USDA announced that producers may begin applying for benefits under the provisions of the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP). ELAP provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have losses due to disease, adverse weather or other conditions, including losses due to blizzards and wildfires. LFP provides payments to eligible livestock producers who have suffered livestock grazing losses due to qualifying drought or fire. Eligible livestock under LFP include beef cattle, alpacas, buffalo, beefalo, dairy cattle, deer, elk, emus, equine, goats, llamas, poultry, reindeer, sheep and swine. For both programs, producers must have suffered losses that occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2008, and before Oct. 1, 2011. For more information on these programs, producers can contact their local Farm Service Agency county office or go to the web site: www.fsa.usda.gov.
Natural Claims for Meat and Poultry — USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning the use of the voluntary claim “natural” in the labeling of meat and poultry products. FSIS is seeking comments to assist the agency in defining the conditions under which it will permit the voluntary claim “natural” to be used in labeling of meat and poultry products. FSIS is interested in comments concerning sodium lactate and other multifunctional ingredients, “non-traditional” food processing methods, “enhanced” products, natural and naturally raised, carbon monoxide, and economic effects. Public comments are due by Nov. 13, 2009.
Pork and Beef Exports — U.S. pork and beef exports for the first seven months of the year are down because of the “global economic downturn and lingering effects from H1N1,” according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Pork exports were 1.08 million metric tons valued at $2.53 billion. This represents a decline of 10% in volume and 9% in value compared to the same period last year. However, this is still 53% (volume) and 48% (value) compared to the first seven months of 2007. Beef exports were 512,053 metric tons valued at $1.94 billion, a 6% drop over last year’s volume and 10% lower in value.
Import Duties on Chinese Tires — The Obama administration announced it would put import duties on Chinese tires for three years. The tariff will be 35% for the first year and then will decline for the following two years. In June, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Chinese tire imports had disrupted the domestic tire industry and recommended tariffs for three years – 55% the first year and declining for the next two years. China has indicated it will begin investigating U.S. automotive and poultry product imports. Earlier this month a coalition of agricultural and food organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative urging the administration to take careful consideration of its final decision. The group said, “We ask that you consider the effect of likely retaliatory action against U.S. food and agriculture products as you formulate your recommendations. Retaliatory actions by China against U.S. food and agricultural products, whether legally justified or not, would significantly affect U.S. farmers, ranchers and food companies at a time when many are facing serious financial problems. Those signing the letter included American Feed Industry Association, American Meat Institute, American Soybean Association, Animal Health Institute, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, Pet Food Institute and USA Rice Federation.
Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment — President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Harris Sherman as Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. Sherman is the executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. He has chaired the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Board and the Denver Regional Air Quality Council. Sherman received his bachelor of arts degree from Colorado College and his law degree from Columbia University Law School.
Pork Producers in DC — Pork producers from throughout the United States were recently in Washington, DC, to meet with administration officials, Congressional members and staff to discuss the current economic pork crisis, H1N1, antibiotics policy, food safety, trade, and other issues important to pork producers. Hundreds of Congressional members, staff and agricultural representatives attended the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) reception. This is one of most popular agricultural events on Capitol Hill.