The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will gather wastewater data from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which self-certify that they do not have discharges into waterways covered by the Clean Water Act. This is part of a court settlement with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the Waterkeepers Alliance. The court settlement requires EPA to gather information about farms that do not have discharge permits and then assess whether they should be regulated. EPA plans to propose a rule to collect information from the farms and take final action on the proposed rule within two years.
Move to Block Greenhouse Gas Regulations Rejected — The Senate rejected Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) resolution that would have prevented the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act without prior congressional approval. Supporters of the resolution argued that the EPA had usurped the authority of Congress to set climate policy and that EPA’s regulations would increase energy costs and kill jobs. In May, nearly 50 agricultural groups sent a joint letter urging the Senate to adopt the resolution.
Children Are Expensive — According to USDA’s annual report, “Expenditures on Children by Families,” a middle-income family with a child born in 2009 can expect to spend about $222,360 for food, shelter and other necessities to raise that child for the next 17 years. When inflation is factored in, the cost is projected to be $286,050. Housing is the largest expenditure, followed by child care and education and food.
Dairy Competition Workshop — USDA and the Department of Justice announced details of the public workshop scheduled for June 25 in Madison, WI, focusing on competition and regulatory issues in the dairy industry. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney will represent the administration at the workshop. Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), Congressmen Ron Kind (D-WI), Steve Kagen (D-WI), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Governor Jim Doyle and Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen will participate in a roundtable discussion. Additional panels, featuring farmers, processors, academics and other dairy industry leaders, will discuss issues facing the dairy industry. This is the third of five workshops on competition in agriculture.
Call for FSA County Committee Nominations — USDA announced that nominations for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees will begin on June 15. The nomination period continues through Aug. 2. Elections will take place between Nov. 5 and Dec. 6. Nomination forms for the 2010 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by close of business on Aug. 2.
Lincoln Survives Run-off — Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, survived her run-off election against Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter. Unions spent an estimated $10 million against Lincoln because they wanted to send a message to moderate Democrats who didn’t support their agenda. Former President Bill Clinton’s support of Lincoln was a huge factor in her win. Lincoln now faces a very difficult race against Congressman John Boozman -(R-AR) in the November elections.
P. Scott Shearer