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It’s time to come to terms with euthanizing wild horses

High Country News | Posted on October 17, 2016

In September, the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, a group charged with making recommendations to the Bureau of Land Management about its Wild Horse and Burro Program, agreed that tens of thousands of equines in federal holding facilities might need to be euthanized.  This recommendation — you might call it the nuclear option — undoubtedly hit horse lovers like a bomb. Social media mushroomed with immediate rancor. The BLM was inundated by negative feedback and quickly issued a statement saying it would not follow the board’s recommendation.  It’s sad enough that the mustang crisis has devolved to this. It’s also sad that only a tiny fraction of the public has taken time to understand the situation, which has created a genuine cultural and environmental crisis in the American West. As horrifying as its recommendation may seem, the advisory group was only trying to rectify bad decisions regarding wild horses that date back generations. It’s a chronicle that’s echoed by the long history of corporate malfeasance in the mining world.


Our View: EWG Stoops to New Low, Resorts to Pure Fiction in Latest Attack

Farm Policy | Posted on October 17, 2016

With crop insurance's popularity rising in rural America and on Capitol Hill, and with the policy's budget outlays falling, we're guessing one of its harshest critics, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), is running out of believable critiques. So now it's resorted to pure fiction.  The EWG sounded an alarm bell in an article earlier this week, warning, "Billionaire Saudi Prince Khalid bin Abdullah could be raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in U.S. taxpayer-funded crop insurance subsidies through farms he owns in Kentucky – but we have no way of knowing for sure."  Actually, we have plenty of information to know for sure. And no, he is not fleecing U.S. taxpayers. Under paragraph 202 of the USDA's handbook for crop insurance program standards, it clearly notes that non-U.S. citizens are ineligible to participate. Since the Saudi Prince is not a citizen, he is not receiving crop insurance assistance. Case closed. But for the sake of due diligence, we decided to assume the Saudi Prince became a U.S. citizen without telling anyone. Even in this unlikeliest of scenario, he still isn't hitting up taxpayers for crop insurance on his thoroughbred horse breeding operation headquartered in Fayette County, Kentucky. Here's how we know. There is no crop insurance product available for horse breeding.There is a livestock crop insurance product, but horses are ineligible for coverage.There is a Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage product to assist ranchers in general, but it's hardly been used in Kentucky.

Western Dubuque to Pay $6M Settlement

DTN | Posted on October 17, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice have filed a complaint against NGL Crude Logistics, LLC and Western Dubuque Biodiesel, LLC and a $6 million settlement with Western Dubuque to address alleged violations of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Iowa in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, alleges that NGL entered into a series of transactions with Western Dubuque in 2011 that resulted in the generation of approximately 36 million invalid Renewable Identification Numbers. RINs are credits created when a company produces qualifying renewable fuel and can be traded or sold to refineries and importers to use for compliance with renewable fuel production requirements. Under the settlement, Western Dubuque has agreed to pay $6 million to resolve alleged Renewable Fuel Standard program violations for generating RINs for renewable fuel that were produced using unapproved feedstocks and production processes. The consent decree does not resolve any claims against NGL.

Pangolins and parrots among winners at largest-ever meeting on wildlife trade

Nature | Posted on October 17, 2016

Elephants, pangolins and parrots are among the species that were given stronger trade protections at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which ran from 24 September to 5 October in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The 17th meeting of the CITES convention was its largest ever, attended by more than 3,500 people, including representatives of 152 governments. Delegates took decisions on 62 trade-restriction proposals in what John Scanlon, secretary-general of CITES, said was “a game changer for the planet’s most vulnerable wild animals and plants”. Here, Nature picks out some of the most significant and keenly anticipated decisions — including whether particular species should be listed in Appendix I or Appendix II of the CITES treaty. The first is for species at immediate threat of extinction, for which countries agree that trade in those species or their products should be largely banned; Appendix II is for those that could face extinction in future if trade restrictions were not implemented.

