USDA and SCORE Launch Innovative Mentorship Effort to Support New Farmers and Ranchers

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with officials from SCORE, the nation’s largest volunteer network of expert business mentors, to support new and beginning farmers. Today’s agreement provides new help resources for beginning ranchers, veterans, women, socially disadvantaged Americans and others, providing new tools to help them both grow and thrive in agri-business.

“Shepherding one generation to the next is our responsibility. We want to help new farmers, veterans, and people transitioning from other industries to agriculture,” said Secretary Perdue. “They need land, equipment, and access to capital, but they also need advice and guidance. That’s what SCORE is all about.”

SCORE matches business professionals and entrepreneurs with new business owners to mentor them through the process of starting-up and maintaining a new business. USDA and its partners across rural America are working with SCORE to support new farming and ranching operations, and identify and recruit mentors with a wealth of agricultural experience.

Secretary Perdue announced the new partnership in Des Moines during the Iowa Agriculture Summit. Perdue was joined by Steve Records, Vice-President of Field Operations for SCORE in signing a Memorandum of Understanding that will guide USDA and SCORE as they partner in the mentorship effort, which will soon expand to other states.

“SCORE’s mission to help people start and grow vibrant small businesses is boosted by this new partnership with USDA. America’s farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses will benefit from the business knowledge and expertise SCORE can offer,” said Records. “The partnership allows both SCORE and USDA to serve more people while providing America’s farmers added support to lead to more sound business operations, create profitable farms with sustainable growth and create new jobs. We are excited at the opportunity to extend SCORE’s impact to our farmers and the agriculture industry.”

SCORE mentors will partner with USDA and a wide array of groups already hard at work serving new and beginning farmers and ranchers, such as the FFA, 4-H, cooperative extension and land grant universities, nonprofits, legal aid groups, banks, technical and farm advisors. These partnerships will expand and integrate outreach and technical assistance between current and retired farmers and agri-business experts and new farmers.

This joint initiative leverages SCORE’s 10,000 existing volunteer mentors and USDA’s expertise and presence in agricultural communities to bring no-cost business mentoring to rural and agricultural entrepreneurs. This initiative will also be another tool to empower the work of many community-based organizations, cooperative extension and land grant universities working with beginning farmers in their communities. SCORE mentorship will also be available to current farmers and ranchers. Anyone interested in being a mentor can get more information and sign up on the USDA New Farmers’ website at https://newfarmers.usda.gov/mentorship.

Source: USDA

Secretary Perdue Appoints New Leadership for Food Safety

(Washington, D.C., August 1, 2017) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today made two key appointments to help fulfill the vital mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply. Perdue announced that Carmen Rottenberg was selected as Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety and Paul Kiecker was named Acting Administrator for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The two will serve in those capacities until presidential nominees are confirmed by the Senate for those roles. In making the announcements, Secretary Perdue issued this statement:

“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is our most important responsibility, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness.  Both Carmen and Paul have dedicated their careers to the mission of food safety and I am pleased to have appointed them to these important roles within the USDA,” said Secretary Perdue. “I commend the work of the entire USDA’s food safety team for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families every single day.”

Background:

Carmen Rottenberg was appointed Acting Deputy Under Secretary for the USDA’s Office of Food Safety. In this position, she oversees development, implementation, and enforcement of all of FSIS regulations, policies, and programs. This appointment follows nearly six years in leadership roles in the FSIS Office of the Administrator, including serving as Chief of Staff, Chief Operating Officer and, most recently, Deputy Administrator.

In those leadership roles, Rottenberg executed a budget of over $1 billion, prioritizing resources and resolving disputes, advancing the Agency’s vision and goals, and leading innovative solutions to challenges in FSIS.  She spearheaded strategic planning at FSIS and implemented numerous initiatives to strategically move the agency forward.  Rottenberg implemented two major reorganizations, leading to a more streamlined, efficient agency better positioned to carry out its food safety mission.  Through her leadership and oversight, an early governance process matured into an established systematic approach to agency decision-making, resulting in more deliberative, science-based decisions that consider enterprise-wide risks and benefits. Rottenberg led the very successful i-Impact initiative, which has increased the awareness of and engagement in FSIS’s public health mission by the more than 9,000 employees throughout the Agency.

