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NPPC supports reintroduced reformation of transportation regs

National Pork Board Livestock truck on a gravel road

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., this week reintroduced bipartisan legislation strongly supported by the National Pork Producers Council to reform U.S. Department of Transportation Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Device regulations.

The Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act would establish a working group at DOT to identify barriers to the transportation of agricultural commodities, including pigs, posed by these devices. Within one year, the group would deliver an action plan for reforms that support the continued safe, humane transportation of agricultural commodities. The proposed working group would be comprised of representatives from the transportation and agriculture industries, transportation safety representatives and the USDA.

Within 120 days of receiving the working group’s report, the transportation secretary must propose regulatory changes to the HOS and ELD regulations, based on the group’s findings and recommendations. As DOT works to reform the HOS rules, Congress has provided an exemption for livestock haulers from the ELD requirements.

Source: National Pork Producers Council, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

MORNING Midwest Digest, March 1, 2019

It's the first day of spring, but maybe Mother Nature hasn't gotten the news yet?

Max will likely have Commodity Classic highlights on This Week in Agribusiness. It's one of many shows shot in the Chicago are.

The Asian carp is an aggressive fish. States around Lake Michigan are trying to keep them out of the lake.

An Indiana hospital is going out of business.

Former Green Bay Packers coach has been accused of berating referees of his step-son's basketball game.


Photo: ligora/Getty Images

Trump delays increase in Chinese tariffs

Tzogia Kappatou-GettyImages Before Trump’s announcement, the current tariffs of 10% on $200 billion of Chinese goods were scheduled to increase to 25% if there was no agreement by March 1.

President Trump has decided to delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods that were to take place on March 2. Last Sunday, Trump tweeted that “substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues. [...] Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement.”

Before Trump’s announcement, the current tariffs of 10% on $200 billion of Chinese goods were scheduled to increase to 25% if there was no agreement by March 1.

U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer told the House Ways and Means Committee there needs to be much more work to be done with China on trade issues. At the hearing he said, “Let me be clear: Much still needs to be done both before an agreement is reached and, more importantly, after it is reached, if one is reached.” A key area the negotiators are working on is structural issues (intellectual property, technology transfer, etc.) and to make sure what is agreed to is enforceable. They are also working on Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues affecting agriculture.

The World Trade Organization ruled this week in favor of the U.S. in its complaint against China alleging unfair subsidies for Chinese rice and wheat. The complaint had been filed with the WTO by the Obama administration.

Rural economy & farm bill implementation
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue appeared before both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to discuss the state of the rural economy and farm bill implementation. Perdue told the committees that the issues he hears most about from producers are trade, labor, regulations and disaster assistance. 

State of rural economy: He reminded the committees of the tough farm economy: net farm income has dropped approximately 50% since 2013; commodity prices have fallen over the past 5 years as global stock levels have increased; working capital has decreased by 70% since 2012; and farm debt has increased 30% since 2013. USDA is estimating 2019 net farm income at $77.6 billion.

Farm bill implementation: Perdue said USDA is working diligently to implement the 2018 farm bill. A priority is implementing the new dairy safety-net with sign-up beginning on June 17. USDA plans a Sept.1 sign-up for the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs. This will be the first time since 2014 producers will be able to switch participation in these programs. Conservation Reserve Program general enrollment sign-up is expected to begin on Dec. 1. Hemp regulations are not expected to be ready until 2020.

USMCA Coalition announced
A coalition of over 200 organizations and businesses representing agriculture, manufacturing and other industries announced the formation of the USMCA Coalition that will work for Congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The coalition will “work to educate the American public about the benefits of the new deal” and press Congress to pass the agreement soon.

Members include American Farm Bureau Federation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ADM, American Soybean Association, Business Roundtable, Cargill, Caterpillar, John Deere, National Corn Growers Association, National Grain and Feed, National Milk Producers, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Pork Producers Council and U.S. Apple Association.  

Dietary Guideline Committee named
USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services have named 20 individuals to serve on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The committee will review scientific evidence on topics and questions identified by USDA and HHS. DGAC will submit a report on their findings to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of HHS which will be used to help develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The DGA is used to update federal nutrition programs and policies every five years.

