The USDA recently made their final decision on GIPSA – to pull the pending Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules designed to level the playing field for poultry and livestock producers. These rules have been languishing since the 2008 farm bill, and today’s action firmly places this administration on the side of large meatpackers and poultry processors, not family farmers.
After years of negotiation and analysis, the rule would have protected contract livestock growers from the retaliation they have suffered after exposing financial hardship and ruin caused by large-scale poultry companies and meatpackers. If there was any hope that Secretary Perdue and this administration would stand up for small- and medium-sized family farmers and the rural communities they support, that has been dashed now.
Sam Clovis, Trumps nominee for chief scientist of the USDA, is not a scientist, he does however, question the scientific consensus that climate change is a result of human activity.
“I have looked at the science,” Clovis said, “and I have enough of a science background to know when I’m being boofed. And a lot of what we see is junk science.”
So, there we have it, the guy who will be responsible for the USDA’s $3 billion budget, which, among other things, funds research to assist in mitigating the effects of climate change on farmers and ranchers, doesn’t believe in climate change. What we see here is the epitome of fake news in the Trump era, when a man, who is not a scientist can be elevated to the position of chief scientist of a department, which relies on scientific data for much of its operations, you have to admit that reality is finally stranger than fiction. Clovis is utterly unqualified for this position, a common theme in the Trump administration, which may pose some barriers to his confirmation in the senate. The senate hearing has not yet been scheduled yet, but if Clovis is successful, it could have devastating and long-term effects on the sector.
Eddie and Dorothy Wise continue to live at the Deluxe Inn in the Rocky Mount area. As I write this today, they are on the property packing and removing all of their personal belongings. The Federal Marshals are giving them only one day to remove everything. One has to wonder how you pack up a lifetime in just a few hours. No time to sort or anything else.
Eddie has been frustrated that he cannot get in contact with Federal Marshals to get onto the property to get his personal belongings out of the house. Also, trying to find out what happened to his dogs.
When I spoke with Eddie on Wednesday (3/16/2016), and this has been true since their removal on January 20, 2016, he was still concerned about his dogs and what has happened to them. He feels really sure that they have been “put down” because it was over a week before the marshals office informed him that the dogs had been sent to the “pound.” Such an incident as this is stressful enough without the additional constant worry of what has happened to your “best friends,” your dogs “who certainly provide unconditional love,” Eddie said.
We did finally get in touch with Congressman G. K. Butterfields’ office and the congressman has offered to do what he can to assist the Wises, even in trying to help them find housing once they are ready.
Many people have come to the aide with suggestions and support. However, nothing, yet, has put any kind of stop or even slow down on this case. The farm is set to be sold at auction on Thursday, April 7, 2016. At this writing, I am not sure just where. We do know that there have been several “white folk,” Eddie’s terminology, that have been after the property for a very long time and Eddie believes that they are pushing so they can get the property.
Sit back, friends. I’ve got a story for you. (Spoiler alert, it involves pesticides, pollinators, USDA protection of Big Ag interests, and the failure of the US government to protect whistleblowers.)
“Politics inside USDA have made entomology a high risk specialty.”
In early 2015, USDA scientist, Dr. Jonathon Lundgren submitted his research on pesticides and pollinators to a peer-reviewed journal. In response, supervisors at the USDA suspended Dr. Lundgren under the pretense that has research had unearthed “sensitive information” that had not yet been approved for publication.
What could be so sensitive you ask? Dr. Lundgren had found that clothianidin, a neonicotinoid seed treatment (pesticide), kills monarch butterfly larvae in the laboratory.
It doesn’t sound that surprising, does it? Either that a crop treatment would adversely affect pollinators or that the USDA would be reluctant to publish the information. But it gets better.
It turns out that Dr. Lundgren is whistleblower, who in September 2014 had lodged a formal complaint against the USDA for serious alleged violations of the agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy, including attempts by senior officials to impede or deter Lundgren’s research. He believes– and we are inclined to believe him– that his 14-day suspension is a direct retaliation to that action and to the threat his research poses to big ag.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on October 8th, 2015 awards totaling $17 million through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). BFRDP is the only USDA program exclusively dedicated to training new farmers and ranchers, particularly in sustainable production practices.
This year, 34 organizations received BFRDP grants for projects supporting beginning farmers in 25 states. In total, about $10.7 million in grant funding will support 22 projects spearheaded by community-based and non-profit organizations, while $6 million will go towards 12 beginning farmer programs housed within public universities or cooperative extension. Here are the winners!
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Agriculture Department has developed a new government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients.
USDA’s move comes as some consumer groups push for mandatory labeling of the genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
The certification is the first of its kind, would be voluntary — and companies would have to pay for it. If approved, the foods would be able to carry a “USDA Process Verified” label along with a claim that they are free of GMOs.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack outlined the new certification in a May 1 letter to USDA employees, saying it was being done at the request of a “leading global company,” which he did not identify. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.
A USDA spokesman confirmed that Vilsack sent the letter but declined to comment on the certification program. Vilsack said in the letter that the certification “will be announced soon, and other companies are already lining up to take advantage of this service.”
Companies can already put their own GMO-free labels on foods, but there are no government labels that only certify a food as GMO-free. Many companies use a private label developed by a nonprofit called the Non-GMO Project. The USDA organic label also certifies that foods are free of genetically modified ingredients, but many non-GMO foods aren’t organic. To read more, click HERE!
Grant applications are being accepted from eligible applicants to assist socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers to own and operate farms and ranches. The grant will assist community-based organizations, higher education institutions and tribal entities in providing outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers. Applications must be submitted by Aug. 25. Learn more.