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North Dakota Senate, House to vote on new version of trespass bill: SB 2315

 Some North Dakota legislators worked out a deal to take a step toward increased property protections, but the compromise legislation doesn’t require hunters to ask permission before entering un-posted private property.

The conference committee came up with a bill that would require people who are not hunters to ask permission before entering private property.

According to North Dakota Stockmen’s Association Executive Vice President Julie Ellingson, the new version of the bill contains the following features:

• Property is presumed closed for everything, except for hunting.

• Trespass in a dwelling or highly secured premises is a Class C felony.

• Trespass in any other place is a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense within two years.

• Hunting on posted land without permission is a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense within two years. Someone who hunts on posted land could also still lose hunting privileges.

• Carrying a firearm is no longer automatic evidence that someone is hunting.

• An allowance is made for landowners to electronically post their land for hunting if the state develops, operates or maintains an online database.

• Hunting guides and outfitters must obtain permission from landowners before they conduct those services on private land.

• A legislative management study about land access and a land access database is required to be conducted in the interim.

• The study committee will be comprised of five legislators, two landowners, two sportsmen and non-voting members representing the ND Association of Counties, ag commissioner, Game and Fish Department director, ITD and the State’s Attorneys Association.

• The committee is authorized to establish a trial of the electronic posting for up to three counties by 2020.

• The Game and Fish and the Tourism Division are required to conduct a public education and marketing campaign about the updates in the law.

Ellingson said this is the most progress landowners have seen on this issue in decades. “It’s a step forward for property rights and more progress on this issue than landowners have ever had before.” SB 2315 is expected to be on the calendar in the Senate Wednesday afternoon and in the House very early Thursday morning.

The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association is urging a “yes” vote on the bill.

–Staff report

Perdue to travel to North Dakota

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will travel to Fargo, N.D., on April 27 to meet with farmers about farm bill implementation, trade negotiations and commodity purchases, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced Monday.

“Our farmers and ranchers are facing real challenges right now, so it is all the more important that Secretary Perdue hears from producers firsthand on how best to implement the farm bill and address trade uncertainty, both by wrapping up negotiations and securing more commodity purchases,” Hoeven said.

“We are also seeing many exciting developments for our tech sector in the Red River Valley and across North Dakota, which bring new opportunities in agriculture. We will highlight these efforts for Secretary Perdue and work to leverage the USDA’s programs to realize the benefits of new innovations for our farmers.”

–The Hagstrom Report

Trump agencies, NASDA announce food waste strategies

The Agriculture Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration this week announced a federal interagency strategy to address food waste, while the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture signed a pledge that state agriculture officials would also mount an effort to reduce food waste.

“The new strategy prioritizes six key action areas, such as improving consumer education and food labeling, that will help us maximize the value of our food resources,” noted EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

“Our nation’s agricultural abundance should be used to nourish those in need, not fill the trash,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “As the world’s population continues to grow to nearly 10 billion people by 2050 and the food systems continue to evolve, now is the time for action to educate consumers and businesses alike on the need for food waste reduction. I look forward to what the future holds on this initiative and how we can work together to change the hearts and minds of Americans to reduce food waste.”

“The issue of food safety and food waste are intertwined, with research showing that there is confusion over the meaning behind date labeling terminology on food packages that have an adverse effect on food waste. Contrary to popular beliefs, date labeling on food packages are often intended to communicate time ranges for optimal food quality, not safety,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas. “With more than one-third of all available food uneaten through waste or loss and 1 in 6 Americans suffering a foodborne illness each year, it’s clear that many people are unnecessarily discarding food in fear of food safety issues. This is why the FDA is focused on taking steps to make date labeling on foods clearer and easier for consumers to determine when a food should be discarded. We remain committed to working with the EPA and USDA to better educate Americans on how to reduce food waste and how to do it safely.”

At a Trump administration event recognizing April as “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month,” NASDA CEO Barb Glenn, New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried pledged that the state departments of agriculture would also reduce food waste.

“We are identifying opportunities to mitigate food waste with our federal and industry partners,” Witte said. “It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of food is lost throughout the supply chain, including unharvested crops. Regaining lost food is a must to sustainably provide for everyone.”

–The Hagstrom Report

Thune Urges USDA Secretary to prioritize improvements to U.S. drought monitor during Farm Bill implementation

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today wrote to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to encourage him to prioritize several Thune-authored provisions of the 2018 farm bill that relate to improving the accuracy of the Drought Monitor. These provisions of the new law were first introduced in May 2018 as part of Thune’s Improved Soil Moisture and Precipitation Monitoring Act of 2018, which provides tools and direction to USDA to help improve the accuracy of the Drought Monitor and requires the coordination of USDA agencies that use precipitation data to determine livestock grazing loss assistance and stocking rates. Thune drafted and introduced this legislation after hearing directly from several concerned ranchers at a 2018 agriculture roundtable event in South Dakota.

