The celebration of National Ag Day in Colorado was deemed a huge success by many people attending the celebration at the state capitol. In honor of the contributions that agriculture makes to our national economy, our national identity, and to our world, Lt. Governor Barbara O’Brien, Speaker of the House Terrance Caroll, and other legislators took part in an antique “Tractorcade” at the Capitol last Wednesday.
The Tractorcade began at Cheeseman Park and made its way down 14th Ave. to the Capitol with the help of DPD parade escorts. The bipartisan group of honorary drivers included, Lt. Gov. O’Brien, Speaker Terrance Carroll, Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, Rep. Wes McKinley, Sen. Jim Isgar, Rep. Randy Baumgardner, Sen. Chris Romer, and Sen. Greg Brophy. After taking a short ride around the Capitol parking lot, the drivers parked their tractors and attended a press conference to honor the day. View pictures from the event on the CFB Flickr Page.
AFBF released a statement today, congratulating Ron Kirk on his confirmation as the United States trade representative. “AFBF looks forward to working closely with Ambassador Kirk on trade issues important to U.S. agriculture. Resisting protectionism and expanding markets are essential in this time of global economic challenge,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said.
“With more than 30 percent of U.S. agricultural revenues derived from exports, world trade is vital to American agriculture. Passage of pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea; pursuing real market access gains through the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations; and enforcing standards and agreements in world trade will help expand U.S. agriculture’s markets around the world,” Stallman said.
With U.S. farmers planting less corn and more soybeans, grain analysts are predicting the price for corn will reach $5 per bushel in 2009.
The reduction in acres planted to corn is projected down by 3 million from the 86 million planted last year. Soybean plantings, however, may go up 4.3 million to a record of 80 million acres.
“Corn surely gains on soybeans and next year the corn market has to buy acres back from beans … this year is the year of corn,” said Dan Basse, president of AgResource. Basse has predicted the Chicago Board of Trade corn prices will trade in the range of $3.50 to $5 per bushel this year.
USDA announced Saturday a final rule requiring a complete ban on the slaughter of cattle that become non-ambulatory disabled after passing initial inspection by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) personnel.
Under the new regulations all cattle that are non-ambulatory disabled (“downer”) cattle at any time prior to slaughter at an official establishment, including those that become non-ambulatory disabled after passing ante-mortem (pre-slaughter) inspection, must be condemned and properly disposed of according to FSIS regulations. Inspection program personnel must be notified by processors when cattle become non-ambulatory disabled after passing the ante-mortem inspection.
Cattle that become non-ambulatory disabled from an acute injury after ante-mortem inspection will no longer be eligible to proceed to slaughter. Instead, FSIS inspectors will tag these cattle as “U.S. Condemned” and prohibit them from proceeding to slaughter. These cattle now must be humanely euthanized.
“This rule is designed to enhance consumer confidence and humane handling standards and will provide clear guidance that non-ambulatory cattle will not be allowed to enter the human food supply. It is a step forward for both food safety and the standards for humane treatment of animals,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The House Agriculture Committee’s budget views and estimates letter, sent to the chairman of the House Budget Committee Thursday, calls for no changes in the 2008 farm bill as part of the budget process.
“The current economic crisis is having broad impact on our nation and the benefits provided by that broadly supported legislation are essential to the well-being of millions of Americans. We urge the Budget Committee to take these points into consideration while crafting a responsible budget resolution for the coming fiscal year,” said Chairman Collin Peterson.
“I encourage the Budget Committee to honor the commitments made to our producers in the 2008 farm bill,” said ranking member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). “At a time when our country is facing an economic crisis and commodity prices are plunging, it is important that we do the best we can to provide our farmers and ranchers with the safety net they need to continue to produce the safest, most abundant food supply in the world.”
Liz Doornink, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, addressed attendees at the 2009 Maryland Dairy Convention in Frederick recently. She told them that farmers should seize every opportunity to tell their story. Doornink encouraged her audience to always find time to let people know about agriculture to counter negative impressions about what farmers do. Doornink and her family own Jon-De Farm Inc., a 2,400-acre dairy farm in Baldwin, Wis. The farm has 1,550 cows and grows corn and alfalfa.
“In order to save our industry, save our right to production choices, we need to tell our story. Your story and your voice are important. In order for my children to become fifth-generation dairy producers, I need to ensure that our country understands what we do, how we do it and why we do it,” Doornink said.
“Each time you send a letter, give a tour, speak in a classroom or share with a friend, you are implementing public relations that will benefit your family and your business. Don’t wait for someone else to do the job,” Doornink said.
