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Oklahoma's Latest Farm and Ranch News
Your Update from Ron Hays of RON
Thursday, December 15, 2016
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced on Wednesday updated regulations to the Packers and Stockyards Act that dates back to the 1920s. The Farmer Fair Practices Rules target the most harmful practices hurting farmers and clearly outlines common sense protections to restore fairness and reduce the burden for farmers seeking justice under the Packers and Stockyards Act.
"For years, American farmers have been calling for protections against the most damaging unfair and deceptive practices confronting family farms across the country," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Poultry growers in particular are vulnerable to market risks and concentration in the processor market. All too often, processors and packers wield the power, and farmers carry the risk. Today, USDA is taking a big step toward providing the protections that farmers deserve and need."
USDA contends in their news release that the new rules would level the playing field for farmers by proposing protections against the most egregious retaliatory practices harming chicken growers. The Farmer Fair Practices Rules are comprised of an interim final rule and two proposed rules GIPSA today sent to be published in the Federal Register. The interim final rule will affirmatively establish the Department's long time position that it is not necessary to demonstrate that an unfair practice harms the entire market in order to prove a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Such overly broad interpretations have put family farmers at a disadvantage for decades when pursuing their rights under the Act.
to get the complete story on USDA's announcement of the Farmer Fair Practices rule.
The last minute roll out of these rules is not setting well with the Chairmen of the Senate and House Ag Committees- Senator Pat Roberts
of Kansas says the rule would have a "devastating impact" on how farmers sell livestock. Roberts added he is "deeply disappointed" in the last-minute action by the current administration and USDA. Click here for the complete statement
from the Senate Ag Committee website.
Likewise, House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway
is not amused by the release of these rules. In his statement
released yesterday afternoon, Conaway pointed out he called on Secretary Vilsack to withdraw these rules back in October.
Regarding the intent to publish these rules in the Federal Register- "I'm disappointed that the generally productive and non-partisan relationship I've developed with USDA over the past two years has culminated in a last minute effort to push through a partisan trio of rules-even despite assurances that they would be tabled for more thorough and appropriate consideration by the incoming Administration. It is particularly troubling given Congressional disapproval with the overreach of these costly rules dating back to their original proposal in 2010," said Chairman Conaway.
"I plan to closely review the rules, but stand committed to working with industry, the incoming Secretary of Agriculture, and my colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure that the livestock and poultry industries remain able to do business without the constraint of unnecessarily burdensome regulations. I will make it a priority to roll back these, and other midnight regulations from the Obama Administration, as soon as Congress returns in January."
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau - a grassroots organization that has for its Mission Statement- Improving the Lives of Rural Oklahomans." Farm Bureau, as the state's largest general farm organization, is active at the State Capitol fighting for the best interests of its members and working with other groups to make certain that the interests of rural Oklahoma are protected. Click here for their website to learn more about the organization and how it can benefit you to be a part of Farm Bureau.
|Major Livestock and Meat Industry Groups Reeling from USDA's "Midnight" GIPSA Rule
After news broke of the USDA's intentions to push their final GIPSA rule yesterday, many of the mainstream ag groups and associations were quick to respond. These organizations are all in agreement that the proposed rules will jeopardize and cause significant harm to livestock and poultry producers in how they manage their operations.
Tracy Brunner, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association was one of the first to sound off.
"The GIPSA rules are especially troubling to the cattle industry," said Brunner. "As we have consistently stated, if adopted, this rulemaking will drastically limit the way our producers can market cattle and open the floodgates to baseless litigation. In a time of down cattle markets, the last thing USDA needs to do is limit opportunity. The fact of the matter is, we don't trust the government to meddle in the marketplace."
to read Brunner's full remarks and for a chance to listen to comments made by NCBA's Vice President of Governmental Affairs Colin Woodall
, regarding the GIPSA rule. (we talked with Colin yesterday afternoon soon after the USDA rolled out the three rules)
In a release issued by the National Pork Producers Council, NPPC CEO Neil Dierks accuses the USDA of attacking rural America for its role in electing Donald Trump with these rules and calls on the new administration to act quickly in repealing what he calls an "unnecessary, destructive and illegitimate midnight rule."
"I can't imagine a more devastating regulation on an industry," said NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. "The rule, which creates legal uncertainty, will destroy opportunities for many in the U.S. pork industry, with no positive effect on competition, the regulation's supposed goal."
The National Chicken Council and the North American Meat Institute also weighed in on the discussion. Click here
to read a statement by NCC which claims the Obama administration is strangling its industry. To read NAMI's take on the issue and how it will ultimately cost the consumers, click here.
|National Farmers Union and Others Cheer Farmer Fair Practices Rule
In contrast to their counterparts on the other side of the GIPSA Rule Rewrite, ag groups such as the National Farmers Union, RCalf- USA and the US Cattlemen's Association all like the interim final rule released yesterday by USDA that broadens the reach of the 1921 Packers and Stockyards Act. Each of the groups have released statements offering their praise for the USDA releasing this rule thirty five days ahead of the end of the Obama Presidency.
