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July 4th Cookout Costs Less This Year, Still Under $6 Per Person

A Fourth of July cookout of Americans’ favorite foods including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and chocolate milk will cost slightly less this year and still comes in at less than $6 per person, says the American Farm Bureau Federation. Farm Bureau...

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July 4th Cookout Costs Less This Year, Still Under $6 Per Person

A Fourth of July cookout of Americans’ favorite foods including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and chocolate milk will cost slightly less this year and still comes in at less than $6 per person, says the American Farm Bureau Federation. Farm Bureau...

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72 Counties Removed from Drought Status in Kansas

Topeka – Recent rains for Kansas have eased drought conditions for many areas, leading Governor Sam Brownback to update the Drought Declaration for Kansas counties with an Executive Order 15-04. For the past year all 105 counties have either been in an emergency, warning or watch status. This orde...

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Nebraska Counties Designated as Presidential Disaster Areas

Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director, Dan Steinkruger, announced 12 Nebraska counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas due to severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding. Those counties are Cass, Dundy, Gage, Jefferson, Lancaster, Lincoln, Morrill,...

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Midwest Farmers Cooperative Breaks Ground on Shuttle Facility

Syracuse, NE will be the home of the new Midwest Farmers Cooperative Grain Shuttle Facility. Tuesday, a groundbreaking was held for the new facility, which will feature over 2 million bushels upright and ground storage, 40 semi trucks per hour unloading, and the ability to load up to a 140 car un...

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Kansas Joins Lawsuit Asking Court to Overturn ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Rule

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today that he has joined eight other state attorneys general in a lawsuit asking a federal court to overturn new water regulations that could significantly extend the regulatory reach of the federal government onto Kansas private property. The regul...

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Crops

72 Counties Removed from Drought Status in Kansas

Topeka – Recent rains for Kansas have eased drought conditions for many areas, leading Governor Sam Brownback to update the Drought Declaration for Kansas counties with an Executive Order 15-04. For the past year all 105 counties have either been in an emergency, warning or watch status. This order removes approximately the majority of the state from drought and downgrades 33 Kansas counties to a watch drought status. “Kansans need to know recent rains have greatly improved conditions in our state, but the effects of drought remain evident,” said Governor Brownback. “Some areas have been experiencing drought for almost six years and will need many years to completely recover. While conditions are improved, we must remain mindful of the importance of water and continue to be aware of water usage. ” The updated drought declaration has removed 72 counties from drought status and downgrades 33 into a watch status. This action was recommended by Tracy Streeter, Director of the Kansas Water Office and Chair of the Governor’s Drought Response Team. “While there have been some historic rain events this past month, we are not going to take our eye off of drought planning and future mitigation,” said Tracy Streeter. “As we start to enter into warmer drier months of the year, we know drought conditions can return quickly.” This Executive Order shall remain in effect for those counties so identified until or superseded by a subsequent Executive Order revising the drought stage status of the affected counties.  Effective immediately: Declare a Drought Watch for the counties identified below; Authorize and direct all agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor to implement the appropriate watch level-drought response actions assigned in the Operations Plan of the Governor’s Drought Response Team. The Governor’s Drought Response Team will continue to watch the situation closely and work to minimize the effects the drought still has on Kansans. County Drought Stage Declarations: Drought Watch: Barton, Cheyenne, Decatur, Ellis, Finney, Gove, Graham, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Kearny, Lane, Logan, Morton, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Scott, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Trego, Wallace, Wichita

Nebraska Counties Designated as Presidential Disaster Areas

Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director, Dan Steinkruger, announced 12 Nebraska counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas due to severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding. Those counties are Cass, Dundy, Gage, Jefferson, Lancaster, Lincoln, Morrill, Nuckolls, Otoe, Saline, Saunders, and Thayer. These counties were declared a Presidential Major Disaster on June 25, 2015, based on storms occurring from May 6, 2015 to June 17, 2015. This designation authorizes Emergency (EM) Loans for eligible producers. Steinkruger stated, “Producers in these twelve counties are encouraged to contact their local FSA Service Center for detailed information about available programs and updated disaster designations.” In addition to the Emergency (EM) Loan Program, the FSA has other loan programs and disaster assistance programs which can be considered in assisting farmers to recover from their losses. Contact your local FSA Service Center or access additional information about FSA Disaster Assistance and Farm Loan programs at www.fsa.usda.gov. While this release pertains to the availability of FSA programs, other federal agencies such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and SBA (Small Business Administration) may also offer assistance to the public. Information is available from these two agencies at the following websites: www.fema.gov and www.sba.gov.  

