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Federal News

Agriculture groups push OSHA to rollback misguided fertilizer regulation

Farm & Ranch | Posted on May 16, 2016

Nebraska farmers and fertilizer dealers are working together with members of Nebraska’s congressional delegation to fix a misguided regulatory proposal by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) related to the storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. “The regulatory proposal was initiated under a false premise, is unnecessary, and will cost Nebraska cooperatives and Nebraska farmers millions of dollars collectively,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson.

Anhydrous ammonia is a common fertilizer product used by Nebraska farmers and sold by Nebraska cooperatives and fertilizer dealers. In July of 2015, OSHA reversed a long-standing policy of exempting anhydrous ammonia retail facilities from extensive federal regulations governing management of hazardous chemicals. OSHA initiated the changes as a direct result of an explosion at a fertilizer company in West, Texas in April of 2013. While anhydrous ammonia was present at the Texas facility, its presence was not a contributing factor to the explosion.

Congressman Adrian Smith introduced the Fertilizer Access and Responsible Management (FARM) Act, which would repeal these new OSHA regulations. U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer has also led the charge in the U.S. Senate to address this critical issue.

FDA finalizes antimicrobial ingredient rule

Farm Futures | Posted on May 15, 2016

FDA issued a final rule that requires the sponsor of each approved or conditionally approved new animal drug product containing an antimicrobial active ingredient submit an annual report to the Food and Drug Administration.

The new sales data will improve the agency’s understanding of how antimicrobials are sold and distributed for use in major food-producing species and help further target efforts to ensure judicious use of medically important antimicrobials.

Prior to finalizing this rule, animal drug sponsors were not required to submit sales or distribution data by particular species.

US challenges China on chicken again at WTO

agri-pulse | Posted on May 13, 2016

The U.S. is again challenging China at the World Trade Organization over the country's antidumping and countervailing duties on U.S. broiler chicken, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced.The U.S. poultry industry has lost roughly $800 million per year since China began levying its duties on U.S. chicken in 2010, according to USTR officials who predicted they have a strong case against China.

China still buys chicken paws and wing tips, from the U.S., but total U.S. exports dropped by about 90 percent over two years after China began levying the duties on broilers.

Trump visit to Nebraska highlights tariff beef with Japan

DTN | Posted on May 11, 2016

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump told supporters at a campaign stop in Nebraska that he plans to go tit-for-tat when it comes to tariffs on ag products such as beef.  “There won’t be any more tariffs with Japan, or if there will, we’re going to do it the opposite way to them. "You want to charge a tariff of 38 percent to Nebraska for its beef? Then we’re going to charge you a tariff of 38 percent when you sell your cars to the United States. It’s a very simple thing,’” Trump said. 

Trump added that he would make sure China buys U.S. beef as well. Most of China has not allowed direct imports of U.S. beef. 

Yet Trump opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would lower the tariff on beef going to Japan. Japan's tariffs on beef are 38.5%. Under the TPP, the tariffs will fall over all to 9% over 15 years.

U.S. beef producers have supported TPP partially because it would level the playing field with Australia. Under the existing Australia-Japan FTA Australian beef producers will see their tariff in to Japan drop to 23.5% for chilled beef within 15 years.  The U.S. tariff on imported autos is 2.5% while it is 25% for trucks.

USDA makes $8,7 Million Available for Risk Management Education

USDA | Posted on May 11, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) today announced $8.7 million in cooperative agreements for risk management education and training programs. The funding would give organizations needed resources to develop training and education tools to help farmers and ranchers, especially those traditionally underserved or with limited resources, learn how to effectively managing long-term risks and challenges. Through these partnerships, producers will receive assistance in understanding and using crop insurance programs and other tools so they can make the best risk management decisions for their agricultural operations. Past award recipients have included universities, county cooperative extension offices and nonprofit organizations.

Available funding includes $4.4 million for the Crop Insurance in Targeted States Program. The program backs development of crop insurance education programs where there is a low level of federal crop insurance participation and availability. The targeted states are Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming

Veterinary Feed Directive Coming - Get a Vet Now...

DTN | Posted on May 10, 2016

By January 2017,  if a producer wants to use antibiotics in feed, they will have to have a vet on call to issue a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) or a prescription. The two will also need to have something the FDA has so nimbly named a Veterinarian Client Patient Relationship (VCPR).

Peanuts, John Block Commentary on Trade

OFW Law | Posted on May 10, 2016

As a farmer, I would not like it if Europe shipped subsidized beef into our market. That would undercut our prices. What if Brazil shipped subsidized soybeans to us? We would be furious.

Did you know that the U.S. government does this all of the time? Think about it this way. There are millions of people underfed, some starving, in many countries. The humanitarian thing to do is, send them food. And we should, but it’s not as simple as that.

State vet expresses concerns over organic hen standards

Feedstuffs | Posted on May 9, 2016

State veterinarians across the nation are reviewing a recently proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that eliminates the approval of outdoor porches for hens from the National Organic Program, instead requiring direct exposure of hens to the outdoors. Recently, California state veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones expressed concern with the rule in a comment to USDA.

Jones urged USDA and its Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to reconsider this proposed rule, especially the outdoor access requirements that may pose serious animal health and food safety concerns.

“This proposed change may demonstrate a lack of coordination between federal agencies and will likely stimulate further criticism and frustration from those trying to comply with the cobweb of sometimes conflicting rules and regulations,” Jones wrote on behalf of the California Department of Agriculture. “Not only would eliminating porches seriously curtail the ability of organic egg producers to comply with USDA Veterinary Services’ request to enhance biosecurity barriers to disease introduction from wild birds, but it will also make it difficult for them to comply with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s requirements to prevent the introduction of Salmonella enteritidis from wild birds and other sources.”

USDA Unveils Three-Year Conservation Strategy for Lesser Prairie-Chicken

USDA | Posted on May 2, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the release of a three-year conservation strategy that will guide the voluntary restoration of 500,000 acres of habitat for the lesser prairie-chicken, an iconic grassland bird of the southern Great Plains. The bird has historically suffered from population declines and this strategy is part of an ongoing science-based strategic effort by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to restore grassland and prairie ecosystems while enhancing grazing lands in five states.

NRCS to Help Farmers Measure Conservation Impacts on Water Quality

USDA | Posted on May 2, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the availability of $2 million to help farmers install edge-of-field stations that monitor water quality as it leaves their fields, providing data to evaluate the success of various conservation efforts. The funding is available to farmers located across key watersheds in nine states and is part of USDA’s ongoing commitment to measure the effectiveness of a wide range of conservation initiatives.  

“Testing the quality of water as it leaves a field helps farmers and USDA understand which conservation practices work best at preventing sediment and nutrient runoff. Verifiable data gives farmers, USDA and other partners information needed to make targeted conservation investments to improve water quality for everyone,” said USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Ann Mills.