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Montana Ag Network: May 15th Report – Herd dog photo contest, wildfire legislation

For the first quarter of 2019, U.S. beef exports were slightly below last year’s record pace while pork exports continued to be slowed by trade barriers, according to March data released this week by the Department of Agriculture and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

March beef exports totaled over 107,000 metric tons, down 4 percent year over year, while value fell 2 percent to $678 million. South Korea continues to be the growth leader for U.S. beef exports. Meanwhile, U.S. lamb exports were a first quarter bright spot, trending significantly higher than a year ago.

The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019 (S.897, H.R. 2336) will help more family farmers avoid liquidation or foreclosure, allowing them to stay in operation, the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union said in a joint letter to congressional lawmakers. The legislation would raise the Chapter 12 operating debt cap from $4.1 million to $10 million.

“Our farmer members have experienced several consecutive years of weak commodity prices and the low profitability and poor farm income that follow,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“As a result, farmers and ranchers are watching their equity erode as their debt-to-asset ratios climb and debt financing reaches a 30-year high,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall and NFU President Roger Johnson wrote in the letter.

The challenge of record nominal farm debt and poor economic conditions has led many farmers to seek Chapter 12 bankruptcy as a debt relief and restructuring option.

Livestock guardian and herding dogs are just as much a part of the industry as lamb and wool, which is why the American Sheep Industry Association wants to recognize their contributions in the 2019 ASI Photo Contest.

In a major change to this year’s photo contest, ASI has eliminated the fine wool category and replaced it with a division honoring a sheepherder’s best friend.

The catch is that any photos submitted in the working dog category must be of dogs and the sheep they protect and/or herd. The deadline for the 2019 ASI Photo Contest is August 1st.

The top three finishers in each category will receive a cash prize and be featured in the October issue of the Sheep Industry News. Get more details online.

With another wildfire season just around the corner, Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte and 18 other members of Congress have introduced the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2019, a solution they say to the growing economic and environmental threats of catastrophic wildfire.

Congressman Gianforte said there’s been progress to reduce the severity of wildfires, but there’s more to do.

The legislation pairs targeted forest management reforms with needed regulatory streamlining to dramatically improve the health and resiliency of forests and rangelands.

The bill provides federal land management agencies immediate tools to increase the pace, scale and cost efficiency of forest management projects, without sacrificing environmental protections.

-Reported by Russell Nemetz/MTN News

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