The committee members are:

  • Jamy Ard, MD – Wake Forest School of Medicine
  • Regan Bailey, PhD, MPH, RD – Purdue University
  • Lydia Bazzano, MD, PhD – Tulane University and Ochsner Health System
  • Carol Boushey, PhD, MPH, RD – University of Hawaii
  • Teresa Davis, PhD – Baylor College of Medicine
  • Kathryn Dewey, PhD – University of California, Davis
  • Sharon Donovan, PhD, RD – University of Illinois, Urbana
  • Steven Heymsfield, MD – Louisiana State University, Pennington Biomedical Research Center
  • Ronald Kleinman, MD – Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
  • Heather Leidy, PhD – University of Texas at Austin (Summer 2019)
  • Richard Mattes, PhD, MPH, RD – Purdue University
  • Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, RD – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Timothy Naimi, MD, MPH – Boston University
  • Rachel Novotny, PhD, RDN, LD – University of Hawaii
  • Joan Sabaté, DrPH, MD – Loma Linda University
  • Barbara Schneeman, PhD – University of California, Davis
  • Linda Snetselaar, PhD, RD – University of Iowa
  • Jamie Stang, PhD – University of Minnesota
  • Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH – Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard Chan School of Public Health
  • Linda Van Horn, PhD, RDN, LD – Northwestern University

EPA administrator confirmed
The Senate yesterday confirmed Andrew Wheeler as Environmental Protection Agency administrator by a vote of 52-47. Wheeler has been serving as acting EPA administrator since last summer when Scott Pruitt resigned. 

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Compeer Financial supported 64 fairs in 2018 with $180,000 in grants

National Pork Producers Council World Pork Expo

The Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America, the corporate giving program of Compeer Financial, is offering a total of $180,000 in grants to eligible county fairs throughout its 144-county territory. Applications for the County Fair Facility Upgrade Grant Program are due by March 31.

“County fairs enhance rural communities by bringing people of all ages together to learn and experience agriculture,” says John Monson, chair of Compeer Financial’s Fund for Rural America. “We provide this grant to ensure that fairs give the best possible impression to fair-goers as they experience this time-honored tradition.”

The mission of the County Fair Facility Upgrade Program is to support rural areas in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin by funding county fair organizations as they repair fairground, 4-H and livestock buildings, livestock judging arenas and more. Now in the second year of the program, Compeer Financial supported 64 fairs in 2018 with $180,000 in grants, impacting the lives of more than 1.9 million fair organizers, participants and attendees.

Each fairgound is eligible for up to $3,000 in funding. Fairs that received the grant in 2018 will not be considered in 2019.

For more information and to apply for the Country Fair Facility Upgrade Program, visit

Source: Compeer Financial, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Underground filter may trap excess phosphorus

Inzyx/iStock water pipe in farmland_Inzyx_iStock-476623275.jpg

At two locations in Ohio, researchers with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural & Environmental Sciences (CFAES) are testing phosphorus filters that have removed up to 75% of the phosphorus running through them. Phosphorus can be found in commercial fertilizers and animal manure.

On typical tiled agricultural fields, rainfall percolates through layers of soil and eventually into an underground plastic pipe system that carries the rain to a drainage pipe and then to a ditch or nearby waterway.

With a phosphorus filter, the water flows through an underground tank before it reaches the ditch or nearby waterway, CFAES said. The tank contains a chemical composite that acts like adhesive tape, causing the phosphorus to stick to it as the water then flows out to the ditch or nearby creek, stream or lake.

“This filter has great potential,” said Larry Brown, an agricultural engineer and CFAES faculty member who is studying phosphorus filters in Ohio. “The chemical used is very efficient at absorbing phosphorus.”

During a five-year span, a phosphorus filter can remove up to 75% of the phosphorus flowing through it, depending on how the filter is designed, he said.

The phosphorus filters that the researchers installed are on a privately owned farm in Putnam County and at CFAES’ Waterman Agricultural & Natural Resources Laboratory in Columbus, Ohio. A third is slated to be installed in Defiance County later this year.

A phosphorus filter can cost up to $20,000 or even more, depending on the field size and the phosphorus concentrations in the soil, said Brown, who is researching the effectiveness of phosphorus filters with other CFAES faculty and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, he is looking into grants that would help bring down the cost of the filter and other systems for stemming nutrients coming from agricultural fields.

Nitrogen. Along with being high in phosphorus, the rainwater running off of agricultural fields can also be high in nitrate, a form of nitrogen, which is used in commercial fertilizers and is commonly found in manure.

