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Oklahoma's Latest Farm and Ranch News
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Senator Jim Inhofe Wants EPA to be Held
Accountable for Overreach Regarding WOTUS and Related Rules
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe
(R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works
(EPW) Committee, submitted the following opening statement for the
record Tuesday at the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife
oversight hearing entitled, Erosion of Exemptions and Expansion of
Federal Control - Implementation of the Definition of Waters of the
United States. Witnesses included Don Parrish,
senior director - regulatory relations, American Farm Bureau
Schiff, principal attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation;
Wilkinson, chief financial officer, EGS Companies; Willam Buzbee,
professor of law, Georgetown University Center; and Scott Kovarovics,
executive director, Izaak Walton League of America.
As submitted for the record:
I want to thank Senator Sullivan for holding this very important
hearing. This Committee has conducted extensive oversight of
both the development and the implications of the new Waters of the
United States -- or WOTUS -- rule. On behalf of Oklahomans and
farmers and property owners across the United States, I was very
relieved when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on
October 9, 2015 that prevented this rule from going into effect.
However, I have heard concerns that the Corps and EPA are continuing
to expand federal control over land and water, without any change in
the statute or regulations.
This hearing validates those concerns with concrete examples of how
the Corps and EPA are already implementing the expanded federal
control that they are trying to codify in the WOTUS rule. The
examples presented by these witnesses are not hypothetical.
They are based on the experiences of farmers, developers, and
The WOTUS rule allows use of remote sensing and aerial photographs to
assert federal control over dry land. The testimony presented
today demonstrates that the Corps is already regulating land based on
information from these tools, even when there is no on-the-ground
evidence of a wetland or water.
The WOTUS rule allows use of water that is below the surface of the
land to assert federal control. The testimony presented today
demonstrates that the Corps is already claiming that ground water and
even water in soil creates federal jurisdiction.
The WOTUS rule erodes ordinary farming exemptions with its broad
definition of tributary. The testimony presented today
demonstrates that federal officials are claiming authority over
farming activities even on land that has no streams and no wetlands.
As far as EPA and the Corps are concerned all plowing is regulated
and the farming exemptions no longer exist.
AgCredit serves rural Oklahoma communities
and agriculture with loans and financial services. Providing loans
for rural property, farm and ranch land, country homes, livestock,
equipment and operating costs is all we do.
We are the state's
largest agricultural lending cooperative, serving 60 Oklahoma
Counties. To learn more about Oklahoma AgCredit, click here for our
website or call 866-245-3633.
House Ag Subcommittee
Gets Earful About Unneeded Federal Regulations
Rep. David Rouzer
(NC-7), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on
Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, held a hearing Tuesday on the
market outlook for the livestock, dairy and poultry sectors. This was
the final hearing in the Focus on the Farm Economy series,
where each of the six subcommittees examined the growing pressures in
rural America from the perspective of their subcommittee. Members
heard from a panel of witnesses who highlighted the current
conditions farmers and ranchers are facing as well as their concerns
with recent and proposed regulations.
"Many farmers and ranchers across rural America are facing
significant financial challenges. Producers are experiencing a
decrease in commodity prices with no relief in sight, markets are
weak, and over the past three years, net farm income has fallen by 56
percent. Farmers are facing razor tight margins, making them even
more vulnerable to any additional regulatory burdens. It remains
unclear why Secretary Vilsack recently decided to move forward with costly GIPSA
regulations, and what we heard today illustrates the disastrous
consequences these intrusions will have on livestock
markets," said Subcommittee Chairman Rouzer.
"With the growing stress in farm country, the last thing our
producers need are costly new regulations. Nonsensical EPA
regulations like those addressing Waters of the United States, or
impending USDA rules interfering with the efficiency of livestock
markets will have a disastrous effect on markets that are already in
a weak state. As the Committee has explored the broader impacts and
sweeping consequences this economic downturn is having on rural
America, we must work together to provide our farmers and ranchers
with the necessary tools to compete in the global marketplace,"
said Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway.
here to view the webcast of the full hearing.
NCBA, NPPC Weigh In
During House Ag Subcommittee Hearing
Leaders from both the National Cattlemen's Beef
Association and the National Pork Producers Council testified Tuesday
before the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Livestock
and Foreign Agriculture.