“During the lengthy 2017 drought that plagued Western South Dakota, I heard from a number of producers that were concerned with the accuracy of the Drought Monitor, especially given its use in determining grazing disaster assistance through programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) … As you continue working on farm bill implementation, I request that you prioritize the aforementioned provisions in the applicable mission area, especially as we approach the summer months when accuracy of the Drought Monitor will be critical for producers,” wrote Thune.

Thune also called for USDA to coordinate efforts among its agencies to ensure the annual establishment of grazing carrying capacities on U.S. Forest Service land is more consistent with assistance offered under other USDA grazing loss assistance programs.

–Senator Thune

Trump approves Iowa disaster declaration as flooding continues, Native Americans stranded

President Donald Trump approved Iowa’s disaster declaration request Saturday.

The declaration orders federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms and flooding beginning on March 12, 2019, and continuing.

The president’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the Iowa counties of Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona and Woodbury.

As temperatures start to warm, snowmelt in the Dakotas and Minnesota will escalate, sending more water down the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries, the PBS News Hour reported.

Some Native Americans on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota have been stranded for two weeks, The New York Times reported.

–The Hagstrom Report

Trump Administration wrong to lift Brazilian fresh beef restrictions

Billings, Mont. – Today, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s recent announcement that he would “expeditiously schedule a technical visit” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a means of lifting restrictions on the importation of fresh or chilled (fresh) beef from Brazil.

“President Trump’s capitulation to Brazil’s demand that the U.S. quickly resume fresh beef imports is a classic example of politics trumping science. Decades ago, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) declared Brazil’s food safety inspection system to be equivalent to that of the United States and Brazil was limited to export only pre-cooked beef as a precaution to prevent the introduction of the dangerous foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) into the United States.

“Despite strong evidence to the contrary, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) determined in 2015 that Brazil was free of dangerous foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) because of Brazil’s FMD vaccination program. This opened the door for Brazil to begin exporting fresh beef to the United States.

“However, Brazilian slaughtering plants had consistently failed to pass U.S. food safety audits. Miraculously, after conducting at least 18 audits of food safety practices in Brazilian slaughtering plants, all of which failed due to numerous food safety infractions, the USDA FSIS nevertheless determined in 2015 that certain Brazilian slaughtering plants could begin exporting fresh beef to the United States.

“Then Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack applauded this news and welcomed the first shipments of fresh Brazilian beef to the U.S. in September 2016. United States cattle prices tumbled throughout 2016 in anticipation of and in response to Vilsack’s pronouncements.

“But the truth of Brazil’s food safety deficiencies was soon disclosed and in 2017 Brazilian beef packers were cited for food safety-related corruption and Brazilian fresh beef exports were deemed adulterated and unsafe. Although he resisted for months, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue finally suspended Brazilian fresh beef imports in June 2017.

“In a purely political move, Purdue did not revoke Brazil’s equivalency determination. In other words, despite the widespread corruption involving Brazil’s food safety systems, and despite repeated failures to address FSIS audit findings over nearly two decades, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture continues to recognize Brazil as having a food safety system equivalent to that of the United States.

“At best this makes a mockery of the U.S. equivalency standard for foreign food safety systems. At worst it subjects the U.S. cattle industry to a clear and significant danger of FMD introduction and consumers to unsafe beef for which there will be no origin designation due to Congress’ repeal of mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

“This danger arises because the United States’ current default policy is that Brazil is eligible to export fresh beef to the United States.

“At the stroke of a pen, a politically motivated FSIS auditing team, acting on behalf of President Trump, can lift the flimsy restriction on Brazilian fresh beef imports that Purdue was forced to implement. There will be no rulemaking, no independent scientific analysis, no public comment.

“If the restrictions are lifted, the decision to do so will be as political as the decisions made by the previous administration.

“This means the only meaningful protection available to U.S. cattle producers against the introduction of FMD and to U.S. consumers against consuming unsafe beef will be sheer luck.”


Funds from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Help with Livestock Mortality

LINCOLN, NE March 21, 2019 – As the flood water recedes and snow melts, farmers and ranchers are getting a better look at the amount of damage their operations have suffered from last week’s extreme weather events.

One of the more significant losses experienced by landowners has been livestock death. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has assistance available to help landowners cope with the aftermath of livestock death.

Through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program, commonly referred to as EQIP, farmers and ranchers can apply for assistance to properly dispose of dead livestock. Applications are being accepted now through April 5. The second cut-off date is May 1. Additional application cutoff dates may be announced if there is demand and available funding.

NRCS State Conservationist Craig Derickson said, “This was an unprecedented and devastating event for Nebraska. Some ranchers are dealing with hundreds of dead animals. This is not only damaging to their bottom-line, but if these animals are not disposed of properly, there could be negative impacts to water quality and other natural resources. NRCS conservationists are available to provide technical and financial assistance to help producers dispose of livestock carcasses in a safe manner.”

Producers who have not already disposed of livestock can apply for EQIP now. Producers can then get a waiver to allow them to begin working to dispose of deceased livestock before having an approved EQIP contract.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

“Typically, producers cannot begin working on an EQIP practice before their EQIP contract has been approved. But since this situation is so time-critical, NRCS is encouraging producers to sign up for EQIP first, then submit a waiver to go ahead and begin animal disposal prior to having their EQIP contract approved,” Derickson said.

