Beltway Beef on Farm Bill, Water Rule, and Trade

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The latest episode of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Beltway Beef podcast features comments from the association on all the news that came down last week, including the new water rule and the new farm bill.

Allison Rivera discusses the final 2018 Farm Bill that is on its way to the White House for President Trump’s signature, Scott Yager discusses this week’s rollout of a new and improved water rule, and Kent Bacus reviews NCBA’s testimony on trade with Japan and previews his testimony about efforts to gain access to the European Union.

Beltway Beef is a weekly podcast from NCBA in Washington, D.C., giving an up-to-date summary of top policy initiatives.

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USDA Launches ReConnect Program

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USDA is offering up to $600 million in loans and grants to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and municipalities may apply for funding through USDA’s new ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service.

“High-speed internet e-Connectivity is a necessity, not an amenity, vital for quality of life and economic opportunity, so we hope that today rural communities kick off their rural broadband project planning,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Projects funded through this initiative must serve communities with fewer than 20,000 people with no broadband service or where service is slower than 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload. Approved projects must create access speeds of at least 25 mbps download and 3 mbps upload.

“When Congress wrote the 1996 Telecommunications Act, it promised rural America it would one day have broadband Internet service equal to the rest of the country. We’re not quite there, but 25-megabit downloads and 3 megabits up is the sort of speed we’ve been waiting for,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

To help customers with the application process, USDA is holding a series of online webinars and regional in-person workshops. The full list of upcoming public webinars and workshops can be found at the ReConnect Program’s resource portal at

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Animal Ag Bites 12/17

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  • The American Feed Industry Association is proud to announce the launch of its new website to better communicate the animal food manufacturing industry’s key legislative and regulatory priorities to policymakers and the public. The revamped, mobile-responsive website will also feature an optimized search function and resource center that allows its roughly 5,500 monthly web visitors quickly find and share content about the animal food industry.
  • Registration is open for the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2019 Stakeholders Summit, themed A Seat At The Table. The event, now in its 18th year, will be held May 8-9 at the InterContinental At The Plaza Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. Early registration discounts are available through February 1 (pending availability). To register, visit
  • The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council’s government affairs office in Washington, D.C., is accepting internship applications for the Fall 2019 semester. Positions for the Fall semester (Sept. 3, 2019 – Dec. 13, 2019) include a public policy intern and law clerk. The deadline to submit an application for either position is March 15, 2019.
  • Dairy farmers and industry partners gathered in Boise for Dairy West‘s recent annual meeting. The group, formerly known as United Dairymen of Idaho, gave out several awards at the event to honor dairy farmers and industry leaders who have had a significant impact on the dairy community.
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Former Agriculture Secretaries Meet

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Just days after the passing of former Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland, four former secretaries met with current Secretary Sonny Perdue to discuss the latest agricultural issues.

Those in attendance included former Secretaries John Block (1981-1986), Dan Glickman (1995-2001), Ann Veneman (2001-2005), and Mike Johanns (2005-2008). The Secretaries discussed several issues including trade, wildfires, agriculture research, infrastructure, cell-based meat, and rural prosperity.

Former Agriculture Secretaries Bob Bergland, John Block, and Clayton Yeutter at 2012 NAFB Convention

The last time the four were together at USDA was in 2012 to celebrate the agency’s 150th anniversary. Three other former secretaries still living are Mike Espy (1993-1994), Ed Schafer (2008-2009), and Tom Vilsack (2009-2017). Espy recently lost his bid to replace retiring Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran in a high profile runoff election.

Bergland, a Minnesota farmer who served as secretary under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981 died December 9 at the age of 90. He also served as vice president and general manager of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association until he retired in 1992.

In 2012, Bergland joined former secretaries Block and Yeutter at the NAFB Convention. Enjoy his opening comments here – Former ag secretary Bob Bergland at 2012 NAFB

2012 NAFB Convention Photo Album

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USFRA Announces New Chair, Board Members, and Podcast

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Maryland crop farmer Chip Bowling, representing National Corn Growers Association, is the new chair for the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) elected last month at the coalition fall board meeting along with new executive committee and board members.

Bowling, who is the fourth chairman of the group, is joined by a new executive committee:
• Vice Chair: Scott VanderWal, American Farm Bureau Federation
• Treasurer: Blair Van Zetten, American Egg Board
• Secretary: Anne Meis, representing Nebraska Soybean Board
• At-Large: Jennifer Houston, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
• At-Large Premier: Michael Parrish, Bayer
• Immediate Past Chairman: Brad Greenway, National Pork Board

USFRA also added two new members to its 15 member board – Joe Koss, president and chief executive officer of Culver’s Franchising System and Brody Stapel, President of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative.

In addition, USFRA introduced a new “Farm, Food, Facts” podcast for food retailers, sustainability supply chain leaders and food trade media. The podcast, hosted by SupermarketGuru Phil Lempert, discusses top stories about today’s food.

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Conaway Pleased with Final Farm Bill

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Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill is a “big deal for rural America” and for House Agriculture Committee chairman Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), who loses his chairmanship next month when the Democrats take the majority in the House.

After the House voted 386-47 to pass the conference report and send the bill to the president, Conaway released a video talking about the importance of it and how pleased he was to be able to complete a farm bill as chairman.

