Texas pipeline legislation update

Texas State Capitol photo by TexasExplorer98 at flickr

Texas HB 2748, a bill that would have modified how the Railroad Commission reviews and approves pipeline common carrier permit applications, was referred back to committee on the floor of the Texas House, Friday. This essentially puts a halt to the House version of this legislation. Friday’s action in the Texas House was a win for landowners; however, two pieces of similar legislation were heard Monday in the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee. Read more…

Goodlatte touts first House proposal aimed at immigration reform

Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., on Friday unveiled the first of several House measures designed to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws. The Agricultural Guestworker Act would provide American farmers with a more efficient temporary guest worker program aimed at allowing them access to a reliable workforce. Read more…

Carrie Underwood gets political on Tennessee “Ag Gag” bill

Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Robert Burns

Singer Carrie Underwood is using her celebrity status to attempt to derail Tennessee HB 1191/SB1248, The Livestock Cruelty Prevention Act, which is awaiting the signature of the state’s governor. The measure stops animal rights activists from videotaping and editing videos to produce abuse scenes on tape and sending these videos to the media, which in turn negatively impacts the ag industry. This measure doesn’t prevent farmers and ranchers in the state from being transparent; instead, it prohibits animal rights activists from getting hired on these operations under false pretenses. It also requires individuals who record cruelty toward farm animals to report the incident and turn in the evidence to law enforcement officials within 48 hours of the abuse. Read more…

U.S. senators unveil bipartisan immigration bill

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on April 16 unveiled long-awaited landmark legislation to remove the threat of deportation for millions of illegal immigrants and give them an opportunity to eventually become U.S. citizens. Read more…

Reform biofuels mandate, beef, pork urge Congress

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Following an announcement by House lawmakers that they will introduce legislation to address issues with the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) urged Congress to reform the biofuels mandate. Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Jim Costa, D-Calif., Steve Womack, R-Ark., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., said at a Wednesday press conference they would introduce the Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act to “help ease concerns created by the ethanol mandate and protect consumers, energy producers, livestock producers, food manufacturers, retailers and the U.S. economy.” Read more…

Immigration talks see accord on ag workers

Picture courtesy Oklahoma State University

An apparent agreement involving agriculture workers and growers was reached Tuesday as Texas lawmakers separately filed a border security bill in advance of the upcoming debate on immigration reform. A final resolution between groups representing agricultural workers and growers could develop within the next few days. Negotiations were continuing on Capitol Hill. Read more…

Immigration debate now on ag’s turf

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Mark Kelley.

Senate efforts to overhaul immigration law now mainly hinge on a major sector certain to be impacted by the plan: Agriculture. After a bitter fight between interest groups late last week, Republicans and Democrats are closely monitoring sensitive talks between labor and industry over a new program to woo foreign farmworkers. Read more…

Senate immigration bill would set up a new permanent ag worker program

Sweeping immigration legislation taking shape in the Senate will aim to overhaul the nation’s agriculture worker program to create a steady supply of labor for farmers and growers, who rely more than any other industry on workers who have come to the country illegally. Read more…

How one federal program was able to beat the sequester

The sequester was supposed to be something new in Washington: a budget cut you couldn’t beat. But after an extensive – and ultimately successful – campaign by meat industry stakeholders, the money to keep federal food inspectors on the job was found. Read more…

Horse slaughter plant’s lawyer says opening just weeks away

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The lawyer for a New Mexico meat plant that wants to be the first to slaughter horses in the U.S. since 2007 says the facility may be operational in just a few weeks. The company is one of several that have applied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to slaughter horses, a practice that ended in 2007 after Congress defunded government inspections at the facilities. That measure lapsed in 2011. The USDA, which would regulate the plant, didn’t immediately comment on the lawyer’s assertion. The agency this month said that once the company meets technical requirements and inspector training has taken place, “the department will legally have no choice but to go forward with inspections.” Read more…

