Dairy

USDA Research to Move to Kansas City

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will relocate to the Kansas City area under a plan announced Thursday by Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Following a rigorous site selection process, the Kansas City Region provides a win win—maximizing our mission function by putting taxpayer savings into programmatic outputs and providing affordability, easy commutes, and extraordinary living for our employees,” Perdue said in a release announcing the move. “The Kansas City Region has proven itself to be a hub for all things agriculture and is a booming city in America’s heartland. There is already a significant presence of USDA and federal government employees in the region, including the Kansas City ‘Ag Bank’ Federal Reserve. This agriculture talent pool, in addition to multiple land-grant and research universities within driving distance, provides access to a stable labor force for the future. The Kansas City Region will allow ERS and NIFA to increase efficiencies and effectiveness and bring important resources and manpower closer to all of our customers.” USDA estimates the move will save the agency nearly $300 million over the next 15 years. State and local governments offered $26 million in incentives for the move, according to USDA. The move was cheered by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) as the offices are moving to his home state. “I am excited to hear USDA selected Kansas City as the new location for the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Agricultural research is a critical function of USDA, and I am committed to ensuring we continue to support and strengthen the research mission that our US producers rely on. Kansas City is an obvious choice, as many other USDA agencies in the area partner closely with stakeholders,” said Sen. Roberts. “The vital research that will occur at the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) and already occurs throughout the KC Animal Health Corridor makes Kansas City a natural fit. I am pleased that USDA recognizes the rich resources the heartland provides.” The move is not without controversy. Employees at both units have voted to unionize since the announcement was made that USDA planned to move the offices outside of the Washington, D.C. area. Scientists at the two offices have argued that the move will take USDA scientists further from their key cooperation partners in the Washington area. “This announced move points to a troubling history of non-transparent decision-making at USDA,” said Cong. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations. “USDA has rushed this process, failed to give sufficient time for input and feedback, and disregarded the very public opposition of those who rely on the products that ERS and NIFA produce. The good-governance failures represented by this process should give everyone pause. I am much more concerned about the hundreds of ERS and NIFA employees who now have as little as 30 days to decide whether they want to uproot their families based on the whim of the Secretary.” As part of the relocation announcement last August, Secretary Perdue also indicated he planned to move ERS to the Office of the Chief Economist. As part of today’s announcement, Perdue indicated that plan has been scuttled and ERS will remain under the Research, Education and Economics area of USDA. USDA will relocate 294 positions at NIFA and 253 at ERS. USDA reported that no employees will be involuntarily separated because of the relocation.
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The Newton County, Indiana Sheriff's Office announced officers have arrested one of three men charged following accusations of animal abuse at the nation's largest dairy farm. Police arrested 36-year-old Edgar Vasquez on a warrant for animal cruelty (Class A Misdemeanor) and torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal (Level 6 Felony). Police say Vasquez is from Brook, Indiana. He is currently being held at the Newton County Jail. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) has placed a hold on Vasquez. There are still warrants out for 31-year old Santiago Contreros and 38-year old Miguel Navarro Serrano. They are both charged with the beating of a vertebrate animal, which is a misdemeanor. The charges came after an animal rights group released a video showing workers at Fair Oaks Farms in Northern Indiana kicking and throwing young calves. A lawsuit has also been filed alleging fraud. It was filed in Chicago federal court by a California man who is a consumer of Fairlife milk. The man says he purchased Fairlife because of the promise listed on the label stating the farmers who supply the milk provide "extraordinary animal care". Now, that same animal rights group has released a third video from another Fair Oaks farm barn. It shows cows being milked on a carousel after apparently giving birth. The narration on the video claims bloody, injured cows are forced onto the milking carousel. Dairy industry experts reviewed the video and say the bloody cows had just given birth. They say it appears to be standard operating procedure in most cases, except for a few instances where animal handling could be improved.
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Arrest Made in Fair Oaks Farm Investigation

