Agricultural news briefs


Staff Reports



U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (left) meets with Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay during the secretary’s trip to Toronto.


Perdue Statement on Visit to Toronto, First International Trip as Secretary of Agriculture

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue meets with Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay

Washington, DC, June 5, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue completed a trip to Toronto, marking his first international trip as secretary. Perdue conducted a series of meetings with Canadian officials, including Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay and current Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne, regarding bilateral trade issues of importance. Among other issues, Perdue raised the topic of American ultra-filtered milk that has been a point of disagreement between the U.S. and Canada.

Perdue also participated in a celebration of the 10th year of the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance (SEUS-CP), an organization meant to foster mutually beneficial relationships Perdue helped found as governor of Georgia in 2007. Perdue participated in a “fireside chat” regarding SEUS-CP with former Premier of Quebec Jean Charest.

Finally, Perdue attended the inaugural “tasteU.S.” culinary showcase of Southeastern United States products at the Marché Mövenpick Brookfield Restaurant.

Following his meetings in Canada, Perdue issued the following statement:

“We had very good, very candid discussions, very frank, like family members discussing some things that are not necessarily comfortable. We laid out a great framework to begin renegotiating NAFTA.

“I was able to describe the issues that we feel are important to resolve – and can be resolved – as we begin to renegotiate NAFTA. That has to do, obviously, with the dairy issue and the wheat grading issue that deals with feed grade wheat that’s not grown in Canada. And also certain provincial wine issues, where wines are not displayed out in front where other Canadian wine is.

“It was not the purpose today to enter into deep negotiations back and forth, but to lay out the issues that we had concerns about. It’s not our purpose to try to manage or try to get involved in their internal supply management regarding the dairy industry. The ultra-filtered milk was not included in NAFTA. And I made it very clear that the Class 7 designation we felt was an unfair undercutting of the U.S. industry that grew up south of the U.S.-Canada border. It cut these producers and this industry out of shipping the ultra-filtered milk into their cheese industry, which was in demand in Canada. I also said, if you want to manage your dairy supply with supply management, that’s fine. You just need to manage it and not overproduce to create a glut of milk solids on the world market that’s being dumped at unfair prices.

“While we didn’t try to negotiate back and forth, I think it was clearly understood that we consider all options on the table and we’ll pursue them in the best interests of U.S. producers.”

Perdue Statement on Sugar Agreement with Mexico

Washington, DC, June 6, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a statement regarding a new agreement between the United States and Mexico regarding the importation of Mexican sugar. The U.S. Department of Commerce has been reviewing a 2014 agreement with the government of Mexico and the Mexican sugar refiners that suspended anti-dumping and countervailing duties on the import of Mexican sugar into the U.S. This 2014 Suspension Agreement contained limits on the amount and type of Mexican sugar that could be imported each year. The original date to reach a new agreement was Monday, June 5, 2017, but Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross extended the deadline to today, Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

Perdue’s statement is as follows:

“This agreement protects American workers and consumers and marks a dramatic improvement for the U.S. sugar industry. The accord sharply reduces the percentage of Mexican refined sugar that may be imported into the United States and also lowers the polarity dividing line between refined and raw sugar. We also achieved better pricing agreements for the industry. And significantly, the agreement requires that raw Mexican sugar be shipped flowing freely in the holds of ocean-going vessels, rather than being shipped in packages or by land. Finally, it is of great importance that USDA will have the flexibility to protect the U.S. sugar industry by making polarity adjustments in the event of extraordinary or unforeseen circumstances. These are important wins in the negotiations, and I congratulate President Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for their tenacity.

“The agreement prevented potentially significant and retaliatory actions by the Mexican sugar industry and sets an important tone of good faith leading up to the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. I maintain that if the rules are fair and the playing field is level, American agricultural products will succeed, thrive, and lead the way.”

Second Lady Karen Pence, Secretary Perdue Unveil Beehive at Vice President’s Residence, and Asks Public to Help Boost Pollinator Population

Secretary and Mrs. Perdue joined Second Lady Karen Pence to unveil a new beehive on the grounds of the Vice President’s residence

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2017 – Second Lady Karen Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled a newly-installed beehive on the grounds of the Vice President’s residence, drawing attention to the plight of pollinators whose numbers are in decline. Together, the two urged Americans to do their own part to help reverse the population trend among the creatures, which are essential to producing much of the nation’s food.

“All types of pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, birds and bats, are critical to providing our nation’s food, fiber, fuel and medicine,” Mrs. Pence said. “However, our beekeepers have been losing colonies for many years. This presents a serious challenge to our ability to produce many of the agricultural products that we enjoy today. The bees at the Vice President’s Residence will provide an added bonus to the vegetable and flower gardens by making them well pollinated and taste even better at harvest.”

Perdue released a proclamation he has signed declaring June 19-25, 2017 as “National Pollinator Week” (Proclamation can be viewed online at https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/national-pollinator-week-secretary-proclamation.pdf (PDF, 97.5 KB)). Perdue noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency led efforts to create a National Pollinator Health Strategy. The two agencies are working with a number of other federal departments to implement that strategy, which includes significant USDA research.

