4 months ago

USDA deputy undersecretary delivers speech on climate change at Auburn University

United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Scott Hutchins recently traveled to Auburn University where he delivered a speech on climate change to faculty and students.

“There are a lot of reasons for climate change, and there are a lot of things we need to do to prepare for it,” said Hutchins, an Auburn alumnus and the Fall 2019 Auburn University College of Agriculture E.T. York lecturer.

“I think we can do some mitigation, but most importantly, on behalf of our species, we need to adapt to it,” he said. “We need to make sure that our agricultural systems—our capabilities and our productivity—are not unduly affected by it. There are a number of ways we can focus on that, including plant breeding, land conservation and irrigation.”

Hutchins insisted that farmers are not to blame for climate change and that those claims should not be tolerated.

“Some groups are quick to do that, but farmers are adapting to it in terms of how their operations work, and there is a tremendous opportunity to make more progress,” he said.

“We’re beginning to understand the particular impacts of climate variability, and I’m absolutely convinced that the industry’s ability to breed with advanced techniques as well as traditional techniques will allow us to stay ahead of that curve and allow us to adapt in different areas.”

Hutchins also discussed sustainable agricultural intensification.

“There are no doubts by anyone that we have big challenges ahead in terms of feeding the world,” Hutchins said. “I personally don’t worry about these big goals—we definitely have the capacity and capability to feed the world. What I do worry about is if we will do it in a way that will diminish our expanding capacity. That’s the biggest challenge—can we feed the world in a way that’s truly sustainable? We need to be able to talk about these best practices and other things, but we have to do it in a context where farm businesses can understand how to make it into a sustainable approach.”

“Every farmer and every farming operation is going to have a different formula on how they protect their soil or grow their soil health,” he continued.

“Some will be able to do it by intercropping and others in different ways,” Hutchins added. “The unique thing about this industry is that every cow is an experimental unit, and every acre is an experimental unit, so growers and ranchers can do their own experimentation in terms of what is working for their farmers. They literally — pardon the pun — don’t have to bet the farm on any particular tactic — they can find the ones that work for them.”

Another theme discussed by Hutchins was food and nutrition translation.

“I find it exciting that we now have the opportunity to change the game,” he said. “We partner with the Food and Nutrition Service every five years to co-sponsor the update of the dietary guidelines. Unfortunately, that’s become somewhat of a political rather than a science process only. Nonetheless, what I see on the horizon is our ability to work with genomics and to understand disease end-points. The ability to have precision nutrition in a healthy way is not that far away.”

According to a press release, Hutchins also said value-added innovation is a fourth theme and one in which the USDA is obligated to help producers and consumers.

“We have a very active office of technology transfer,” Hutchins stated. “On average, it takes about nine years from the time research is published until the time that it is picked up by any kind of patent. That’s a long gestation time for information. Can we improve that and bring it to the ranch or farm?”

Hutchins then discussed global agricultural science policy leadership.

“It gets down to the United States taking a positive, proactive and leadership role in helping shape science policy around the world,” Hutchins said. “The policy and rules and regulations should be based on credible, repeatable and peer-reviewed science. While that seems very straight-forward to those of us in this field, it’s not always the case around the world, and it has a huge impact on innovation.”

There are groups — fundamentally based in Europe—that follow the “precautionary principle,” he said.

“It sounds good, but it’s a political principle and not a scientific principle,” Hutchins said. “It forces scientists to prove a negative, and you can’t prove a negative. That’s why we advocate for risk-based assessment.”

Hutchins also offered advice to students on what recommendations “define successful scientists.”

“You need to have a passion for learning—not just cursory learning but deep learning,” he said.

He added, “Never stop being curious and never stop seeking new knowledge. But if you don’t have the passion, nothing else will matter.”

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

20 mins ago

Bama, Auburn combine for three of four SEC players in 2020 State Farm All-Star Football Challenge

The 22nd annual State Farm All-Star Football Challenge will return to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and air on ESPN2 at 8:00 p.m. CT on January 31.