NCBA President Tracy
Brunner stressed to the subcommittee that
over-regulation poses the greatest threat to the profitability of
"Today we ask for no direct action from our
government in our cattle marketing systems and forums," said
Brunner. "The cattle industry relies on the transparency of
price discovery to send clear signals up and down the beef supply
chain. We have recognized the volatility in the cattle futures market
and we are working directly with the CME Group to find ways to
address it. Our joint NCBA/CME working group is analyzing potential
changes to ensure the markets work for producers who are using these
tools to manage their market risks. Without futures contract
integrity, our industry will abandon the use of these markets as a
risk management tool."
here to read more about Brunner's testimony.
A challenge of particular concern to the pork industry
is proposed rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture related to
the buying and selling of livestock, said NPPC board member David Herring,
a pork producer from North Carolina who testified on behalf of NPPC.
USDA is reproposing parts of the so-called GIPSA (Grain Inspection,
Packers and Stockyards Administration) Rule, which first was proposed
in 2010 to implement provisions included in the 2008 Farm Bill. The
regulations, however, went well beyond the Farm Bill provisions and
would have had a significant negative effect on the livestock
industry, according to analyses. A November 2010 Informa Economics
study of the rule found it would have cost the pork industry more
than $330 million annually.
Herring also reiterated NPPC's support for the Trans-Pacific
Partnership, telling the subcommittee the benefits of TPP will exceed
all past free trade agreements and represents a great opportunity for
U.S. pork producers and for the entire U.S. economy.
"Because other Asia-Pacific trade agreements are
being negotiated without the U.S.," Herring testified, "the
United States can't afford either economically or geopolitically to
walk away from the fastest growing region in the world. Congress must
pass the TPP, and it must do so soon."
here to read more about Herring's testimony.
Staying Current is Key to
Cattle Feeding Profits - Derrell Peel Explains
feedlots are continuing to see a quicker turnover rate as they market
cattle more aggressively, and Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State
University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, says staying
current could mean staying in the black moving forward.
"The supplies are there; the price relationships have adjusted -
that's a big key to that," he says. "In fact we're at the
point now where from this point forward, feedlots can see some
potential for positive margins."
Peel says as long as the futures market continues to distant months
relative to the current cash market, feedlots will have incentive to
pull cattle forward.
"It keeps us caught up with numbers, which are going to continue
to trend up, but also importantly, what's it's done is pull the
carcass weights down over the last few months," he says.
Peel says feedlots staying current helps the overall market balance
"This industry in many ways, from top to bottom, I think now is
sort of working historically the way we think it ought to work in
some sense," he says. "We've been through a lot of stuff
the last couple of years where that simply wasn't the case. For
various reasons, the sectors just really didn't seem to kind of in
balance with each other."
As herd numbers continue to increase, Peel says cow-calf producers
can expect revenues to come down. He says that can be mitigated by
reducing costs and managing margins.
When it comes to the stocker sector, Peel says current corn prices
mean cheaper cost of gain.
"There's not as much margin at the stocker level as there has
been in the past, and stocker producers need to be aware of
that," he says. "Keep an eye on that corn market; that's
the one thing that could change that as we go through the year."
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Goule Selected as New NAWG CEO
National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) announced Tuesday the
selection of Chandler
Goule as its new Chief Executive Officer. Goule,
currently Senior Vice President of Programs at the National Farmers
Union (NFU), comes to NAWG with eleven years of agriculture policy
experience on the House side of Capitol Hill and will assume the role
of Chief Executive Officer beginning July 5. NAWG has been conducting
a nation-wide search for a new Chief Executive Officer to fill the
vacancy left by Jim
Palmer, who announced in April his intention to step
down to spend more time with family and on his Missouri farm.
"NAWG is very pleased to have Chandler on board," said NAWG
Stoner, a wheat grower from Outlook, Montana.
"With our industry at a critical juncture, we know that with
Chandler's guidance, NAWG will be in a great position to advocate on
behalf of all wheat farmers. We are delighted to have such a talented
and experienced person lead our D.C. staff."
In addition to his NAWG CEO responsibilities, Goule will also serve
as the executive director of the National Wheat Foundation (NWF).
"Wheat has many challenges ahead, and we know Chandler is up to
meeting them all head-on," said NWF Chairman Phil McLain, a
North Carolina wheat grower.
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Study Shows Corn Exports
Add $74.7 Billion To U.S. Economy
Exports of U.S. corn and corn products generated $74.7
billion in annual economic output in 2014, with sales of all U.S.
feed grain products contributing $82 billion, according to a new
analysis conducted by Informa Economics.
According to the analysis, the export of corn and corn products
increased the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $29.8 billion over
what would have occurred without such exports. The number of
full-time equivalent jobs linked directly or indirectly to corn
exports totaled 332,787.
All feed grains examined - corn, corn products, sorghum and barley -
increased the U.S. GDP by $33 billion over what would have otherwise
occurred, affecting 371,536 jobs.
"Corn - whether in the form of feed, ethanol, or meat and dairy
- is a major driver of the U.S. farm economy. Exports impact not just
farmers and ranchers, but the entire U.S. economy," said
National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling,
a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. "That's why it's so important
that farmers and ranchers have access to international markets, and
why we need global trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific
Partnership that give us a chance to compete."
here to read more about the impact corn is making in the
export market and find a link to the full analysis.
Oklahoma Pork Council
Sponsors Pre-Memorial Day Blood Drives - May 26 & 27
Blood donors who boost community supplies for the
Memorial Day holiday weekend will enjoy pulled-pork sandwiches at all
Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) donor centers. The blood drive,
Thursday and Friday, May 26 and 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is
sponsored by the Oklahoma Pork Council (okPORK).
In the metro-OKC area, donors can participate at:
Central OKC, 901 N. Lincoln Blvd.
North OKC, 5105 N. Portland Ave.
Edmond, 3409 S. Broadway
Norman, 1004 24th Ave. N.W.
More details about the food drive can be seen in our
web story- available
Budget Deal Completed-
and It's Expected the State Legislature Will Wrap Up by Friday- Sine
Oklahoma Governor and lawmakers have reached a budget
agreement on Tuesday.
Fallin, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman
and House Speaker Jeff
Hickman reached a 2017 fiscal year budget agreement
that maintains common education funding at current levels, averts
closures of hospitals and nursing homes and closes $969.3 million of
the $1.3 billion budget gap policymakers faced this legislative
If passed by the Legislature, the agreement would set
FY 2017 appropriation levels at $6.78 billion, which is $360.7
million, or 5 percent, less than FY 2016 appropriations prior to the
midyear revenue failure and $67.8 million, or 1 percent, less than FY
2016 appropriations as adjusted by the midyear revenue failure.
The $1.3 billion budget hole was the largest in state
history. Facing that gap, public schools braced for state aid
reductions of up to 20 percent and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority
had prepared to initiate provider rate cuts of up to 25 percent,
which would have caused some hospitals and nursing homes statewide to
close or dramatically reduce services.
"Thankfully, those worst-case scenarios can be
averted by passing this budget," said Governor Mary Fallin.
"This agreement closes a sizeable portion of a monumental budget
hole and prevents the dire, unacceptable outcomes so many Oklahomans
have feared may happen this session. There are still reductions in
this budget, and it requires more hard votes to pass, but it is
certainly a workable budget even amid a major energy sector downturn
that is creating difficulties all across Oklahoma. We worked hard to
protect key core services - common education, health and human
services, corrections, mental health services and the Oklahoma Health
Care Authority - while keeping our eight-year transportation
infrastructure plan intact."
here to see the complete budget spreadsheet.
It appears that the Oklahoma Department of Ag will
receive a 10.6% budget reduction from the original FY16 budget for
FY17- while the Oklahoma Conservation Commission faces a 9.22% budget
cut from the original FY16 budget set at this time a year ago.
Legislative leaders said the
agreement can be passed through the Legislature by Friday's 5 p.m.
constitutional deadline to adjourn Sine Die.
"For months, the public has been concerned about
the possibility of four-day school weeks and mass closings at rural
hospitals and nursing homes because of drastic budget cuts. The
budget agreement is a practical solution that closes the shortfall
while avoiding extreme cuts and worst-case scenarios in our schools,
our hospitals and nursing homes," Senate President Pro
Tempore Brian Bingman said.
"This agreement fully reflects the House
Republican priority to see that schools are protected, hospitals stay
open and road projects stay on track. It is a balanced approach that
reins in tax breaks, responsibly bonds long-term infrastructure and
causes agencies to make the difficult spending reductions necessary
in a historic oil bust. House members worked harder than ever this
session to find conservative solutions to the greatest budget
challenge of our generation and we have those solutions in this
agreement. We committed months ago to leading our state out of this
hole and now we must be committed to seeing this budget through to
the finish line," House Speaker Jeffrey W. Hickman,
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