Kansas Wheat Harvest Report-Day 8

Kansans across the state are hearing the annual rumblings of combines as they venture out into fields. Jeremy Millershaski from Lakin reported that their crew is now more than halfway done with harvest. Because of hail damage from storms in the last three to six weeks, test weights are "all across the board," but still reaching up to 60 in the best patches. Jeremy lamented that wheat that was hailed out is still making 20 to 30 bushels per acre, but would have made 45 to 50 bushels per acre without rain delays and storm damage. In fields that were spared, Jeremy reported patches yielding up to 70 bushels per acre. "We actually had a chance to get close to our average," Jeremy said. "But, we have not had even an average year in five or six years." Austin Taylor, a representative of Golden Valley, Inc. in Rozel, said that harvest in the area is nearing the home stretch with an estimated 80 percent of wheat harvested. Yields in the area have been highly varied with the outliers of 17 and 70 bushels per acre. Test weights have been holding steady in the area at slightly over 60 pounds per bushel. While Taylor reports this is a slightly below average year, he said that it is much better than last year. Over the weekend the elevator surpassed last year's receiving total with another week left to harvest. Proteins are averaging 13 percent. Dean Oliver of the Midway Coop Association in Osborne reported that yields are averaging around 30 bushels an acre. The average test weight is 60.3 pounds per bushel and protein content is 13.2 percent. Wheat north of Osborne is still a little too wet to cut now, but the combines are rolling south of town. Farmers are scrambling to get cut before the encroaching weed pressure causes issues. "For a long time, I thought our farmers were going to be left high and dry," said Oliver. "We had drought damage, winter kill and high stresses on the crop, but those rains in April and May perked the wheat back up." The 2015 Harvest Report is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and Kansas Grain and Feed Association.  

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Livestock

Enrollment for 2016 Dairy Margin Protection Program to Begin July 1

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that starting July 1, 2015, dairy farmers can enroll in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Margin Protection Program for coverage in 2016. The voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to participating dairy operations when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. Harden made the announcement while visiting Wolfe’s Neck Farm and dairy school in Freeport, Maine. "More than half of our nation’s dairy producers enrolled in the 2015 program, which exceeded our expectations for the first year of the program," said Harden. "We are confident that dairy farmers across the country will again take advantage of this safety net program for 2016. USDA will continue outreach efforts, including partnering with cooperative extension services, to ensure dairy producers are fully informed about the protections that this safety net program can provide during periods of market downturns.” The Margin Protection Program gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Enrollment begins July 1 and ends on Sept. 30, 2015, for coverage in 2016. Participating farmers will remain in the program through 2018 and pay a $100 administrative fee each year. Producers also have the option of selecting a different coverage level during open enrollment each year. Margin Protection Program payments are based on an operation’s historical production. An operation’s historical production will increase by 2.61 percent in 2016 if the operation participated in 2015, providing a stronger safety net. USDA also has an online resource available to help dairy producers decide which level of coverage will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The enhanced Web tool, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool, allows dairy farmers to quickly and easily combine their unique operation data and other key variables to calculate their coverage needs based on price projections. Producers can also review historical data or estimate future coverage based on data projections. The secure site can be accessed via computer, mobile phone, or tablet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Dairy operations enrolling in the program must meet conservation compliance provisions. Producers participating in the Livestock Gross Margin insurance program may register for the Margin Protection Program, but this new margin program will only begin once their Livestock dairy insurance coverage has ended. Producers must also submit form CCC-782 for 2016, confirming their Margin Protection Program coverage level selection, to the local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. If electing higher coverage for 2016, dairy producers can either pay the premium in full at the time of enrollment or pay a minimum of 25 percent of the premium by Feb. 1, 2016.  The Margin Protection Program was established by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill. For more information, visit FSA online at www.fsa.usda.gov/dairy for more information, or stop by a local FSA office to learn more about the Margin Protection Program. To find a local FSA office in your area, visit http://offices.usda.gov.

