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Trump budget OKs sale of wild horses for slaughter

Reno Gazette Journal | Posted on May 26, 2017

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal calls for saving $10 million next year by selling wild horses captured throughout the West without the current requirement that buyers guarantee the animals won’t be resold for slaughter. Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also grappled with the spiraling costs of managing the nearly 60,000 horses on the range and another 45,000 currently kept in U.S. holding pens and contracted private pastures.Over the past eight years, BLM’s wild horse budget has more than doubled — from $36.2 million in 2008 to $80.4 million in 2017.Trump’s budget anticipates the $10 million savings would come through a reduction in the cost of containing and feeding the animals. The savings also would include cutbacks involving roundups and contraception programs.The 1971 Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act permits the sale of older, unadoptable animals. But for years, Congress has approved budget language specifically outlawing the sale of any wild horses for slaughter.Horse slaughterhouses are prohibited in the U.S. but legal in many other countries, including Canada, Mexico and parts of Europe where horse meat is considered a delicacy.

Trump’s budget seen as ‘slap in the face’ to rural voters who elected him

Idaho Statesman | Posted on May 24, 2017

Two of farmers’ most powerful Republican advocates in the Senate slammed President Donald Trump’s proposal Tuesday to slash crop insurance, warning those and other budget cuts would badly wound one of the president’s most loyal constituencies. Voters who live in rural areas gave Trump a 61-34 percent advantage over Democrat Hillary Clinton in November, according to network exit polls. Kansans voted overwhelmingly for Trump, by 56-36 percent.Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Jerry Moran, who helps set federal spending levels as a member of the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, vowed to fight the president’s plan to cut crop insurance by $28.5 billion over 10 years. That’s a 36 percent cut, significantly more than former President Barack Obama ever proposed.A visibly annoyed Roberts called the cuts “not viable” and “very troubling” for Kansas.“We’ve had a freeze, and we’ve had a historic prairie fire, and then we had another freeze and we've lost about 40 percent of the wheat crop,” he said. “How on earth of those farmers supposed to stay in business without crop insurance?”

Trump Administration's USDA budget proposal “fails agriculture”

Michigan Farm Bureau | Posted on May 24, 2017

As USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue outlined major department budget cuts, including a 10 percent overall reduction in personnel, representing 5,263 staff - 973 of them Farm Service Agency positions – for 2018, he didn’t mince words.  Perdue said. “I just don't think it's moral to continue to kick a $20 trillion debt down to our grandchildren without any relief. Overall farm bill spending would be cut $240 billion over a 10-year period. Approximately $46 billion of those reductions would come from agriculture programs – while the other $194 billion would be slashed from the nutrition programs. This includes funding cuts for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children WIC, Rural Development, Forest Service, food safety, research, and conservation activities. It eliminates a number of programs including the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. Proposed 2018 funding for mandatory programs is  $7 billion below 2017.These outlays include crop insurance, nutrition assistance programs, farm commodity and trade programs, and a number of conservation programs. The Trump Administration’s 2018 budget also calls for new user fees to cover inspection, regulatory, and oversight activities of meat, poultry, and eggs, enforcement of animal welfare requirements, and user fees for grain standardization and a Packers and Stockyards license fee to cover program costs. Crop Insurance is also targeted for cuts in the 2018 budget proposal, including a proposed $40,000 cap on crop insurance premium subsidies for any one operation. Saying that agriculture has already done its fair share to help reduce the federal deficit during the 2014 Farm Bill debate, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said the budget proposal “Clearly fails agriculture and rural America.”  “It would gut federal crop insurance, one of the nation’s most important farm safety-net programs,” Duvall argued. “It would drastically reshape important voluntary conservation programs and negatively impact consumer confidence in critical meat and poultry inspection. This proposal would hamper the viability of plant and animal security programs at our borders and undermine the nation’s grain quality and market information systems. It would stunt rural America’s economic growth by eliminating important utility programs and other rural development programs.”

