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October 10, 2013

No USDA Reports This Week

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report scheduled for release this Friday will not be issued due to the lapse in federal funding. A USDA spokesperson made it official Monday. USDA won't issue the latest crop report either. The Associated Press reported this week on the vacuum of information about farm markets created by the government shutdown - and how that's making it tough for farmers and ranchers to make decisions. Not only is the National Agricultural Statistics Service not releasing new reports - but USDA websites where past information could be found have been shut down.

USDA Opens One Department

Citing a need for animal vaccines - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has reopened the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Center for Veterinary Biologics. According to a USDA spokesperson - the APHIS shutdown plan outlined that a limited number of agency employees may be required to perform expected activities to protect property, public health and food safety. A limited number of Center for Veterinary Biologics employees that therefore been recalled on a limited basis - the spokesperson says - to address a vaccine shortage - as it could endanger animal health. Still - the majority of the work conducted by the center - such as evaluation and testing of new products - will remain closed due to the government shutdown.
The Center for Veterinary Biologics had been closed this past week. The American Veterinary Medical Association noted the center is responsible for verifying animal vaccines and releasing them into the marketplace to ensure veterinarians and farmers have access to vaccinations needed to keep flocks and herds healthy. In a statement - the group said without a fully functional Center for Veterinary Biologics - these groups would face a dwindling vaccine supply - which could endanger herd health, food safety and public health.

GAO Report Released

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley released a Government Accountability Office report yesterday (Tuesday) showing additional changes are needed to the eligibility requirements for being actively involved in farming. Grassley says the report shows there is far too much subterfuge of the law. He says taxpayers are footing the bill for farm payments to 11 active managers of one farm - who supposedly provide significant management experience - but don't perform any labor. The loophole has been allowed to stand for too long - according to Grassley - who says it's time to close it once and for all to maintain a safety net for the farmers who really need it. Grassley says this is just one more reason his payment limits provisions to the Senate and House farm bills should stay untouched.
The GAO report reviews the Farm Service Agency's compliance review of farming operation members' claimed contributions of active personal management and personal labor. It also examines the FSA's state offices' timeliness in completing and reporting compliance reviews and the results. The GAO recommends Congress consider modifying the definition of significant contributions of management activities. To view the report - visit Grassley dot senate dot gov (

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