READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Tuesday, December 22nd

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Peterson Welcomes Food and Ag Provisions of COVID Relief

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson Monday announced the food and agriculture provision in this week’s COVID-19 relief package. In addition to a 15 percent increase in benefits for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for six months, Peterson pointed specifically to the inclusion of support for those who were left out earlier assistance. Those include contract livestock and poultry growers, ethanol producers that saw a drop in demand, and livestock and poultry producers who had to depopulate herds and flocks because of supply chain disruptions. The bill also contains assistance for dairy farmers, funding for small and mid-sized livestock processors to attain federal inspection to accommodate increased demand, and animal health work and grants to state departments for ongoing farm stress programs. The outgoing Democrat, Peterson, says, “This bill isn’t perfect, but it reflects a compromise and goes a long way toward getting us through this hard time and back to normal.”

Secretary Perdue Proposes Transfer of Animal Biotech Regulatory Framework to USDA

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Monday announced a proposal to modernize regulations of agricultural animals modified or produced by genetic engineering. The Department of Agriculture will move forward with the rulemaking plan to move the regulatory framework to USDA. Perdue says the initiative follows President Donald Trump’s Executive Order on agricultural biotechnology that called upon federal agencies to make regulatory improvements to rectify long-standing barriers to innovation for U.S. agriculture. In a statement, the Secretary says, “If we do not put these safe biotechnology advances to work here at home, our competitors in other nations will.” Perdue adds USDA is outlining a pragmatic, science-based, and risk-based approach that focuses on potential risks to animal and livestock health, the environment, and food safety. USDA’s proposal would cover molecular characterization, animal health efficacy, environmental considerations, food safety evaluation, and food storage and processing. USDA’s proposal would also provide end-to-end regulatory oversight from pre-market reviews through post-market food safety monitoring of animals.

Biden Announces White House Climate Team

President-elect Joe Biden recently announced his White House climate team. With climate change a top focus of the incoming administration, the team will play an influential role on policy. The team is led by Gina McCarthy, the Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, who will serve as National Climate Advisor. Ali Zaidi (Zay-dee) was named deputy national climate advisory. Zaidi currently serves New York in a top energy and environment post. Also, on the climate team is Deb Haaland as the Biden Interior Secretary, and Jennifer Granholm, nominated as Biden’s Energy Secretary. Biden EPA Administration pick Michael Regan joins the team and Brenda Mallory, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. In a weekend speech, Biden stated, “We see farmers making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.” Incoming Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is not part of the climate team, but is seen as a key player for the administration’s climate goals.

Meat, Poultry, Farm Workers High Priority for COVID-19 Vaccine

Federal guidance suggests essential workers should be next to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, including meat packers and farmworkers. A Centers for Disease Control advisory committee voted in favor of a blueprint for essential workers and people over 75 as recipients of the vaccine in the next phase. In a news release, North American Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts says, “Priority access to vaccines is a critical step for the long-term safety of the selfless frontline meat and poultry workers who have kept America’s refrigerators full and our farm economy working.” She says $1.5 billion in COVID-19 preventions and supports implemented since the earliest days of the pandemic have reversed COVID-19’s impact on meat and poultry workers. Potts adds Meat Institute members stand ready to support vaccination for a diverse workforce, which will also deliver wide-ranging health benefits in rural and high-risk communities. Food and agriculture workers are considered essential workers, along with energy, trade, retail and others.

USDA Receives Delivery of First Significant FMD Vaccine Bank Purchase

Earlier this year, the Department of Agriculture announced the first significant purchase for its Foot-and-Mouth vaccine bank. This month, the purchase worth $27 million was delivered. The establishment of a robust FMD vaccine bank has been a top, long-term priority for the National Pork Producers Council, which was instrumental in advocating for its establishment as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Currently, USDA, which has prescribed vaccination for dealing with an FMD outbreak, does not have access to enough vaccine should an outbreak occur. FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep, it is not a food safety or human health threat. The disease is endemic in many parts of the world and would have widespread, long-term fallout for livestock and crop agriculture, including the immediate loss of export markets. NPPC says the organization “looks forward” to continuing to work with the agency to ensure the FMD vaccine bank is adequately stocked.

Deere Partners FFA to Build the Next Generation of Leaders

John Deere announced a $1 million donation this week to the National FFA Organization. The donation, scheduled for 2021, will support FFA’s mission through developing leadership skills, personal growth, and career success. Since John Deere’s initial contribution of $1,000 in 1943, it has donated more than $16 million to the National FFA Foundation. John Deere was also one of the first corporate sponsors to form an FFA Alumni and Supporters Chapter. Today, employees from John Deere facilities across the U.S. volunteer to coach, mentor and train FFA chapters. National FFA Foundation President Molly Ball says, “We are more than pleased to continue partnering with John Deere as we continue to provide programming that will enable the future of agricultural education and FFA.” John Deere Vice President of Production Systems Aaron Wetzel stated, “At John Deere, we believe FFA is as important to the future of agriculture as any cutting-edge machine, technology or service that we will deliver.”

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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.