Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) walks past a U.S. Capitol Police officer standing guard in front of the U.S. Capitol Building, on June 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. This morning House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and others were shot by a gunman during Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 14: Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) walks past a U.S. Capitol Police officer standing guard in front of the U.S. Capitol Building, on June 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. This morning House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and others were shot by a gunman during Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

USDA Rural Development leader named

Legislative Watch: U.S. and China's trade agreement on beef; USDA Rural Development leaders named; Farm Bill listening session and Congressional ball game.

U.S. and China reach agreement on beef: The United States and China finalized an agreement that will allow U.S. beef to be exported to China after being closed out of the Chinese market since December 2003.  Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in announcing the agreement said “Today is a great day for the United States and in particular for our cattle producers, who will be regaining access to an enormous market with an ever-expanding middle class.  I have no doubt that as soon as the Chinese people get a taste of American beef they’ll want more of it.”  The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) said, “In recent years, China has become one of the largest import markets for beef, and these terms are a reflection of China's trust in the safety and quality of U.S. beef. We hope that by getting our foot in the door we can develop a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with China." 

Under the agreement the requirements for exports to China include:

  • Beef and beef products must be derived from cattle that were born, raised, and slaughtered in the U.S., cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico and subsequently raised and slaughtered in the U.S., or cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico for direct slaughter;
  • Cattle must be traceable to the U.S. birth farm using a unique identifier, or if imported to the first place of residence or port of entry;
  • Beef and beef products must be derived from cattle less than 30 months of age;
  • Chilled or frozen bone-in and deboned beef products are eligible for shipment. 
  • Carcasses, beef, and beef products must be uniquely identified and controlled up until the time of shipment.
  • Eligible beef products are not to contain growth promotants, feed additives, and other chemical compounds with a zero tolerance for artificial hormones and beta agonists.

The first shipment of beef was sent this week from Greater Omaha Packing.  China imports an estimated $2.6 billion worth of beef.

Hazlett to lead USDA Rural Development efforts: Anne Hazlett, Chief Counsel to the Senate Agriculture Committee, has been named by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to lead USDA’s Rural Development agencies.  Hazlett will be Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development in which she will oversee the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business Serve, and the Rural House Service.  In this position she will report directly to the Secretary.  In making the announcement, Secretary Perdue said, “With this addition to USDA Rural Development, rural America will have a seat at the main table and have walk-in privileges with the secretary on day one,” Perdue said.  “With her background of advising the Senate committee overseeing agricultural and rural development issues, Anne Hazlett comes with a depth of knowledge and experience perfectly suited to her role in helping to restore prosperity to rural America.”  

Hazlett has worked on agriculture and rural issues in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  Earlier Hazlett was the Indiana Director of Agriculture.  She received her bachelors degree from Kansas State University and her law degree from Indiana University.  Hazlett is very well respected. 

Earlier this year, Secretary Perdue announced a reorganization plan for USDA in which the Under Secretary for Rural Development position was eliminated and the Assistant to the Secretary Rural Development was created.  This decision has been criticized by a number of Senators and Congressmen.  Secretary Perdue told the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee this week that if they weren’t satisfied with the way Rural Development was operating in a year that he would be happy to have another undersecretary directed by the farm bill. 

House Ag to hold Farm Bill listening session: The House Agriculture Committee announced the first of several Farm Bill listening sessions across the U.S.  The first listening session, “The Next Farm Bill, Conversations in the Field,” will be held June 24 in Gainesville, FL.  The purpose is to hear directly from farmers and others impacted by the farm bill on what is working and what changes should be considered in the next Farm Bill.   

Congressional baseball: A record crowd last night attended the annual House Baseball Game to show their strong support for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA); Congressman Roger Williams (R-TX); Zach Barth, legislative assistant to Congressman Williams; Matt Mika, lobbyist for Tyson; and Capitol Hill police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner who the day before had been shot while at practice.  The Democrats beat the Republicans 11-2.  However, they gave the trophy to the Republicans so it could be placed in Congressman Scalice’s office.  Our prayers go out to those who were injured especially Congressman Scalise and my friend Matt Mika who remain in critical condition. 

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