USDA launches rural business investment company

Farm Futures | Posted on October 17, 2016

USDA launched a new private investment fund with the potential to inject $100 million into growth-oriented, small businesses across rural America. The McLarty Capital Partners (MCP) Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) will be the fifth RBIC that USDA has helped to initiate since 2014.  "Innovative small businesses throughout rural America need the same access to capital as their urban business counterparts," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "McLarty Capital Partners is an important ally in USDA's efforts to reenergize the rural economy, help small businesses grow and strengthen local communities." McLarty Capital Partners, founded in 2012 by co-presidents Franklin McLarty and Christopher Smith, provides flexible financing solutions to small and medium sized enterprises in the United States. MCP Rural Investment Fund will invest in this sector of the U.S. economy with the goal of ensuring that businesses located in smaller communities throughout the nation have access to the capital needed to realize their goals.

USDA moves forward with GIPSA rules

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on October 17, 2016

The USDA will move forward with rulemaking on the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA) rules proposed in 2010, despite that effort being defunded by Congress at the time.  The National Cattleman’s Beef Association and North American Meat Institute were quick to note that Congress defunded the initial effort because it recognized they would limit producers’ marketing options, add layers of bureaucracy and facilitate litigation. The move also circumvents eight federal appeals court rulings, they said. USDA has announced the GIPSA rules include an interim final rule on competitive injury and two proposed rules to address undue preference and the poultry grower ranking system. The agency has said they will provide additional opportunity for public comment on all the rules and will announce if any amendments will be made.

Success spoils a program to round up wild horses

The New York Times | Posted on October 14, 2016

The Bureau of Land Management has horses grazing on a ranch the agency rents, one of 60 private ranches, corrals and feedlots where it stores 46,000 wild horses it has removed from the West's public lands. The cost:49 million a year. The expense eats up 66 percent of the federal budget for managing wild horses. The program cannot afford to continue old management practices that created the problem, or afford to come up with solutions that might fix it.

USDA Announces nearly $1 million to Strengthen Markets for U.S. Agricultural Products

USDA | Posted on October 13, 2016

The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today awarded nearly $1 million in grants through the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) to strengthen and explore new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products. The FSMIP grant program, administered by AMS, includes $982,437 in matching grants to 12 projects in 10 states.  FSMIP provides matching funds to state departments of agriculture, state agricultural experiment stations, and other appropriate state agencies to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products, and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the marketing system.

AMS finds 'inappropriate conduct,' but no violations at American Egg Board

Agri-pulse | Posted on October 12, 2016

A USDA review of the American Egg Board's activities found instances of “inappropriate conduct” on the part of AEB officials, but stops short of accusing them of violating the law governing the checkoff.  The investigation was triggered in October 2015 after complaints of AEB misconduct relating to an eggless mayonnaise made by Hampton Creek Inc. called “Just Mayo.” The investigation looked into nine separate allegations raised by Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick, but in a memo, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service said the report “did not find evidence to substantiate all nine allegations” against AEB.

Chinese “seed spy” gets three years in prison

Modern Farmer | Posted on October 12, 2016

In this case it was a Chinese national named Mo Hailong, aka Robert Mo, who was trying to steal patented corn seed for the Chinese bioengineering firm Dabeinong Technology Group Company (DBN), which he worked for, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Mo, a legal resident of the U.S. who was the director of international business for DBN, was sentenced this week in U.S District Court in Des Moines to three years in federal prison followed by three years of probation and an as-yet-to-be-determined-amount of restitution for conspiracy to steal trade secrets. This charge stemmed from a years-long plot, which began in April 2011, to steal high-yield, pest resistant bio-engineered corn seeds worth millions of dollars and bred by Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, and LG Seeds, according to the FBI. The conspiracy allegedly involved seven other Chinese nationals—including Mo’s sister, Mo Yun, the wife of the billionaire head of DBN, Shao Genhuo, according to eastern Iowa’s The Gazette. Her case was later dropped for lack of evidence and she, and the six others, have since returned to China where there is no extradition treaty with the U.S.