Trump budget cuts SNAP, crop insurance, conservation, rural development; imposes FSIS, APHIS, GIPSA, AMS user fees

The Fence Post | Posted on May 23, 2017

President Donald Trump's first budget proposal, which is to be released today, calls for cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program totaling almost $193 billion over 10 years and $46 billion in cuts to agriculture programs, according to charts released today by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.In an afternoon reporters' briefing that was also embargoed until 9 p.m., Mulvaney said that the title of the budget will be "A New Foundation for American Greatness," and that the Trump budget is the first one that has been written with the taxpayer considered ahead of the recipients of government programs.Mulvaney, a former Republican House member from South Carolina, said he had gone through the budget line by line and asked "Can I ask a family in Grand Rapids, Mich., to pay for this?"The goals of the budget, Mulvaney said, are to increase military spending, balance the budget in 10 years and achieve 3 percent economic growth in the country. The budget will also deliver on Trump's campaign promises not to cut Social Security or Medicare and to build the wall on the border with Mexico and provide more money for school choice. It also assumes that the health care bill the House passed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare) will become law, and makes additional cuts to health programs beyond that.Mulvaney said it was "sad" that the Obama administration could not get to more than 1.9 percent growth and that the Congressional Budget Office has projected the same rate of growth.A 30-year-old American, Mulvaney said, has not lived in the country when it had a higher rate of growth, and he wants to achieve the same level of growth that existed in the 1990s when he was young, quit a job he did not like, and started his own company.Mulvaney said he does not expect Congress to go along with Trump's detailed proposal, but that the president's budget is important because, first of all, it has been required by law since 1974 and because "there is a certain message here" that Trump wants more money for defense, border security, veterans and school choice, and does not want to add to the deficit.

White House budget plan could cut array of programs for farmers, rural America

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on May 22, 2017

Despite a push by farm organizations to double the budgets for a pair of USDA export programs, a leaked copy of the Trump administration's proposed budget zeros out funding for both programs. The White House is expected to release President Donald Trump's budget proposal Tuesday for fiscal year 2018. The plan will recommend Congress cut a broad array of domestic programs, which includes programs farmers rely on for trade, conservation and possibly even commodity programs. Jon Doggett, executive vice president for policy at the National Corn Growers Association, said groups across the political spectrum will be looking at the budget for the White House's overall priorities in the years to come."When the president's budget comes up, there's always a tendency to say the president's budget is dead on arrival. I think it's important to look at this one," Doggett said. "It's important in that it tells us a lot where the Trump administration plans to go in the future, not only as personnel policy, but money policy as well. I think we will have a better idea on how they plan to move forward in reshaping the government."  a spreadsheet of the White House budget plan that showed significant cuts to USDA programs in areas such as trade promotion, agricultural research, biorefinery development, rural housing loans and rural development programs.Under the Agricultural Marketing Service, the budget shows a $263.3 million cut to funds for strengthening markets. That would wipe out the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program, a pair of programs that farm groups say funding should be doubled to help expand markets and counter the loss of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Commodity groups are pushing Congress to double funding for MAP and FMD in the next farm bill. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition cited that the budget would eliminate funding for rural housing and infrastructure programs at USDA, including Value-Added Producer Grants, Rural Cooperative Development grants and Rural Housing Assistance. NSAC also pointed to deep cuts in areas such as rural water and wastewater programs.

Anti-Immigration Reform and Reductions in Welfare: Evidence from the Meatpacking Industry

Choices magazine | Posted on May 20, 2017

The assumption that immigrants take jobs away from native workers presupposes that native workers and immigrants compete in the same labor market. If native and immigrant labor are substitutes, or they would accept the same kind of work, then both types of labor should have similar compensating wage differentials. The standard textbook theoretical discussion on compensating wage differentials implies that firms must compensate workers with more dangerous jobs with higher salaries. Given two jobs with identical pay, the employee will be more likely to accept the job with safer working conditions, assuming that the worker is aware of the job characteristics and has a range of jobs to choose from (Ehrenberg & Smith, 2016). The equilibrium outcome of this model leads to a world in which the workers with the highest tolerance for hardship will take the most difficult jobs and will be compensated with higher wages for their efforts (Cahuc et al., 2014). If workers have the same compensating wage differentials, this will lead to the optimal outcome described above. However, Orrenius and Zavodny (2009) found that immigrants tend to work in riskier occupations on average. The authors were concerned that the government might need to intervene if immigrants accept riskier work as a result of a lack of information. They suggested that future research should examine whether immigrants do in fact, earn the same compensating differential as native workers. If immigrant labor accepts riskier work than natives on average, then maybe the two should be viewed as complements rather than substitutes, which would undermine the “they took our jobs” narrative.