Cattlemen Connect: Rep. Trent Ashby

Check out this first edition of “Cattlemen Connect”, a new video series by TSCRA to help members connect with elected officials. This video focuses on Texas State Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Dist. 57, Lufkin, and what topics are influencing his area of the state. Read more…

Cornyn to speak at Cattle Raisers Convention

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U.S. Sen. John Cornyn will speak during the Opening General Session of the136th Annual Cattle Raisers Convention, March 22-24 in Fort Worth. Cornyn will update attendants on federal legislation and regulations that could affect the cattle industry, including immigration and border security, federal budget cuts and the Endangered Species Act. Read more…

NCBA favors voluntary COOL

Photo © 2012 Cattlemen's Beef Board

The USDA’s new proposed rule for country of origin labeling (COOL) will just create more problems for the U.S. beef industry, says NCBA President Elect Bob McCan, a cattleman from Victoria, Texas, and TSCRA past president. Speaking on NCBA’s “Beltway Beef” audio program, McCan says there is no regulatory fix to bring COOL rules into compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement. Read more…

Cuts target farm programs, insurance

Once again, farm programs are on the chopping block in Washington. Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., released a budget that would trim $4.6 trillion in federal spending over the next decade, by cutting spending on Medicare, repealing part of Obamacare and giving more authority to states to run nutrition programs. But it also targets farm programs. Read more…

Lack of milkers drives immigration debate

The Alpina Foods Inc. plant that just opened in Batavia, N.Y., to feed the nation’s growing appetite for Greek-style yogurt should have nearby dairy farmers such as Matt Lamb scrambling to expand their herds. It isn’t — and not because cows are in short supply. Lamb says he’s reluctant to add to his family’s 5,000-cow dairy operation for fear he won’t have enough workers to milk them every day. That’s partly due, he says, to U.S. immigration laws that were designed for seasonal farm laborers instead of the year-round, seven-days-a-week ones he needs. Read more…

Whole Foods sets GMO labeling deadline

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Whole Foods Market Friday announced that by 2018, all products in its U.S. and Canadian stores must be labeled to indicate if they contain genetically modified organisms. Whole Foods is the first grocer to set a deadline for full GMO labeling. Read more…

USDA issues proposed rule to amend labeling provisions under COOL

Photo courtesy USDA.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a proposed rule to modify the labeling provisions for muscle cut commodities covered under the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) program. The proposed rule would modify the labeling provisions for muscle cut covered commodities to require the origin designations to include information about where each of the production steps (i.e., born, raised, slaughtered) occurred and would remove the allowance for commingling of muscle cuts. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) says the proposed amendments will only further hinder U.S. trading relationships with partners such as Canada and Mexico, and raise the cost of beef for consumers and result in retaliatory tariffs being placed on U.S. export products. Read more…

US meat industry seeks 3-year worker visa in immigration reform

Congress should create a visa program, valid for at least three years, for foreigners willing to work year-round on poultry farms or in meatpacking and processing plants, an industry group said on Tuesday. Read more…

FDA: Rules protect from BSE, but comment period reopens

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The Food and Drug Administration is reopening the comment period for the interim final rule entitled ‘Use of Materials Derived From Cattle in Human Food and Cosmetics.’ The interim final rule protects consumers from exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy by prohibiting the use of certain cattle parts in human food, including dietary supplements, and cosmetics. Read more…

Horse slaughter debate heats up

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In the wake of the European scandals over unlabeled horse meat turning up in prepared foods, the issue of horse slaughter in the U.S. has returned to the headlines this week. Horse slaughter has essentially been banned in the United States since 2007, when Congress passed an appropriations bill that specifically prevented the USDA from using funds to inspect horse-slaughter plants. Horses processed for meat in this country must by law have USDA inspection. Congress dropped the ban in 2011, but USDA has yet to approve any horse plants for inspection through its Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Read more…