Rottenberg joined FSIS as an Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist in 2007 and went on to become the Deputy Director of the Civil Rights Staff.  She began her federal government career in the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of General Counsel and previously worked as a law clerk at a small law firm in Fairfax, VA.  She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Hope College in Holland, MI and a law degree from American University’s Washington College of Law.

Paul Kiecker was named Acting Administrator for the FSIS.  Throughout his 29 years with FSIS, he has been committed to a strong public health vision that has guided him to overcome obstacles, identify opportunities for improvement, manage resources efficiently, and achieve food safety objectives to prevent foodborne illness.

Since joining FSIS in 1988 as a food inspector, Kiecker has served in a number of roles at the agency, most recently as Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Field Operations.  He came to Washington, D.C. to serve as Executive Associate for Regulatory Operations, after serving as the District Manager in Springdale, AR, and Madison, WI, as well as Deputy District Manager in Madison, WI.  Kiecker’s experience with FSIS also includes work with the Office of Investigation, Enforcement, and Audit, where he has served as a Compliance Investigator and as Supervisory Compliance Officer.

In his various positions with FSIS, Kiecker has played a critical role in leading external coordination with other federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit and private sector organizations, international organizations, and law enforcement agencies.  He also has had oversight responsibility for strategic planning, policy formulation and implementation, budget development and execution, human resource management, and day-to-day inspection operations.

Source: USDA

Miles City, FSA offices off the chopping block for now

Senate committees pass bills with language prohibiting closure of essential agricultural facilities

The Miles City cattle research farm and county Farm Service Agency offices appear likely to stick around, with both winning language in budget bills for fiscal year 2018 that prohibit their closure.

Language in the Senate’s FY2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill nixes closing both the Fort Keogh Range and Livestock Research Laboratory in Miles City and the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Idaho.

The two centers were among 17 USDA-Agricultural Research Service centers listed for closure in President Donald Trump’s budget proposal. The bill rejects closing any of them.

The Miles City unit is home to the famous Line 1 Hereford herd, which has helped lead research discoveries in beef cattle and is responsible for much of what is known about cattle genetics in the United States. The herd there is an asset that has been 75 years in the making and is not duplicated anywhere else.

The MonDak’s Congressional delegation has been unanimously opposed to cutting research centers in the past and had promised they would fight the latest attempt to target what they said is valuable research that keeps American farmers and ranchers on the cutting edge.

“Montana’s farmers and ranchers are some of our state’s most hardworking folks, and I’m doing all I can to ensure they have the support they need,” Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said. He is a member of the Senate’s agricultural appropriations committee.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., meanwhile, who is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, said the bill also includes $2.55 billion to support agricultural research that is conducted by the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food

and Agriculture.

Hoeven also touted additional support for farmers and ranchers facing severe drought in the Midwest, including North Dakota and Montana, that was included in the bill. These provisions  include funding for transporting hay and livestock under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish program (ELAP), and a requirement to report on any backlog in drought relief programs. That part of the bill also directed USDA to consider making additional conservation acres available for emergency grazing and haying and to allocate additional staff and resources to drought-stricken areas.

“We worked hard to maintain our agriculture budget and ensure this legislation supports our farmers, ranchers and rural communities, especially in the face of such severe natural disasters,” Hoeven said. “This legislation makes additional support available to areas struggling with drought, including funding to help move hay and livestock. In addition we maintained a robust safety net, while also making strong investments in farm service programs, agricultural research and rural development programs to help make our agricultural communities strong and vibrant.”

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., touted amendments to strengthen the ban on Brazilian beef imports and to force the nomination of a USDA Rural Development Undersecretary in the 2018 Agriculture Bill. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue had sought to eliminate the position.

“During times of drought and market uncertainty, it is critical that Montana family farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to protect their bottom line,” Tester said. “This important bill invests in agriculture research, protects FSA jobs, improves water infrastructure and ensures rural America has an advocate at USDA. Republicans and Democrats support this bill because folks worked together to address the needs of rural families and rural communities.”

Funding for rural water and wastewater infrastructure development was also included in the 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, along with $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Compact ratified by Congress last fall.

“Montana’s rural water projects are vital to families, businesses and family farms and ranches across the state, and they create good-paying jobs,” Tester said. “The water infrastructure investments secured today will help close that funding gap and provide folks with additional certainty. Reliable access to clean water is essential for every Montanan.”