“Most farmers and consumers have no better friends and few harder workers than the honey bee, as more than one-third of all U.S. crop production requires insect pollination,” Perdue said. “But our honeybee population has been losing ground at an alarming rate. The problem represents a diverse mix of challenges requiring a wide range of solutions. And at USDA we are leading the way in research to help out our pollinator friends.”

Honeybees are the nation’s primary pollinators, adding at least $15 billion a year in value to about 90 crops by increasing yields and helping to ensure superior-quality harvests. Those crops include nuts, fruits, berries and vegetables, which add color, taste and texture to our diet.

The number of honeybee hives in the U.S, has declined from 6 million during the 1940s to only about 2.5 million today. Those losses have been attributed to a number of factors, ranging from a syndrome known as “colony collapse disorder” to stress caused by factors such as parasites and pests, transportation of bees, sub-lethal exposure to pesticides, and poor nutrition.

Mrs. Pence and Secretary Perdue pointed out that a lack of supportive habitat near hives also contributes to the declines. Even if people don’t set up their own hives, they can help by planting bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in their yards and gardens. Honeybees particularly love wildflowers, lilacs, poppies and Black-eyed Susans, as well as herbs and vegetables like mint, sage, squash, tomatoes, oregano, and rosemary. In addition, bees get thirsty, and that placing birdbaths and small basins of water could help relieve their thirst.

Mrs. Pence installed a beehive in the Indiana governor’s residence in 2014, when Vice President Mike Pence served as the state’s governor. She said more than 80 percent of the land in Indiana is dedicated to agriculture, and its crops are very dependent upon pollinators.

The hive unveiled today is located on the grounds of the Vice President’s Residence. It is a triple-deep “Langstroth” beehive that holds traditional frames and was obtained from Eco Honeybees of Falls Church, VA. The hive contains almost 20,000 bees and continues to grow.

Secretaries Perdue and Zinke Stress Inter-Departmental Collaboration as Wildfire Season Approaches

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (right) and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed a memorandum to wild land fire leadership

Boise, ID, June 2, 2017 – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan K. Zinke joined forces in Boise, Idaho at the National Incident Fire Command Center (NIFC) for a tour and briefing on the upcoming wildfire season. Following the events, the secretaries sent a memorandum to wild land fire leadership highlighting the importance of inter-departmental collaboration in protecting communities and managing public lands. In the memorandum, Perdue and Zinke stressed the need for working together as they anticipate the 2017 wildfire season to be “another challenging year” saying:

“The Departments of the Interior and Agriculture will improve the way that both Agencies manage wildfires by ensuring that all of our firefighting assets are utilized in the most efficient way possible. It is critical that firefighters have the right tools, resources, and flexibility to allow them to do their jobs safely and effectively. We look forward to working with leaders in both Agencies along with our state and local partners to explore opportunities to improve our operational efficiency and take advantage of the firefighting infrastructure and assets that are currently in place. We will also continue to integrate science and technology into all of our firefighting and to capitalize on other advancements to better inform and support our firefighting capabilities.

“Our success will be defined by how well we meet our obligations and how efficiently we use our resources and the management tools available to us. By keeping our employees and the public safe from harm or loss, by effectively suppressing unwanted fire, and by doing everything we can to improve the health of our landscapes, we will be successful.”

To read the memorandum from Secretaries Perdue and Zinke in its entirety, please view the USDA and DOI 2017 Direction to Wildland Fire Leadership Memorandum (PDF, 64.7 KB).

USDA Celebrates National Home ownership Month

Events across the Nation to Spotlight Efforts to Help Rural Americans Buy Homes

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2017 – Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development Roger Glendenning kicked off National Home ownership Month to celebrate the vital contribution homeowners have made to communities across rural America.

“Owning a home provides rural residents a secure environment where they can raise families, and it helps invigorate local rural economies that are vital to the long-term security and well-being of our nation,” Glendenning said. “Home ownership fortifies communities, creates jobs and strengthens the local businesses that support our towns.”

USDA provides mortgage loan guarantees through partnerships with private-sector lenders to help low- to moderate-income rural home buyers. In 2016 alone, USDA worked with nearly 1,500 lenders to help 116,000 rural individuals and families buy homes.

USDA has helped more than 4.1 million rural residents buy homes since the National Housing Act was passed 68 years ago.

Department of Agriculture employees will celebrate National Home ownership Month throughout June with events across the nation that demonstrate the Department’s longstanding commitment to provide affordable housing opportunities for rural Americans. To learn more about USDA’s observance of National Home ownership Month, please visit our Facebook page, follow @USDARD on Twitter, contact a USDA Rural Development State Office near you, or call 800-670-6553.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; home ownership; community services such as schools, public safety and healthcare; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (left) meets with Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay during the secretary’s trip to Toronto.
http://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2017/06/web1_perdue-canada-statement-060517_original.jpgU.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (left) meets with Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay during the secretary’s trip to Toronto.

Staff Reports