2016 Dairy Margin Program Sign-Up Begins This Week

Sign-ups for the 2016 Dairy Margin Protection Program begin July 1. A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) news release says the voluntary program provides financial assistance to participating dairy operations when the margin – the difference between the price of milk and feed costs – falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. “More than half of our nation’s dairy producers enrolled in the 2015 program, which exceeded our expectations for the first year of the program,” said [Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta] Harden. “We are confident that dairy farmers across the country will again take advantage of this safety net program for 2016. USDA will continue outreach efforts, including partnering with cooperative extension services, to ensure dairy producers are fully informed about the protections that this safety net program can provide during periods of market downturns.” The Margin Protection Program gives participating dairy producers the flexibility to select coverage levels best suited for their operation. Enrollment begins July 1 and ends on Sept. 30, 2015, for coverage in 2016. Participating farmers will remain in the program through 2018 and pay a $100 administrative fee each year. Producers also have the option of selecting a different coverage level during open enrollment each year. Margin Protection Program payments are based on an operation’s historical production. An operation’s historical production will increase by 2.61 percent in 2016 if the operation participated in 2015, providing a stronger safety net. Dairy farmers can also use USDA’s online tool to help them decide which level of coverage will provide them with the strongest safety net under a variety of conditions. The enhanced Web tool is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/mpptool.

Ranchers Reject Federal Bureaucrats Unsubstantiated Answer to Managing Sage Grouse

The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service recently finalized their Environmental Impacts Statements (EISs) for resources management and land use plans, claiming a need for more restrictive management for sage grouse on federal lands. The Public Lands Council and theNational Cattlemen’s Beef Association filed formal protests today after reviewing the plans, which impede on conservation efforts and range management practices already in place. “Ranchers and those closest to the land are far better equipped to manage resources than bureaucrats in Washington D.C.,” said Brenda Richards, PLC president and Idaho rancher. “These plans disregard all the hard work, money and resources that states already have in place to preserve wildlife habitat and sage grouse in particular. One-size-fits-all requirements on how multiple uses, including livestock grazing, will be managed on public lands is not the answer to conserving sage grouse.” In early 2014, the organizations filed detailed comments addressing concerns with the draft EISs. With little to no improvement in the final documents, the ranching industry has filed protests in nine states across the West. According to the EISs, expanded grazing regulation is necessary, yet neither the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service nor the BLM have found evidence that livestock grazing and current range management pose a threat to sage grouse habitat or populations, in fact, there are numerous studies showing the positive impact grazing has on sage grouse habitat. Robbie LeValley, chairman of NCBA’s Federal lands Committee said the plans are yet another attempt by the Administration to remove productive uses from the land in an effort to appease short-sighted environmental groups pushing a radical agenda. “Imposing regulatory change on the grazing livestock industry without any factual basis is arbitrary and capricious,” said LeValley, who ranches in western Colorado. “Ranchers with public land grazing rights work daily to minimize the major threats to sage grouse; removing fine-fuels and providing vast tracts of open space. Wildfire and development are the primary threats to the sage grouse and their habitat, yet this Administration is systematically wiping out multiple-use and ranching through regulatory overreach. It’s clear that these plans are more about managing away from productive uses, rather than actually protecting the bird.” The BLM and USFS must remove the inflexible and arbitrary buffer zone and stubble height requirements and discontinue the legally questionable and scientifically inaccurate idea that removing, reducing and retiring grazing is the answer to this and any other problem the agency faces on public lands. PLC and NCBA call on the agencies to withdraw these flawed plans and discontinue the fallacy that restricting livestock grazing is the key to seeing more grouse. Further, the livestock industry will continue working with Congress to block these plans before ranchers are forced out of business.

