The American Meat Institute (AMI) and the National Association of Meat Processors (NAMP) filed an amicus brief late April 1 in support of an appeal filed by the National Meat Association (NMA) regarding its efforts to intervene in legal action between Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). AMI reported that it had filed the brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the meat organizations have interests in the case.
Lamb Checkoff Program Upheld
Lamb producers, feeders, seedstock producers and first handlers of lamb and lamb products voted in favor of a national referendum upholding the continuation of the Lamb Promotion, Research and Information Order, AMI reported in a separate release. In the national referendum, from Jan. 31 through Feb. 28, 80% of the nearly 3,500 ballots cast were in favor of the program. A simple majority of those engaged in the production, feeding or harvest of lambs during 2004 and who also represent a majority of the volume of lambs produced, fed or harvested had to approve the referendum for the program to continue.
The American Lamb Board will initiate payment for submitted refund requests, or pay a pro rata share.
Johanns Highlights Conservation Programs
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced yesterday several achievements in conservation programs operated by the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). According to Johanns statement, performance highlights of programs operated by NRCS include:
Conservation Security Program (CSP): During the first year of the program, more than $35 million helped almost 2,200 producers conserve and improve soil, water, air, energy, and plant and animal life on nearly two million acres of tribal and private working lands.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Nearly $720 million helped almost 46,500 farmers and ranchers improve soil, air and water quality and related resources on private working lands. About 62% of EQIP funds were associated with livestock concerns.
Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP): $90 million funded 550 conservation easements on nearly 115,000 acres of valuable farm and ranch land to protect it from conversion to nonagricultural uses.
Grassland Reserve Program (GRP): $56 million funded more than 1,000 private landowners efforts to protect and restore grasslands, biodiversity and wildlife habitat and reduce soil erosion while sustaining viable working ranches on 283,000 acres. An additional $2 million was provided to help greater sage grouse conservation and recovery efforts in four western states.
Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP): Almost $275 million helped more than 1,000 private landowners restore, enhance and protect wetlands to maximize wildlife habitat and wetland functions and values on close to 200,000 acres. Restoration projects were completed on nearly 150,000 acres of wetlands and associated upland areas. The first two Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) partnership projects were approved, including one in Nebraska and the other in Minnesota.
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP): More than $27 million helped more than 3,000 private landowners create, restore and enhance wildlife habitat for upland wildlife; wetland wildlife; threatened, endangered or at-risk species and fisheries, as well as other types of wildlife.
Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA): $10.2 million assisted 723 agricultural producers address natural resource concerns by incorporating conservation into their farming operations while managing financial risk on 105,000 acres. More than 8% of approved contracts were signed with women and minority producers. AMA is available in 15 states where participation in the Federal Crop Insurance Program has been historically low.
Achievements in conservation programs operated by FSA include:
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP): In fiscal year (FY) 2004, CRP paid farmers approximately $1.8 billion in rental and cost-share payments. Trees, grass and soil on CRP land remove an estimated 17 million metric tons of carbon per year from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Land enrolled in the CRP reduces wind erosion by 212 million tons per year. The program has reduced soil erosion by more than 443 million tons per year. During 2004, 76% of all applicants were accepted into the program. As a result, the total acreage of CRP will rise to 35.6 million acres, or 90% of the total 39.2 million acres authorized under the Farm Bill.
Conservation Reserve Program Initiatives (CRP): In 2004, President Bush announced several CRP initiatives to help protect wildlife, water and land resources. One initiative will restore 250,000 acres of nonfloodplain wetlands and restore large wetland complexes and playa lakes that are located outside the 100-year floodplain. Another initiative will increase the population of northern bobwhite quail by 750,000 birds annually on 250,000 acres. The third CRP initiative under way is to plant 500,000 acres of bottomland timber on wetlands, which will restore floodplains, establish wildlife habitat and sequester substantial amounts of greenhouse gases.
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP): CREP is a federal-state partnership that targets additional resources in defined geographic areas for conservation practices, such as buffers and filter strips. Three new CREP agreements were established in the Northeast in 2004.
Detailed information and performance data on NRCS voluntary conservation programs at the national and state levels can be found at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs. For more information about FSA programs, visit www.fsa.usda.gov.