August 29, 2015

AG Peterson encourage N. Dakota judge has blocked WOTUS

Attorney General Doug Peterson

Attorney General Doug Peterson

Attorney General Doug Peterson says he is encouraged by a federal judge’s action against the Waters of the United States rule.

United States District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota has issued a temporary injunction against the WOTUS rule drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Peterson says it’s a big victory for Nebraska and the 12 other states which filed the lawsuit contending the EPA exceeded its Congressional authority in drafting WOTUS.

“One of the two most important things that the judge has to decide is whether or not we as the moving party have a substantial likelihood of success on our legal theory and he found, having evaluated the case and the arguments that we made, he said that he believed that we did have a substantial likelihood of success in showing legally that the EPA was going too far in how it was defining Waters of the U.S.,” Peterson tells Nebraska Radio Network.

The Waters of the United States rule was to go into effect today. It has gone into effect elsewhere in the country, though lawsuits have been filed by a number of states, businesses, even environmental groups throughout the country.

Peterson expects all those lawsuits to be combined into one.

“Now that’s not for sure. We suggest that they stay with the district courts, but the court may consolidate all of this into one district court for the whole country,” Peterson says.

Peterson says the decision by the North Dakota judge suspends the rule from going into effect in the 13 states while those states try to make their case in court.

“What we’ve basically been able to do for Nebraska and the 12 other states that joined that action in North Dakota is to put a hold on the EPA enforcing it in our 13 states.”

UNL extension offers workshops on boosting soil quality and production

Soybean field in JulyTwo workshops for Nebraska growers are planned next week that will focus on improving soil quality and the better management of production.

UNL extension educator Keith Glewen says farmers are invited to the Research and Development Center near Mead next Wednesday (August 26th) to get a good look at what’s going on with their dirt.

Glewen says, “It’s a day that’s exclusively dedicated to addressing the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil.”

The second workshop, next Thursday, will be dedicated to late season crop production.

“The affect of management practices and weather conditions and the combinations of those two on the production of corn and soybeans,” Glewen says. “We’ve got ears of corn to look at and we’ve got pods to look at.”

The workshops begin each day at 8 AM. Contact the Nebraska Extension to register.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Ag officials prep for new outbreaks of bird flu this fall

ChickenWhile the heat of summer should prevent any more cases of avian influenza, state and federal officials are looking ahead to the possibility of new outbreaks in Nebraska when the wild waterfowl start their next migration this fall.

At this point, USDA veterinarian Dr. Jack Shere says there’s no way to predict the extent of another hit from bird flu, though they’re prepping for the worst-case.

“If we use the occurrences of what we’ve seen in Asia and in eastern Europe and part of western Europe and the outbreaks that they have seen, we know that this can recur,” Shere says. “So, we are preparing for that.”

Shere, who works for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says when many millions of wild ducks and geese begin migrating in a few months, those birds may again bring the influenza with them. “We’ve talked about what are the best procedures to use in the event of another outbreak,” Shere says. “What’s the fastest way to deal with this disease and what things do we need to be looking at for preparation should this occur again?”

Poultry facilities will need to be even more vigilant to maintain strict biosecurity.

Two major poultry operations in northeast Nebraska’s Dixon County were hit by outbreaks of bird flu this year. More than three-and-a-half million chickens died or were destroyed, along with another one-and-a-half million pullets.

Right next door, Iowa was the worst-hit state by bird flu, with more than 70 outbreaks in 18 counties that resulted in the loss of more than 34-million birds.

Shere says the severity of the next wave is impossible to predict.

“We may see a large number of outbreaks or we may see a smattering, and then we have to worry about spring 2016. That’s the next time the virus will be moving north,” Shere says.

Nebraska’s poultry industry is worth an estimated $1.1-billion dollars a year.


Seward-area farmer named to head national grain board

Alan Tiemann

Alan Tiemann

Eastern Nebraska farmer Alan Tiemann, a grower from the Seward area, is being named the new chairman for the U.S. Grains Council.

Tiemann has spent more than 35 years in production agriculture and served as past chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. He says one priority for the Grains Council is ethanol.

“We see that as a great opportunity to send corn out as a value-added product,” Tiemann says. “We’re really going to focus on key markets in Mexico and Japan and look at the huge potential markets in areas like China and India.”

Tiemann says there are several opportunities in developing markets for ethanol, including the byproducts from the process of making the fuel.

“As the ethanol industry expands, we look at distillers grains opportunities around the world,” he says. “We’ve developed that market and distillers grains is a big part of what we do at Grains Council.”

Tiemann says one of the biggest challenges confronting the Grains Council is dealing with public perception and misinformation.

“Probably perception and GMOs,” he says. “Getting synchronous approval around the world is something we’re really striving for, so everybody’s on the same page. Sound science should dictate what we do but too many times, GMO becomes a trade barrier — when it shouldn’t be.”

Prior to being elected as Grains Council chairman, Tiemann served as a delegate to the group while serving on the Nebraska Corn Board for the past ten years.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton



Congressman Fortenberry says trade important for Nebraska

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry defends Congressional action to make it easier for the president to negotiate trade deals with other countries.

Fortenberry says he understands why some people are suspicious about the measure.

“Look, trade is a mixed bag for America. Let’s be honest. It’s very important in Nebraska. It is very helpful to our agricultural sector. It is one of the main economic multipliers that we have in Nebraska. It’s one of the reasons we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country,” Fortenberry tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “But, in other places, such as in the middle of the industrial Rust Belt you’ve seen the decline of American manufacturing and in other sectors as well. Other countries cheat. They subsidize their currency. They don’t have the same type of labor and environmental laws and protections that we have.”

Fortenberry says Congress simply set up the guidelines for a president to negotiate trade agreements that it then will consider.

In late June, Congress approved Trade Promotion Authority, commonly referred to as fast-track trade legislation. It gives the president broad authority to negotiate a trade bill and submit it to Congress for an up-or-down vote. It cannot be amended. The Senate cannot filibuster the deal.

Fortenberry says he’s well aware trade with other countries often isn’t conducted on a level playing field.

“That is why the Congress actually worked very hard to set up the parameters by which the president can then go negotiate a trade agreement,” according to Fortenberry. “We didn’t vote for a trade agreement. We gave him the authority to do so based upon what we wanted to see. That agreement’s not done. We just simply gave him the authority.”

Fortenberry says trade is very important to Nebraska, especially for the state’s agricultural sector.