NOAA issued its three-month U.S. Spring Outlook today, highlighting a moderate risk of flooding in the Ohio River Valley basin and lower Mississippi River where streamflows and soil moisture are well above normal after major flooding from recent heavy rainfall. Drought is forecast to persist or worsen in the southern and central Plains, Southwest and California, according to the NOAA forecast as warmer and drier-than-normal weather is likely to engulf the region this spring.
TSCRA Govt and Public Affairs Roundup: Primary election candidates, Fever Tick Eradication Program and FARM Act
TSCRA Government and Public Affairs staff are continuing to monitor the upcoming Texas primary election and are engaging candidates to ensure they are supportive of issues important to cattle raisers. They are also involved in support of the Fever Tick Eradication Program in South Texas and the Fair Agricultural Reporting Act (FARM Act) to prevent farms and ranches from being regulated like toxic waste sites.
Just a few months after Texas endured the most rainfall ever recorded in the United States, at least 67 percent of the state is in some form of drought. A Texas A&M University expert says dry conditions could linger for several more months. John Nielsen-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M and Texas State Climatologist, notes that Texans are suffering through some of the driest periods ever – parts of the Texas Panhandle have not received any measurable rain in at least 100 days. And it could be a while before the state gets any relief. Read more…
The EPA and Army Corp of Engineers have finalized a rule adding an applicability date to the 2015 Clean Water Rule. This rule provides clarity and certainty about which definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) is applicable nationwide in response to judicial actions that could result in confusion. The new applicability date will be two years after the action announced Jan. 31, 2018, and is published in the Federal Register, during which time both agencies will continue the process of reconsidering the 2015 Rule. TSCRA President Richard Thorpe said the delay will “give administration officials time to craft a new version of the rule. We look forward to working with EPA to ensure the replacement does not harm the men and women who raise our beef.”
TSCRA has been deeply involved in the push to eradicate the “cattle fever” tick and the disease it carries since being founded in 1877. In recent years the tick has spread, and outbreaks outside of the permanent quarantine zone have occurred with increasing frequency: 2,969 premises across nearly 1.4 million acres are now under some level of quarantine due to the ticks. Ranchers in quarantine areas are required to meet the treatment requirements prescribed by USDA and the Texas Animal Health Commission, which in some cases can be overly burdensome and difficult to achieve. As the ticks make a resurgence and once again threaten the cattle industry, TSCRA supports efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Animal Health Commission to better control the ticks on federal lands. Read more…
At this time, TSCRA is not expecting a significant impact on ranchers if CERCLA reporting requirements are enacted prior to our ability to find a long-term exemption for agriculture operations. A D.C. court ruling last year determined that the EPA could not exempt agriculture operations from reporting requirements meant for toxic waste Superfund sites. The court may issue its formal order as soon as Monday, but nothing is official until they actually issue the mandate on paper. Also hear NCBA’s Chief Environmental Counsel Scott Yager discuss the deadline on this week’s NCBA Beltway Beef podcast.
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has new publications on two opportunistic and invasive grasses from Mexico now spreading into some Edwards Plateau and Concho Valley pastures. The culprits are Mexican needlegrass, which is infiltrating mostly from oil and gas operations, and Mexican feathergrass, a popular ornamental, which is escaping landscapes and cropping up on rangeland.
After prolonged drought, South Texas producers are now struggling with too much moisture.
This week Evelyn Browning-Garriss, acclaimed author of The Browning Newsletter, shares with us an exclusive update on El Niño: what it is, where it is and what its development would mean for rain in Texas and Oklahoma.