| TheFencePost.com

Perdue: Votes against USMCA would be to punish Trump

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said today that the only reason House members would have to vote against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade would be to punish the Trump administration.

“The only reason to vote against it is not to give the administration a win,” Perdue told the United Fresh Produce Association.

Perdue acknowledged, however, that fruit and vegetable producers in the Southeast, including his native Georgia and Florida, are not happy with the agreement because it does not address surges in tomatoes and other produce from Mexico.

Perdue said he understands “the frustration” in the Southeast that “seasonality” was not addressed, but said the agreement does not go backward and helps other sectors of agriculture.

Perdue also said he believes that “the ball is in the speaker’s court,” a reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., since Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has sent her his proposed solutions to Democrats’ objections to the agreement.

Pelosi, he said, “is well intentioned” and working well with Lighthizer.

United Fresh, an organization representing the produce industry nationwide, has endorsed USMCA despite objections from growers in the Southeast.

Democrats plan to include CCC ‘anomaly’ as Republicans press case

Democrats plan to include CCC ‘anomaly’ as Republicans press case

Key Democrats signaled today that the House version of the continuing resolution to fund the government through most of November will contain a provision known as an anomaly to allow the Agriculture Department to make trade aid payments to farmers through the Commodity Credit Corporation.

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., whose committee must hold a hearing on the bill before it goes to the House floor, told reporters today that the issue “is going to be resolved.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, who is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, told The Hagstrom Report that she believes the provision allowing the flow of funds will be in the CR.

Pingree is known for favoring organics and local agriculture production over the big commodity and livestock operations that get most of the aid to make up for the loss of exports sales during the trade war that began with President Donald Trump’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese products.

But she said that the decision by House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., to leave the provision allowing the CCC to continue spending money after the fiscal year ends on September 30 “puts people in a difficult position. It’s hard to go against the farmers.”

Key House Agriculture Committee Democrats and freshmen Democratic Reps. Angie Craig of Minnesota and Cindy Axne of Iowa have already called for the provision to be included.

But today Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven, R-N.D., led Republican members of the Senate Appropriations Committee in pressing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Lowey “to support the nation’s farmers and ranchers and ensure that Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments for producers are not blocked or delayed in the House of Representatives’ Continuing Resolution (CR).”

In a letter to Pelosi and Lowey, the senators said the House should “reimburse the Commodity Credit Corporation, which is routinely supported by Congress, to ensure producers have access to much-needed agriculture assistance.”

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said today, “House Democratic leaders are not listening to their own rank-and-file members and continue to hold vital aid for our farmers and ranchers hostage by blocking replenishment of the CCC. I had not waded into this issue publicly because I had hoped that cooler heads would prevail. They have not. I call on Speaker Pelosi and Chairwoman Lowey to stop using our nation’s farmers and ranchers and rural communities as pawns in your fight with the president. Fully fund USDA so it can do its job. It is no surprise that China would try to hold our farmers and ranchers hostage so it could continue to cheat on its trade commitments, but we should not expect the leaders of the United States House of Representatives to use rural America as a bargaining chip.”

On Tuesday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., vice chair of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and a frequent skeptic on programs that aid big farmers, asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for a briefing on the issue.

Perdue told reporters today he would be happy “to provide information to appropriators” and other House members.

The Environmental Working Group, which earlier noted that members of Trump’s agricultural advisory committee had received trade aid, today published a blog post on a trade aid recipient who lives near a golf course in Arizona but got aid from a farm in Indiana.

Out-of-Season-lambing, profit opportunities?

With about 85% of the U.S. lambs born between January and May, yet demand for fresh product throughout the year, is there profit opportunity for producers who can shift their lambing season?

This topic was explored from several perspectives during the American Lamb Summit, sponsored by the American Lamb Board and Premier 1 Supplies, which brought together about 200 sheep producers, feeders and packers to Colorado State University Aug. 27-28, 2019.