The exclusive skills competition will feature 24 of college football’s brightest stars divided into six teams based on their college conference. The conferences represented are the ACC, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac-12, the SEC and four of the best players outside of the Power Five that will be called the “Wild Card” team.

Of the four players on the SEC team, the University of Alabama had two, Auburn had one and Vanderbilt had the fourth and final player.

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Team SEC as follows:

Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Riley Neal, QB, Vanderbilt

Each player will individually participate in a timed event, and the competition will then finish with a full team event. All events will be timed and have individual winners, which will be compiled into a cumulative score to determine the winning team. For example, the quarterbacks from each team will compete against each other to win their competition. Ultimately, however, their time will be added to the times of the other competitors on their conference designated team to have a final team score.

Individual events will include the State Farm QB Accuracy Competition, the Mercedes-Benz Obstacle Course, the Rocket Mortgage Strength Challenge and the Hands Competition. To conclude the program, the players will compete as teams in the State Farm Team Competition.

Alumni of the State Farm All-Star Football Challenge include 81 first-round NFL Draft picks, including 38 Pro Bowlers, such as Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Ramsey, Dalvin Cook, Derwin James, Landon Collins, Von Miller, Vernon Davis, Joe Flacco, Dez Bryant, Donovan McNabb, Reggie Wayne and Edgerrin James.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

52 mins ago

Alabama finishes decade with record low unemployment rate, sets more economic milestones

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington on Friday announced that the state maintained its record low unemployment rate last month, ending 2019 with a preliminary, seasonally adjusted December unemployment rate of 2.7%, unchanged from November, and far below December 2018’s rate of 3.8%.

Multiple other economic records were again set last month, in addition to the record low unemployment rate holding steady.

In a statement, Governor Kay Ivey said, “I’m so proud to be able to close out this decade with record-breaking economic measures.”

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December’s unemployment rate, which ranked fifth-lowest in the nation, represented 2,204,740 employed people, a new record high, representing an increase of 83,971 from December 2018. Additionally, 61,458 people were counted as unemployed, another new record and a drop of 22,051 from last year. Moreover, the civilian labor force grew by 61,920 over the year to a new record high of 2,266,198.

“All year long, we’ve had good news to share, and to be able to end the year, and the decade, on such a positive note is wonderful,” the governor concluded. “Earlier this year, Alabama had never reported an unemployment rate lower than 3.0%, and now we’ve had one for the last three months! Nearly 84,000 more people have jobs now than last year. I’m excited about the path that Alabama is on, and the positive impacts this news has on our people.”

Wage and salary employment grew over the year by 46,300. Yearly gains were seen in the professional and business services sector (+15,000), the leisure and hospitality sector (+7,800) and the government sector (+6,100), among others. Over the month, gains were seen in the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+4,000), the construction sector (+700) and the professional and business services sector (+200).

“For the eleventh month in a row, our job growth has met or surpassed the nation’s,” Washington stated. “We’ve gained over 46,000 jobs since last December, and we continue to see employers posting job ads.”

Additionally, Alabama’s job growth rate for December was 2.2%. It significantly surpassed the national job growth rate of 1.4%, marking the 11th month that Alabama’s job growth rate matched or exceeded the national rate in 2019.

“Average weekly wages showed significant growth this month, registering at an all-time high,” Washington added. “Additionally, we saw many sectors and subsectors reach all-time wage highs, including manufacturing, with a monthly wage increase of $25.57, and financial activities, with a monthly wage increase of $50.78.”

Total private average weekly wages measured $875.44 in December, representing a monthly increase of $15.14.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates last month were: Shelby County at 1.8%; Marshall, Madison and Cullman Counties at 2.1%; and Tuscaloosa, St. Clair, Morgan, Limestone, Lee and Elmore Counties at 2.2%.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 6.8%, Clarke County at 5.5% and Greene and Lowndes Counties at 4.8%.

Major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were: Vestavia Hills at 1.4%, Homewood at 1.6% and Hoover and Northport at 1.7%.

Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were: Prichard at 5.0%, Selma at 4.9% and Bessemer at 3.7%.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

What does Trump’s tweet say about his position on the U.S. Senate race in Alabama?

After remaining silent on the GOP primary in 2020 U.S. Senate race for the state of Alabama, the President of the United States has checked in via Twitter.

But what does it mean?

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The answer to this question all depends on how you lean in the race.

Do you support former Attorney General Jeff Sessions?

Trump is happy he is leading!

Do you support former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville?

Trump is happy that Tuberville is close to Sessions (he did tweet a poll put out by a pro-Tuberville group)!

Do you support U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope)?

Trump is bringing attention to the race to get people to pay attention to all of the ads on television and radio by the Byrne campaign.

Do you support former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore?

Hey, at least Trump didn’t say he wanted Moore out of the race again.

Do you support State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs)?

Hey look, Arnold Mooney is included!

Do you support Stanley Adair?

Hi, Stanley!

Before anyone gets too excited, Trump was tweeting about a bunch of races, so maybe it means nothing.

Also, let’s remember that Trump was 0-2 in 2017. He backed then- Senator Luther Strange (R-AL) for reelection to the seat he was appointed to and he then begrudgingly backed Roy Moore. Obviously, the existence of U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) shows he was not successful in either endeavor.

Because of this, President Donald Trump should just sit this one out.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

Mooney: Why every day should be Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

As a nation, we recently mourned on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, the almost 62 million babies of all races killed by abortion since the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade. This solemn occasion is the result of President Ronald Reagan’s historic 1984 Presidential Proclamation of National Sanctity of Human Life Day on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Sanctity of Life Human Sunday, the third Sunday of each January, commemorates the lives lost to abortion and proclaims protecting human life at every stage

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Life is precious and begins at conception. It’s heartbreaking and unfortunate that this is a controversial statement. I strongly believe that as a society we are judged by how we protect those who are the most vulnerable, and given the unborn cannot speak for themselves, there is no group more vulnerable. Having watched my children experience the miracle of life with their growing families and welcoming eight grandchildren into this world, as well as expecting two more, have only further cemented my unwavering belief in safeguarding the unborn’s right to life.

In 47 years since the Roe v. Wade decision, the medical community has made massive medical advances that clearly establish that life begins at conception. A heartbeat can be heard as early as six weeks after conception! Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knows the unborn, and God is growing that child with a purpose in our world. The black and white ultrasound picture clearly shows this growing baby.

The day after our tribute to the millions of unborn babies, the third Monday every January, our nation honors the most famous American civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King’s peaceful struggle against racial discrimination and civil rights was valiant, and the delivery of his 1963 speech “I Have a Dream” was the impetus of a movement that led to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Is it coincidental that the day our nation honors the unborn, and the day our nation honors the man who was instrumental in the decision to outlaw discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin are on consecutive days? I think not. As a nation, we still have unfinished business to protect the lives of the unborn as we continue our nation’s civil rights fight.

This is a fight against the worst form of discrimination, discrimination against life.

Arnold Mooney is a State Representative representing District 43 and a candidate for U.S. Senate

3 hours ago

February event promises answers to VA health care concerns

The Veterans Affairs departments of the state and federal government are teaming up to put on the Montgomery Veterans Experience Action Center (VEAC).

VEAC will be on February 5 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Campton Bowl Multiplex in Montgomery.

The agencies promise it will be a time “for veterans to get answers—and sometimes resolutions—regarding their benefits and healthcare.”

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Veterans Service Officers will be in attendance, as will workers trained to handle claims both new and existing.

The groups welcome both veterans and family members, saying the event will provide the opportunity to “receive one-on-one service to address any and all issues” with the VA.

The Alabama Department of Veterans affairs reminds those attending that “for assistance with VA claims and services, veterans should bring proper documentation about their case: DD 214, all medical records about any military and civilian disability, and dependency documents.”

Other services available at the event will be the American Red Cross, Still Serving Veterans, and job opportunities from the Alabama Department of Labor.

Anyone seeking additional information can call (334) 625-3480.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.