Everyone in Washington, DC, is focusing on tomorrow’s election. They will be following the election results to determine what the make-up of Congress will be and what messages the voters will send to the administration and Congress. Republicans are expected to gain control of the House of Representatives and the Democrats are expected to maintain control of the Senate by a very small margin. There are over 100 House seats in play going into the election and many are represented by members of the House Agricultural Committee. Historically, there are only 20-30 seats in play at this time. A number of Senate seats are also considered toss-ups. They include Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia. Both parties are placing a great deal of attention on Nevada where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is battling for reelection against Sharon Angle. We can expect some upsets and surprises on Election Day. Next week’s column will include an election wrap-up and what it means for agriculture.
GIPSA Rule and Animal Welfare — Animal welfare expert Temple Grandin has raised concerns that the proposed Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule will jeopardize animal welfare. Grandin specifically mentioned the packer-to-packer ban in the proposed rule, which prohibits meat packers from purchasing, acquiring or receiving swine or cattle from another packer or packer-affiliated company. She gave an example of an integrated beef-processing company that owns feedlots or production facilities that would be required to ship cattle to either its own plant or sell to an independent dealer hundreds of miles of away instead of selling to another packer close to the feedlot or production facility. Grandin said, “Adding shipping time is stressful to livestock and stands to increase injury and potentially death losses, particularly among pigs because they are more subject to stress.” She urges USDA to reconsider the rule in “order to maintain good animal welfare and to foster development of important niche markets” that create marketing opportunities for producers. Grandin is an animal science professor at Colorado State University.
Farm Co-op Sales & Income Second Highest — USDA’s latest report shows that farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives had $170 billion in sales in 2009, the second-highest level on record. Net income was $4.4 billion, also the second-highest ever for farmer co-ops. There are an estimated 2,389 farmer co-ops in the United States.
P. Scott Shearer