The bill also:

• Rejects proposed cuts to crop insurance and other farm bill programs

• Prohibits closing county Farm Service Agency offices and provides $1.2 billion for the FSA, a significant increase over what Trump had proposed.

• Includes language prohibiting any federal funds from being used to obstruct industrial hemp pilot projects, authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, so long as they are being cultivated in accordance with the respective state’s laws

• Provides $375 million for the Agriculture and Food Research initiative, $244 million for the Hatch Act formula that funds research at state agriculture experiment stations and $300 million for Sith-Lever programs that support overall extension service activities

• Urges the Food and Drug Administration to collaborate with federal agencies on the opioid epidemic and prepare guidelines to ensure that only the lowest effective dose is prescribed

• Includes funding to continue Hoeven’s Agriculture Risk Coverage pilot program that allows an alternate calculation method for crop payments if National Agricultural Statistics Service data is insufficient

• Maintains funding for the Water Bank initiative, which compensates farmers and landowners for flooded land through 10-year voluntary conservation agreements.

• Directs the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service to work with local, state and federal agencies on managing brucellosis and other zoonotic disease outbreaks in animals and humans and directs funding to advance research into vaccines and other tools to counter the disease

• Maintains fiscal year 2017 funding levels for USDA Rural Development programs including $12.5 billion for loans, $394 million for grants and $18 million for the Circuit Rider program in Rural Water and Waste Programs; $6.94 billion rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans and $30 million in broadband grants.

• Urges the U.S. Trade Representative and Department of Commerce to prioritize unfair wheat grading practices in trade negotiations with Canada

• Provides funding for the U.S. Wheat Barley Scab Initiative to help fight the disease that causes vomitoxin contamination in small grains

• Appropriates $2.75 million for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas program, which helps find work opportunities for veterans through the Armed to Farm program

• Includes research grants and extension services for Montana’s seven tribal colleges

• Directs USDA to disclose costs associated with analyses required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

Source:  Renée Jean of the Williston Herald

Tester Secures Major Investments, Advances Montana Priorities in Critical Funding Bills

(U.S. Senate)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester, a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, advanced Montana priorities and secured major investments in two critical funding bills.

Tester successfully included amendments to strengthen the ban on Brazilian beef imports and to force the nomination of a USDA Rural Development Undersecretary in the 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.  Tester’s amendments will require USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to report to Congress on specific provisions regarding the Brazilian beef ban and to restore the position of USDA Rural Development Undersecretary, which Perdue has attempted to eliminate.

“During times of drought and market uncertainty, it is critical that Montana family farmers and ranchers have the resources they need to protect their bottom line,” Tester said.  “This important bill invests in agriculture research, protects critical FSA jobs, improves water infrastructure, and ensures rural America has an advocate at USDA.  Republicans and Democrats support this bill because folks worked together to address the needs of rural families and rural communities.”

 Tester also secured critical water and wastewater infrastructure investments in the 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.  Tester helped include additional funding for each of Montana’s rural water infrastructure projects and delivered the first-ever federal funding for the Blackfeet Water Compact, which was ratified by Congress last fall.

“Montana’s rural water projects are vital to families, businesses, and family farms and ranches across the state and they create good-paying jobs,” Tester added.  “The water infrastructure investments secured today will help close that funding gap and provide folks with additional certainty.  Reliable access to clean water is essential for every Montanan.”

 Tester worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass both the 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which funds the Department of Agriculture and other ag initiatives, as well as the 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which funds initiatives within the Energy and Interior Departments.

In addition to his amendments, Tester successfully pushed for and secured the following investments and provisions in the must-pass funding bills:

2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

  • Fully funds the Fort Keogh Research Laboratory in Miles City.  The President’s proposed USDA budget attempted to shut down the lab.
  • $1.2 billion for the Farm Service Agency, a significant increase over the President’s proposed budget, which would have cut funding for the offices that assist local farmers and ranchers.
  • $550 million for USDA Rural Development water and wastewater infrastructure.  The President’s proposed USDA budget provided $0 for rural water and wastewater infrastructure.
  • Language urging Secretary Perdue to work closely with the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative to prioritize a solution regarding unfair Canadian wheat grading practices.

