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Farmers to plant record low wheat acres, most soybeans ever | Posted on April 5, 2017

In its annual prospective plantings report released Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said wheat acres will be the lowest on record this year at 46.1 million acres and soybean planting will be at a record high of 89.5 million acres.  The United States has more than 1 billion bushels of surplus wheat in storage and the oversupply has driven wheat farmers in several states including Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and South Dakota to shift previously planted wheat acres to soybeans.  "The big trend there is that wheat is grown in just about every continent around the world except Antarctica so those acres elsewhere have increased dramatically. The U.S. has lost production to the rest of the world," said Todd Hultman, a grain market analyst for DTN, an Omaha, Nebraska-based agriculture market data provider.

APHIS Announces Public Meetings on Animal Disease Traceability

USDA | Posted on April 5, 2017

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is announcing a series of public meetings to receive input on the current Animal Disease Traceability system.  The meetings will allow APHIS to hear from the public about the successes and challenges of the current ADT framework, specifically for traceability in cattle and bison.  They will also provide attendees an opportunity to brainstorm ideas about overcoming these challenges and finding ways to fill gaps in the existing system. These meetings will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in seven locations: 

  • April 11: Oklahoma City, OK, Tower Hotel Oklahoma City, 3233 Northwest Expressway
  • April 13: Riverdale, MD, USDA Center at Riverside, 4700 River Road
  • April 20: Nashville, TN, Renaissance Nashville Hotel, 611 Commerce Street
  • May 2: Bloomington, MN, Embassy Suites Minneapolis Airport, 7901 34th Avenue South
  • May 4: Denver, CO, Doubletree by Hilton Denver, 3203 Quebec Street
  • May 11: Rancho Cordova, CA, Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova, 11211 Point East Drive
  • May 24: Billings, MT, Hilton Garden Inn Billings, 2465 Grant Road 

If you plan to attend a meeting, please register in advance by visiting  Same-day registration will also be available at each meeting site. 

75 U.S. mayors won’t enforce climate policy rollback

Curbed | Posted on April 3, 2017

The 75 mayors who make up the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda—also known as Climate Mayors—not only issued a strong condemnation of Trump’s actions, they outlined specific ways they will continue their collective work to stop climate change, regardless of the federal government. The signatories include mayors of all major metropolitan areas like New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and D.C., as well as smaller cities like Santa Monica, California, Park City, Utah, and Eugene, Oregon.

EPA rejects petition to revoke chlorpyrifos tolerances

Agri-Pulse | Posted on April 3, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency has decided to continue allowing the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, stating that the science surrounding human health effects is too uncertain to justify its own proposed ban on food tolerances. The agency announced the decision late today, two days ahead of a court-ordered deadline. The Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network had petitioned the agency 10 years ago to ban Dow AgroSciences’ organophosphate insecticide (tradename: Lorsban), which is used to control a variety of crop pests, including corn rootworm and soybean aphid. The groups have argued that food residue levels are high enough to pose a risk to the developing brain and nervous system. But EPA said in its news release that its October 2015 proposal to revoke food tolerances “largely relied on certain epidemiological study outcomes, whose application is novel and uncertain, to reach its conclusions.”

Ag groups, EPA settle CAFO lawsuit on personal data access

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on April 3, 2017

A federal district court in Minnesota has approved the dismissal and settlement of a lawsuit that agricultural groups filed to limit the amount of data that the Environmental Protection Agency can release on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), according to court documents. The National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) sued in 2013 after the EPA released extensive personal information on more than 100,000 CAFO operators in 29 states and was prepared to release the same on farmers in six other states. The groups argued that such information is exempted from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Lawmakers call for beef, pork checkoff reform

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 30, 2017

Lawmakers proposed twin legislation in the Senate and House of Representative calling for strengthening pork and beef checkoff program prohibitions against engaging in government policy advocacy, conflicts of interest or anticompetitive activities.  Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act in the Senate while Reps. Dave Brat (R-Va.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.), introduced similar legislation in the House.