“You really can’t lay claim to being chairman of House Ag unless you’ve done a farm bill. For me personally, it’s a sense of accomplishment,” said Conaway. “…it is a big deal and a good Christmas present for each and every person in rural America, and that’s who I have been fighting for.”

Conaway held a press conference Thursday morning to talk about the new legislation – Rep. Conaway press conference remarks on farm bill

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Farm Bill Poised for Passage

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The Senate voted 87-13 yesterday to pass the 2018 Farm Bill approved by the conference committee this week and the House is expected to do so soon.

“We think the farm bill’s in very good shape,” said President Trump as he sat down with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), just before getting into a spat with them over border wall funding. “That will be quite bipartisan and it will happen pretty soon.”

Audio – President Trump comments on farm bill

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (TX-11) released a video yesterday highlighting the wins in the 2018 Farm Bill conference report for rural America and calling on his colleagues to pass the legislation.

“Over five months of negotiations—now is the time to do it, and I hope to persuade my Republican colleagues that that’s the case,” says Conaway. “Once this is all said and done, I will be one happy camper.”

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Animal Ag Bites 12/10

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  • Debuting at the 2019 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Ga., the Latin American Poultry Summit will exclusively feature leading industry experts who will address technical topics covering live production and processing issues of greatest priority to Latin American poultry and egg professionals. Sponsored by the International Poultry Expo – part of IPPE, WATT Global Media and the Latin American Poultry Association, the summit is a one-and-a-half-day program scheduled from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, and 8 a.m.–12 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
  • U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the government of Morocco has agreed to allow imports of U.S. beef and beef products into Morocco. 2018 is the first year that U.S. beef and poultry exporters have access to Morocco’s market under the terms of the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement. Morocco opened its market to U.S. poultry in August 2018.
  • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Kevin Kester issued the following statement in response to the announcement that U.S. beef gained new market access in Morocco: “Open markets are the lifeblood of the U.S. cattle and beef industry. New access to Morocco is welcome news for producers and we are excited that Moroccan consumers can now enjoy high-quality U.S. beef. NCBA is grateful for the leadership President Trump, Ambassador Lighthizer, and Ambassador Doud have shown on this issue. We look forward to working with them to continue tearing down trade barriers for U.S. beef in markets around the world.”
  • U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) is releasing a seventh video in a series highlighting environmental stewardship on poultry and egg farms. The video features one of USPOULTRY’s Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award winners, Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch in Saranac, Mich., the largest egg producer in Michigan. The video can be viewed on USPOULTRY’s YouTube channel.
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Animal Ag Bites 12/3

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  • Six college students and three collegiate clubs from Oklahoma State University, University of Georgia, Mississippi College, Western Illinois University and Northwest Missouri State University are taking home scholarships for the holidays for being exceptional advocates for agriculture. To learn more about CAO, visit
  • Cargill is opening a new headquarters of its North American protein operations. The new state-of-the-art building was created as a destination to retain and recruit top talent and immerse customers in innovative culinary and food sensory experiences. The headquarters connects Cargill’s 800 Wichita-based employees with 28,000 additional colleagues across North America and more than three dozen protein production facilities in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Sanderson Farms, the third-largest producer of chicken in the U.S., announced this morning that it will eliminate the use of antibiotics considered medically important for humans for disease prevention in its live poultry operations. Sanderson is the last of the country’s four major chicken producers to move away from routine use of medically important antibiotics.
  • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Kevin Kester issued the following statement in response to the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA): “With the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, U.S. beef producers are one step closer to knowing that unrestricted, science-based trade will continue in North America. The agreement brings the trading relationship with our neighbors into the 21st century – and clearly rejects the failed beef and cattle trade policies of the past. Open markets have helped U.S. producers flourish and created billion dollar markets for U.S. beef. We look forward to working with Congress to get USMCA passed into law as quickly as possible.”
  • U.S. Poultry & Egg Association will host its annual Poultry Market Intelligence Forum at the 2019 International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta.
  • Beef was a hot commodity in Lancaster, PA, at the area’s premier food festival, attracting consumers who enjoy the pleasures of eating and entertaining with food. The TASTE! Lancaster Festival of Food, Wine & Spirits 2018 welcomed nearly 8,000 guests to the Lancaster Convention Center on November 16 & 17. Chef Barry Strand, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, was on-site to demonstrate the new culinary craze of Beef Poke, sharing its trendy appeal to the millennial and foodie crowd.
  • Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin has named Suzanne Fanning as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Wisconsin Cheese.
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Research Positive for Lamb Industry

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The future for the U.S. lamb industry is bright, according to Ohio sheep producer Jim Percival, current chair of the American Lamb Board.

“One of the big things that our research has showed us is that the Millennials are truly lovers of lamb,” said Percival. “They like the adventurous eating part of lamb. They like that taste. They love the texture. They love the fact that lamb is juicy and good and they like the portion sizes. With lamb you’re getting a little bit different there, and they like the nutritious benefits, also.”

Percival said U.S. demand for lamb is growing by about two percent each year, and the export market to Japan recently opened up for the first time since the BSE scare several years ago. He said lamb is a diverse, premium protein that is also extremely lean. Percival participated in Trade Talk at the 2018 National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention in Kansas City.

Listen to Cindy’s interview with Jim here: NAFB18 Interview with Jim Percival, American Lamb Board chair

2018 National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention Photo Album

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