 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

  • $48 million in additional funding for construction of ongoing rural water projects in the west.
  • $4.8 million for construction on the Rocky Boy’s-North Central Montana Rural Water System, which supplies water to communities, farmers, and ranchers in northcentral Montana.
  • $6 million for construction on the Fort Peck-Dry Prairie Rural Water System, which supplies water to communities, farmers, and ranchers in northeast Montana.
  • $10 million for the Blackfeet Water Compact, which is the first time the account has received federal funding.
  • Language that bars the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation from reallocating funding from the Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam.

 

The Agriculture and Energy and Water Appropriations Bills are two of the 12 annual must-pass government funding bills.  Both bills were passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee today and will now await a final vote on the Senate floor.

Northern Plains Drought Worsens, USDA Responds with Expanded Emergency Federal Program Measures on Conservation Reserve Program Acres

As conditions deteriorate and drought expands across much of the Northern Plains, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering assistance to farmers and ranchers through numerous federal farm program provisions and continues to monitor the situation to ensure all viable program flexibilities are offered to producers.  Today, USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) acting State Executive Director in South Dakota, acting SED Jamie White, announced that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has authorized emergency haying on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands beginning July 16 through Aug. 30, 2017 for counties in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota designated as D2 or greater on the U.S. Drought Monitor.  Similar to the authorization for Emergency Grazing announced last month, this authorization includes any county with any part of its border located within 150 miles of a county eligible for emergency haying of CRP based on the U.S. drought monitor.

Increased demand for hay has further depleted already low levels of hay stock.  As of May 1, 2017, Montana and North Dakota reported the lowest hay stock since 2013 and since 2014 in South Dakota.

“We are offering any and all USDA program options that will provide farmers and ranchers relief from the devastating impacts of prolonged drought,” said acting SED White.

Landowners interested in emergency haying of CRP acres should contact their local FSA office and meet with their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to obtain a modified conservation plan to include emergency haying. Not all CRP practices qualify for emergency haying. July 15 marks the end of the Primary Nesting Season in Montana. Due to the severe drought conditions, authorization for emergency haying may begin July 16 in North Dakota and South Dakota. Individual conservation plans will take into consideration wildlife needs.

Eligible CRP participants can hay their acreage for their own use or may grant another producer use of CRP land for haying purposes.  There will be no CRP annual rental payment reductions assessed for acres hayed under this emergency authority.

According to acting SED White, this emergency CRP haying authorization is an added resource to an extensive portfolio of drought assistance programs and emergency provisions offered by USDA agencies and currently available to eligible producers having a qualifying drought loss or related need.

Emergency CRP Grazing – In June, Secretary Perdue authorized emergency grazing of CRP acres during the primary nesting season in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota in counties indicated as D2 or greater on the U.S. Drought Monitor.  This authorization was further expanded to include any county with any part of its border located within 150 miles of a county designated as level “D2 Drought – Severe” or higher according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Grazing is authorized through Sept. 30, 2017 unless conditions improve.  In South Dakota, 977,553 acres are currently enrolled under CRP.
FSA Farm Loan Livestock Physical Control Requirement Flexibility – USDA will authorize up to a 12 month exemption to the FSA farm loan requirement that borrowers maintain physical control of livestock during the term of the loan. This exemption will allow livestock producers the option of sending livestock to feedlots, drylots or otherwise relocate livestock to locations where feed, forage and water needs can be met.  FSA has 4870 direct loans totaling 408 million dollars in South Dakota.
Emergency Loan Program – Available to producers with agriculture operations located in a county under a primary or contiguous Secretarial Disaster designation. These low interest loans help producers recover from production and physical losses.

These and a number of other disaster assistance programs are available to farmers and ranchers. For more information on disaster assistance programs and loans visit www.fsa.usda.gov/disasteror contact your local FSA Office. To find your local FSA county office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

USDA Authorizes Additional Flexibilities for Producers in Northern Great Plains

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2017 – On June 23 Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue authorized emergency grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres during the primary nesting season in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana in the counties meeting D2 or greater, as indicated by the US Drought Monitor. Since that time the drought has continued to deepen and the forecast is for hot, dry weather in the upcoming week in the northern plains.  As such, the Secretary is authorizing emergency grazing of CRP for any county in which any part of its border lies within 150 miles of a county approved for emergency grazing of CRP.

