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La. Farm Bureau/Radio Network‏

January 29, 2014

Farm Bill Action Expected Today

The U.S. House passed a rule Tuesday to allow debate on the farm bill conference report today. The vote was 224 to 192 - with Republicans voting heavily for the rule and Democrats voting against it. Reports are that the vote is largely due to the fact that the rule also covers a bill banning the use of taxpayer money to pay for abortions. The House is scheduled to go into session this morning. That should allow for completion of the farm bill before adjournment for a Republican retreat. House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas predicted Tuesday that the legislation will have the votes to pass the House. While the bill has not yet been scheduled in the Senate - Majority Leader Harry Reid has endorsed the bill and Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow is confident the farm bill will be approved. Lucas and Stabenow also believe President Barack Obama will sign the bill. Lucas called the measure a really amazing bill. And given the budget situation and the atmosphere in Congress - he said it's not just a good farm bill - but almost a miracle. Lucas also believes the bill should be considered a prototype bill for congressional action to cut the deficit.


NCBA Sends Letter to Express Farm Bill Opposition

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association has expressed its opposition to the Agricultural Act of 2014 in a letter to the Hill. According to NCBA President Scott George - the conference committee released a bill that doesn't address the priority issues NCBA members had for the farm bill. He says the group is calling on Congress to fix the mistakes they've made - mistakes that are costing cattlemen and women money every day. George says that includes country of origin labeling - which has resulted in steep discounts to producers and caused prejudice against the nation's largest trading partners. He says failure to fix COOL at this juncture will lead to retaliatory tariffs on a host of commodities. According to George - it's only a matter of time before the World Trade Organization rules in favor of Canada and Mexico. He says the farm bill is foundationally flawed and the livestock sector is standing together in opposition to a bill that will only serve to cause greater harm to rural America. According to House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas - including repeal of COOL in the farm bill would have blown up the bill. He says the way to address repealing COOL is to start at the subcommittee level in Congress. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow said if the WTO does rule against the latest U.S. proposal - then COOL would be suspended, changed or repealed.


LDAF Forestry Grant Program Underway

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is accepting applications for the 2013 Urban & Community Forestry Grant (U&CF) program beginning in January 2014.

For the 2013 program year, $98,000 in federal money is available. These funds will be distributed through a competitive grants allocation process in which the LDAF will award the grants.

"It is so important that we protect our natural resources such as our forests. One of Louisiana's major commodities is forestry which at last report was valued at $3 billion," said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M.

These matching fund grants are for activities not currently being funded and are not intended to substitute for existing funding levels.

In order to meet objectives outlined in the National Urban Forestry Guidelines and the Louisiana Urban Forestry Council's Strategic Plan for Louisiana Community Forestry, this program is geared toward establishing and/or strengthening existing community forestry programs in Louisiana.

National direction has become more focused during the past years. Specific community forestry capacity building activities being promoted includes the following:

  1. Employment of professional urban forestry staff at the community level;
  2. Development of community forestry management plans based on resource assessments/inventories;
  3. Development or strengthening of community forestry ordinances and policy; and
  4. Development or enhancement of local advocacy/advisory organizations.

The Forest Service (USFS) has also placed emphasis on the (5) five national U&CF programs goals:

Minimize the impact on land use change and urbanization on forests;

  • Minimize the risk and impact of catastrophic events;
  • Protect and improve air and water quality;
  • Mitigate climate change;
  • Energy Conservation.

The LDAF must report specific activities to the USFS each year, and future funding is based upon the number of communities participating in the activities.

You can download the application at the LDAF website: www.ldaf.la.gov. The deadline to apply for the grant is February 21, 2014.

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