Skip to content Skip to navigation

Federal News

USDA to relocate ERS and NIFA outside of Washington

Farm and Dairy | Posted on August 9, 2018

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced further reorganization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, intended to improve customer service, strengthen offices and programs, and save taxpayer dollars. The Economic Research Service, currently under USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area, will realign once again with the Office of the Chief Economist under the Office of the Secretary. Additionally, most employees of ERS and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will be relocated outside of the National Capital Region. The movement of the employees outside of Washington, DC is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. “In our Administration, we have looked critically at the way we do business, with the ultimate goal of ensuring the best service possible for our customers, and for the taxpayers of the United States. In some cases, this has meant realigning some of our offices and functions, or even relocating them, in order to make more logical sense or provide more streamlined and efficient services,” Perdue said. These two agencies were aligned once before, and bringing them back together will enhance the effectiveness of economic analysis at USDA. Relocating ERS and NIFA outside National Capital Region New locations have yet to be determined, and it is possible that ERS and NIFA may be co-located when their new homes are found.To benefit the American taxpayers. There will be significant savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets.No ERS or NIFA employees will be involuntarily separated. Every employee who wants to continue working will have an opportunity to do so, although that will mean moving to a new location for most. Employees will be offered relocation assistance and will receive the same base pay as before, and the locality pay for the new location.

Minn. hog producer, other Midwest ag businesses targeted in sweeping ICE raid

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 9, 2018

Minnesota’s Christensen Farms, one of the nation’s largest pork producers, was among the nearly dozen agriculture businesses to receive warrants Wednesday from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau on allegations that they are exploiting illegal immigrants. ICE issued search warrants for worksite violations at Christensen Farms hog production properties in Appleton, Minn.; Sleepy Eye, Minn.; and Atkinson, Neb. The bureau did the same at a number of other agricultural facilities including a cattle feedlot, a cattle ranch, tomato farms and potato farms — centering mostly in O’Neill, Neb. — and rounded up a total of 133 allegedly illegal workers in the process. The multi-state operation, meanwhile, issued criminal arrest warrants for 17 people on allegations of a conspiracy to “exploit illegal alien laborers for profit, fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in Nebraska and Minnesota,” ICE officials said.

House, Senate pass animal drug user fee legislation

Veterinary Practice News | Posted on August 9, 2018

Legislation would expand conditional approvals beyond minor uses and minor species. The U.S. House and Senate have passed the Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2018 (HR 5554/S 2434), which are vital to increasing veterinary access to drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.The House passed the bill on July 16, and the Senate passed the bill on July 31. The legislation includes language that would expand conditional approvals beyond minor uses and minor species.The animal drug user fee amendments will reauthorize the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine to continue collecting animal drug and animal generic drug user fees from the drugs’ sponsors. These fees, coupled with annual appropriations, support FDA’s animal drug review processes and ultimately improve veterinary access to FDA-approved drugs. Conditional approval of new animal drugs will incentivize the development of new and innovative products for conditions that prove particularly difficult to study, according to the AVMA.

Now the Trump administration wants to limit citizenship for legal immigrants

NBC News | Posted on August 9, 2018

The most significant change to legal immigration in decades could affect millions of would-be citizens, say lawyers and advocates. The Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal in coming weeks that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare, four sources with knowledge of the plan told NBC News.The move, which would not need congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller's plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year.Details of the rulemaking proposal are still being finalized, but based on a recent draft seen last week and described to NBC News, immigrants living legally in the U.S. who have ever used or whose household members have ever used Obamacare, children's health insurance, food stamps and other benefits could be hindered from obtaining legal status in the U.S.

Why American policy is leaving millions hungry

The Washington Post | Posted on August 9, 2018

Instead of trying to eliminate hunger, we continue to talk about personal responsibility. A whopping 15.6 million American households experienced at least some food insecurity in 2016, meaning that more than 12 percent of the population did not always know when or how they would get their next meal. Despite this, Congress is debating making it even harder for the hungry to access government assistance. The House farm bill included revisions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) work requirements, adding more bureaucratic hurdles and decreasing available exemptions. President Trump supports the provision, signaling that as the House and Senate reconcile their farm bills the issue may become a sticking point.Why would such a wealthy nation not only allow hunger to persist, but even put forward policies likely to exacerbate it? The answer rests in part in a misconceptualization of hunger. Paternalistic rhetoric about the importance of work in qualifying someone to receive governmental aid forgets the very reason we have food-based welfare in the first place — hunger and food insecurity — and strikes a blow against SNAP’s purpose. This rhetoric transforms the food choices and physical bodies of SNAP users into markers of how undeserving recipients are, implicitly asserting that starvation-level hunger is the only legitimate kind of hunger, and that it doesn’t exist in the United States. The end result is more hungry Americans.

