agriculture

Trump names Tennessean USDA general counsel

President Donald Trump has formally nominated West Tennessee native Stephen Vaden as general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He’s held the position, which is subject to Senate confirmation, on an acting basis since March and was part of Trump’s “beachhead team” at USDA before that.

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Haslam sees no change in fluctuating cattle prices

Gov. Bill Haslam’s response to the first question posed – on cattle prices – during his appearance Friday at the Washington County Farmer’s Co-Op, as reported by the Johnson City Press:

“I don’t think we’re going to see a world where that fluctuation (in beef prices) goes away,” Haslam answered. “I know that makes it incredibly hard for your all’s business and I’d love to tell you different. If I could be the king instead of the governor, I could make it different, but my sense is the price fluctuations we’ve seen in all different products is probably not going to change.”

The JCP reports the governor was “sporting a clean pair of blue jeans, polished cowboy boots and a white plaid shirt” at the event and:

Before making his way to the Grainger County Tomato Festival, the governor made sure to purchase one of the Washington County Farmers Co-Op’s signature red hats, worn by many of those in attendance, to take back to Nashville.

New law bans condemning land through eminent domain for industrial parks

Legislation originated by a Jefferson County commissioner last year and signed by the governor last week will eliminate the use of eminent domain proceedings to take land for industrial parks.

The bill (SB1184) is the subject of a report in the Standard Banner of Jefferson City and a column in the News Sentinel by Frank Cagle. Excerpt from the latter:

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Ramsey gives $50K in campaign funds to Ron Ramsey Agricultural Center

Excerpt from a Kingsport Times-News report

BLOUNTVILLE — Former Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey grew up working on a Sullivan County farm, and in a way he closed the book on his 24-year political career Saturday in the name of Sullivan County farmers.

During a dedication ceremony, Ramsey contributed the final $50,000 left in his campaign fund to pay for the completion of the large commercial kitchen at the newly christened Ron Ramsey Agriculture Center located at 140 Spurgeon Lane near Tri-Cities Airport.

Before a crowd of county and state dignitaries, as wells as family and friends, Ramsey dedicated the contribution to wife Sindy, whom he described as his best friend and the “wind beneath my wings.”

… Ramsey was quick to point out that neither his $50,000 contribution nor the $3.5 million already invested by the state will be enough to complete the facility or sustain it in the future and make it economically viable.

Although the facility’s primary use will be providing space for local agricultural programs, it will also be marketed as a convention center and event venue available to the public.

Note: Ramsey had $202,088 left in his candidate campaign account at last report (in January) and $283,849 in RAAMPAC, his political action committee. Updated disclosures are not due until July.

Another flock of TN chickens found with bird flu

News release from state Department of Agriculture

NASHVILLE — The state veterinarian confirms that a flock of chickens at a commercial poultry breeding operation has tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI).

This chicken breeding operation is located in Giles County, Tenn. The company that operates it is a different company from the one associated with the recent detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Lincoln County. At this time, officials do not believe one premises sickened the other.
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Bird flu found in TN chicken flock

News release from Tennessee Department of Agriculture

NASHVILLE — The state veterinarian confirms that a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has sickened a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County.

 “Many Tennessee families rely on the poultry industry for their livelihoods, and the state is working closely with local, county and federal partners and the poultry industry to control the situation and protect the flocks that are critical to our state’s economy,” Gov. Bill Haslam said.

HPAI is known to be deadly for domesticated chickens and turkeys. On March 3, a commercial chicken facility in Lincoln County alerted the state veterinarian’s office at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to an increase in chicken deaths. Testing at state and federal laboratories confirmed the presence of H7 HPAI in samples from that flock.  Continue reading

USDA adopts new rule on TN Walking Horse ‘soring;’ Alexander objects

Just days before the Obama administration leaves office, the U. S. Department of Agriculture announced changes to rules governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act Friday that animal rights supporters hailed as a major step toward ending the abusive practice of soring, reports The Tennessean.

The new rule will ban much of the gear used, including chains placed around horses’ ankles during training and stacks — the tall weights attached to the front hooves.

It also will force inspectors to become trained and licensed through the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

“(The USDA is) taking away the most obvious and ubiquitous tools used for soring,” said Keith Dane, senior adviser on equine protection for the Humane Society of the United States. “We’re very encouraged by the rule.”

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Haslam gives OK to longer, wider loads of hay

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – With much of Tennessee and the Southeast coping with extreme drought, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has issued an executive order to ease restrictions on trucks hauling hay.

“Agriculture is critical to our state’s economy, and rain is a critical ingredient that farmers need to keep their businesses running,” Haslam said. “This order will allow haulers to move hay across and through Tennessee efficiently, so farmers can feed their livestock during these drought conditions.”

Haslam’s executive order increases the height of hay trailer loads to 13 feet, 6 inches and the width to a maximum of 14 feet during daylight hours on Tennessee highways. The average round bale of hay measures seven feet across. The increase in width allows haulers to transport standard round hay bales side by side, increasing the capacity hauled per truck without a special permit. Transporters must have the proper oversize signs and escorts as required by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and trucks and their drivers must be properly licensed. Maximum weight limits outlined in TCA, Section 55-7-203 remain in effect.

The executive order will expire January 31, 2017.

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