Cattle veterinarians asked to issue illegal VFDs ​By Greg Cima

AVMA | Posted on March 30, 2017

Veterinary associations warned in March that cattle veterinarians were being pressured to issue illegal orders for medicated feeds. The AVMA and American Associ­ation of Bovine Practitioners published a joint statement March 6 on the AVMA@Work blog warning that both organizations had received reports veterinarians had been pressured to issue veterinary feed directives for chlortetracycline-containing feeds in unapproved formulations or for unapproved indications.Dr. K. Fred Gingrich II, AABP executive vice president, said that, in the prior two months, frustrated AABP members had told him about calls they received from feed mill distributors who requested that they sign such VFDs, creating conflicts between the federal regulations and their business relationships.Chlortetracycline is among the antimicrobials that are no longer available over the counter or for growth promotion and other production indications because they are in drug classes shared with human medicine. The Food and Drug Administration told pharmaceutical companies in December 2013 that they would have three years to agree to change approvals for such drugs or risk regulatory action, and all affected companies complied.The change involved replacing over-the-counter access with requirements for VFDs for feed-delivered drugs and prescriptions for water-delivered ones. VFDs are filled by feed mills. 

Senate votes to allow ISPs to collect personal data without permission

Tech Crunch | Posted on March 28, 2017

The broadband privacy rules created by the FCC last year and vigorously debated last night are in danger after the Senate voted to repeal them this morning. Among other things, the rules required ISPs to obtain consumers’ permission in order to use certain sensitive data like browsing history that they obtain through their service. Sounds like a bad idea, right? It is. I detailed why in a post last night, and plenty of Senators, including Massachusetts’ Ed Markey, who led the creation of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, vociferously opposed the resolution. The Senate voted 50-48 in favor of S.J. 34, which would remove the rules and, under the authority of the Congressional Review Act, prevent similar rules from being enacted. It now heads to the House for approval.

House Passes Agro-terrorism Bill

Pro Ag | Posted on March 28, 2017

Iowa Congressman David Young's agro-terrorism preparedness legislation, the Securing our Agriculture and Food Act (H.R.1238), was passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 406-6.  First introduced in 2016 and then again in January of this year, Congressman Young's legislation addresses concerns brought to light after Iowa suffered the largest animal disease outbreak in state history, when the 2015 avian influenza outbreak wiped out millions of layer hens, turkeys, and backyard flocks.  Response efforts revealed problematic breaks in the federal government's ability to communicate with stakeholders and react quickly to large-scale animal disease outbreaks. This disaster also raised concerns among farmers and producers about whether our nation would be able to capably share information and respond to agro-terrorism threats and attacks, ultimately an attack against our nation's consumers.
Young's Securing our Agriculture and Food Act requires the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the assistant secretary for Health Affairs, to elevate preparedness of our nation's food, agriculture, and veterinary systems against terrorism and high-risk events. The bill authorizes DHS to collaborate with other agencies, to ensure food, agriculture, and animal and human health sectors receive attention and are integrated into the DHS's domestic preparedness policy initiatives. The U.S. Senate version of Young's legislation, S.500, has been voted out of committee and is waiting for a vote to be scheduled in the full Senate.

Growing markets by focusing on borders

Agri-Pulse | Posted on March 28, 2017

There has been a lot of discussion lately about borders and what to do with them. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a paper recently that provides one of the best suggestions I’ve heard yet--invest in making borders more efficient. Farmers of all sizes, from countries around the globe, face high costs and great uncertainty when they choose to export. Uncoordinated, bureaucratic procedures and delays often make imported products uncompetitive, and can even result in products being spoiled or unsafe by the time they reach their destination. The Chicago Council’s paper, “Growing Markets, Growing Incomes: Leveraging Trade Facilitation for Farmers” by Andrea Durkin, highlights the ways that investing in trade facilitation can help solve these problems and boost the livelihoods of farmers in the United States and around the globe.  Trade in agricultural products, particularly perishable items such as meats, dairy products and fresh fruits and vegetables is growing rapidly, particularly in emerging economies, where rising incomes are spurring demand for higher-value imports. Yet emerging and low-income economies tend to have border conditions and policies, such as lengthy inspection procedures, poor storage and infrastructure, and paper-based documentation that is prone to being misplaced, destroyed or altered, that add costs and stifle trade growth. Border requirements are also more complicated for agricultural products, which often require additional scrutiny to ensure that they comply with food safety and plant and animal health protocols.