“It is actually time of harvest not time of lambing that the sheep industry should be looking at more closely,” summarized session moderator Reid Redden, PhD, Texas AgriLife sheep and goat specialist. “Keep in mind that aseasonal production can mean slight changes to fit into the system year-round instead of drastic changes,” he added.

Lamb retail sales continue to be largest during the Christmas and Easter holiday seasons, and demand can be met with traditional spring-born lambs that are harvested at 8 to 12 months of age. In addition, imported lamb supply increases prior to both holiday events. It’s the June through August time period when the lamb harvest is critically low.

For the Moser family of Triple Creek Farm near Lester, Iowa, aseasonal and accelerated lambing has resulted in greater production per ewe. Just as importantly, it was a way to spread the need for labor to a more consistent level throughout the year, said Alex Moser. The family’s flock of about 850 Polypay type ewes has an annual lamb crop of almost 270% and lambs are sold almost every month. With many family members having jobs off the farm, lambing four times a year avoids huge spikes in labor requirements.

Richard Ehrhardt, PhD, Michigan State University, is one of the leading experts on aseasonal production. He pointed out that what the Mosers are doing meets several criteria for success for aseasonal production. At the top of his list is nutrition. “Flushing has a big impact on lambing percentage regardless of breeding season,” he said.

The other critical success factors for producers to investigate are using breeds known for the ability to lamb off-season, using environmental tools to increase ewe cycling such as lighting protocols, and maximizing reproductive effectiveness, including synchronizing estrus methods, according to Ehrhardt.

A recently completed ALB-funded economic analysis looked at the profitability potential of out-of-season lambing. The simple answer is that it depends, said David Anderson, PhD, Texas A&M University, who conducted the analysis. Gains in off-season lamb prices can be lost due to increased feed costs, lower conception rates, and various other factors.

“There is no simple answer if this is a profitability avenue. Producers need to do their homework. But, there are situations when it’s a great option, such as the Mosers,” said Redden. “And there are options that allow for spreading out lamb marketings, such as moving singles, which tend to weigh more, into different feeding and marketing protocols compared to twins, which tend to be lighter weight.”

NCBA announces leadership changes

DENVE – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association announced two significant leadership changes today.

The NCBA executive committee of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association confirmed Colin Woodall to serve as the association’s new chief executive officer. Woodall, who was named this morning after an exhaustive national search, managed NCBA’s efforts in Washington, D.C., for more than a decade. Since joining NCBA in 2004, Woodall has been instrumental in ensuring the interests of NCBA members and the beef community, are well represented in the nation’s capital.

“Colin has served NCBA members for 15 years, and in that time, he has done a great deal for beef producers everywhere. Much of his work and many of the victories registered by NCBA in Washington, D.C., is the result of his ability to build coalitions and bring people together across political divides,” said NCBA president Jennifer Houston.

Houston expressed confidence that the same talents that made Woodall a success in the nation’s capital will translate to Woodall’s responsibility to lead NCBA’s work as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program.

“In his new role as NCBA CEO, there is no doubt that Colin will be an outstanding advocate for the Beef Checkoff and the essential work being done to build consumer demand,” said Houston. “Colin’s passion for the beef community has made him one of the most effective advocates in American agriculture and I’m excited that he will now be applying that same passion to the work NCBA is conducting on behalf of the Beef Checkoff.”

Originally from Big Spring, Texas, Woodall graduated from Texas A&M University. Following graduation, he worked both as a grain elevator manager and sales manager for Cargill at several locations in western Kansas and the Oklahoma panhandle before moving to Washington, D.C., to work on Capitol Hill.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to lead NCBA and to serve the beef community as the next CEO of the association. American beef producers are the best people I know and although our industry faces many challenges, I am confident we can overcome them,” said Woodall.