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Technology

Are Livestock Growers Being Left Out of Big Data Revolution?

The rapid spread of the avian flu across the Unites States has been cause for concern for a lot of farmers and consumers.  I can’t help but wonder whether wide-spread adoption of data collection and sharing by poultry farmers could have helped stop the spread of the avian flu.  Most of the focus on farm data the past few months has been on the impact on corn, soybean, wheat, canola, and cotton farmers.  I keep wondering when the big data solutions for livestock farmers will appear. Kenneth Cukier describes in his book “Big Data, a Revolution,” how Google searches can be used to predict where a cold virus will spread based upon what terms people are searching in what geographical locations.  If poultry farmers used a centralized data storage tool to track the medicines they were buying and administering, could we do the same to reduce the spread of avian flu?  Similarly, if production data from dairy cows in the Midwest was tracked and collected in a centralized database—then shared with participating dairy farmers¬¬–could these farmers better predict the swings in milk production (and consequent swings in price)?  Big data has enormous implications for livestock farmers too. The first step in big data analytics is collection of the data. This needs to happen in the livestock industry to give farmers another tool to bolster production and reduce the effects of market swings.  Dairy farmers have been collecting data on cows for decades, even in computerized form, but are these dairies also sharing and benchmarking their results against other farms?  I don’t think so.  We aren’t there yet. Some companies in the meat packing industry already do this.  On a recent tour of a meat packing operation, I was able to see how meat packers share all data among each other to measure and compare productivity. But why aren’t dairy, beef, swine and poultry farmers doing the same thing at the local level? If you are a startup company or existing technology provider that serves the livestock or poultry industry, I’d love to hear from you about this topic.  If you have livestock data analytic tools, please let me know.  I’d love to hear more. Data analytics promise tremendous advancements for crop farmers.  Let’s make sure livestock farmers don’t get left behind.  

Lawmakers Pledge Support for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research Centers

Key members of the House and Senate last week praised the Federal Aviation Administration for selecting a consortium of mostly land-grant universities to research unmanned aircraft systems issues. The legislators promised to continue to find funding for the centers beyond the initial $5- million dollars provided. The consortium is known as the Alliance for System Safety of Unmanned Aircraft Systems through Research Excellence (ASSURE). It is tasked with identifying issues critical to the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) -- also referred to as drones -- into the nation's airspace and engaging in research and policy development on the growing use of unmanned aerial systems. At a May 14 news conference, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that unmanned aircraft is being used for everything from filming to monitoring wildlife, but that it is the duty of the FAA "to make sure it is safe." "Unmanned aircraft technology is here to stay, and we are all excited that our states will have an active role in figuring out the safest and most efficient way to incorporate this evolving technology into our airspace to assist on issues ranging from precision agriculture to disaster recovery," Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said. "We are interested in continuing to support what will be a collaborative process to address the complicated nature of integrating unmanned aircraft into our national airspace system, as well as privacy and other issues that arise with their use," Cochran said. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said he is extremely pleased that the University of North Dakota "is a key member of the UAS team selected for the Center of Excellence. UND brings not only its resources as a premier school of aviation, but also the northern tier UAS test site and the Grand Sky Technology Park." Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, noted that "Alaska is the final frontier" and that "unmanned aerial systems can be game changers for my state -- to work around our vast distances and lack of infrastructure." "Whether in the form of Arctic research, delivering goods in the bush, firefighting or policing in rural areas, UAS deserve serious and thoughtful consideration as we map out an intelligent rulebook for their use and applications," Murkowski said. Rep. Kevin Kramer, R-N.D., said the biggest commercial application of unmanned vehicles may be in agriculture. Through precision agriculture, he said, there will be "the opportunity to grow more food for more people." ASSURE members include Mississippi State University, Drexel University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Kansas State University, Montana State University, New Mexico State University, North Carolina State University, Oregon State University, University of Alabama-Huntsville, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, University of Kansas, University of North Dakota, Wichita State University, Ohio State University, University of California-Davis, and Louisiana Tech University. Associate members include Auburn University, Concordia University, Indiana State University, Tuskegee University, and University of Southampton in England. The directive to the FAA to establish the national center has been included in congressional appropriations bills since the 2012 financial year, with Congress appropriating $5 million to support a five-year agreement with the UAS Center of Excellence, Cochran's office noted in a news release. Federal funding will be matched by ASSURE team members. The FAA expects the Center of Excellence to begin research in 2015 and be fully operational in 2016 in its exploration of evolving technological developments regarding unmanned aircraft and their uses, including detect-and-avoid technology, low-altitude operations safety, privacy safeguards, and other areas, according to the Cochran release. Research will also involve the deployment of UAS for emergency response, biofuel and clean fuel technologies, law enforcement activities, and agricultural and environmental monitoring. The Center of Excellence will coordinate research and development activities with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Agriculture and other agencies, Cochran added. Its work will also lead to recommendations on aircraft certification, flight standards and air traffic requirements, and facilitate UAS technology transfer to other civilian and defense agencies.

