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November 26, 2013
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Ag Notebook: RFS Standard disappointing to some, 3 Colorado men charged with animal cruelty at livestock facility

NFU Disappointed in EPA’s 2014 RFS Standards

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements:

“We are deeply disappointed in EPA’s apparent willingness to reduce total renewable fuel requirements based on the oil industry’s fictitious ‘blend wall’ argument. Big oil has determined that biofuels are taking their market share, so they have prevented increased amounts of biofuel to be sold at gas stations.

“At a time when advanced and cellulosic biofuel plants are just starting to come online, the EPA is sending a negative signal which will stifle investment in this nascent industry.

“Lowering renewable fuel targets below that which can be produced and below what is already being produced will sink corn prices, kill jobs and damage rural economies.

“The administration needs to stay true to its word that it will tackle climate change. The RFS is America’s only real climate change policy, and biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 30 percent compared to regular gasoline.”

Vilsack comments on RFS Standards

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statements on EPA’s proposal of 2014 Renewable Fuel Standards:

“The Obama Administration remains committed to the production of clean, renewable energy from homegrown sources, and to the businesses that are hard at work to create the next generation of biofuels.

It’s important to take a long-term approach to the RFS. Clearly, as Governor of Iowa and as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, my support for the RFS has been steady and strong. But I also believe that improved distribution and increased consumer use of renewable fuels are critical to the future of this industry. We are proud of our record to support increased demand for renewable fuels. USDA has invested in the creation of advanced biorefineries across the nation; developed a unique partnership with the U.S. Navy and Department of Energy to create new biofuels for marine and aviation use; and boosted markets for nearly 3,000 U.S. companies that are creating biobased products from homegrown materials.

I am pleased that EPA is requesting comments on how we can help the biofuels industry expand the availability of high-ethanol blends, and I hope the industry uses the comment period to provide constructive suggestions. Together, we will be able to chart a path forward that maintains President Obama’s strong commitment to an “All of the Above” energy strategy for our nation.”

3 Colorado men charged with animal cruelty for abuse at livestock facility

Two Greeley, Colo., men and an Eaton, Colo., resident were charged with animal cruelty this month for allegedly abusing dairy calves at a Weld County livestock operation, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said during a press conference.

Larry Loma, 32, of Greeley; Ernesto Daniel Valenzuela-Alvarez, 34, of Eaton; and Tomas Cerda, 33, of Greeley, each face one count of the misdemeanor charge, which could result in six to 18 months in jail and a $500-$5,000 fine.

In addition to announcing the charges, Cooke also took time during Friday’s press conference to express his “shock” when first seeing the video.

“Totally unacceptable,” said Cooke, who noted that he spent 20 years on a dairy earlier in his life and, during that time, he never saw animals handled that way.

“Pretty shocking,” he said about the abuse case.

Cooke said the investigation is ongoing, noting detectives are planning to speak with the person who filmed the abuses to determine if any additional suspects remain to be identified.

Cost of Thanksgiving meal sees slight increase

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 28th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.04, a 44-cent price decrease from last year’s average of $49.48.

“The cost of this year’s meal, at less than $5 per serving, remains an excellent value for consumers,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. “America’s farm and ranch families are honored to produce the food from our nation’s land for family Thanksgiving celebrations,” he said. “During this holiday season, many farmers and ranchers will be reaching out to consumers in-person or through social media, to answer questions about the food that they grow or the poultry and livestock they raise,” he added.

The big ticket item — a 16-pound turkey — came in at $21.76 this year. That was roughly $1.36 per pound, a decrease of about 3 cents per pound, or a total of 47 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2012. The whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, showing the largest price decrease compared to last year.

NFU comments on food safety regulations, deadline extended

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson submitted comments today regarding concerns with the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act.

FDA also announced today that it has extended the comment period to Nov. 22.

“NFU supported passage of FSMA, the first major overhaul of food safety legislation in more than 70 years, and we appreciate that FSMA moves the food safety system from reaction to prevention,” said Johnson. “It is now a matter of establishing regulations to effectively achieve these goals without overreacting to recent outbreaks of foodborne illness in such a way that jeopardizes the livelihoods of family farmers.”

“NFU raises concerns about the definition of farms in the rule, as well as the basis for testing requirements and quality standards for agricultural water,” said Johnson. “The comments also urge FDA to reduce the interval that prohibits the application of biological soil amendments before harvesting produce and asks for clarity in how alternative compliance proposals will be considered.”