"For too long, family livestock producers and poultry growers have endured a heavily concentrated market with little protection against unfair, anti-competitive practices. We are glad that this important set of rules is finally moving forward," said NFU President Roger Johnson. "While the Farmer Fair Practice Rules do not fix all of the fraudulent practices in the livestock and poultry industries, these rules are certainly an important step in the right direction."
R-CALF USA contends the interim rule is designed to facilitate competition within the industry.
"Our industry's decline is not the result of any natural phenomenon or legitimate economic force; it's the result of a failure to use the laws we have to protect competition. The new rules are aimed at implementing those critical protections," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
to read more comments by NFU, R-CALF USA and US Cattlemen.
|American Farm Bureau Claims Effects of GIPSA Rule will be Limited to Poultry Industry and that it "Levels the Playing Field"
The president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Zippy Duvall, released a statement in response to the USDA's move to push through its final rule of GIPSA, claiming that the new rule will only effect the poultry industry, for its benefit. He contends the pork and beef industries will be unimpaired.
"The Agriculture Department's Farmer Fair Practices Rules take an important step toward leveling the playing field in the poultry industry by ensuring companies follow the law and treat farmers fairly, without disrupting beef and pork markets.
"These proposed rules will strengthen GIPSA's ability to evaluate business practices in the poultry industry and better protect individual farmers from discriminatory treatment. America's chicken farmers have long called for greater transparency and a level playing field in our industry, and we appreciate USDA's efforts to hold companies accountable and give farmers a voice."
To read Duvall's complete remarks on the issue, click here
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|Oklahoma Secretary of Ag Jim Reese Calls Attorney General Scott Pruitt a Great Selection to be Donald Trump's Administrator of the EPA
Just about every one in and out of politics has shared their opinion, good or bad, on President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese is no exception. He issued a release this week praising Trump for his judgment in hiring Pruitt.
"Scott Pruitt is a great selection to be administrator of EPA. The ultra-green environmental groups are predicting Armageddon over his nomination," Reese stated in his release. " It won't be Armageddon, but a major dust up would be great."
to read Secretary Reese's full statement regarding Pruitt's nomination to lead the EPA.
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|Ham for All Seasons: New Research Looks at How to Increase Whole-Ham Sales Year-Round
For many people, preparing a whole ham is one of their go-to choices for family gatherings on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, but beyond holidays, whole-ham usually doesn't make the shopping list. The Pork Checkoff recently funded a study to find and eliminate barriers that are stopping consumers from enjoying whole-ham yearlong.
"Holidays and ham go hand-in-hand for most consumers," said National Pork Board President Jan Archer, Goldsboro, North Carolina. "And with new ham innovations, there are real opportunities to increase sales throughout the year."
Six focus groups were held across the country in Boston, Chicago, and Orange County, California, to gather input from both "foodies" and non-foodies. Additionally, 1,100 consumers also completed an online survey.
The findings clearly showed that taste issues are not what is holding back non-holiday whole-ham purchases, with the protein viewed as a savored meat. Many focus group participants became animated and engaged in conversations about preparing and consuming ham. And many described their enjoyment of leftover ham, as an important part of the whole-ham experience.
"The bottom line is that the issue is not with hams, but instead is with how whole-hams are marketed - or not marketed - outside of holiday seasons," Patrick Fleming, director of market intelligence and innovation for the Pork Checkoff. "When consumers don't see it in stores, there's an out of sight, out of mind mentality."
The good news is that this presents new opportunities to grow the total pork category in sales and volume at the meatcase, Fleming said.
For more about the insights found from this survey, click here
, to read the full story.
|Mizzou Researches May Have Found a Solution for Farmers Who Have Lost Topsoil
The loss of fertile topsoil from agricultural fields is an economic problem for modern farmers. When runoff water washes topsoil from agricultural fields in areas with claypan soils under the topsoil, including parts of Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas, farmers are often left with an exposed subsoil clay layer that creates difficult conditions for growing crops.
Now, a study from the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources has found that switchgrass, which is a perennial plant and used commonly for biofuel, improves soil quality and can be grown on farms that have lost fertile topsoil. Stephen Anderson, the William A. Albrecht Distinguished Professor of Soil Science at MU, says that switchgrass may be a good option for farmers who have challenges with growing other crops, provided a good market is available for switchgrass.
"Once a farm loses its topsoil due to erosion, the soil recovers very slowly," Anderson said. "Switchgrass can be grown efficiently on eroded claypan soils; farmers who have lost their topsoil may want to consider growing this hardy plant. Switchgrass can be harvested and sold as a biomass crop for ethanol production or as fuel for power plants. While demand depends on the current market for biomass crops, this could be an answer for these farmers who otherwise have challenges obtaining good economic returns growing grain crops on eroded land."
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