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Ag Policy

Anti-TPP Group Sues Japan Government

A former Japanese ag minister is leading a group of protestors who filed lawsuit in that country to halt the government's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The plaintiffs fear that any trade deal removing import tariffs on protected commodities such as rice would devastate Japan's agriculture, especially rice farming. Earlier this week President Barack signed legislation passed last week that grants his administration authority to complete negotiations on the Pacific deal. Whatever deal the Obama administration reaches in the talks will be voted up or down by Congress but cannot be amended by lawmakers. The plaintiffs are a collection of more than 1,000 lawyers, members of parliament, farmers, musicians and actors, as well as labor unions and farm groups. They are demanding the government be enjoined and restrained from negotiating the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership as it violates the Japanese constitution, and that the government pay each plaintiff 10,000 yen (about $81). The TPP began in 2005 and included New Zealand, Brunei, Chile, and Singapore. It called for reduction of all tariffs by 90% between member countries by 2006, and reduction to zero by 2015. In the past few years, the U.S. and Japan, as well as Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam, have been negotiating to join. One of the leaders in the Japanese litigation, lawyer Masahiko Yamada, was minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 2009-2010 under the country's 2009-2012 Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration. He ran cattle and hog farms in his hometown on the Goto Islands in Nagasaki Prefecture for three years from 1972 when he was 29, and then practiced law before becoming a lawmaker in the House of Representatives in 1993. Yamada left the DPJ in 2012 over then-prime minister Yoshihiko Noda's decision to participate in the Pacific negotiations. In an interview at his law office, he told DTN Japanese farmers fear the abolition of tariffs under the trade deal would wreck domestic rice production. When Yamada was ag minister, rice farms in Hokkaido, Japan's big northern island, spread out over 20 hectares (more than 49 acres) on average. But in the whole of Kyushu, Japan's big southern island, Shikoku, the country's fourth biggest island, and the Chugoku area on the west of the big central island of Honshu, most ran over less than one hectare (one hectare is slightly more than 2.47 acres), he said. "To produce 60 kilos of rice of the Koshihikari variety costs farmers (outside Hokkaido) 15,000 yen (about $122)," Yamada said. California and Vietnam rice farmers also produce the Koshihikari variety. If tariffs on rice are abolished, 60 kilos of Koshihikari rice will come in to Japan as imports at about only 3,000 yen (about $25), Yamada said. "Japanese farmers will be forced to stop growing rice, as everybody will buy and consume only imported rice," he said. Yamada said beef, pork and dairy farming would be similarly hit. But his group opposes the TPP on constitutional grounds, specifically the Constitution's articles 13, which guarantees the right to life; 25, which guarantees the right to maintain minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living, and states that in all spheres of life, the State shall use its endeavors for the promotion and extension of social welfare and security, and of public health; as well as 21 which, among other things, guarantees the "right to know," the complaint stated. The TPP also infringes upon articles 22 and 29, which state that freedom of economic activities can be limited by "public welfare" and limitation by government policy is accepted; article 41, which states the Diet shall be the highest organ of state power, and shall be the sole law-making organ of the State; and 73, which states that the Cabinet, upon concluding any treaty, shall obtain prior or, depending on circumstances, subsequent approval of the Diet, the complaint said. Among the evidence the group will bring to court is that the non-disclosure clause of the TPP negotiations goes against articles 21 and 73, while the TPP itself goes against articles 22 and 29, as it weakens the government's capacity to limit economic activities. Going against article 41, the complaint said, is that the TPP forces participating countries to review all their laws including ordinances, rules and regulations to check if each of them is consistent with the trade agreement, and have to revise them if they are not. Evidence the TPP would negatively impact consumers includes the fact that it would do away with ingredient lists. This would cause problems for the 4.5% of Japanese children who suffer from allergies to dairy, wheat, peanuts, or emulsifiers, for example, Yamada said. "If children with dairy allergies eat sweets containing cheese, they may die," he said. Because of the TPP, sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards will also be lowered. For example, peanuts coming in from the U.S. may have been sprayed with certain pesticides, the use of which has not yet been decided in Japan by the government, and nobody will even know, Yamada said. "We will have to show scientific evidence that the pesticides are bad for health, and meanwhile, people will be consuming them," he said. "Putting Japanese agriculture under pressure, the TPP also goes against constitutional guarantees of Japanese people's right to a stable supply of food, as well as the right of agricultural workers to make their living through agriculture and dairy farming," Yamada said. In Japan, drug prices are set by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and medical treatment is very affordable. "If we join the TPP, we will get into a situation where medicine is very expensive and medical care becomes very high-priced, like in the U.S.," Yamada said. "So for Japanese citizens, the TPP is not only a problem for agriculture but also one for medical care and food safety."  