In addition, for any county in which any part of its border lies within 150 miles of any county approved for emergency grazing of CRP, USDA will allow CRP contract holders who hay their acreage according to their mid-management conservation plan to donate their hay to livestock producers. CRP contract holders still have the ability to sell their hay with a 25-percent reduction in their annual rental payment as they’ve been fully authorized to do in the past.

Emergency haying is not authorized at this time. The Secretary will continue to monitor conditions and will consider expanding emergency authority if conditions worsen.

Eligible CRP participants can use the acreage for grazing their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage. There will be no CRP annual rental payment reductions assessed for acres grazed.

A map displaying counties approved for CRP emergency grazing and the donation of hay under mid-contract management authority will be available at:

https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/conservation-programs/conservation-reserve-program/emergency-haying-and-grazing/index

To take advantage of the emergency grazing provisions, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center.  To find your local USDA Service Center visit http://offices.usda.gov.

Secretary Perdue to Travel to China to Mark Return of U.S. Beef

Events in Beijing and Shanghai on Friday and Saturday

 

 U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will travel to China this week, joining with U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, to formally mark the return of U.S. beef to the Chinese market after a 13-year hiatus.  In events in Beijing and Shanghai on Friday, June 30, 2017 and Saturday, July 1, 2017, Perdue will meet with Chinese government officials to celebrate the return of American beef products to the enormous market after shipments were halted at the end of 2003.  On Friday in Beijing, Perdue and Branstad will ceremonially cut prime rib that originated in Nebraska and was shipped by the Greater Omaha Packing Company. 

“I will be proud to be on hand for the official reintroduction of U.S. beef to China,” Perdue said.  “This is tremendous news for the American beef industry, the agriculture community, and the American economy in general.  We will once again have access to the enormous Chinese market, with a strong and growing middle class, which had been closed to our ranchers for a long, long time.  There’s no doubt in my mind that when the Chinese people taste our high-quality U.S. beef, they’ll want more of it.” 

President Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, officials with the U.S. Trade Representative, and Secretary Perdue announced the deal brokered to allow the return of U.S. beef to China on May 11, 2017 as part of the U.S.-China 100-Day Action Plan.  The first shipment of U.S. beef arrived in China on June 19, 2017.  China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016.  The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and in 2016 was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion.  

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the final details of a protocol to allow American companies to begin shipping beef exports to China.  To date, producers and processors in Nebraska and Kansas are eligible to ship beef products to China, having followed requirements set forth in the USDA Export Verification Program and according to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service export requirements.  USDA maintains a public list of companies that are eligible and will continue to update it as more companies complete the export documentation requirements.

China has emerged as a major beef buyer in recent years, with imports increasing from $275 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion in 2016. The United States is the world’s largest beef producer and in 2016 was the world’s fourth-largest exporter, with global sales of more than $5.4 billion.  

Perdue will make the following public appearances in Beijing and Shanghai (times local to China):

 

Friday, June 30, 2017

10:45 a.m.                   Meeting with Han Changfu, Minister of Agriculture

                                    Secretary Perdue will meet with his Chinese counterpart to discuss

                                    additional market access goals.

            Ministry of Agriculture

                                    Beijing, China

 

12:00 p.m.                  Ceremony Reintroducing U.S. beef to China

                                    Secretary Perdue, Ambassador Terry Branstad, and other officials

                                    will ceremonially cut a Nebraska prime rib.

                                    Intercontinental Beijing Sanlitun Hotel

            Beijing, China

 

3:00 p.m.                    Meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang

                                    Secretary Perdue will discuss expanding U.S. trade with China.

                                    Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound

                                    Beijing, China

 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

 

10:15 a.m.                   Media event and tour of Chinese supermarket

                                    Secretary Perdue will participate in a cooking demonstration, tour

                                    the store, and highlight other American products in a major Chinese

                                    supermarket.

                                    City Super IAPM

                                    Shanghai, China

Tester Announces Assistance for Montana Counties Affected by Drought

Senator Secures Assistance for Farmers and Ranchers in Six Montana Counties

 

(U.S. Senate)– U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced that farmers and ranchers in six Montana counties would have access to drought assistance through U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster relief programs.

 

“Northeast Montana has been hammered by drought and I’m pleased this critical farm-saving relief is available to those who need it the most,” Tester said.  “I encourage all eligible Montana producers to contact their local FSA offices and apply for assistance.”

