Ag Chat with Kristin Smith - Dec. 19th

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- After several delays in the past year in setting an effective date for the final rule in organic livestock and poultry practices, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Friday that his agency will withdraw the proposed rule. The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, signed in the final hours of the Obama administration, would have added provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and expand existing requirements of livestock care. In withdrawing the rule, the USDA determined the regulation exceeded the agency's authority and that it would have had a greater economic impact on farmers than originally estimated. The National Pork Producers Council said they are thankful to the Trump Administration and to Perdue for listening to their concerns about the rule.

Photo: MGN

But, not everyone is happy with the decision. The National Farmers Union supports the OLPP rule’s intent, as it would improve the consistency and integrity of organic livestock practices and labeling. NFU Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew issued a statement that there’s too much inconsistency in how organic certifiers apply animal welfare standards to farming and ranching operations. Which, in turn, endangers the organic label’s integrity and leads to consumer confusion. The OLPP rule would have helped mitigate these concerns by standardizing organic livestock and poultry practices for the voluntary National Organic Program.

It’s not just the orange groves that were hit hard by Hurricane Irma. Florida’s grapefruit harvest is now projected to fall to the lowest in nearly a century. Production may only reach 4.65 million boxes in the current crop year, which would be the lowest output since 1919. Texas is aiming to shore up some lost output and next year could surpass Florida as the top grapefruit producer for the first time, according to USDA data. Still, the nationwide crop of 14.15 million boxes will be the smallest since 1930, less than half the harvest as recently as 2013. Still, Florida remains central to U.S. grapefruit exports, and consumer demand has remained strong in spite of rising prices.

The National FFA Foundation has released its list of 2017 Supervised Agricultural Experience or SAE grant program recipients. SAE programs apply the concepts learned in the agricultural classroom and the skills developed through FFA membership to individual experiential learning projects. A few from our area are: Devon Weiland, Colby; Connor Kurtzweil, Edgar; Zack Peterson and Noah Hines, Ellsworth; Adam Zee, Marshfield; and Kendra Goplin, Whitehall.

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