Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 6th

Subcommittee Explores USDA Agency Relocation Proposal

A House subcommittee hearing on the relocation proposals for two Department of Agriculture agencies highlights further contention regarding the move. USDA has proposed relocating the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to the Kansas City metro, Indiana, or to Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. Subcommittee chair Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat from the U.S. Virgin Islands, opened the hearing stating the proposal will “undermine the integrity of these agencies and their ability to operate.” The National Farmers Union contends the proposal is already damaging the industry, as experienced researchers scramble to find new jobs, alleging that NIFA and ERS have both “lost decades of institutional knowledge.” However, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, Mike Conaway, states, “There is nothing that prevents USDA’s mission from extending outside of the beltway.” Conaway adds, “The elitist notion that all wisdom and knowledge stems from Washington, D.C. is offensive to me and should be offensive to anyone who resides in rural America.” Conaway called the hearing a distraction that fails to focus on the pressing issues facing agriculture today, such as farm income, weather and trade.

Ag Retailers Association Raise Disaster Relief Concerns

The Ag Retailers Association is expressing concerns regarding the potential lack of planting, and its impact on retailers. The supplemental disaster relief passed by Congress may have “unintended consequences” in harming retailers, the association explained in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The association is urging Perdue to implement disaster aid in a way that doesn’t harm its members. The disaster aid package passed by Congress includes $3 billion for farm-related assistance. In the letter, Ag Retailers Association President Daren Coppock says the association “wholeheartedly” supports the efforts by Congress. However, agriculture retailers that sell inputs to farmers could be left holding the products, which would either drop in value, or be of no value at all, if widespread preventative planting occurs. The association suggests delaying the preventative planting date in the affected states in 2019, to not alter planting decisions by farmers. USDA lawyers did confirm to Agri-Pulse Wednesday that unplanted acres will not be eligible for the separate trade aid package.

House Appropriations Ag Spending Bill Rejects Many Trump Proposals

The House Appropriations Committee 2020 Agriculture spending bill rejects many of the cuts proposed by President Trump. Representative Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat who chairs the full Appropriations Committee, says the bill “rejects the President’s misguided budget and instead invests in important initiatives for the people.” Subcommittee Chair Sanford Bishop, a Democrat from Georgia, says the bill “invests in America’s fundamental needs and rejects the Administration’s radical cuts.” The bill allocates $24 billion, four percent above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level, and more than $5.1 billion above the budget request. The bill provides nearly $4 billion for rural development, $1.8 billion in farm programs, $3.3 billion for agricultural research, and fully funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. For the Food and Drug Administration, the bill provides $3.2 billion in discretionary funding, which is $185 million above fiscal year 2019. The bill reported out of committee in a vote of 29 to 21 and now awaits further consideration by the full U.S. House of Representatives.

Great Lakes at Record High Water Levels

Record water levels and flooding extend beyond the Midwest and the U.S. river systems, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports record levels at the Great Lakes. Based on preliminary data, new record high monthly mean water levels were set on Lakes Erie, St. Clair and Superior in May. Additionally, record high water levels are possible on all the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair this summer. Persistent wet conditions across the Great Lakes basin this spring has fueled the recent rises, as precipitation in May was 21 percent higher than average. The new record May levels are between one and three inches higher than the previous records for the month set in 1986. The Great Lakes region will continue to see the threat of coastal flooding and shoreline erosion, especially during storm events, according to the Corps. Man-made flood control reservoirs across parts of the Midwest reached record levels in May due to high runoff and precipitation. The Missouri River is forecasted for the second highest runoff recorded, and flooding is prompting the opening of rarely used spillways in Louisiana along the Mississippi River.

Grassley, Fortenberry Urge USDA Secretary to Enact Payment Limits

Two Midwestern lawmakers are calling on the Department of Agriculture to enact payment limits through farm programs. Senate Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa along with and Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska penned a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, urging him “use his existing regulatory authority” in order to ensure that individuals receiving farm payments are actively engaged in farming. The letter states the farm safety net “was never intended to maximize government payments.” The letter calls for “an effective payment limit system,” one in which each farm is subject to the same limitation. Grassley has been a vocal advocate for farm payment limitations. A Grassley amendment to close a loophole allowing an unlimited number of so-called managers to qualify for federal subsidies was included in the last two farm bills. In both of the last two farm bill negotiations, Grassley’s amendment was removed from the final bill. Before the last farm bill, the Government Accountability Office documented that at least $259 million was paid out through the actively engaged loophole Grassley’s amendment sought to close.

Pork Quality Assurance Plus Revisions Take Effect

Revisions to the Pork Quality Assurance Plus, called PQA Plus, took effect Wednesday. The updated program reflects pork producers’ commitment to continuous improvement and features two training options – first-time and recertification, according to the National Pork Board. David Newman, incoming National Pork Board President from Arkansas, calls the program a “collaborative effort between producers, packers and industry representatives.” New research information has been incorporated into the latest version to increase the program’s effectiveness and ensure its validity with customers and consumers. Through the program, the Pork Board says producers remain focused on providing a safe, high-quality product while promoting animal well-being, environmental stewardship and public health. To help producers prepare for a foreign animal disease, a Secure Pork Supply resource is included in the updated PQA Plus. For more information on the revised PQA Plus program, visit pork.org/certifications.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker 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.

%d bloggers like this: