Senate Jobs Bill Would Benefit Agriculture
A 52-billion dollar bipartisan jobs bill that includes disaster assistance to farmers has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. Senate Ag Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln says the disaster assistance included in the HIRE jobs bill is based on legislation she and Senator Thad Cochran introduced in November. Direct payments would bridge the gap until 2009 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program, payments are issued next fall.
American Farm Bureau Farm Policy Specialist Tara Smith says it’s a key provision that would especially be beneficial to producers providing a 90% direct payment to producers in qualifiying areas with a 5% loss. This is for all producers.
Quality losses included. There’s also 150-million in grants to help specialty crop producers - 25-million for aquaculture producers - 50-million for livestock grazing losses - 75-million in no-interest emergency loans to poultry producers - all tolled 1.5-billion for agriculture.
Smith says the bill is specific on supplemental direct payment requirements, going on to say the late season rains are going to hurt a lot of folks, and this will provide farmers some relief for those kinds of disasters.
And that’s for 2009 losses only - so a producer had to be in an ag disaster county that year to qualify.
USDA launches Your Food Environment Atlas
USDA's Economic Research Service has launched a new online tool, Your Food Environment Atlas, which allows users to map and compare availability of "healthful food" across the United States.
The tool includes indicators such as health, demographic and food access characteristics.
Pork Producers get Slammed in CBS Evening News Reports
A two-part report aired on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric focused on antimicrobial use in food animal production - and it got the attention of the agriculture industry.
Dr. Jen Greiner, Director of Science and Technology for the National Pork Producers Council notes Denmark placed a ban on antibiotic growth promoters in the late 1990s. And while CBS called it a great success story - Greiner says that’s just not the case. What pork producers in Denmark will tell you is that banning antibiotic growth promoters not only created more pig deaths, and caused their pigs to suffer, it didn’t have a positive public health outcome. New York Representative Louise Slaughter’s bill not only bans antibiotic growth promoters, it would also ban the use of antibiotics for preventing disease, as well as controlling disease.
Meaning producers would only have the ability to treat a clinically sick animal. Greiner says that would be an unmitigated disaster for the industry - and ultimately impact consumers. Dr. Scott Hurd of Iowa State did a study on pigs that were sick, versus pigs that weren’t sick during the course of their lives and what that study revealed was that pigs that were sick had a greater incidence of food borne pathogens on the carcasses. So, clearly, if we are to maintain the health of our pigs, that is leading to a safer product for our consumer.
Greiner says producers desire to provide a safe and wholesome product for consumers - and they are good stewards of the land and of animals. She says they need the license to produce as they see necessary. But she says the threat to that is very real and there’s a mounting tidal wave that’s coming on antibiotics, and as a producer and as a veterinarian, she is fearful that we are going to see some action in the public policy arena on how farmers use antibiotics today. We’ve been talking about this for 20 years, and this is real.
And there will be even more chatter - Greiner says - particularly in the Beltway - as a result of this CBS story. That’s why she urges producers to call their members of Congress and explain how they use antibiotics on their farms - the great lengths they go to to make certain they’re using the right antibiotic at the right time - and their need to have all tools available to produce that safe, wholesome and affordable product for consumers.