agriculture

Duncan among Republicans joining Democrats in U.S. House vote against farm bill

U.S. House Republicans are at each other’s throats after the Freedom Caucus delivered a shock to party leaders on Friday by killing a key GOP bill over an unrelated simmering feud over immigration, reports Politico. Thirty Republicans joined all Democrats in opposing the Agriculture and Nutrition Act, better known as the farm bill.

In the Tennessee House delegation, Republican Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan of Knoxville, voted no along with Democrats Steve Cohen of Memphis and Jim Cooper of Nashville. The other six Tennessee representative, all Republicans, voted yes.   The bill got 198 yes votes versus 213 noes. (Roll call vote HERE.)

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Floor vote postponed on giving control of TN State Fair to politically-connected group

Legislation giving permanent control over the Tennessee State Fair to an association founded and headed by Republican 6th Congressional District candidate John Rose was halted on the House floor Monday evening after a Monday morning report on the measure in The Tennessean.

The measure (HB2483, as amended) by Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) and Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) had already cleared committees in both the House and Senate. The scheduled House floor vote was postponed indefinitely by sponsor Holt, who is a member of the board of the Tennessee State Fair Association, without comment.

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‘Tennessee milk’ joins ‘Tennessee whiskey’ as legislature-approved marketing label

The Legislature has given final approval to a bill authorizing the use of the label “local Tennessee milk” in marketing dairy products, reports the Johnson City Press.  A milk marketing company that recently cancelled contracts with East Tennessee milk producers says it’s reviewing ramifications of the measure.

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Press release on President Trump’s Nashville speech to farmers

Press release from the White House, Office of the Press Secretary

On January 13, 1992, President George H. W. Bush stepped to the podium at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention in Kansas City, Missouri. The president had just returned from a 12-day trip across Asia, and he used his Farm Bureau speech to discuss what the future of trade might look like in a post-Soviet world.

“Our Asian allies understand that we don’t want handouts or a home-field trade advantage,” President Bush said. “We just want a level playing field. Give us a fair shot, and American workers will outthink, outwork, and outproduce anyone in the world.”

Fast forward 26 years, and rural America has been left behind in too many ways. Rural employment has grown slower than employment in urban areas and was slowest to recover from the Great Recession. Poverty rates remain disproportionately high in many rural communities. And according to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans—23 million people—lack sufficient broadband access.

Despite these and other struggles, no U.S. president had spoken at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting, one of rural America’s signature events, since the first President Bush did so in 1992.

On January 8, 2018, President Donald J. Trump broke that trend. He traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, and delivered a major speech at the 2018 Farm Bureau convention.

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Trump schedules Jan. 8 speech to Farm Bureau at Nashville

Press release from Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation

Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, will address farm and ranch families from across the nation at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 99th Annual Convention, Jan. 5-10 in Nashville, Tenn.

“The American Farm Bureau Federation is honored to host our nation’s president,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall, a beef and poultry farmer from Georgia. “President Trump has said all along that he would make sure agriculture has a seat at the table when it comes to the top issues facing America’s farmers and ranchers. Now, it is our privilege to reserve a spot for him at our podium.”

(Note: The Tennessean says Trump’s speech will be the morning of Jan. 8, a day before the 2018 session of the state Legislature convenes. It will be his second trip to Nashville since his inauguration, the first being in March on the occasion of President Andrew Jackson’s 250th birthday.)

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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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