FSA advises producers to anticipate payment reductions due to mandated sequester

USDA’s Farm Service Agency is reminding farmers and ranchers who participate in FSA programs to plan accordingly in FY2014 for automatic spending reductions known as sequestration.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 mandates that federal agencies implement automatic, annual reductions to discretionary and mandatory spending limits. For mandatory programs, the sequestration rate for FY2014 is 7.2%. Accordingly, FSA is implementing sequestration for the following programs:

• Dairy Indemnity Payment Program;

• Marketing Assistance Loans;

• Loan Deficiency Payments;

• Sugar Loans;

• Tobacco Transition Payment Program;

• 2013 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payments;

• 2011 and 2012 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program;

• Storage, handling; and Economic Adjustment Assistance for upland cotton

Conservation Reserve Program payments are specifically exempt by statute from sequestration, thus these payments will not be reduced.

Union Pacific Railroad ready to handle record crop harvest transportation

Union Pacific is poised to help its customers take advantage of the record grain harvest, according to Union Pacific officials.

Train speed measures cargo movement between rail terminals. The data are compiled by the Association of American Railroads.

“Excellent service is always important to customers, and we are committed to maintaining it even as we accommodate the need for transportation of additional grain,” said Paul Hammes, vice president and general manager, Agricultural Products at Union Pacific. “The combination of Union Pacific’s train speed performance and available grain car fleet translates into increased freight capacity for the railroad’s agricultural customers.”

In the most recent crop supply and demand report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it expects 13.99 billion bushels of corn, up from the September forecast of 13.8 billion bushels. The previous record was 13.1 billion in 2009.

The larger production and robust grain export markets will create much stronger demand for transportation during the 2013-2014 crop year compared to the previous crop year.

Customer commitments for Union Pacific trains have increased accordingly, and the company shipped an all-time high number of grain trains to the Pacific Northwest in October.

Groundwater Meeting set for Dec. 3 in Denver

The American Ground Water Trust is hosting a Colorado aquifer management event on Dec. 3 in Denver.

This event is a follow-up conference to the two-day program that was held in Denver in November 2012, where legislators, groundwater experts and water managers discussed river accretions due to artificial recharge and stream depletions due to well pumping.

This year’s program will focus on the need to ensure that Colorado’s water management strategies are based on sound hydrologic principles. Because water policy can’t be considered in isolation from state priorities over economic, planning and social issues, the program will involve panel discussion sessions with participation from Colorado State Representatives and Senators.

To learn more, go to

CSU Ranch case argued Tuesday before WyoMING Supreme Court

A former Wyoming governor and an attorney for a Denver philanthropist argued Tuesday before the Wyoming Supreme Court over the fate of a ranch owned by two university foundations.

The main question before the justices was whether Amy Davis has the right to contest how the foundations have managed the Y Cross Ranch, between Cheyenne and Laramie.

Davis donated the 50,000-acre ranch to the Colorado State University Research Foundation and University of Wyoming Foundation in 1997. She says the foundations haven’t fully honored her intent to use the working ranch as a field classroom for agriculture students.

A district court judge dismissed Davis’ lawsuit in April, ruling that she did not expressly create a charitable trust and therefore did not retain a say over the ranch. She appealed.

Storage back up to snuff

The Pueblo, Colo., Board of Water Works increased its storage levels by 10,000 acre-feet after cutting off spot-market water leases this year.

“It was a good year for recovery of our storage reserves,” Water Resources Manager Alan Ward told the board Tuesday.

“Our spot market leases typically total about 10,000 acre-feet,” Ward said.

There were other factors to the quick recovery, but they played a smaller role, he said.

After drenching rains in August and September, water customers cut back use by about 1 billion gallons — roughly 3,000 acre-feet. But most of the water supplied to the city’s potable system comes from direct-flow water rights on the Arkansas River, rather than storage, Ward explained.

Water use was down at the Xcel Energy’s Comanche power plant, and good snows late in the season aided natural storage levels, he added.

The new water year is looking more promising than the past two, with 93 percent snowpack in the Arkansas River basin and 123 percent in the Colorado River basin.

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The Fence Post Updated Nov 25, 2013 04:56PM Published Dec 11, 2013 02:30PM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.