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) has introduced H.R. 503, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009, to prohibit certain conduct relating to the use of horses for human consumption. The legislation was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and AFBF sent a letter to all members of the House strongly opposing the bill.
H.R. 503 makes it a federal criminal offense to knowingly move, sell, purchase or transport a horse for human consumption. Unlike similar legislation introduced in previous sessions of Congress to strictly ban equine processing for human consumption, this legislation establishes a precedent for criminal prosecution for slaughtering a livestock animal.
The bill requires the U.S. attorney general to care for horses confiscated as a result of this legislation. H.R. 503 will not improve horse welfare, but it will punish horse owners, further restrict property rights, and, perhaps most importantly, set a dangerous precedent for criminal prosecution of livestock processing, according to AFBF.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has issued proposed regulations to reduce transportation fuel emissions. The public has 45 days to submit comments on the proposed regulation, which would require fuel providers to sell cleaner fuels. The regulators expect the proposed rule would supplant some 20 percent of the fuel used in the state. The alternative fuels would include biofuels, hydrogen and electricity.
The proposed rules have generated stiff opposition from the corn ethanol industry, which is arguing that the new rules would penalize ethanol. The industry also argues that greenhouse gas emissions from indirect land use change in the calculation of biofuel carbon intensity should not be used because such impacts aren’t used in the same calculations of other fuels.
The level of intensity is determined by the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced during the fuel’s production, transportation and consumption. Intensity for biofuels would include emissions based on the premise that greater demand for feedstocks drives prices up worldwide. That, in turn, leads to clearing lands for planting profitable biofuel crops.
AFBF supports the Renewable Fuels Standard, which allows for a solid foundation for grain-derived ethanol to continue growing, while encouraging significant new investment in second-generation biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol and biomass-based diesel.
The Humane Society of the United States has informed ag industry leaders in Ohio that they intend to run legislation that would ban the use of gestation stalls, battery cages, and veal crates in their state. If the legislation fails at the Ohio statehouse, HSUS intends to sponsor a ballot initiative to achieve their goals, in much the same way as was done in California last year, said Wayne Pacelle, President of HSUS.
The organization sent representatives to Columbus in February to make sure the state’s livestock industry knows it’s watching.
The Feb. 17 meeting, which came at the request of the humane society, involved three of that organization’s staffers as well as representatives of Ohio’s poultry, beef, pork and veterinary medical associations, plus the Farm Bureau.
The purpose of their visit? “To get all the industry reps to go back to their individual groups and gain the authority to negotiate with the humane society on legislation in Ohio,” according to Farm Bureau’s Joe Cornely.
Jack Fischer, Ohio Farm Bureau’s Executive Vice President has weighed in on the issue in a recent edition of Our Ohio. His column is titled, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
Attacks on the global food chain from animal rights and environmental extremists jumped 42% – from 155 in 2007 to 220 in 2008 – according to Arlington, Virginia-based Animal Agriculture Alliance. Worse yet, claimed attacks on food retailers in the USA from groups like the Animal Liberation Front exploded 377%.
The Alliance indicated that Bite Back magazine was its main source for compiling data on terrorist acts claimed by Animal Liberation Front (ALF), Earth Liberation Front (ELF), DBF, a branch of ALF found in Sweden and the Netherlands, and other animal rights terrorist groups. But independent media reports and state agriculture groups also provided critical information.
The information compiled by the Alliance showed that ALF, ELF, DBF and related groups claimed a total of 640 acts of sabotage, vandalism and arson in 2008, up from 467 in 2007, an increase of over 35%. The overall level of animal rights extremist attacks in the USA on businesses that use animals – including medical research, consumer product safety, pets, circuses, rodeos, fur shops, hunting stores, farmers, ranchers, food retailers – surged nearly 40%. An even more troubling development is the massive expansion of damages inflicted upon food retailers. Claimed attacks on food retailers in the USA, especially the brand names of McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and Hardee’s, increased from 9 in 2007 to 34 in 2008, an increase of 377%.
Legislation introduced today to prevent a “cow tax” on farmers and ranchers is both “timely and critical,” said AFBF.
In a letter to the bill’s sponsors, Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), AFBF commended their bipartisan efforts and said the organization would work with them to ensure that the legislation gains broad support.
The Thune-Schumer bill would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing Title V operating permits on U.S. agriculture operations under the Clean Air Act. Those permits automatically result in mandatory fees.