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Taiwan to resume U.S. beef trade

Taiwan has agreed in principle to resume imports of U.S. beef and beef products. In 2003 Taiwan’s purchases of beef and ruminant products amounted to some $325 million.

"We are continuing our market-opening efforts in the remaining key countries," Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said. "Our goal is a return to normal beef trade as quickly as possible."

Taiwan officials indicated that the required assessments and evaluations for trade to resume were nearing completion. The final step is on-site inspection of the major features and implementation of the U.S. bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) measures.

J.B. Penn, undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, led a delegation that met with Taiwanese Health and Agriculture officials early this week. The delegation had earlier discussions in Japan and will visit other U.S. customer countries in the Asian region.

Industry responds

"America’s cattlemen are very pleased with Taiwan’s announcement to resume imports of U.S. beef and beef products," said Jan Lyons, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) president. "We still have a lot of work to do in regaining the market share we had prior to December 23, 2003, but the progress we are seeing this week is a tremendous step toward that goal. Taiwan has been one of our fastest growing markets in recent years. Trade of U.S. beef and beef products to Taiwan doubled between 1998 and 2000. In 2003 the U.S. exported a record $76.3 million in beef and beef variety meats to Taiwan."

For more information, visit www.beefusa.org or http://hill.beef.org.

Recipients of new CPI grants announced

Nearly $1 million was awarded through the Conservation Partnership Initiative (CPI), a new voluntary program announced July 2004. CPI is designed to foster conservation partnerships and fund projects that focus resources on conservation priorities in watersheds of special significance and other geographic areas of environmental sensitivity. CPI is open to state and local governments, tribes and nongovernment organizations with a history of working with agricultural producers.

"These awards will support the development of locally led solutions to pressing natural resource problems and help farmers and ranchers cooperate and share information to address environmental challenges," Veneman said.

CPI proposals were required to address one or more of the following conservation priorities: terrestrial and aquatic wildlife habitat, coastal resources, livestock nutrient management and minor/specialty crop pest management. For additional information and a list of grant recipients, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cpi.

Veneman announces $162,500 in education grants to FFA

Veneman announced $162,500 in grants to the National FFA Organization to increase agribusiness and marketing leadership skills, as well as career development activities.

"Organizations like FFA are helping students learn, lead and succeed in today’s environment," Veneman said during the annual FFA convention, where she also accepted the Distinguished Service Citation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) contribution to ag education.

The FFA Agri-Entrepreneurship Award program, which teaches young people how to identify market opportunities and create jobs, will receive $75,000. The National FFA Career Development Events Program, which inspires young people to consider careers in ag business and industry through educational activities, will be supported by $87,500.

USDA also supports youth development through the Leaders of Tomorrow program, USDA’s 1890 Scholars Program, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and 10,000 internships within USDA every year.

USDA provides nearly $3.3 million to protect ag land

An additional $3,255,000 of fiscal year (FY) 2004 funds have been distributed to 16 states to protect productive agricultural land through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP).

"This is a voluntary program that provides matching funds to state and local governments and nongovernmental organizations to protect productive agricultural land," Veneman said. "These funds are allocated to 16 states that requested additional funding to protect more than 5,000 acres of farm and ranch land."

This enhances the $84.8 million in FRPP funds allocated for fiscal year 2004. The additional dollars were the result of savings in administrative costs garnered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through FY 2004. For additional information on FRPP and states receiving additional funding, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/frpp.

National Rural Development Coordinating Committee formed

USDA has begun the process for identifying and selecting members for the National Rural Development Coordinating Committee (NRDCC). The NRDCC will provide input on the formation of national rural strategy by incorporating the goals and vision of state, local, federal, nonprofit and private for-profit sectors into one overarching national rural strategy.

Veneman requested the assistance of 15 federal agencies by nominating federal representatives to serve on the NRDCC. She will also seek private and public sector members to serve on the Committee through public solicitation in the Federal Register.
The NRDCC was authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill and signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Additional $1.5 million available for NAIS

An additional $1.5 million is available for national animal identification system (NAIS) cooperative agreements with states. "These funds have been set aside to support premises registration activities," Veneman said. "A national animal identification system will help locate premises where animals are born, managed, marketed or exhibited."

In August the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) selected 29 projects from more than 40 applications for cooperative agreement funding. Each of the states that applied but were not selected are now eligible for a minimum of $100,000 to carry out premises registration activities. Revised applications are due by Dec. 1 and must address any feedback received during the evaluation of their first-round application.

The NAIS continues to be a USDA priority. The President’s FY 2005 budget requests $33 million to continue supporting its implementation, and a portion of these funds would be used for additional cooperative agreements with states and tribes. For more information on the NAIS and the amounts available to each state, visit www.aphis.usda.gov.

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