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Montana Ag Network: FCC commissioner visits Montana to discuss high-speed internet

Posted at 1:05 PM, Jun 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-01 15:05:29-04

The 2015 Waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule may have suffered a final defeat as a Texas court this week granted a motion for summary judgment to the American Farm Bureau Federation that sends the rule back to Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled the EPA violated the law in making changes in the final rule that were not proposed in the preliminary rule. In particular, the final rule defined adjacent waters using distance-based criteria rather than the ecologic and hydrologic criteria used in the proposed rule.

At present, the rule is on hold in 28 states and in effect in 22. In the meantime, EPA continues to work on finalizing a new rule. For the past three years, the 2015 WOTUS rule has been hung up by dozens of lawsuits and legal procedures across the country.

In other news, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr traveled across Montana this week talking with farmers, ranchers, county commissioners and others about the importance of high-speed internet in rural America. On Friday, he met with ag leaders at the Public Auction Yards in Billings.

“We’re closing the digital divide making sure more Americans have access to high-speed internet service is a top priority for us at the FCC back in Washington, D.C.,” said Carr. “By getting outside of D.C. and spending time out here in Big Sky Country, we’re getting an even better sense of where we’re making progress and the successes of more connectivity and importantly the challenges that remain. The job’s not done yet.”

He said as more farmers and ranchers adopt Smart Ag Technology on their farms and ranches, it’s critical they continue to have access to high-speed internet to maintain their livelihoods and way of life.

For beef production, the initial forecast for 2020 is expected to set a record at 27.5 billion pounds, surpassing what’s expected to be a record level in 2019 by almost one percent. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook.

The USDA stated while total cattle slaughter is expected to be lower than 2019, expected gains in average carcass weights will more than offset a decline in cow slaughter.

The USDA lowered the 2019 beef production forecast fractionally from last month to 27.3 billion pounds due to a reduced second quarter 2019 forecast on expectations for lower carcass weights that will more than offset an increase in anticipated fed cattle slaughter.

And next week, leaders like Montana’s Chris Kolstad of Ledger and Denise Conover of Broadview will be in Mexico for the U.S. Wheat Associates Mexican Wheat Buyers Conference.

Mexico continues to be an important destination for U.S. wheat and a major push by the U.S. wheat industry is to have Congress ratify the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Meanwhile, Mexico plans for quick ratification of USMCA, setting the process in motion following action by Canada earlier this week. But in a surprise announcement that could compromise USMCA, President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he is putting a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican imports to pressure the country to do more to crack down on the surge of Central American migrants trying to cross the border.

The Montana Ag Network’s Russell Nemetz will report from the event in Cancun.

 Russell Nemetz/MTN News