Farmers for Free Trade launches latest campaign

Politico | Posted on August 9, 2018

Farmers for Free Trade, the association that’s railing against President Donald Trump’s tariffs, is ramping up an advertising campaign highlighting the harm that the escalating trade war is having on the U.S. agriculture industry. The new effort involves $800,000 in radio, print, online and television ads on farm programming across the heartland. Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin will see the first round of ads.The “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” campaign will also include town hall events in various states. Two radio ads will start airing today and run through September. The ad buy is part of a larger $2.5 million national anti-tariff campaign the group launched in July, shortly after Trump announced a $12 billion aid program to farmers affected by trade retaliation in response to new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum as well as trade penalties directed toward China.

EPA is now allowing asbestos back into manufacturing

The Architect's Newspaper | Posted on August 9, 2018

Fast Company recently reported on the potential comeback of one of the most infamous building materials of recent memory. Asbestos is now legally allowed back into U.S. manufacturing under a serious of loopholes by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Fast Company reported, on June 1, the EPA authorized a “SNUR” (Significant New Use Rule) that allowed the creation of new products containing asbestos on a case-by-case basis. According to Fast Company, the EPA’s recently released report detailing its new framework for evaluating the risk of its top prioritized substances states that the agency will “no longer consider the effect or presence of substances in the air, ground, or water in its risk assessments.” This news comes after the EPA reviewed its first batch of 10 chemicals under the 2016 amendment to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which requires the agency to continually reevaluate hundreds of potentially toxic chemicals in lieu of removing them from the market or placing new restrictions on their use. The SNUR greenlights companies to use toxic chemicals like asbestos without consideration about how they will endanger people who are indirectly in contact with them. 

Trump admin sees grim climate outcome in car rule

E & E News | Posted on August 9, 2018

The last time carbon dioxide levels hit the mark the Trump administration envisions for the end of the century, crocodiles roamed the poles and palm trees existed where glaciers are today. In fact, there were no glaciers — not even in Antarctica. Although the White House has avoided addressing climate change, it made a rare acknowledgement that its proposal to weaken vehicle fuel efficiency standards would contribute to a warmer planet. Its prediction for what the atmosphere will look like in 2100 startled climate scientists — a carbon dioxide concentration of 789.76 parts per million. That's nearly double current levels.Scientists said reaching that mark would be devastating for the planet. Although humans would survive, much of that would depend on the ability to adapt to new conditions. Food and water scarcity would result from changing precipitation patterns and higher temperatures. Potentially billions of people would struggle. Some species and ecosystems would collapse."By mid Century, food and especially water shortages will likely become so widespread that regional conflicts and environmental refugees will dwarf anything we see now, and hence it is not really livable for all humans," Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in an email. "So the last time 800 ppm occurred is not really pertinent because there were not 10 billion people present."

U.S., China, each disclose new tariff proposals

Chemical and Engineering News | Posted on August 9, 2018

As the U.S. and China escalate hostilities in their trade war, the manufacturing sector on both sides is at risk of becoming collateral damage. New tariff proposals unveiled by the U.S. and China in recent days cover many chemicals and key materials that the two countries trade widely and for which, in some cases, few alternative suppliers exist. Acting on a request from President Trump, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative—the equivalent of the ministry of international trade in other countries—raised from 10% to 25% the custom duties proposed on $200 billion worth of goods that the U.S. imports from China. The U.S. started levying tariffs on Chinese goods this summer in an effort to prompt China to modify business practices that the U.S. deems unfair.The newly proposed U.S. tariffs follow the implementation of a 25% custom duty on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods in early July. The U.S. is also finalizing a separate 25% levy on another $16 billion worth of Chinese merchandise.The American Chemistry Council, the main industry group representing the chemical industry, says the new round of proposed U.S. tariffs would be “devastating for U.S. chemicals manufacturers.” It notes that more than $16 billion of the $200 billion in targeted goods are chemicals. “Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular are at risk of being put out of businesses by a cost increase of that kind.”

Dairy Revenue Protection is Here

Farm Bureau | Posted on August 9, 2018

Since 2014 the annual average U.S. all-milk price has fallen by more than 30 percent. This year, it is projected to be at the lowest level since 2009, at $16.10 per hundredweight. Milk prices are projected to improve slightly in 2019 to $16.75 per hundredweight, but ongoing trade tensions in July compelled USDA to push its 2019 milk price projection down by 45 cents per hundredweight. The 45-cent revision represents a nearly $1 billion decline in projected milk revenue – in just one month in 2019.  Dairy Revenue Protection was developed and approved through the Federal Crop Insurance Act’s 508(h) process, which allows private parties to develop insurance products that are in the best interests of producers, follow sound insurance principles and are actuarially appropriate.