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News Update
Dec. 2, 2005

USDA Urges Participation in FSA Elections

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns urged America’s farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers Tuesday to vote in Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committee elections by Dec. 5, the deadline for casting ballots.

Johanns stated, “It is vital that all farmers and ranchers, especially women and minorities, participate in the elections process to ensure the opinions expressed in committee meetings reflect an area’s agricultural sector.”

Producers must return ballots to their local FSA offices by the close of business on Dec. 5. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office Jan. 1, 2006.

FSA county committees help administer federal farm programs at the local level, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) release. Committee members make decisions on conservation programs, commodity price support loans and payments, disaster assistance payments, and other agricultural issues.

For more information visit www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/elections/Default.asp.


Japan Studies Public Comment on U.S. Beef

Officials from Japan’s Food Safety Commission (FSC) are examining public comments to determine if any scientific considerations have been raised regarding the safety of U.S. beef imports, MSN News and Mainichi Daily News reported.

The FSC first opened the topic to public comment after members of an FSC subcommittee said Oct. 31 they found few differences between bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) risks associated with U.S. beef and those associated with Japanese beef. Public opinions, which were submitted during a month of comment that ended Nov. 29, are now under review by FSC. The agency is expected to reach its final conclusion and submit its recommendation to the country’s government officials.

According to the article, commission spokeswoman Akiko Hosokawa said that recommendation may come as soon as Dec. 8.


$2.7 Billion Available for Voluntary Conservation

Secretary Johanns yesterday announced the release of nearly $2.7 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2006 for voluntary conservation programs on working lands.

The early release of funds ensures farmers and ranchers in the nation’s 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Pacific Basin have more time to make sound decisions regarding their conservation practices. States will receive their allocations much earlier than in the past.

FY 2006 allocations include nearly $1.3 billion in technical assistance and about $1.4 billion in financial assistance for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) voluntary conservation programs and other activities. A total of more than $2.3 billion will be distributed.

With financial and technical assistance from NRCS, farmers, ranchers and other landowners will continue to address resource concerns on agricultural working lands, promote environmental quality, address challenges in water quality and quantity, protect prime farmland and grazing lands, and protect valuable wetlands ecosystems and wildlife habitat.

Additional information about NRCS programs is available at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs. Landowners who want specific information regarding program participation should contact their local USDA Service Center or NRCS office located at http://offices.usda.gov or in the telephone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

National Beef Profits Drop by More than Half

National Beef Packing Co. LLC announced Wednesday its annual profits dropped 53% this year. According to The Associated Press, the company blames BSE concerns for the profit loss, with the high cost of live cattle and lack of imports squeezing profit margins from 1.7% of sales to 1.2%.

National Beef is the country’s fourth-largest beef processor.

— compiled by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc.

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