Brown is also studying how to remove nitrates from agricultural fields by having the water pass through a pit containing woodchips from hardwood trees, a system commonly called a bioreactor. The woodchips become food for anaerobic bacteria that can function with little oxygen and consume the nitrates in the soil, turning the nitrates into nitrogen gas, which is harmless.

“It’s a clean conversion if the bioreactor is properly designed, installed and managed,” he said.

Brown cautioned that if the bioreactor system is not set up correctly and the water remains stagnant in spots, nitrous oxide -- a greenhouse gas -- could be produced.

The warmer the temperature underground, the more nitrates the anaerobic bacteria can consume, but the nitrates can function when the soil temperature is as low as 5°F, he said.

This system for filtering out nitrates could last up to 10 years and costs between $8,000 and $25,000, depending on the field size and the amount of water it processes, Brown said.

After several years, the system could remove up to 70% of the nitrates funneled through it, he said.

Source: The Ohio State University, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Be aware and declare upon re-entry

Bill Oxford-Getty Images U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized over 660,000 kilograms in pork products in Fiscal Year 2018.

Earlier this month, a Guelph, Ontario, man was ordered to pay $20,000 in fines for trying to transport undeclared test tubes in his checked luggage. The seven vials contained peste des petits ruminants virus, Newcastle disease virus, duck adenovirus 1 and parainfluenza virus 5.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Gang Li arrived Jan. 24 by air at Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, and was intercepted by the Canadian Border Services Agency after test tubes of unknown substances were found in his checked baggage, which he failed to declare upon arrival. Laboratory testing later confirmed the substances were viruses, which Li did not have any permits or documentation for.

He was convicted of contravening section 16(1) of Canada’s Health of Animals Act and section 51(a) Health of Animals Regulations.

While this particular case from up North was pretty extreme, it had me thinking about the 23 shipments of prohibited animal products from China that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists recently took down. How much will those people be fined?

According to Anthony Bucci, CBP public affairs specialist, the fines and charges for those type of offenses vary and this one will be dependent on findings associated with the investigations conducted by the CBP as well as the USDA’s Investigative and Enforcement Services.

However, Bucci says for the individual traveler trying to enter a port of entry with a prohibited agriculture product, the fines can be upwards of $1,000.

“The basic penalty stipulations for a passenger can range from $300 to $1,000,” Bucci says.

It begs the question though, are those penalties steep enough? During Fiscal Year 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017-Sept. 30, 2018), there were 2,477 emergency action notifications associated with swine products and swine byproducts through cargo. This represented over 360,000 kilograms of swine products.

During the same time frame, in the passenger environment, there were 190,251 agriculture passenger inspections associated with swine products and over 300,000 kilograms of swine products were intercepted.

“CBP agriculture specialists made critical interceptions of these prohibited animal products and stopped them from entering the United States before they could potentially cause grave damage to our agricultural and economic vitality,” says Troy Miller, director of Field Operations in the New York Field Office.

What about those international travelers who aren’t bringing anything in with them, but have visited a farm recently?

According to Paul Sundberg with the Swine Health Information Center, when returning to the United States after visiting a farm or being in contact with animals in a country (or countries) with African swine fever, or any other foreign animal disease, travelers need to declare this information to the CBP via written form, airport kiosk or verbally. They should then be diverted for a secondary screening by an ag specialist. But what if they don’t disclose in the first place?

Bucci says there’s currently no penalty for dishonest travelers who have been to a farm in an FAD-infected country and there’s presently no way to detect for that at ports of entry.

“We strongly encourage all travelers to declare if they have been on a farm or around livestock,” Bucci says. “This assists CBP to properly conduct safeguarding which includes cleaning and disinfection of any article, footwear, clothes, etc., that may be contaminated with animal material, residue, etc.”

One might say it’s an honor system our industry is deeply dependent upon. While fines may not be deterring some individuals from trying to bring items in, CBP agricultural specialists and the Beagle Brigade are there every day, intercepting those prohibited products and ensuring our industry’s safety. Even though we may follow all the rules and procedures when returning to the United States, we might want to take note from our neighbors to the North and remind our friends and international guests to #BeAwareandDeclare.

Farm Progress America, March 1, 2019

Max Armstrong looks beyond getting a trade agreement with China…with attention turning to Japan where major competitors have initiated trade agreements while the U.S. does not. Max shares insight from a Northwest grower who exports to Japan but is concerned that focus on China is hindering efforst to shore up agreements with other trade partners.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Image: bestofgreenscreen/iStock/Getty Images Plus