Bird flu raises fears over vaccine supply, human risk

Lawmakers are raising concerns that the avian influenza outbreak that has devastated Midwest poultry producers could threaten supplies of human vaccines and possibly spread to people through swine. Top members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees public health issues, are seeking assurances from the Obama administration that there will be sufficient supplies of vaccines that have to be produced through chicken eggs. This spring's outbreak of the bird flu devastated poultry farms in Iowa, Minnesota and other Midwest states. The lawmakers also want to know what assessments the administration has done of the potential risk of the virus spreading to humans. “The current sub-types of avian influenza do not appear to infect humans, but there is concern they could affect swine, which have spread avian influenza to humans in the past,” the lawmakers say in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services. They also want to know what the government is doing to develop vaccines against the virus. The lawmakers are separately asking the Government Accountability Office to review the adequacy of the Agriculture Department's response to the outbreak. Among other things, the lawmakers want to know how well USDA is ensuring that poultry producers have adequate biosecurity measures. “Despite USDA's efforts, the efforts of scientists and the actions taken by farmers to protect their commercial flocks, this virus continues to spread,” says a letter to GAO. The letters were signed by the chairman of the committee, Fred Upton, R-Mich., and its ranking member, Frank Pallone, D-N.J., as well as the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

Kansas Joins Lawsuit Asking Court to Overturn ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Rule

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today that he has joined eight other state attorneys general in a lawsuit asking a federal court to overturn new water regulations that could significantly extend the regulatory reach of the federal government onto Kansas private property. The regulations, known generally as the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, would extend the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ regulatory reach into small waterways, ditches and ponds on Kansas farms, ranches and land developments. This new rule would have significant consequences for homeowners, farmers and other entities by forcing them to navigate a complex federal bureaucracy and obtain costly permits in order to perform everyday tasks such as digging ditches, building fences or spraying fertilizers. “Congress never intended for the federal government to regulate ditches or farm ponds,” Schmidt said. “This regulation grossly exceeds the authority granted to federal agencies by the Clean Water Act – authority that rightfully belongs to the states and that is limited by private property rights protected by the Constitution.” In the complaint filed today in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, the attorneys general of Kansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin argue the final rule put forward by the EPA and Corps of Engineers violates the Clean Water Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the U.S. Constitution, and usurps the states’ primary responsibility for the management, protection and care of intrastate waters and lands. The complaint asks a federal judge to declare the rule illegal and issue an injunction to prevent the agencies from enforcing it. It also asks the judge to order the agencies to draft a new rule that complies with the law and honors state authority.

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