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Green light given on beef exports to Japan

On Friday, the United States beef cattle industry received big news after Japan announced it was eliminating longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef exports, including the 30-month cattle age limit, which paves the way for expanded sales to the United States’ top global beef market.

Fred Wacker of Miles City is the president of the Montana Stockgrowers Association and he said it’s great news for Montana’s beef cattle industry.

“It’s a huge announcement for Montana and U.S. cattle producers,” said Wacker. “We have been operating with, having to have age and source on our beef, since the BSE cow, which we never did ship any BSE beef to anybody. So, it’s time that this happened and it’s going to open up the restrictions on grind from cows and bulls and from cattle that we don’t have to prove what their ages are. U.S. beef will be U.S. beef.”

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates the expanded access could increase U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan by up to $200 million annually.

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency will accept applications beginning June 3 for certain practices under the continuous Conservation Reserve Program signup and will offer extensions for expiring CRP contracts.

The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized CRP, which is one of the country’s largest conservation programs.

“USDA offers a variety of conservation programs to farmers and ranchers, and the Conservation Reserve Program is an important tool for private lands management,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “CRP allows agricultural producers to set aside land to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and boost soil health.”

The FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the continuous CRP signup when 2014 Farm Bill authority expired.

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill last December, Fordyce said the FSA has carefully analyzed the language and determined that limited signup prioritizing water-quality practices furthers conservation goals and makes sense for producers as FSA works to fully implement the program.

A program to offer student debt assistance to young farmers and ranchers in Montana has been signed into law and will encourage young people to pursue a career in agriculture.

Governor Steve Bullock signed HB 431, which will create a student loan debt assistance program to aid young farmers and ranchers in paying off up to 50 percent of their student loans when they commit to at least 5 years of farming or ranching.

Students must have graduated from a Montana University System university or college to qualify.

The program will be funded through the Montana Growth Through Agriculture grant program, which has provided funds for strengthening and diversifying agriculture since 1987.

For more information, contact the Montana Department of Agriculture in Helena at (406)444-3144.

The USDA is taking steps to further its protection efforts against African swine fever making its way into the U.S.

The agency is implementing a new surveillance plan in which the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will work directly with the swine industry, the states, and veterinary diagnostic laboratories to test for ASF.

The disease has never been detected in the United States. As the hog industry knows too well, ASF is a contagious and deadly disease that affects both domestic and wild pigs.

It doesn’t affect human health and can’t be transmitted from pigs to humans. In order to make the surveillance program as effective as possible, USDA says it will add ASF testing to their existing classical swine fever surveillance.

USDA and its partner agencies expect to begin new ASF testing protocols within weeks. They will test samples from the same high-risk animals, using the same overall process, but test for both diseases instead of one.

The surveillance effort will test samples from high-risk animals, including sick pig submissions to veterinary diagnostic laboratories; sick or dead pigs at slaughter; and pigs from herds that are at risk for the disease because of factors like exposure to feral swine or garbage feeding.

-Reported by Russell Nemetz/MTN News

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