Remarks made last week by the chairman of Nestle about the use of corn for biofuels production were not only wrong but dangerous, the president of the National Corn Growers Association said.
“It is scandalous, ludicrous and highly irresponsible for the chairman of a global conglomerate that tripled its profits last year to talk about higher corn prices forcing millions into starvation,” said NCGA President Bart Schott. “Perhaps if Nestle is so concerned about food prices, its board will consider putting more of their $35.7 billion in 2010 profits back into poor communities. Just their profits alone represent more than half the entire farm value of the 2010 U.S. corn crop.”
Schott was reacting to comments by Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe at a meeting last Tuesday of the Council on Foreign Relations. Schott also challenged Brabeck-Letmathe to take the time to study facts and figures before making ridiculous comments about an industry that he clearly knows little about, nor bothered to study up on.
In a major court victory for AFBF and other farm organizations, a unanimous federal court of appeals has ruled that EPA cannot require livestock farmers to apply for Clean Water Act permits unless their farms actually discharge manure into U.S. waters.
The ruling was welcomed by Farm Bureau, the National Pork Producers Council and several other agriculture groups that filed suit against EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
“For the second time, a U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that EPA’s authority is limited by the Clean Water Act to jurisdiction over only actual discharges to navigable waters, not potential discharges,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “We are pleased that the federal courts have again reined in EPA’s unlawful regulation of livestock operations under the Clean Water Act. The court has affirmed that EPA, like other federal agencies, can only regulate where it has been authorized by Congress to do so.”
In the ruling issued Tuesday, the 5th Circuit concluded: “The CWA provides a comprehensive liability scheme and the EPA’s attempt to supplement this scheme is in excess of its statutory authority.”
The U.S. Grains Council received initial reports that Friday’s earthquake and the subsequent tsunami may have caused significant damage to many of Japan’s agricultural facilities and production areas. While the extent of the damage is not yet known, it will likely impact grain trade.
“Some ports in northern Japan, Kushiro, Hachinohe, Ishinomaki and Kashima, were hit by the tsunami. We’ve heard some feed mills and livestock operations have also been damaged by the tsunami. Those facilities were not severely damaged by the earthquake itself but were affected by the tsunami,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan. “It is too early to tell what effect this will have on Japan’s agricultural sector, but it could be of significance.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman wrote to members of the House today urging them to support passage of H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, and sign on as co-sponsors.
“In addition to agricultural producers, a significant number of stakeholders will be impacted by a new federal requirement under which the Environmental Protection Agency and delegated states must issue Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general permits for certain pesticide applications,” Stallman told lawmakers in his letter. “This unprecedented action is the result of a 2009 decision of the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.”
Stallman called on Congress to take action before the permit requirement becomes final.
“We are concerned that due to unrealistic deadlines for state-delegated implementation and compliance many states will not meet the court ordered deadline of April 9, 2011,” Stallman wrote. “Adding to the uncertainty, EPA has yet to release a final permit. This leaves pesticide users without time to fully understand or come into compliance with the permit and further increases their potential liability.”
Colorado is one of 10 new states that can now ship seed potatoes to Thailand, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday.
The newly eligible states are Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In 2009, Thailand announced it would accept seed potatoes from California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
“This is a promising development for U.S. seed potato producers who will now be able to compete in Thailand, the largest potato growing country in Southeast Asia,” Vilsack said. “Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing markets for U.S. agricultural products, and exports there are expected to grow by more than 25 percent this year. This action by the government of Thailand will provide buyers with additional supplies of high-quality seed potatoes.”
The number of honey-producing bee colonies in the U.S. rose 7.4 percent last year and honey production was up 20 percent, according to a report released Friday by the Agriculture Department.
About 2.684 million colonies were reported by beekeepers with five or more hives in 2010, USDA reports. Honey production rose to 65.5 pounds per colony, up 12 percent from 2009, with overall output at 176 million pounds.
In response to Colony Collapse Disorder, beekeepers are keeping more bees on hand during the year to withstand higher losses in the winter dormancy season, which is helping the honeybee population recover.
Environmental groups failed to show that seed plants for Roundup Ready Sugar Beets would cause irreparable harm, a federal appeals court said Friday. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a previous injunction that called for the destruction of the plants.
“We conclude the district court abused its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction requiring destruction of the steckling plants,” the court wrote. “Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that the … plants present a possibility, much less a likelihood, of genetic contamination or other irreparable harm. The undisputed evidence indicates that the stecklings pose a negligible risk of genetic contamination, as the juvenile plants are biologically incapable of flowering or cross-pollinating before February 28, 2011, when the permits expire.”