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Federal News

National Milk Producers recommends changes to margin protection program to make it viable

KTIC Radio | Posted on March 12, 2017

The National Milk Producers Federation Board of Directors today unanimously approved a series of recommended changes to the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) that will restore several key elements first proposed by NMPF during development of the 2014 Farm Bill. These changes to the MPP will ensure an effective safety net for the nation’s dairy farmers – if the recommendations are adopted by Congress. The recommendations range from changing the way dairy feed costs are calculated, to providing farmers greater flexibility in signing up for coverage and using other risk management tools. The four-point plan was developed by NMPF’s Economic Policy Committee, and reflects feedback from dairy producers, economists and members of Congress. It reflects several features originally proposed by NMPF that were subsequently weakened or eliminated as the 2014 farm bill was finalized.


China overtakes U.S. as top government funder of agriculture research

Agriculture.com | Posted on March 9, 2017

China leads the U.S. by a large margin in government funding of food and ag research and development.  China began pouring money into agricultural R&D at the same time that U.S. funding from federal and state sources stagnated and, about a decade ago, began to decline.  According to three USDA economists, China surpassed the U.S. in public funding in 2009 and had a 2-to-1 advantage in 2013. They say reduced U.S. spending “may have negative implications for agricultural productivity” when dealing with new pests and diseases and with climate change.


Latest: Family ordered to pay up for unauthorized grazing

High Country News | Posted on March 9, 2017

Starting in the mid-1990s, Nevada rancher Wayne Hage grazed his cows on public land without the necessary permits, saying his rights predated federal ownership. Hage, an outspoken government critic, passed away in 2006, but his son Wayne N. Hage continued the fight, illegally adding more cows annually — up to 648 by 2011. In 2016, after the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, an appeals court judge ruled that the Hages did indeed need permits.  In late February, a federal district judge in Nevada ended the saga, ordering the Hages to pay $587,294 for “repeated willful unauthorized grazing.” Chief Judge Gloria Navarro said the Hages’ livestock must be removed by the end of March and cannot graze on public lands within Nevada again without written permission from the federal government. Judge Navarro is also presiding over Cliven Bundy’s trial for the armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management on his Bunkerville, Nevada, ranch in 2014.


Asian nations restrict U.S. poultry imports over bird flu

Reuters | Posted on March 9, 2017

South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong have limited imports of U.S. poultry after the United States detected its first case this year of avian flu on a commercial chicken farm, South Korea's government and a U.S. trade group said on Monday. South Korea will ban imports of U.S. poultry and eggs after a strain of H7 bird flu virus was confirmed on Sunday at a chicken farm in Tennessee, South Korea's agriculture ministry said. Japan and Taiwan will block poultry from the state, while Hong Kong will restrict imports from the Tennessee county where the infected flock was located, said James Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, a trade group.


Six weeks later, senators question delay on Agriculture pick

Capital Press | Posted on March 6, 2017

President Donald Trump tapped former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to be his agriculture secretary six weeks ago, but the administration still hasn’t formally provided the Senate with the paperwork for the nomination.  The delay is frustrating farm-state senators, who represent many of the core voters who helped elect Trump. The White House said the paperwork, including ethics forms and an FBI background check, is coming soon. The only other nomination that hasn’t been sent to Capitol Hill is that of Alexander Acosta, who was nominated to be labor secretary on Feb. 16 after the withdrawal of the original nominee, Andrew Puzder. Senators say they haven’t been given an explanation for the delay involving Perdue.


Feds Probe After City Bans Man From Using Service Horse

US News and World Report | Posted on March 6, 2017

Federal officials are investigating after a city banned a small horse a man says is his service animal needed on walks to improve his health.The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development tells KING-TV (http://kng5.tv/2lYAjTL) that it is investigating Benton City's actions as a possible fair housing violation.Tim Fulton said that his horse, Fred, senses when Fulton is about to fall, gets in front and lets Fulton lean on him for support."I fall down from time to time," Fulton said. "It's really a pain."Fulton said Fred is slightly taller than a large dog but much stronger and able to give Fulton the stability he needs.But Benton City officials say Fred isn't allowed in a residential zone and has issued Fulton a $100 fine. So Fred is staying at a ranch outside city limits."Mr. Fulton has not met the requirements for the City to allow him to keep a miniature horse as a service animal in a residential zone...," said the city's attorney, Eric Ferguson of Kerr Law Group, in a statement.Ferguson also questioned the validity of the documentation for a service animal, noting it was from a nurse practitioner basing the recommendation on what Ferguson said wasn't firsthand knowledge.


The Outlook for U.S. Agriculture From USDA’s Chief Economist

Farm Policy News | Posted on March 2, 2017

Dr. Johansson noted that, “Farm income has fallen dramatically since 2013, falling almost 30 percent in real terms. That is the largest 4-year drop in farm income in 40 years, when real farm income fell more than 45 percent between 1973 and 1977.  We have seen record production in major commodities over the past few years, and as a result prices are down significantly.  Baseline projections show flat farm income throughout the 10-year forecast period.”


Decrying ‘small thinking,’ Trump calls for big infrastructure plans

Agri-Pulse | Posted on March 1, 2017

In his first address to Congress, President Trump Tuesday night declared that the “time for small thinking is over” and called for massive infrastructure spending, deep tax cuts and immigration reforms that he promised would unleash new economic growth.  “We will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American greatness began,” he said.Trump also touted his “historic effort” to roll back and eliminate “job-crushing” regulations, and his decisions to clear the way for construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines.He didn’t mention the “waters of the United States” rule directly, but earlier in the day Trump signed an executive order to withdraw and replace the measure issued by the Obama administration to expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

 


The Senate Agriculture Committee wants your input into the next farm bill!

Senate Agriculture Committee | Posted on February 24, 2017

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee wants your input into the next farm bill.  By going to this link, you can leave your comments.


New Immigration Rules to Affect Farmers

DTN | Posted on February 24, 2017

Agricultural leaders say farmers aren't panicked yet by the Trump administration's new memos on immigration enforcement, but concerns are growing that illegal immigrants, who are the backbone of most farm labor in the country, could increasingly become targets of deportation. The tighter enforcement could have a major impact on farmers who rely heavily on undocumented labor, said Frank Gasperini, executive director of the National Council of Agricultural Employers. Gasperini told DTN there are increasing concerns from farmers right now over how the Department of Homeland Security will enforce its new guidelines. "There's isn't an awful lot of impact yet, but people are becoming more worried," Gasperini said.  Gasperini also pointed to a section in one of the two Homeland Security memos that noted the federal government would assess all penalties and fines against the workers "and those who facilitate them being here." That statement can be interpreted to mean employers "because they wouldn't be here if it weren't for the jobs." Gasperini estimated more than half of the country's 1.5 million seasonal workers are undocumented. "They are scared and they are reacting like scared people, which is reasonable," Gasperini said. The migrant stream normally starts in Florida and Texas then moves to Georgia, the Carolinas and northward as the seasons change. Five years ago when states started getting tougher on undocumented workers, Alabama lost much of its tomato crop and Georgia lost part of its Vidalia onion crop. Georgia attempted to replace migrant farm labor with prison labor, but that failed. Farmers across the country are affected when the flow of migrant workers is disrupted, Gasperini said. "It hurt states like Michigan badly, and it hurt parts of Pennsylvania and other states as well," he said.


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