Ethan Lane was also named today to serve in the role of vice president, government affairs. In his new role, Lane will guide NCBA’s policy efforts in Washington, D.C., where he has extensive experience advocating on behalf of cattle producers. Lane has been serving as executive director of the Public Lands Council and NCBA Federal Lands. In that role, Lane has been a driving force in many of NCBA’s most important policy wins. His leadership skills and extensive political experience make him an effective choice to lead NCBA’s Washington, D.C., office and the association’s ongoing policy efforts.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to lead NCBA’s office in Washington, D.C., and I’m fully committed to representing the policy priorities of NCBA members across the nation” said Lane. “By standing together, cattle producers have shown they can push back the burdensome impacts of government over-regulation and protect the interests of NCBA members for future generations.”

Lane, is a fifth-generation Arizonan, with 18 years of experience in natural resource and land use issues. Prior to his tenure with PLC and NCBA, he owned and operated a consulting firm specializing in natural resource issues.

USDA designates Sheridan County, Wyoming, as a primary natural disaster area

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated Sheridan County, Wyoming, as a primary natural disaster area. Producers who suffered losses due to flooding that occurred between May 26 and June 21, 2019, may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency emergency loans.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

Producers in the contiguous Wyoming counties of Big Horn, Campbell and Johnson, along with Big Horn and Powder River counties in Montana, are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is May 6, 2020.

FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

FSA has a variety of additional programs to help farmers recover from the impacts of this disaster. FSA programs that do not require a disaster declaration include: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Farmers may contact their local USDA service center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at farmers.gov/recover.

New tool improves beekeepers’ overwintering odds and bottom line

TUCSON, Ariz. — A new tool from the Agricultural Research Service can predict the odds that honey bee colonies overwintered in cold storage will be large enough to rent for almond pollination in February. Identifying which colonies will not be worth spending dollars to overwinter can improve beekeepers’ bottom line.

Beekeepers have been losing an average of 30 percent of overwintered colonies for nearly 15 years. It is expensive to overwinter colonies in areas where winter temperatures stay above freezing. So a less expensive practice of overwintering bee colonies in cold storage is becoming popular.

This new tool calculates the probability of a managed honey bee colony surviving the winter based on two measurements: the size of colony and the percent varroa mite infestation in September, according to ARS entomologist Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, who headed the team. DeGrandi-Hoffman is research leader of the ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Ariz.

By consulting the probability table for the likelihood of a colony having a minimum of six frames of bees — the number required for a colony to be able to fulfill a pollination contract for almond growers come February — beekeepers can decide in September if it is economically worthwhile to overwinter the colony in cold storage.

“The size of a colony in late summer or early fall can be deceiving with respect to its chances of making it through the winter. Even large colonies with more than 12 frames of bees (about 30,000 bees) have less than a 0.5 probability (50 percent chance) of being suitable for almond pollination if they have five or more mites per 100 bees in September,” DeGrandi-Hoffman said.

Even with this cost-cutting help, the research team found that revenue from pollination contracts by itself is not likely to provide a sustainable income to a beekeeper anymore. They followed 190 honey bee colonies and recorded all costs.

Considerable resources were expended to feed colonies and on varroa mite and pathogen control. Costs were about $200 per colony.

Almond pollination contracts paid an average of $190 per colony in 2019.

One way for beekeepers to remain economically viable as a business, is to produce a honey crop from their bees. This is most often facilitated by moving colonies to the Northern Great Plains where bees can forage for nectar and pollen from a wide variety flowering plants.

“The situation has changed a lot. It is more expensive to manage honey bees with costs to feed colonies when flowers are not available and to control varroa mites. And it is more difficult to find places for honey bee colonies that provide the diverse nutrition they need,” said DeGrandi-Hoffman. “Pollination revenue alone is just not adequate for beekeepers to stay in business. But we need beekeepers because managed bees are a lynchpin in agricultural production today.”

Successfully using cold storage will help beekeepers’ bottom line, but we are really just learning what the best management practices should be with cold storage,” she added.

