Features,  from the Farm Bureau,  News

Fees to support new program biologists for MLDP

A program that offers liberal bag limits, an extended deer hunting season and valuable opportunities will soon cost Texas landowners $30 or $300, depending upon their program selection.  Participation in MLD is currently free.    

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved a fee structure for its Managed Lands Deer (MLD) Program. “We’ll use the revenue generated from the fee to fund biologist positions,” Alan Cain, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) white-tailed deer program leader, said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network. “There was a rider associated with some legislation this past session that directs that money to be used specifically for MLD.”

Under the new fee structure, cost is $30 per management unit for those enrolled under the harvest option. “The harvest option is the automated self-serve option,” Cain said. “It doesn’t require as much assistance from our Parks and Wildlife biologists.”

For those enrolled in the conservation program, cost is $300 per management unit within a property that’s enrolled. Cost is $300 for the first unit within a multi-unit ranch and then $30 for each additional unit.

“If you’re a ranch that has multiple high-fence pastures, it’d be $300 for the first pasture, and then $30 for each additional pasture,” Cain said. 

TPWD will begin collecting MLD fees in April 2021.

Current MLD participants who have questions about the fees for their management unit are encouraged to reach out to their TPWD biologist.

Progress in U.S.-China phase one trade implementation

Progress continues in implementing agriculture-related provisions of the phase one trade agreement between the U.S. and China, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR).

“These steps show that China is moving in the right direction to implement the phase one agreement,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “We will continue to work with China to ensure full implementation of its commitments and look forward to seeing further improvement and progress as we continue our ongoing bilateral discussions.”

Recent actions include:

An agreement between both countries that, in the event of avian influenza or Newcastle disease detection in the U.S., will allow U.S. poultry exports from unaffected areas to continue.

A decision from China on proposed maximum residue levels for three hormones commonly used in U.S. beef cattle.

An updated list from China of U.S. facilities eligible to export distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

In response to delays caused by COVID-19, China announced a streamlined process for registering new U.S. feed products for export. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also published a notice regarding the registration of animal feed manufacturing facilities for export to China.

And most significantly for Texas, for the first time since 2003, U.S. cattle raisers and other beef producers will be able to send nearly all beef products into China.

CARES Act provides relief to Texas farmers, ranchers

The following statement may be attributed to Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening following today’s signing by President Trump of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Today’s signing by President Trump of the economic recovery package known as the CARES Act is welcome news for Texas farm and ranch families suffering economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. “These measures provide emergency funding to help farmers and ranchers survive during this national health emergency. Sharp declines in commodity prices and disruptions in market access have put a serious financial strain on America’s producers of food, fiber and fuel.

“This historic stimulus package represents a positive step in the economic recovery of Texas farmers and ranchers. Texas Farm Bureau thanks the administration and the Texas Congressional delegation for working to enact this important legislation. We look forward to its implementation.”

Livestock sale barns implement changes during COVID-19

Americans are changing the way we live, work and interact as we attempt to navigate a new world under the threat of COVID-19. And while it may not be as highly visible as working from home or curbside pickup at retail outlets, agricultural operations, such as livestock sale barns, are doing their part to stop the spread of the pandemic.

Gulf Coast Livestock Auction owner and general manager Eddie Garcia said to expect some changes at sale barns and cattle auctions for the foreseeable future,“Homeland Security and the governor of Texas designated sale barns as infrastructure critical to the food supply chain, so the Livestock Market Association, of which we’re a member, set out some guidelines we’ve tried to implement into our sale barns,” he said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network. New protocols protect buyers, sellers and employees.

Garcia said they’ve asked ranchers bringing livestock to sales to remain in their vehicles while employees unload the animals, tag them and take the receipt and paperwork to the vehicle. He is also asking sellers to allow the livestock auction to mail payments to their residence instead of coming by the sale barn to pick them up in person. If there is a need for the sales check quicker than the postal service can provide, Garcia said that individual can call ahead, and he’ll arrange for an employee to bring the check to their vehicle.

And in a key provision, Gulf Coast is only allowing “essential buyers” into the sale auditorium, a move that Garcia said he doesn’t really like but is necessary to help stop the spread of the virus.

“On any given sale day, we can have maybe 80 to 120 people in our auditorium,” Garcia said. “What we’ve tried to do is limit the number of spectators—no children, no family groups. While it kind of goes against the grain and it pains me to have to sit outside and tell some people they can’t come in for that day, we’re just trying to do our best to keep to our designated capacity. We’ve been designated at 50, but as of yesterday I had no more than 18 people in the auditorium, and those were pretty much all my essential buyers.”

The café inside the sale barn also is temporarily closed. But it’s not all bad news. Embracing social media has helped maintain steady sales at a time when people are staying home.

“I do have a very aggressive Facebook campaign. I put a lot of pictures on our Facebook page, and I’ll have someone call me and say ‘Eddie, I really like the animal with tag 475,’” he said. “And they can give me a budget and buy those animals without actually having to enter the facility.”

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