READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, March 6th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Proposes SNAP Changes

The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced a proposed rule that it says will strengthen the way states serve Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients through Employment and Training. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says, currently, SNAP participants have exclusive access to training and support services to help them enter or move up in the workforce. The proposed rule, Employment and Training Opportunities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, makes changes to these services to “empower more SNAP participants to gain the skills, training, or work experience they need to move toward – and into – employment.” USDA says the proposed changes are evidence-based and hold states accountable for providing SNAP Employment and Training services that move participants towards work. The Hagstrom Report points out that the rule also states repeatedly that state agencies shall inform all able-bodied adults without dependents, a category of SNAP recipient, of the work requirement on them and the time limit to comply both in writing and orally.

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NPPC Applauds Signing of Ag Inspectors Bill

The National Pork Producers Council welcomed the signing of a bill to increase the number of agricultural inspectors at U.S. entry points. NPPC says the bill will help prevent the spread of African swine fever, and other foreign animal diseases from entering the United States. The legislation authorizes funding for 720 new agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports. The legislation also authorizes 600 new agricultural technicians and 60 new agricultural canine teams. NPPC President David Herring, a hog farmer from North Carolina, says, “This is a victory for farmers, consumers and the American economy.” NPPC says the most likely path for a foreign animal disease to enter the country would be through the illegal transport of contaminated products. An outbreak of certain foreign animal diseases would immediately close U.S. pork export markets, causing significant damage to farmers and consumers. NPPC continues to advocate for other preparedness measures, including quickly establishing a U.S. Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank as provided for in the 2018 Farm Bill.

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R-CALF Calls Again for COOL Amid Brazil Imports

In response to the late February announcement by the Department of Agriculture that it will open the U.S. market to fresh beef from Brazil, R-CALF is calling for the restoration of mandatory Country-of-Origin meat labeling. The organization points out that Brazil is a country with a history of engaging in corrupt food safety practices, and is distributing a research paper to congressional offices titled Restoring Mandatory COOL for Beef Without Running Afoul of the WTO’s Adverse Ruling. R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard says the lack of Country-of-Origin meat labeling “means beef produced by America’s cattle farmers and ranchers cannot compete against the soon-to-arrive increased quantities of Brazilian beef.” Bullard claims the only way to end consumer deception is for Congress to pass legislation requiring Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling on all beef products sold at retail stores. Congress removed beef and pork from the current COOL law in late 2015 to avoid retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico, authorized by the World Trade Organization.

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Midwest Lawmakers Introduce Missouri River Management Bill

Midwest lawmakers Thursday introduced legislation to overhaul the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ process for managing water resource projects along the lower Missouri River system. Senators from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska introduced the bill to establish a new program that would require the Corps of Engineers to implement a system-wide approach to water development projects to reduce flood risk and improve flood protection along the lower Missouri River. Iowa Republican Joni Ernst says, that, “As evidenced by the recurring flooding in the lower basin, the current approach is not working.” Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt says the bill gives the Corps of Engineers the “ability to develop a comprehensive system plan to design and build critical flood control projects that will do a better job of protecting people and property.” The lawmakers say the proposal provides greater efficiencies and streamlining with regard to how the Corps plans for and manages Missouri River water resource development projects from inception to completion.

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2020 Missouri River Runoff Expected Above Average

Forecasters expect another above-average runoff year along the Missouri River. Current conditions, including soil moisture, plains and mountain snowpack, as well as long-term temperature and precipitation outlooks forecast runoff to be 36.9 million acre-feet, 143 percent of average, for the upper Missouri River basin above Sioux City, Iowa for 2020. Average annual runoff for the upper basin is 25.8 million-acre feet. Gavins Point releases were decreased from 38,000 cubic feet per second to 35,000  this week as tributaries downstream of Gavins Point began to rise due to the melting of the plains snowpack in South Dakota. The potential for above-average runoff in the upper basin, coupled with continued high river stages on many of the uncontrolled tributaries downstream of the reservoir system, increases the potential for flooding, particularly in the lower river. Many farmers along the Missouri River are still recovering from flooding in 2019 that started in March of last year.

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FDA Creates Feed Your Mind initiative to Increase GMO Understanding

A new federal collaboration seeks to improve consumer understanding of genetically modified organisms. Created by the Food and Drug Administration, in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture, the Feed Your Mind initiative aims to answer the most common questions that consumers have about GMOs. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn says that while GMO’s are a common part of the food supply, “there are a lot of misconceptions about them,” adding, the initiative is intended to help people better understand what these products are and how they are made. The Feed Your Mind initiative is launching in phases. The materials released this week include a new website, as well as a selection of fact sheets, infographics and videos. Additional materials—including a supplementary science curriculum for high schools, resources for health professionals and additional consumer materials—will be released later in 2020 and 2021. Find the information online at www.fda.gov/feedyourmind.

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.