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Farmers Aligned With Trump Campaign Object to Megamergers

Wall Street Journal | Posted on January 12, 2017

Some farm-belt advisers to the Trump campaign say they want the president-elect to put the brakes on agriculture-industry consolidation.  Some farm-state advisers to President-elect Donald Trump are speaking out against a wave of mergers among global seed and pesticide companies, warning they could boost the prices farmers pay. The advisers, including state officials and farmers, warn that consolidation will leave farmers with fewer choices among suppliers and shift a large portion of critical agricultural research to foreign ownership. Several members of an agricultural advisory committee formed last summer to advise the Trump presidential campaign are calling for more scrutiny of the pending deals. The planned combinations would reorder the $100 billion global market for seeds and pesticides at a time when farmers are grappling with slashed profits amid a multiyear slide in crop prices.

 


Federal Magistrate Sides with Producers in Montana Beef Checkoff Lawsuit

Texas A&M | Posted on January 12, 2017

The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (“R-CALF”) and the United Stockgrowers of America have likely survived a motion to dismiss their case against USDA challenging the beef checkoff and obtained an injunction against the Montana Beef Council (“MBC”) to prevent it spending money received from the federal Beef Checkoff Board on promotion.  A federal Magistrate Judge sided with the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which claims that the federal law requiring funding of the MBC is unconstitutional.  Additionally, the Magistrate suggests a preliminary injunction be issued, which would prohibit the MBC to use checkoff dollars to fund promotional campaigns unless they obtain affirmative permission from cattle producers that their assessment may be retained by the council and used for advertisement.


Idaho Sage Grouse Lawsuit Dismissed, Federal Judge Says Otter Has No Standing

Boise State Public Radio | Posted on January 12, 2017

A federal district court judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter against the Obama administration. In September 2015, Otter’s office filed suit against the Interior Department, arguing the federal agency illegally imposed land-use restrictions to protect the imperiled sage grouse. Now – a year and a half later – U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed the lawsuit. The state’s lawsuit argued that the feds cut them out of the management and planning process. But in an opinion issued last week, the judge says Otter does not have standing in the case, because no injury has been proven.


Agri-Pulse announces Farm Bill Series and Summit

Agri-Pulse | Posted on January 12, 2017

Agri-Pulse, the nation's leading source of farm and food policy information, plans to launch an in-depth editorial series next month, “The Seven Things You Should Know Before You Write the Next Farm Bill,” culminating in a Farm Bill Summit at the National Press Club on March 20.   “Our editorial team had a bird's eye view of the ups and downs experienced during development of the last farm bill,” says Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant. “We think there are some important ‘lessons learned' that can help inform and stimulate debate before formal work starts on writing the next bill.”


USDA seeks public comment on RR Bentgrass

USDA- APHIS | Posted on January 12, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is making available for public comment a petition from Scotts’ Company and Monsanto Company seeking deregulation for creeping bentgrass genetically engineered (GE) for resistance to the herbicide glyphosate. The petition will be available for public review and comment for 60 days starting January 8, 2016.  Comments received on or before March 8, 2016, will be considered. 


USDA Community Connect Grants

USDA | Posted on January 12, 2017

This program helps fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not yet economically viable for private sector providers to deliver service.The Community Connect program helps rural communities extend access where broadband service is least likely to be commercially available, but where it can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for people and businesses. The projects funded by these grants help rural residents tap into the enormous potential of the Internet for jobs, education, healthcare, public safety and community development. Application Deadline, March 13, 2017


John Block: Priorities for 2017

OFW Law | Posted on January 12, 2017

Just go to rural America. Farmers, ranchers, and most red states cannot wait for President Trump to get rid of the flood of regulations that President Obama has weighing on our shoulders.  Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) is at the top of the list. The Obama EPA has tried to regulate everything. On my farm, we need to be able to tile a wet hole, straighten a creek, or dig a ditch to improve drainage. We don’t want to be required to get a permit to make improvements on our own farms. Another question – what about Obama Care? The public doesn’t like it. Republicans will keep some parts of it to include parents keeping their children on their health plan until they reach 26 years, and will make sure pre-existing conditions will not deny an individual health insurance. Repealing Obama Care will be easy, but replacing it without losing the 20 million new enrollees that the plan now helps will be hard. Also, an industry like agriculture is very concerned about trade since we export almost 30% of our production. We know Mr. Trump wants better trade deals, and I support that. Other countries use tariffs and non-tariff barriers to protect their industries. We don’t have many barriers to their imports. So, as we move to give our companies a fair deal, we certainly don’t need a trade war.


Looking Ahead to the Next Farm Bill

Choices magazine | Posted on January 10, 2017

The entire issue is on farm bill issues with articles covering every title of the farm bill. 80 Years of Farm Bills—Evolutionary Reform by Carl Zulauf and David Orden,The Nutrition Title’s Long, Sometimes Strained, but Not Yet Broken, Marriage with the Farm Bill by Parke Wilde, The Next Farm Bill May Present Opportunities for Hybrid Farm-Conservation Policies by Jonathan Coppess, The Farm Safety Net for Field Crops by Gary Schnitkey and Carl Zulauf, the Federal Interventions in Milk Markets by Andrew M. Novakovic and Christopher Wolf and Federal Benefits for Livestock and Specialty Crop Producers by Stephanie Mercier.

The titles discussed in these papers account for over 99% of farm bill spending and the actors interested in these titles will have important sway over not just their title but the entire farm bill. However, the farm bill’s scope extends much further. In addition to traditional titles such as research and extension, trade, credit and rural development, it includes contemporary issues such as the growing role of local and organic food production, land and farm preservation, and privately owned forests. Most farm bills contain surprises. Unforeseen issues, new actors, and new programmatic proposals change the landscape. Research uncovers a new, important inefficiency. Weather changes crop prices. Given the 2016 Presidential campaign, trade could be a change catalyst. The next farm bill will not only provide new research and outreach opportunities for economists but also many opportunities to participate in the national dialogue that is the farm bill. We, the authors, invite you to join this American participatory experience.
 


USDA announces volunteers for SNAP online pilot

Meat + Poultry | Posted on January 10, 2017

The US Dept. of Agriculture has authorized online ordering in a few locations for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The initiative is part of a two-year pilot program scheduled to begin this summer.  Retailer volunteers for the pilot program represent a cross-section of store types, including national online retailers as well as large grocery chains and smaller, regional networks. Firms selected include: • Amazon - Maryland, New Jersey, New York, • FreshDirect - New York, • Safeway - Maryland, Oregon, Washington, • ShopRite - Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, • Hy-Vee, Inc. - Iowa
• Hart’s Local Grocers - New York (based in Rochester), • Dash’s Market - New York (based in Buffalo).
Albertsons Companies, which operates Safeway, Vons, Tom Thumb and numerous other grocery retail stores, also provides online shopping and home delivery in 12 states and the District of Columbia.


Cuba, United States sign oil spill deal

Reuters | Posted on January 10, 2017

Cuba and the United States agreed on Monday to jointly prevent, contain and clean up oil and other toxic spills in the Gulf of Mexico, as they rush to conclude deals before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. U.S. Charge d'Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis, upon signing the agreement, said it was one of a series of deals to protect the shared marine environment of the two neighboring countries separated by just 90 miles (145 km) of water. Trump has threatened to scrap a still-fragile detente between the two countries unless Cuba makes further political and economic concessions. U.S. companies and the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama have announced a flurry of small deals in recent weeks aimed at making it harder for Trump to ditch the detente established by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in 2014.


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