WASHINGTON, March 28, 2017 - The Obama administration’s attempt to overhaul the BLM’s land-use planning process is now history. President Trump yesterday signed a congressional resolution striking down the BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule, which sought to broaden input into the agency’s land-use decisions. Trump described the rule as a “federal power grab.”
Ranchers joined energy interests to argue that the rule would weaken the influence of regional and local officials.
Western lawmakers pushed hard for the bill, which cleared the House easily but only passed the Senate with a three-vote margin.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said that the bill, which reinstates the status quo before the rule was published, would return decision-making authority to the states. But Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development, a coalition led by Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said in a tweet that the rule's demise "weakens (the) public's voice, (and) downplays consideration of wildlife (and) other resources."
The rule “would have caused a wholesale shift in management focus at BLM by prioritizing ‘social and environmental change’ over ensuring the multiple use of public lands,” said Ethan Lane, directs federal lands policy for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
NCBA is starting its annual legislative conference in Washington today.
Meanwhile, NCBA wants spotlight on beef at Trump meeting with Chinese president. When Chinese President Xi Jinping comes to the U.S. next month, NCBA, the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the North American Meat Institute are hoping Trump will press the issue of getting China to lift its ban on U.S. beef.
Leaders of all three groups signed on to a letter to Trump asking him to help resolve the issue. It’s been about six months since China announced that it would lift a 14-year-old ban that was put in place after the first case of mad cow disease was discovered in the U.S.
NCBA has called the announcement a good first step, but the group continues to press the governments to negotiate specific terms to allow trade to resume.
“We believe that access to the large and growing Chinese beef market is essential to the future health of the U.S. beef industry,” the groups said in the letter. “We understand that you have many important issues to discuss with President Xi, but we strongly encourage you to take this important opportunity to convey the urgent need for China to reopen its market to U.S. beef.”
House Ag digging into grain, soybean issues. The Agriculture Risk Coverage program will be a major topic of discussion during a hearing in the House today on farm bill programs for grain and oilseeds.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, tells Agri-Pulse that lawmakers needs to understand complaints about county payment disparities under ARC.
A corn grower will tell lawmakers that producers in one county can get large ARC payments while farmers in a neighboring county get nothing at all. Corn growers also don’t think that the 86 percent coverage level and 10 percent payment zone in ARC fit today’s lower-price environment.
The subcommittee also will hear from producers of soybeans, wheat, barley and sorghum.
USDA report: land-grant university research is worth the investment. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released a study Monday to show the value of research done at the 112 institutions across the country.
The 147-page report concludes that “capacity funding” for land grant universities pays dividends in “agronomy, animal science and livestock, fisheries and aquaculture.”
NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy said: “It’s no accident that agriculture is a high-performing sector of the U.S. economy. It’s the result of decades of research and development. This report shows the importance of federal investments to our nation’s land-grant university system.”
Rep. Tim Walz to run for governor in Minnesota. The Democrat representing the first district of Minnesota will leave his seat in Congress up for grabs as he runs to be the state’s next governor in 2018, according to a report Tuesday by the Post Bulletin.
Walz, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said in the article that he doesn’t expect a Republican to win his seat in Congress.
"Midterm elections are often referendums on the party in the White House and Donald Trump's 40 percent approval rating could well drag on any Republican running in the first," he said.
Phil Brasher and Steve Davies contributed to this report