Producers in the area who suffered other damages due to the blizzard and flooding – such as damaged fencing, water sources, or windbreaks – may also seek assistance from NRCS through general EQIP funding. The sign-up period for general EQIP is continuous and has no cut off application date.

Derickson said, “NRCS is committed to helping producers get back on their feet after these extreme weather events while also ensuring Nebraska’s natural environment remains healthy and productive.”

For more information about the programs and assistance available from NRCS, visit your local USDA Service Center or www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.

-United States Department of Agriculture

Trump declares Nebraska emergency as flooding continues

President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Nebraska on Thursday as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that Midwest flooding is expected to continue through May.

“Today, President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State ofNebraska and ordered Federal aid to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by a severe winter storm, straight-line winds, and flooding beginning on March 9, 2019, and continuing,” the White House said in a statement.

“Nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through May, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states,” NOAA said in its U.S. Spring Outlook.

“The majority of the country is favored to experience above-average precipitation this spring, increasing the flood risk,” the weather agency added.

Meanwhile, dams on the Missouri River are having a hard time coping with climate change, The New York Times reported.

–The Hagstrom Report

USDA ready to help Nebraska farmers and ranchers recover from recent blizzards, floods

LINCOLN, Neb. March 20, 2019 – Extreme weather conditions like the recent “bomb cyclone” and the ongoing flooding impacted many farmers and ranchers in Nebraska. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has disaster assistance programs available to help agricultural producers recover from these natural disasters.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA) offer programs that help producers recover losses, rehabilitating farms and ranches, and managing risk.

Recovering Losses

FSA offers many programs to help producers recover from losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program and the Tree Assistance Program. Producers located in counties receiving a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses.

“FSA has a variety of disaster assistance programs to support farmers and ranchers through times of adversity,” said Nancy Johner, State Executive Director for the FSA in Nebraska. “Once you are able to evaluate your losses, it is important to contact your local FSA office to report all damages and learn more about how we can assist.”

Rehabilitating Farms and Ranches

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and other conservation programs to help producers recover and build resilience to better withstand future disasters. NRCS plans to direct additional EQIP funds to cope with livestock lost due to flooding in Nebraska. These dollars will help landowners remove and properly dispose of livestock carcasses that are obstructing streams and waterways.

“NRCS can be a very valuable partner to help landowners with their recovery effort,” said Craig Derickson, State Conservationist for the NRCS in Nebraska. “Our staff will work one-on-one with landowners to make assessments of the damages and develop approaches that focus on effective recovery of the land.”

Meanwhile, the FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.

Managing Risk

Producers with coverage through federal crop insurance should contact their agent for issues regarding filing claims. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses.

RMA Regional Director Collin Olsen said, “If you are concerned that you may not be able to get your crop planted, you should contact your crop insurance agent. The agent can provide details on your prevented planting coverage and how and when to file a claim. The Approved Insurance Providers, loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well-trained in handling these types of events.”

Compensation is also available to producers who purchased coverage through FSA’s Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. Eligible producers must have purchased NAP coverage for 2019 crops.

Supporting Communities

In addition to helping producers, USDA also offers assistance to local governments and other entities with rebuilding infrastructure and removing debris. The NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program provides assistance to local sponsors with the cost of addressing watershed impairments or hazards like debris removal and streambank stabilization. Interested entities should contact Allen Gehring, NRCS State Conservation Engineer at (402) 437-4037.

More Information

USDA offers a disaster assistance discovery tool that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of what USDA disaster assistance programs meet their needs. For more information on disaster assistance programs, contact your local USDA service center or farmers.gov/recover.


USDA sets dietary guidelines meeting

The Agriculture Department and the Health and Human Services Department announced Tuesday that the first meeting of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will be held in the USDA Jefferson Auditorium on March 28 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and March 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

This is the first of five meetings to be scheduled for the committee — the dates of the subsequent meetings will be announced.

Registration for in-person attendance is open and closes March 26 at 5 p.m., and the public may also submit comments throughout the deliberations. (See links below.)

“USDA is committed to ensuring the process for developing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is transparent and data-driven,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“We are looking forward to kicking off the committee’s review of the scientific evidence, along with public engagement throughout the process. The comment period is open, and we encourage everyone to visit the redesigned Dietary Guidelines website.”

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will be chaired by Barbara Schneeman, a former member of the faculty at the University of California at Davis who also served as the director of the Office of Nutrition, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the Food and Drug Administration. and Ron Kleinman, the physician-in-chief of MassGeneral Hospital for Children, will serve as vice chair.

Much of the committee’s work relies on conducting systematic reviews of published scientific evidence. USDA has changed the name of the Nutrition Evidence Library — the team responsible for this work — to Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review (NESR).

USDA has updated the Dietary Guidelines website and launched a new site for the NESR to make following the work easier.

Go here to submit a comment.

–The Hagstrom Report