The Newton County, Indiana Sheriff's Office announced officers have arrested one of three men charged following accusations of animal abuse at the nation's largest dairy farm. Police arrested 36-year-old Edgar Vasquez on a warrant for animal cruelty (Class A Misdemeanor) and torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal (Level 6 Felony). Police say Vasquez is from Brook, Indiana. He is currently being held at the Newton County Jail. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) has placed a hold on Vasquez. There are still warrants out for 31-year old Santiago Contreros and 38-year old Miguel Navarro Serrano. They are both charged with the beating of a vertebrate animal, which is a misdemeanor. The charges came after an animal rights group released a video showing workers at Fair Oaks Farms in Northern Indiana kicking and throwing young calves. A lawsuit has also been filed alleging fraud. It was filed in Chicago federal court by a California man who is a consumer of Fairlife milk. The man says he purchased Fairlife because of the promise listed on the label stating the farmers who supply the milk provide "extraordinary animal care". Now, that same animal rights group has released a third video from another Fair Oaks farm barn. It shows cows being milked on a carousel after apparently giving birth. The narration on the video claims bloody, injured cows are forced onto the milking carousel. Dairy industry experts reviewed the video and say the bloody cows had just given birth. They say it appears to be standard operating procedure in most cases, except for a few instances where animal handling could be improved.
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President Trump Promising Trade Aid to Producers

President Trump talked more about the tariffs with China and about aid for producers hit hard by the ongoing trade war with China. Speaking at the White House, President Trump said the following: "This is a very positive step. I love the position we're in. There can be some retaliation, but it can't be very substantial by comparison, and out of the billions of dollars we're taking in, a small portion of that will be going to our farmers because China will be retaliating probably to a certain extent against our farmers. We're gonna take our highest year, the biggest purchase that China has ever made with our farmers, which is about $15 billion, and do something reciprocal to our farmers so our farmers can do well. They'll be planting and they'll be able to sell for less and they'll make the same kind of money until such time as it's all straightened out, so our farmers will be very happy, our manufacturers will be very happy, and our government is very happy because we're taking in tens of billions of dollars. I think it's working out very well." The President spoke after China answered the U.S. tariff increase today, with tariff increases of its own. China is raising tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods. The Chinese Finance Ministry says the penalty duties of 5% to 25% will be on hundreds of U.S. products including batteries, spinach, and coffee. They will take effect on June 1st. It follows the U.S. increasing duties Friday on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10% to 25%. The two sides say trade talks will continue. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow says Chinese officials have invited U.S. officials to Beijing for further talks. China's chief trade czar says the negotiations have not broken down. He says they have only suffered a small setback. He says officials are still cautiously optimistic for the future. The President says he'll meet with Chinese leader Xi at the G20 summit next month.
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Dairy Farms Continue To Close

There’s more bad news for the nation’s dairy industry. USDA reporting licensed dairy farm numbers declined by more than 2,700. It equals a drop of 6.8 percent. There are now just over 37,000 licensed dairy farms in the country. That’s down from more than 40,000 last year. Wisconsin, which has the most dairy farms in the nation, also saw the biggest drop with 590,000 farms alone last year closing.
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Blizzard Kills Thousands Of Washington Dairy Cows

Dairy farmers in multiple dairying regions of Idaho and Washington experienced significant snowfall, high winds and extreme cold over the weekend, leaving nearly 2,000 dairy cows dead. According to Matt Gould of Rice Dairy, initial reports from their customers included words like “catastrophic” and “extreme” when it came to describing the impact the snow had on their open lot dairies. “We heard anecdotes from farmers ranging from losses totaling 100 cows to thousands,” he said. “We also heard some milk was dumped because of logistical issues during the storms.” The Yakima Valley Dairy Association says their members lost 1,600 cows in just a few days. The large snowfalls occurred in Grand and Franklin Counties. While there is no way to accurately confirm the change in cow numbers for all of the dairy farmers impacted, Gould says their analysts estimate the storm removed 1,000 to 2,000 cows from the national herd. As with the historic New Mexico Blizzard which killed more than 20,000 cows, the storm caused devastation on some farms. “These have been the worst few days of my life,” an area farmer told KIMA news. “We’re just devastated. I don’t think we’ve ever been hit with weather like this.” Another employee described the measures they are taking to protect the cows the best they can. “Without our employees, there’s no way we, or our cows could survive this storm,” Alyssa Haak, a dairy farmer in Prosser told the local station. “To shield our cows from the wind we stacked straw bales to create a windbreak for our cows. I give a lot of credit to our milk truck drivers, too. Without their bravery, we wouldn’t be able to get our milk off the farm.” Despite all of the loss, because the snowfalls were not more widespread, Gould says the event will have a very limited impact on the markets. Meanwhile producers in the region are preparing for another wave of winter storms to come their way.
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Foot-and-Mouth Disease Found on South Korean Dairy Forces Quarantine

