READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, June 23rd

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China Suspends Exports from Tyson Foods Plant

China Sunday suspended poultry exports from an Arkansas Tyson Food’s processing plant where workers tested positive for COVID-19.  China’s General Administration of Customs announced the suspension after Tyson Foods confirmed a cluster of COVID-19 cases at its facility in Springdale, Arkansas. A Tyson spokesperson told Reuters the company is investigating the matter, adding, “It is important to note that the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USDA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agree that there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.” China also halted exports from a pork processing facility in Germany following an outbreak of COVID-19 at the plant. China has stepped up food inspections for the novel coronavirus in recent weeks. Reuters says Beijing began testing meat, seafood and fresh produce for the coronavirus last week, and some ports were opening all containers of meat to carry out coronavirus tests.

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New WOTUS Rule Becomes Law

The Trump Administration’s new and scaled-back Waters of the U.S. rule became law Monday after last-minute attempts to block the rule. A federal judge late last week denied an effort to prevent implementation of the new regulation, called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The challengers claim the new rule removes protection from many U.S. waterways. WOTUS, now NWPR, has been the subject of multiple lawsuits, including some examined by the Supreme Court. In the order denying the motion for temporary relief, the Judge writes, “In the prior cases, the issue was always whether the agencies had gone too far in extending the scope of federal regulation. Now, the question is whether the agencies have not gone far enough.” That judge ultimately sided with the EPA. However, a federal judge in Colorado rejected the Section 404 permit process included in the new rule, which refers to the Corps of Engineers’ authority to issue permits for the discharge of dredged or fill material into navigable waters.

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Court Allows Dicamba use this Season

A late Friday court decision confirms farmers may use existing stocks of dicamba herbicides this growing season. The Ninth Circuit appeals court, which vacated the registrations of three dicamba herbicides earlier this month, denied a petition to stop use of the products already purchased by farmers and applicators. The ruling applies to Bayer’s XtendiMax, BASF’s Engenia and Corteva’s FeXapan herbicides. Additionally, during its series of late evening orders on June 19, the Court granted both CropLife America’s and a grower coalition’s requests to file an amicus brief. The brief supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s order to allow use of the products. That brief highlighted the devastating consequences that would result if the NGO’s request were granted and growers could not use existing stocks. The request counters EPA guidance that allows existing stocks use when registrations are vacated, in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. The American Soybean Association says, “American growers and the public are fortunate that a proper administrative and judicial-review framework exists.”

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Senate Ag Committee Urges USDA to Extend WIC Flexibilities

The Senate Agriculture Committee Monday sent a request to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to extend existing flexibilities for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Senators seek the extension through September 30, 2020, as authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In a letter to Secretary Perdue, the Senators wrote the extension would “provide certainty and availability to WIC participants, providers and vendors navigating variable phased re-opening procedures across public, private, and health sectors.” WIC program flexibilities granted by the Department of Agriculture for the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, through state agencies, have helped eligible pregnant women, mothers, and their infants and young children to access and use food benefits while navigating social-distancing protocols. The Senators say month to month extensions, as followed currently, are challenging for states to plan effectively and increase administrative burden. The bipartisan letter was signed by several members of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

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Missouri Farm Bureau Survey Finds Broad COVID-19 Impacts

A Missouri Farm Bureau survey brings to life many of the hidden effects of COVID-19 on farmers and rural communities. While the on-farm impacts have been dramatic, the personal effects are even more painful to read, according to Missouri Farm Bureau. Farmers in the survey report: “I have not seen my first grandchild yet.” “My daughter didn’t get to get married like she planned.” “I’m lonely and miss my friends.” Many respondents expressed feelings of isolation, loneliness and even depression. Inability to attend church and fellowship with friends has had a big impact on rural life. Although there were many differing opinions, over 63 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they take COVID-19 seriously. The agricultural effects have been severe as well. Nearly one-quarter of livestock farmers surveyed have had a meat processor reduce the normal schedule of animals they deliver for processing. The same percentage have had to locate an alternate processing facility for animals. The survey was completed by 377 people in Missouri.

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Virginia Attorneys Plead Guilty in RoundUp Extortion Scheme

Two Virginia attorneys pled guilty last week for a scheme to extort Monsanto out of $200 million last year. Timothy Litzenburg and Daniel Kincheloe each pleaded guilty to one count of transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort. The U.S. Department of Justice says the two admitted they approached Monsanto and threatened to make public statements alleging the company had significant civil liability for manufacturing a purportedly harmful chemical used in RoundUp. They proposed reaching a “consulting agreement” with the company for $200 million, which would bar the attorneys from representing their clients as plaintiffs in litigation against Monsanto, which is now Bayer Crop Science. The fees were proposed to help their clients. However, the pair planned to split the funds among themselves and their associates. The attorneys threatened that if Monsanto did not accept their consulting plan, “they and others would commence litigation that would become an ongoing exponentially growing problem” for the company, according to the Justice Department. The pair will be sentenced in September.

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.