NRCS announces plan to maintain funding for Colo. snow data
Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced Friday that they have found a way forward to maintain funding for the Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Program.
The program, which Udall has fought to fully fund, monitors snowpack in Colorado’s mountains and helps water managers forecast supply issues before they occur but was in danger of losing its funding due to looming budget cuts.
The plan, which repurposes money within the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s budget, only funds the snow monitoring program through August 2014. This temporary fix will ensure Colorado communities and water managers continue to receive the most accurate information available to make smart water decisions.
“While we received our statewide operational budget for the year, the allocation for the snow survey program was far less than what is needed to fully implement the program even with the streamlining efforts we are implementing within the state,” said Phyllis Ann Philipps, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Colorado. “Upon hearing about the potential cuts in snow survey courses, we were so pleased when so many stakeholders came together to help strategize a solution. We will need their continued input and support as the fix I’ve implemented is an interim one.”
FDA unveils plan to rein in antibiotics on farms
Numerous reports this week said officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — in a move to address growing concerns about human resistance to antibiotics — they plan to phase out the non-medical use of antibiotics on food animals.
The plan, according to reports, would rein what some say is believed to be decades of widespread use of antibiotics on farms to promote faster growth in livestock and pre-empt disease in confined and unsanitary conditions. Farms consume about 80 percent of the nation’s antibiotics supply, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Antibiotics for animals will then require a prescription from a veterinarian in order to limit their use to medical necessity.
Casper College to seek state OK for land purchase
Casper College wants to buy a 170-acre tract of farmland west of Casper to become the home of its proposed agricultural and equine resource center.
Both times, the capital construction project ranked low among the commission’s priorities.
However, the property already houses almost everything the college would need for its agricultural and equine resource center, said Casper College President Walter Nolte.
The land currently includes a 9,000-square-foot main residence, a greenhouse, a lambing barn, two irrigation pivots irrigating about 120 acres of land and three barns offering nearly 30,000 square feet of space, including indoor riding arenas and a meat-cutting shop. The college offered to buy it for $3.1 million, with a mix of Casper College Foundation funds, budget reserves and private donations, Nolte said.
Colorado company recalls meat due to unsanitary conditions
The owner of Yauk’s Specialty Meats in Windsor, Colo., apologized midweek to customers and businesses that purchased meat from him after Yauk’s had to recall about 90,000 pounds of various meat and poultry products that were produced under unsanitary conditions.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service began a food safety assessment at the plant and discovered that product was being produced under unsanitary conditions, including rodent activity in the production, storage and retail areas of the property, according to a news release.
“I just didn’t want this situation to get this far out of hand, but there have been issues that have distracted me in doing the business,” owner Wayne Yauk said Tuesday. “I can’t say how sorry I am that this has happened, and that this got this far. I feel sorry for all of the customers that I’ve been making products for, especially the ones that resold the product to other places.”
The FSIS and Yauk’s Specialty Meats have received no reports of illness due to consumption of the products. FSIS officials said that anyone concerned about an illness should contact a health-care provider.
On Thursday, the U.S. Agriculture Department announced an expanded recall Thursday.
There have no reports of illness from the recalled products.
U.S. Cattlemen’s Association urges farm bill passage without altering COOL
Jon Wooster, United States Cattlemen’s Association president, issued the following statement today regarding the ongoing farm bill conference negotiations.
“As farm bill talks continue, USCA commends the four leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees for their efforts to move new farm policy forward. USCA appreciates the efforts of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member Thad Cochran, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, who are working hard to produce bipartisan legislation.
USCA remains firm in its opposition to any amendment that would alter or repeal the U.S. county of origin labeling (COOL) program. As noted in previous USCA statements, any legislative action on COOL is unwarranted. The Department of Agriculture’s revised COOL regulations went into effect on Nov. 23.
USCA opposes any attempt to derail COOL during the farm bill conference and we urge passage of a final farm bill that provides U.S. agricultural producers with the long-term, comprehensive safety nets they need as we prepare for the new year.”
New Report: HSUS shortchanges local shelters to push ‘PETA-style propaganda’
This week, HumaneWatch.org, a project of the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom, released its fourth annual report documenting the total contributions by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to local pet shelters. The results: In 2012, HSUS spent a total of $120 million, but only 1 percent of that went to supporting local sheltering organizations nationwide.
The full report, “Not Your Local Humane Society,” is available online, and includes an accounting of all grants to local pet shelters made by HSUS during the years 2009-2012. All data is drawn directly from HSUS’s Form 990 tax returns filed annually with the IRS.
The report comes in the wake of a September 2013 poll of 1,050 self-identified HSUS donors in which 87 percent said they were unaware that HSUS gives such a miniscule portion of its annual budget to local pet shelters. When informed of this sad reality, a full 83 percent of HSUS’s own donors agreed the group “misleads people into thinking that it supports local humane societies and pet shelters,” and 59 percent were less likely to support the group going forward.
Instead of spending its money at local shelters, in 2012 HSUS spent $50 million on fundraising expenses alone, bankrolled PETA-style propaganda campaigns, maintained a huge staff of lawyers and lobbyists, and rewarded its top brass with bloated salaries and benefits, including $3 million in pension contributions.
USDA, Navy attempt to promote U.S. military energy independence with “Farm-to-Fleet”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus this week announced the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Navy’s joint “Farm-to-Fleet” venture will now make biofuel blends part of regular, operational fuel purchase and use by the military.
The announcement incorporates the acquisition of biofuel blends into regular Department of Defense domestic solicitations for jet engine and marine diesel fuels. The Navy will seek to purchase JP-5 and F-76 advanced drop-in biofuels blended from 10 to 50 percent with conventional fuels. Funds from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation will assist the effort.
Farm-to-Fleet builds on the USDA/U.S. Navy partnership inaugurated in 2010, when President Barack Obama challenged his Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy and Navy to investigate how they could work together to speed the development of domestic, competitively-priced “drop-in” diesel and jet fuel substitutes.
The announcement marks the first time alternative fuels such as advanced drop-in biofuels will be available for purchase through regular procurement practices.