February 14, 2016

EPA Feels Heat In House Ag Committee Hearing

McCarthyLawmakers on the House Ag Committee continue to press EPA administrator Gina McCarthy on the agency’s use of social media during the comment period leading up to the final Waters of the U.S. Rule

During a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday, McCarthy continued to stand by her belief that federal laws were not broken when her agency used social media to gin up support for the much maligned WOTUS:

Social Media 1

David Scott, a Democrat from Georgia, was not impressed:

Social Media 2

A Government Accountability Office repot accused EPA of violating anti-lobbying laws in its use of social media aggregator, Thunderclap, to gather support for Waters of the U.S. The rule has been put on hold while legal challenges against it are being weighed in the Federal court.


CME To Shorten Livestock Trading Hours

Feeding CowsThe CME Group announced yesterday that, pending Commodity and Futures Trading Commission approval, it will be shortening the trading hours for livestock contracts.  The proposal, expected to take effect February 29th, would change hours on all five days of the week to 8:30 am until 1:05 pm central time for electronic trade and 8:30 am until 1:02 pm central time for open outcry options.  Settlement procedures will be unchanged.

The move to reduce trading hours comes as both industry participants and traders have increasingly complained about what they view as unnecessary volatility.  In fact, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association sent a letter to the CME back in January expressing its concerns about the effects of automated trading, spoofing, and a general lack of transparency.  R-Calf USA also sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking for an investigation in the recent sharp drop in prices.

Some analysts believe the problem may lie more with the fact that cash and futures appear to have become more and  more disconnected as more cattle are being sold under contract rather than on the open market.  CME said the change in hours is just a step, and they will also be forming a cattle market joint working group with the NCBA to discuss additional steps and will also be reviewing  the live cattle delivery point at Worthing, South Dakota  to see if a discount is warranted for cattle delivered there.


SD Pheasants Forever Hosting CRP Informational Meetings

PFPheasants Forever and partners in South Dakota are hosting five Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up informational meetings for landowners in the coming week of the sign-up period. The CRP general sign-up began December 1, 2015, and ends February 26, 2016.

CRP remains the gold standard program for creating upland habitat for pheasants, grouse, and other wildlife in South Dakota. In addition to wildlife habitat, CRP provides landowners with many benefits. “CRP continues to evolve. With competitive rental rates, the ability to enroll partial fields, and a beneficial change in haying and grazing limitations for producers, landowners will want to attend a local meeting and learn how voluntary conservation programs can work to increase farm and ranch income,” stated Matt Morlock, Pheasants Forever’s assistant director in South Dakota. Landowners are encouraged to RSVP for an event by contacting their local Pheasants Forever Farm Bill wildlife biologist.

CRP general sign-up information meetings will focus on eligibility and the CRP sign-up process, as well as updates to CRP mid-contract management. Presentations will also cover various CRP practices, updated rental rates, and public access / additional incentive opportunities.

CRP Informational Meetings by County

County Date Time Location RSVP
Bennett County Feb. 8 6:00 PM Susan’s H&H – Martin, SD Email / (605) 730-3474
Lyman County Feb. 9 6:00 PM Hutch’s Café – Presho, SD Email / (605) 730-3474
Perkins County Feb. 11 2:00 PM Dakota Lodge Conference Room – Lemmon, SD Email / (605) 730-3474
Pennington County Feb. 13 3:00 PM Rushmore Civic Center Alpine Room – Rapid City, SD Email / (605) 730-3474
Davison County Feb. 14 3:30 PM Mitchell Moose Lodge – Mitchell, SD Email / (605) 730-3474

Conservation Reserve Program

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.