and illnesses in the poultry slaughter and processing workforce have fallen by 83 percent over the last 20 years. According to the 2017 Injury and Illness Report released by the Department of Labor, the decline is continuing. The total poultry processing injury and illness rate of 3.8 cases per 100 full-time employees, down from 4.2 cases the year before. The poultry industry’s rate of 3.8 is below the rate of 6.4 cases per 100 full-time workers in similar industries. It’s also lower than the rate of 4.5 for the entire food manufacturing sector. The poultry processing industry rate of 3.8 cases represents an 83 percent decrease from 1994, which is the oldest year that data is available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. The industry rate in 1994 was 22.4 cases per 100 workers, which shows the industry has made big advancements in workplace safety for its employees. The Joint Industry Safety and Health Council says employee safety continues to be of utmost importance to the industry. “The poultry industry continues to focus on preventing workplace injuries and illnesses by recognizing the benefit of implementing ergonomics and medical intervention principles,” the Council says in a statement.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.