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ANNE HAZLETT NAMED NEW INDIANA DIRECTOR OF AGRICULTURE

Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman has announced the selection of Anne Hazlett to serve as the Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. In this role, Ms. Hazlett will lead the state's efforts to promote and strengthen Indiana's agricultural industry."I have worked with many people in the agricultural industry over the years, and no one is more passionate about agriculture…

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EPA ISSUES RULE ON REPORTING HAZARDOUS FARM WASTE

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule on December 12 providing an administrative reporting exemption for air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at farms. NASDA and other agricultural organizations have urged the agency to address this issue for some time and strongly supported EPA's original proposal in 2007 to exempt farm operations from the…

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LUCAS SELECTED AS NEW GOP LEADER ON AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE

The House GOP leadership on December 10 announced the ranking republican members for committees in the 111th Congress. Rep. Frank Lucas (OK) is the new ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee. Lucas succeeds Rep. Bob Goodlatte (VA) who was required to step down by party term-limit rules. As the Ranking Member on the Agriculture Committee, Lucas will serve as a policy leader for…

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NEW H2A REGULATIONS PUBLISHED

The Department of Labor (DOL) is amending its regulations regarding the certification for the temporary employment of non-immigrant workers in agricultural occupations on a temporary or seasonal basis, and the enforcement of the contractual obligations applicable to employers of such nonimmigrant workers. The effective date of the final rule is January 16, 2009. A link to the text of the…

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INTERIOR FINALIZES ENDANGERED SPECIES RULE

The Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce issued joint final regulations on December 11 to clarify the consultation process under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The rule outlines how federal agencies make decisions on endangered species listing and review global warming effects.Under ESA Section 7, federal agencies are required to ensure that actions they fund,…

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SENATE HOLDS HEARING ON NUTRITION AND FOOD ASSISTANCE

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on December 8 to review and "assess USDA food assistance and child nutrition programs in the economic downturn." Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said the hearing was the beginning of the panel's work to reauthorize the child nutrition programs in 2009, including the school lunch program and WIC program. Harkin also called for expanding funding…

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SOYBEAN BOARD SEEKS AUDIT OF CHECKOFF PROGRAM

The American Soybean Association (ASA) voted December 10 to ask the Secretary of Agriculture to order an Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation and financial audit of the National Soybean Checkoff Program.The ASA petition calls for an investigation of the United Soybean Board (USB) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) to ensure that soybean checkoff dollars are being…

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USDA HALLMARK INVESTIGATION REPORTS ON MEAT INSPECTION SYSTEM

USDA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report December 9 on pre-slaughter activities, inspection, and management of the Hallmark-Westland meat packing company. The report was requested by Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer earlier this year.In January 2008, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUA) released videos to the public that showed inhumane treatment of cattle at a…

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NEW REPORT CALLS FOR NUTRIENT CONTROLS

The National Academy of Sciences' Research Council issued a new report December 11 saying the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and USDA should establish a Nutrient Control Implementation Initiative to improve water quality throughout the Mississippi River basin. The report advises how to allocate nutrient loading caps for reducing pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus from…