National Clean Water Framework Released by Obama Administration
EPA and the Army Corps have announced first steps toward vastly expanded authority over U.S. waters, possibly including some on farms. The agencies, in an apparent end-run around Congress, announced plans to develop so-called draft guidance and later, rules to expand Clean Water Act jurisdiction.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson:
“It preserves existing exemptions for certain agricultural practices including prior converted crop lands, areas involving irrigation ditches, stock ponds and the like. We recognize and appreciate that farmers are willing to step up, we at USDA are anxious to work with our sister agencies in a way that enhances the Clean Water effort.”
Jackson says more than a third of Americans get their water from unprotected sources today - and the new guidance will ensure that polluters are held accountable.
Strong North Carolina Tornados Not the Norm
NC State Climatologist Ryan Boyles says that the strong lines of tornado producing thunderstorms that have been moving through of late, are very unusual:
“Well, this is severe weather season, this is the time of year when we tend to have these strong thunderstorms which can produce those strong tornados. The outbreak that we had across South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia on the 16th, that’s very unusual for us to have not only the strength of the storms coming through but the number of tornados that touched down. Very unusual for this part of the country.”
NC State Climatologist Ryan Boyles.
Latest Tally of Damage to Japan’s Ag Sector
More is becoming known about the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan. According to the latest report of damage to the nation’s agricultural sector, more than 59-thousand acres in the Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were flooded and may be polluted with high levels of salt. The total farmland losses across 16 prefectures is valued at just under 3.4-billion dollars. As of April 11, the estimate for losses of livestock facilities, crops and animals is at 84-million.
Organics, Biotech Coexistence Debate Continues
Will organic producers and users of biotechnology ever achieve peaceful co-existence? Lowell Rheinheimer with the CROPP Cooperative, the nation’s largest organic farmer cooperative, believes it is possible. But he says the sticky issue of what he calls “genetic trespass” must first be addressed:
“You know it’s common perspective in the agriculture community that if your bull gets out into my farm and wrecks havoc, you’re responsible for that, or if your dog gets over into my lawn and leaves a deposit, I want you to keep your dog out of my lawn, and clean up after yourself. Well, the same sort of thing applies to GMO contamination of organic production.”
Trade with Japan
Despite the devastation of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, beef purchasers have booked and received shipments of U.S. beef in quantities that haven’t been seen since our first case of BSE at the end of 2003. According to U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Phil Seng, current U.S. beef purchases by the Japanese are 93-percent ahead of 2010. While that pace is not expected to continue, Seng says U.S. beef sales to Japan for the calendar year could easily be 25-percent greater than the year 2010.