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Commodity Communicator Weekly

April 11, 2014

SIGN-UP DATES FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS ANNOUNCED
The Agriculture Department announced that farmers and ranchers can sign up for disaster assistance programs that were reestablished and strengthened by the 2014 farm bill, beginning Tuesday, April 15. The Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, as well as calendar years 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Enrollment also begins April 15 for producers with losses covered by the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program and the Tree Assistance Program. For more information, review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet and ELAP and TAP fact sheets or visit any local Farm Service Agency office or USDA Service Center.

FSA OFFICE ‘REALIGNMENT‘ LIKELY IN 2015
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says no closings of Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices are planned for this year. But he says some realignment of the system will likely take place starting in 2015. "We need to modernize our system and there are a couple of reasons for that," Vilsack says. "Number one, we have 20 percent fewer workers than we did several years ago. The budget that I'm working with at USDA is now one billion dollars less than it was when I became secretary in terms of the operating budget, so with a 20 percent reduction in workforce, you obviously have to realign where folks work and what they do." As of April, 30 Farm Service Agency offices nationwide do not have an employee assigned to work there and over a hundred other F–S–A offices have just one full–-time employee. "So what we are suggesting is, over time, fewer offices but better offices," Vilsack says. "We’re doing right now a work study to try to determine exactly where the work is being done, to make sure that we have adequate people doing the work that needs to be done, and then in 2015 we will probably suggest a realignment of some of the offices and a strengthening of those offices with additional investments."

BIG DATA MEETING: MORE WORK REMAINS TO BE DONE
More work remains to be done to find consensus on a set of standards aimed at protecting farm data privacy, attendees concluded after a meeting hosted by AFBF in Kansas City, Mo., with a dozen leading U.S. agricultural industry players. Executives from Monsanto who attended the meeting said afterward that they saw it as “valuable dialogue” they see continuing, according to a Reuters article. “The meeting was a clear indication of the opportunities that the proper management of data holds for agriculture across the board,” said Monsanto spokeswoman Christy Toedebusch.


AFBF SUPPORTS FOOD LABELING BILL
Food prices are already on the rise, but a 50-state patchwork of labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified ingredients could send costs skyrocketing by as much as 30 percent, without improving the safety of the food supply, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) wrote in a recent op-ed on The Hill.com. In their column, the lawmakers explain that climbing food prices are one of the many reasons they introduced the bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, H.R. 4432. The Farm Bureau-supported bill will make it clear that the Food and Drug Administration is the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

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