Livestock and poultry groups stated their support of Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) legislation to end ethanol support programs. Coburn and Feinstein have introduced “The Ethanol Subsidy and Tariff Repeal Act,” which would end the ethanol blender’s tax credit and the tariff on imported ethanol. In a letter to the senators, the groups stated: “At a time when animal agriculture is facing pressures on many fronts, this legislation would ease the economic strain that is heavily affecting the industries that rely so heavily on corn to feed livestock and poultry. Corn-based ethanol has distorted the corn market and stretched corn supplies to the point production costs have been increased significantly.” Those signing the letter were the American Meat Institute, California Dairies, Inc., National Chicken Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council and the National Turkey Federation.
Agricultural Groups Urge Support of Export Programs – A coalition of over 120 agricultural groups are urging Congress to maintain funding for vital USDA export programs when considering the fiscal year 2012 agriculture appropriations bill. In a letter to Congress, the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports, called on Congress to fully fund the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program ($34.5 million) and the Market Access Program ($200 million). A USDA study found that for every additional $1 expended by government and industry on these cost-share export market development programs between 2002 and 2009, U.S. food and agricultural exports increased by $35. The programs were reauthorized in the 2008 farm bill.
Wet Distiller’s Grains May Increase E. coli – According to research by USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS), cattle fed the ethanol byproduct, wet distiller’s grain with solubles (WDGS), may have a higher incidence of E. coli 0157:H7. ARS research found that steers fed a corn-based feed that contained 40% WEGS had significantly increased incidence and prevalence of E. coli 0157:H7 in their manure, as well as a higher incidence on their hides than those that were not fed WDGS. Additional studies are planned.
Food Animal Veterinary Shortage – Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Thad Cochran (R-MS) have introduced “The Veterinary Services Investment Act” to help address the shortage of veterinarians in rural agricultural areas. The legislation would create a competitive grant program administered by USDA and would allow states to customize their veterinary programs in accordance with the needs in rural and underserved areas. According to a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the demand for food supply veterinarians will increase by 12 to 16% over the next seven years, while at the same time the number of veterinarian school graduates will decrease by 4 to 5%.
P. Scott Shearer