This work was published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

USDA announces nearly $12M in funding to improve public Facilities in 17 states

WASHINGTON – USDA Rural Housing Service Administrator Bruce W. Lammers today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing almost $12 million in 41 community facilities projects that will benefit 214,000 Americans (PDF, 134 KB) in rural communities in 17 states.

“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to bring essential facilities and services to rural communities,” Lammers said. “Investments in our rural areas provide a foundation for growth and prosperity that strengthens the Nation’s overall economy.”

USDA is making the investments and has additional funding available through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. Interested parties should contact their USDA Rural Development state office for application and eligibility details. Also see the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program Guidance Book for Applicants (PDF, 669 KB), a detailed overview of the application process.

The 41 projects that USDA announced today are in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.

USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks. Congress appropriated $2.8 billion for Community Facilities direct loans and grants in fiscal year 2019.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

Former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson debunks myths surrounding the USMCA’s biologics provision

WASHINGTON — Today, the Pass USMCA Coalition, an alliance advocating for swift passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, published a white paper by Tommy Thompson debunking the widespread myth that the USMCA will drive up drug prices.

Thompson, a former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and four-term governor of Wisconsin, now advises the Pass USMCA Coalition. His paper examines the new trade agreement’s treatment of advanced, “biologic” medicines. Thompson concludes that the agreement will catalyze medical innovation.

In the agreement’s intellectual property chapter, Canada and Mexico are required to grant at least 10 years of “regulatory data protection” to these cutting-edge pharmaceuticals. Currently, the United States offers 12 years of regulatory data protection; Canada and Mexico offer eight years and zero years, respectively.

Some members of Congress take issue with this provision, claiming it will impact U.S. healthcare programs and raise domestic drug prices.

In his paper, Thompson dispels the myths. He reminds lawmakers that the USMCA does not require a change in domestic drug policy, and explains how the biologics provision “will not and cannot affect drug prices in the United States.” Thompson then demonstrates how the pact will benefit patients by helping American innovators develop the next generation of breakthrough treatments.

Thompson urges Congress to “stop its foot-dragging and vote on the USMCA for what it is: a trade bill that encourages other countries to meet existing U.S. standards.”

Reward offered for information on missing Clay County cattle

HENRIETTA, Texas — Special Ranger John Bradshaw of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is seeking information on 489 steers missing from a ranch in eastern Clay County, Texas. The cattle went missing between November 2018 and August 2019. Due to the large herd maintained by the rancher, he did not discover the missing animals until shipping the remainder of the cattle.

Operation Cow Thief, an anti-theft initiative led by TSCRA, is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest or indictment of the person or persons responsible for the crime.

According to Bradshaw, the steers weigh 400-500 pounds and are mixed breed Charolais and Black Angus type cattle. They also have a brand, on the left hip.

Anyone with information that could help identify the perpetrator or perpetrators is asked to call TSCRA’s Operation Cow Thief hotline at (888) 830-2333, or Special John Bradshaw at (940) 389-6123.

All information is kept confidential, and tips may be provided anonymously.

South Korea confirms African swine fever found on farm

South Korea has started culling pigs after an outbreak of the deadly African swine fever (ASF) was found in a pig farm close to the border with North Korea today, AgriCensus, a London-based price reporting agency, said.

According to a press statement on the website of South Korea’s agriculture ministry, the disease was found in five pigs in a farm at Paju, around 60 kilometres north of the capital Seoul, in the border province of Gyeonggi-do.

North Korea confirmed cases of African swine fever back in June of this year, with its southern neighbor stepping up an already rigorous series of biosecurity measures in response, AgriCensus noted.

“While the outbreak is in its earliest stages, market sources were uncertain of its potential impact, but South Korea has been a rare bright spot in regional demand in recent months, as other major corn, feed wheat and meal importers have seen the disease sweep through their pig herds,” AgriCensus said.