R-CALF Requests BSE Hearing
Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) has filed a motion in the U.S. District Court of Montana to request a hearing in its litigation against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) minimal risk rule regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
According to R-CALF, its motion argues that the facts in the case weren’t fully developed when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in mid-July 2005 overturned a previous ruling by the Montana district court that granted an injunction blocking Canadian live cattle imports.
R-CALF is now arguing that the federal appeals court heard only very limited facts and failed to address all evidence and arguments now presented in its challenge against the USDA rule. As a result, R-CALF is requesting the district court reconsider the case, maintaining that the Ninth Circuit’s decision “does not limit, or eliminate, the need for oral arguments of the case and a ruling by the district court on the summary judgment motions filed by both R-CALF USA and USDA.”
According to R-CALF, its motion also demonstrates that USDA is not applying sound scientific judgment to the BSE issue, allowing an increased risk of BSE infectivity.
The organization’s litigation disputes the safety of Canadian beef products and requests the USDA’s Final Rule on Canada be overturned and Canadian imports be rejected altogether.
Bioterrorism Act Mandates New Recordkeeping Rules
Grain and feed handlers have just five months to initiate approved recordkeeping processes in order to comply with the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002. Grain elevator operations that receive, hold and ship raw agricultural commodities, such as corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa meal and other crops, are mandated by the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 to register all their facilities, wherever food grains are received, cleaned, stored, blended and processed, and then shipped. This mandate to keep records of all grain received and shipped through the facilities is required to help prevent acts of contamination either by terrorists or by natural contamination.
Feedmill operations that receive raw agricultural commodities and manufacture them into animal and pet feed also are required to comply with this law. Even the delivery truck and its drivers have to be recorded.
According to a press release, the recordkeeping process must be in place by June 2006. After this date, all records must be available to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as soon as possible, and within 24 hours after a request is made if an act of contamination is tracked to a grain-handling operation.
USDA Awards $38 Million to Spark Growth of Value-Added Ag Ventures
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced the availability of funding of more than $19 million in grants to support the development of renewable energy projects and value-added agricultural business ventures. He also announced 33 rural economic development loan and grant recipients will receive $18.8 million to spur economic growth and create or save more than 2,700 jobs in 19 states.
“These Rural Development funds are a part of our strategy to bolster renewable energy and will help support small businesses and value-added products,” Johanns said.
According to USDA, the Value Added Producer Grant program encourages the development of renewable energy projects and is part of a comprehensive energy strategy announced in early December to help farmers and ranchers mitigate the impact of high-energy costs and develop long-term solutions.
Under this year’s program, the amount that can be awarded to a producer in the form of a working capital grant has been doubled to $300,000. $1.5 million is also being allocated to provide grants of $25,000 or less to eligible producers.
The grants may be used for planning activities, such as feasibility studies, marketing and business plans needed to establish a viable value-added marketing opportunity for an agricultural product, or to provide working capital for operating a value-added business venture, marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants are independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures.
Awards will be made on a competitive basis. Applications must be received no later than March 31. Detailed information and program requirements were included in the December 21, 2005, Federal Register.
Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA’s Web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov.
compiled by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc.
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