Less than four years later, however, after U.S. special forces raided an al-Qaida cave complex in eastern Afghanistan and found documents on sabotaging American farms through the intentional introduction of diseases that could infect livestock and crops, securing our nation’s food supply became a government priority. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security, which was created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was charged with implementing a series of Homeland Security Presidential Directives to safeguard agriculture. HSPD-7, issued in December 2003, added agriculture to the list of industries for critical infrastructure protection, and a month later HSPD-9 established a national policy to protect against terrorist attacks on agriculture and food systems. The Securing Our Agriculture and Food Act, sponsored by Iowa Congressman David Young, directs DHS to coordinate efforts to defend U.S. food, agriculture and veterinary systems against terrorist attacks and “high-risk” events and to collaborate with other federal agencies in bolstering the government’s prevention and response capabilities.Young, who first introduced his legislation in the 114th Congress after the 2015 outbreak of avian influenza killed millions of Iowa’s laying hens, turkeys and chickens, said the response to that outbreak from the federal government, including its communications with farmers, was lacking.
The federal government is again trying to prop up the wild blueberry industry in Maine, where sagging prices jeopardize one of the state’s longest-standing agricultural industries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved up to $10 million to purchase surplus Maine blueberries, the members of Maine’s congressional delegation said. Wild blueberries are one of the most important crops in Maine, but the industry is struggling with a steep decline in the prices paid to farmers.
We’re now halfway through 2017, and this serves as a good reminder that the US Department of Agriculture is a tad late in submitting its annual report to Congress on the dairy and fluid milk promotion programs. Several years late, in fact. The Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983, which created the National Dairy Promotion and Research Program, requires USDA to submit an annual report to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees on the dairy promotion program. The enabling legislation for the Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program, the Fluid Milk Promotion Act of 1990, also requires such a report.But the most recent report posted on the website of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (which has oversight responsibility for both dairy promotion programs as well as a number of other promotion and research programs covering everything from eggs and cotton to popcorn and softwood lumber) covers 2012 program activities. That’s practically ancient history.
A judge has accepted a guilty plea in an investigation of illegal labor at dairies in Michigan’s Thumb region. Madeline Burke pleaded guilty to hiring people without verifying that they were eligible to work in the U.S. The government says the workers were in the U.S. illegally.Burke and her husband are natives of Ireland. They operate two dairies near the tip of the Thumb. Burke has agreed to pay a fine of $187,500, which adds up to $1,500 per illegal worker.
US dairy farmers tend to be conservatives, but many depend on immigrant workers to keep their operations running. Republicans' tough stance on immigration has created a political rift between some farmers and their representatives. This disconnect highlights the complicated place farmers hold in American politics.
A federal court denied a request from the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) seeking a rehearing following a recent ruling issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit requiring additional waste emissions reporting requirements for concentrated animal feeding operations. The court’s ruling rejected an exemption from reporting under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), two programs that are meant to inform the National Response Center and local first responders of hazards that may call for emergency action.
Farm groups are cautioning the Trump administration not to open a "Pandora's Box" by claiming restrictions on steel and aluminum are needed to protect "national security." Eighteen agricultural groups wrote to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Tuesday, stressing that such a move would be a disaster for global trade, "and for U.S. agriculture in particular."The Trump administration is expected to decide any day whether to place tariffs on steel imports, stemming from an April investigation announced by the Commerce Department over whether those imports are harming U.S. national security. It's a rare argument for a major global power to make in a trade case.The farm groups wrote to Ross that it would be "a short-sighted mistake" to restrict imports based on national security claims. The farm groups called on Ross to consider the broader implications for the economy "and avoid igniting a trade war through new restrictions on steel or aluminum trade ..."Nick Giordano, vice president and council for global government affairs at the National Pork Producers Council, said farm groups recognize there is an overcapacity of steel and aluminum in the world. Farm groups and other industries are concerned, however, that the Trump administration's plan would boomerang against other exporting industries. Giordano also pointed out that roughly 25% of pork is exported, and in the case of a crop such as wheat, as much as 50% is exported.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today gave the go-ahead to conduct emergency haying on Conservation Reserve Program lands to help provide feed for livestock in drought-stricken areas of Montana and North and South Dakota. “Because of the rapidly worsening drought and increasing degradation of existing forage, the Secretary is authorizing emergency haying beginning July 16,” the Farm Service Agency said in a notice. Farmers typically would be allowed to start haying on Aug. 1. The notice applies to certain counties in the three states that are suffering through D2 drought conditions or worse, as indicated by the U.S. Drought Monitor, and counties located in a 150-mile buffer.
The European Union and Japan announced a broad agreement on Thursday that would lower barriers on virtually all the goods traded between them, a pointed challenge to President Trump on the eve of a summit meeting of world leaders in Germany. Though the deal still needs further negotiation and approval before it can take effect, it represents an act of geopolitical theater, a day before a Group of 20 summit meeting begins in Hamburg. At a meeting of G-20 finance ministers in March, Steven Mnuchin, the United States Treasury secretary, pointedly declined to endorse a statement in favor of free trade. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan said the deal signified the creation of “the world’s largest free, advanced, industrialized economic zone.” The core of the agreement aims to increase the flow of Japanese cars to Europe and of European food to Japan.
The U.S. Department of the Interior will pay nearly $465 million this year to local governments primarily in rural areas that have come to rely on the funds because they cannot levy taxes on federal lands. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced the sum in Nevada on Monday. The $13 million increase this year is slightly less than the average annual growth of $22 million over the last decade. Most of the money goes to Western states, where the Interior Department collects most its $8.8 billion in annual revenue from commercial activities on public lands. California will see more than $48 million this year from the program. Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Utah will each receive between $30 million and $40 million.