Areas of South Korea are on quarantine after a dairy farm was found to have foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in its cow herd. The outbreak was identified on a 120 cow dairy near the city of Anseong, which is 67.6 km (42 miles) from the capitol city of Seoul. According to a statement from the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs released on Jan. 28, this is first FMD outbreak identified in the country since March of last year. Cows from the farm are being culled and to help decrease the likelihood of the disease spreading movement of livestock, including cattle and pigs, is prohibited in certain areas of the country. These regions include Gyeonggi, Chungnam, Chungbuk, Daejeon and Sejong. The halt on movement of livestock will be conducted for at least a 24 hour period ending on Jan. 29 at 8:30 pm in South Korea. The prohibition also limits movement for livestock-related workers and vehicles. Workers and vehicles are to remain at the farm or facility. Access and movement from the following livestock-related workplaces is limited during that time, according to the Ministry: Slaughterhouses Feed mills Collecting yards Feed dumps Feed dealers Manure disposal yards Communal composting yards Livestock manure public treatment facilities Joint recycling facilities Livestock transportation companies Livestock related service companies Livestock consulting companies Compost manufacturers Veterinary drugs and livestock equipment suppliers If livestock, workers vehicles or goods are moving during the time of the announcement they are to be moved to a safe place approved by the Director of the Livestock and Livestock Bureau of the city or province. Violations are subject to a fine of 10 million won ($8,937 USD) or less, or could result in a punishment of one year in prison. Other Recent Outbreaks and U.S. Status South Korea has had other outbreaks in the past few years, including a FMD outbreak on a hog farm in March of 2018. A similar case on two dairies in 2017 resulted in South Korea vaccinating all cattle in the country for FMD. FMD is classified as a “severe, highly contagious viral disease” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The disease causes fever and blisters on the tongue and lips, in and around the mouth, on the mammary glands, and around the hooves. FMD is seen as being a major economic hindrance to livestock production because of its ability to spread quickly. The disease was eradicated from the U.S. in 1929. In the U.S., programs have been put in place to help secure various segments of the livestock industry. The Secure Milk Supply Plan (SMS) for Continuity of Business has been implemented by some dairy farmers to bio-secure their farms. Also, the 2018 Farm Bill contained funding for the National Animal Disease Preparedness Program and National Animal Vaccine Bank. The bill funds $300 million for programs like a FMD vaccine bank.
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Deadline Extended for Several Farm Programs

Deadlines are being extended for several FSA programs following the partial government shutdown. The new deadline for many of these programs is February 14th. That includes the Final Acreage Report Date (ARD) that would have fallen between the end of last month and January 2rd. February 14th is also the new deadline for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), and for the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL) can be repaid, forfeited or settled also through February 14th.
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China Trade Update: U.S. Considering Lifting Tariffs?

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some, if not all tariffs on China. He may even offer a tariff rollback during the next round of trade discussions. Those talks are planned to begin January 30th with China's economic chief. The WSJ cited people familiar with internal talks. The Journal said the proposal has not yet been introduced to President Trump. Also, the report stated Mnuchin faced push-back from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who feels any concession could be seen as a sign of weakness. A Treasury Department spokesperson told CNBC: "Neither Secretary Mnuchin nor Ambassador Lighthizer has made any recommendations to anyone with respect to tariffs or other parts of the negotiation with China. This is an ongoing process with the Chinese that is nowhere near completion." The report from the Wall Street Journal resulted in the Dow seeing solid gains on Thursday. It closed up 162.94 to 24,370.10.
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Perdue Reopening Several FSA Offices for Just 3 Days

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has announced many FSA offices across the country will open for three days. In a Tweet, he stated the offices will be open on 1/17 (Thursday), 1/18 (Friday) & 1/22 (Tuesday) to help farmers with existing loans and other limited services. He says USDA will bring back 2,500 employees to work at those FSA offices. The partial government shutdown continues with no end in sight. Congressional Democrats remain opposed to President Trump's demand for $5.7 billion dollars to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats say they'll discuss border security once the government has reopened. President Trump is expected later today to sign legislation that will provide workers with back pay after the shutdown ends. The measure, which would pay federal workers for the work they perform or are blocked from performing during the shutdown, was passed by the House and Senate last week. Secretary Perdue is expected to be on hand for that signing. The Trump Administration has acknowledged the prolonged standoff over the border wall funding is having a greater impact drag than previously thought. In a call with reporters, the White House Council of Economic Advisers chairman said the shutdown is reducing economic growth more than predicted.
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