 

Farmers and ranchers affected by the drought are eligible to receive payments through the USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program.  Payments are determined by the intensity and length of the drought for the impacted areas.

 

The Livestock Forage Disaster Program is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.  Assistance is available for producers in Garfield, McCone, Daniels, Sheridan, Valley, and Roosevelt Counties.

 

Tester, the Senate’s only farmer, has held several farm bill listening sessions across the state.  Tester will be advocating for Montana priorities in the next farm bill, which comes up for reauthorization in 2018.

 

Last week, Tester sent a letter to USDA urging them to assist eastern Montana ranchers during this drought.

USDA Authorizes Emergency Grazing in Drought-Stricken Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota

 

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2017 – Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.  All or parts of these states are experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions – indicated as categories D2 and D3 on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“Due to reduced availability of forage, ranchers in the hardest hit locations have already been culling their herds,” said Perdue. “Without alternative forage options like grazing CRP lands, livestock producers are faced with the economically devastating potential of herd liquidation.”

CRP is a voluntary program administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) available to agricultural producers to help them safeguard environmentally sensitive land and, when needed, provide emergency relief to livestock producers suffering the impacts of certain natural disasters.

Emergency grazing is authorized to begin immediately and extends through Sept. 30, unless conditions improve.  Producers must work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop a modified conservation plan that is site specific, including the authorized grazing duration to reflect local wildlife needs.  FSA State Committees will monitor emergency grazing implementation at the local level to mitigate the adverse impact on nesting areas and established CRP vegetation.

“If the drought continues and pasture recovery becomes less likely, feed supplies will decline, the quality and quantity of hay is reduced and stock water becomes scarce – considerable stressors for both the livestock and our producers,” said Perdue. “If opening up grazing lands reduces even some of these stressors for these ranchers, then it’s the right thing for us to do.”

Eligible CRP participants can use the acreage for grazing their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage. There will be no CRP annual rental payment reductions assessed for acres grazed.

To take advantage of the emergency grazing provisions, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center.  To find your local USDA Service Center visit http://offices.usda.gov.

 

Letter from Senator Jon Tester to Sonny Perdue

Letter from ND Senators & Congressman to Sonny Perdue

Letter from SD Senators to Sonny Perdue

 

At Tester’s Urging, USDA Halts Importation of Brazilian Beef

Montana Producers Praise Tester for Protecting Consumers from Tainted Meat

 

(U.S. Senate)– Following Senator Tester’s repeated calls for a ban, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a suspension of all imports of Brazilian beef until safety concerns are addressed.

 

“I’m glad to see USDA has listened to our multiple demands to protect American consumers and producers across Montana,” Tester said. “This is a major win for Montana ranchers and American families. Montanans raise the best beef in the world and the government shouldn’t be undercutting them by importing unsafe, even rotten products from foreign countries.” 

 

Tester has repeatedly called on USDA to halt importation of beef from Brazil, going so far as to introduce legislation to ban Brazilian beef for 120 days until safety concerns could be addressed.

 

Yesterday, Tester called on Secretary Purdue to halt imports after five Brazilian meat-packing plants were removed from the exporter list.

 

Tester questioned Secretary Perdue about the importation of Brazilian beef in an Agriculture Appropriations hearing this month.  He also raised this issue with the Secretary face-to-face during his confirmation process.

 

Montana producers thanked Tester for his leadership on this issue.

 

“We would like to thank Senator Tester for taking the lead on this issue. The safety of our nation’s food supply is imperative to both Montana’s ranchers and consumers,” said Errol Rice, Executive Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association.

 

“The Montana Farmers Union would like to thank Senator Tester for his efforts to protect Montana ranchers and Montana consumers and applauds the USDA’s decision to halt beef imports from Brazil,” said Alan Merrill, President of the Montana Farmers Union.

 

“USCA appreciates the work done by Senator Tester and his staff in reaching today’s announcement on the ban of Brazilian beef imports to the U.S.,” said Leo McDonnell of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.  “Senator Tester is a longtime advocate for the U.S. cattle industry and has taken the lead on this issue by providing a strong voice for producers in D.C. The Senator’s repeated calls for action by USDA have been answered and USCA appreciates his commitment seeing this ban through.”