ICE Raids Mushroom Farm in Chester County, Arrests Nine Alleged Undocumented Immigrants

NBC Phildelphia | Posted on May 20, 2017

In search of four undocumented immigrants, federal agents raided a mushroom farm facility in Chester County and took into custody nine workers there, according to witnesses and the owner of the farm. None of those nine workers were the four that officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement were reportedly looking for. ICE came onto the private property of a processing facility owned by South Mill Mushrooms Wednesday morning. The end of the raid, including the arrests of two men, were caught on video and posted to social media.Michael Pia, the fourth-generation owner, told NBC10 on Friday that ICE did not make clear whether they had a warrant to come onto the property.


USDA reorganization plan could reduce food safety protections

Feed Safety News | Posted on May 20, 2017

A seemingly minor component of the USDA reorganization plan released last week could have a negative impact on food safety as the plan gets implemented. Much of the focus has been on the creation of a new undersecretary for trade position, but the plan also calls for the establishment of an interagency committee that would coordinate agricultural trade policy. This committee would be chaired by the new trade undersecretary and would include, among other agencies, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). While some coordination between food safety and trade is appropriate, the inclusion of FSIS on such a committee is potentially troubling, giving the appearance that trade is going to have significant influence over food safety priorities at USDA. The public health mission of FSIS should be an equally separate focus within the department, and trade considerations should not impact food safety policy direction. As many know, countries wishing to ship meat and poultry products into the United States have to demonstrate that their food safety inspection system is equivalent to the system here in the U.S. This can be a very deliberative process that includes document submissions, lengthy reviews of regulatory structures, and on-site verification audits.As a result, there sometimes can be tension between FSIS and another USDA sub-agency — the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) — over this equivalency determination process. Some countries have found the FSIS process to be onerous, and have been able to find advocates within FAS, especially when the other country is considering opening their markets to U.S. products. If the role of FSIS on the interagency committee is to merely provide status updates of equivalency applications, it would represent a more appropriate approach that would be consistent with current practice. However, since this panel would be chaired by FAS with FSIS as a member, it gives the appearance that trade will take precedence over food safety.

Government Confirms A Surge In Foreign Guest Workers On U.S. Farms

NPR | Posted on May 20, 2017

The numbers are out — and they confirm what we've been hearing from farmers and immigration lawyers. More and more farmers are turning to foreign "guest workers" to plant and harvest the country's crops.Farmers have to get permission from the U.S. Department of Labor to bring in foreign workers using a category of visa called H-2A. During the first three months of 2017, the Department of Labor approved applications to fill 69,272 farm jobs with workers on H-2A visas. That's up from 50,887 positions approved during same period a year ago, an increase of 36 percent.The H-2A visa program has been growing steadily in recent years, mostly because farmers have had increasing difficulty recruiting enough workers here in the U.S. Previous increases, though, ranged from 10 to 20 percent per year, far short of the big jump so far in 2017. The guest worker program has been controversial, for several reasons. Some farm worker advocates argue that employers have used the program to avoid having to attract workers the old-fashioned way, through higher wages. Temporary workers also have limited rights; they cannot leave their jobs or switch employers, and critics say it leaves them vulnerable to abuse or mistreatment. They're also separated from their families for much of the year. On the other hand, employers are required to provide free housing to H-2A workers and to pay them a fair wage, as determined by the Department of Labor. These workers also are here legally; they don't have to hide from law enforcement.

Worried About Being Deported? Get a Farm Job

Bloomberg | Posted on May 18, 2017

President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry and its largely immigrant workforce, according to farmers and officials who met with him.At a roundtable on farm labor at the White House last month, Trump said he did not want to create labor problems for farmers and would look into improving a program that brings in temporary agricultural workers on legal visas."He assured us we would have plenty of access to workers," said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, one of 14 participants at the April 25 meeting with Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.During the roundtable conversation about agriculture, farmers and representatives of the sector brought up labor and immigration, the details of which have not been previously reported. Some farmers told Trump they often cannot find Americans willing to do the difficult farm jobs, according to interviews with nine of the 14 participants.They said they were worried about stricter immigration enforcement and described frustrations with the H-2A visa program, the one legal way to bring in temporary seasonal agricultural workers.The White House declined to comment on the specifics of the discussion, but described the meeting as "very productive." The U.S. Department of Agriculture did not respond to a request for comment on the April meeting.About half of U.S. crop workers are in the country illegally and more than two-thirds are foreign born, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Labor's National Agriculture Workers' Survey.During the roundtable, Luke Brubaker, a dairy farmer from Pennsylvania, described how immigration agents had recently picked up half a dozen chicken catchers working for a poultry transportation company in his county.