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Montana legislators again push for FSIS investigation

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on February 8, 2018

A state congressional delegation from Montana has sent a second request to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service asking for an investigation into the actions of federal inspectors overseeing meat plants in that state.   The lawmakers first sent a letter in December to the agency’s Inspector General Phyllis K. Fong expressing concern that small meat processors in the state were “intimidated, coerced and tormented” by federal inspectors in incidences dating back to 2005.  The stories detail complaints that a Butte, Mont., processor and others made about a federal inspector who routinely required expensive upgrades that were not required by federal regulation, and allegedly issued unfounded non-compliance reports in retaliation for complaints made to the agency.

The USDA predicts a 12-Year Low in Farm Profits

Pacific Standard | Posted on February 8, 2018

Lackluster crop prices and signs of stress for agriculture have continued in 2018, as the United States Department of Agriculture predicts net U.S. farm profits to hit a 12-year low, according to a new report.

The first USDA Farm Income Forecast of 2018, released on Wednesday, predicts a 6.7 percent decline in net farm income, in addition to the lowest average of net cash farm income since 2011.

The 2018 net farm income is predicted to reach $59.5 billion, a $4.3 billion decrease from 2017. That figure would mark the lowest since 2006, and a 50-plus percent decrease from the 2013 net income of $123.8 billion.

EPA chief says he is disarming agency ‘weaponized’ by Obama

Las Vegas Review Journal | Posted on February 7, 2018

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said the Trump administration is “righting the wrongs” of President Barack Obama by reversing a host of regulations designed to “weaponize” the agency and punish the fossil fuel industry. At the end of a three-day swing through Nevada on Tuesday, Pruitt said the federal government shouldn’t use its regulatory power to throttle certain sectors of the economy.

Federal Natural Disaster Assistance Programs for Livestock Producers, 2008–2016

USDA | Posted on February 6, 2018

Three disaster assistance programs for livestock administered by the Farm Service Agency and one administered by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are probed, revealing regional differences in payment delivery and how outlays vary by year and program.

Cutting Crop Insurance for Big Farms Would Hurt Small Farmers Too

Farm Policy Facts | Posted on February 6, 2018

America’s largest farms are far less risky than smaller operations and typically have fewer crop insurance claims, according to a new working paper from top agricultural economists. And proposals to exclude those farms from crop insurance could drive up costs for small farmers. The study comes as Congress takes up debate on the future of America’s farm policy.In crop insurance, farmers pay significant premiums for insurance coverage that is delivered by the private sector. Those premiums are discounted to encourage more farmers to participate, which reduces taxpayers’ exposure to costly disasters. The resulting insurance coverage kicks in only if there is a loss – weather disaster or sharp price declines – and only after farmers shoulder a deductible of at least 25%.

Maple syrup producers could face new rules

Farm and Dairy | Posted on February 6, 2018

The recently enacted federal food safety law, known as the Food Safety Modernization Act, includes new requirements for maple syrup producers. The rules differ, depending on the size of operation and how you sell your syrup, and there is still some ambiguity on exactly what a producer must do.In Ohio and Pennsylvania, maple syrup production is regulated at the state level, and is considered a low-risk food because of its contents and simple method of preparation.Ohio producers who gather and boil 75 percent or more of their own sap are considered exempt from state inspection, but may be subject to the new federal rule.

Ethanol CEO says Pruitt trying to "gut" federal mandate

Houston Chronicle | Posted on February 5, 2018

Ethanol companies are enraged by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's comments Thursday that the program ensuring compliance with the federal biofuels requirement needs reform.  "Administrator Pruitt's recent comments completely contradict his own rule and repeated promises to support the letter and spirit of the RFS," he said. "It is an about-face to now try and gut the most successful energy program in American history."

Trump administration bars Haitians from U.S. visas for low-skilled work

Reuters | Posted on February 1, 2018

Haitians will no longer be eligible for U.S. visas given to low-skilled workers, the Trump administration said, bringing an end to a small-scale effort to employ Haitians in the United States after a catastrophic 2010 earthquake.


Perdue Unveils, Interactive Website for Agricultural Producers

USDA | Posted on February 1, 2018

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today unveiled, the new interactive one-stop website for producers maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). is now live but will have multiple features added over the coming months to allow agricultural producers to make appointments with USDA offices, file forms, and apply for USDA programs. The website, launched at a breakfast hosted by the Michigan Farm Bureau, gathers together the three agencies that comprise USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area: the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency.

Tax overhaul gives break to farmers who sell to co-ops.

Farm and Dairy | Posted on February 1, 2018

The background to this new tax law is an example of what is wrong with Washington. At the last minute, concerned that the new tax law would eliminate a benefit that co-ops had been using in previous law, two senators got language inserted that they now appear to regret. The language gives a 20 percent deduction of the net proceeds for any commodities sold by farmers. That is huge. It gives a 20 percent deduction of the gross proceeds for any commodities sold by farmers to a co-op. That is gigantic.Just do the math. Farmers are not making a 20 percent margin at current prices. Thus, this law makes farming tax-free for those selling to co-ops and gives a huge break to those selling to other types of companies.