10 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.

9 hours ago

Alabama Power sends hundreds of linemen, support personnel to assist after Tropical Storm Isaias hammered East Coast

Tropical Storm Isaias hit the eastern coast of the United States hard this week, leaving millions of Americans without power while producing high winds, heavy rain and tornadoes.

In the wake of the storm’s wrath, Alabama Power Company on Wednesday morning sent 133 lineworkers and 94 support personnel to New Jersey to assist utility FirstEnergy in its storm response.

A release from the company outlined that Alabama Power upon arrival will support FirstEnergy subsidiary Jersey Central Power and Light, which serves 1.1 million customers in the central and northern parts of the Garden State.

In addition to directly supporting FirstEnergy, Alabama Power advised that it released more than 325 contract lineworkers to assist in storm restoration at various other utilities along the East Coast.

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“Our crews are prepped and ready to offer assistance in the restoration efforts following Tropical Storm Isaias,” stated Kristie Barton, Alabama Power Company’s power delivery services general manager.

“As soon as it is safe to do so, which includes observing all of our COVID-19 safe practices protocol, we’ll be working to restore power as quickly as possible,” she continued.

The company’s help was reportedly coordinated through the mutual assistance program of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, a trade association comprised of several member utilities.

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

9 hours ago

Ivey named to leadership of National Governors Association

The National Governors Association (NGA) on Wednesday announced its new executive committee for 2020-2021, with Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) becoming chair of the association that represents the 55 leaders of all American states and territories.

Members of the executive committee were elected during the NGA summer meeting, which was held in a virtual format this year.

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) was one of the governors elected to the nine-member executive committee.

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“I’m honored to have been elected to serve on the [NGA] Executive Committee for 2020-21,” Ivey said in a Wednesday tweet. “I look forward to working with my fellow governors to develop initiatives & policies to support our country now & in the future.”

The NGA recently highlighted Alabama’s workforce development efforts under the Ivey administration as a model for other states to emulate.

Ivey assumed the governor’s office on April 10, 2017. In November 2018, she was elected to her first full term as Alabama’s chief executive. That term will expire in January 2023. Ivey could seek reelection in 2022.

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

10 hours ago

Mo Brooks: Democrats are banking on creating more moochers in 2020

The latest stimulus bill in Congress is tied up for many reasons, but a major sticking point appears to be the continuation of a $600 a week unemployment booster on top of what states already pay in benefits.

With the current impasse, there is currently no bonus to be given to those who are unemployed.

This is creating a battle between those who want to keep the bonus payment going for the foreseeable future and those who believe that the high payment is keeping people from vigorously re-entering the job market.

The stalemate in Washington, D.C. will eventually break. Some form of sweetener will be included, and the battle for stimulus will move on to the next bill.

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) views this battle as part of the larger ideological battle in the United States.

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Brooks appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” on Wednesday and referred to the Democratic Party as “the moocher party.” He said he believes this disconnect all started in the 1960s when Democrats embraced the idea of the “Great Society.”

Brooks opined, “Democrats have discovered that’s a huge voting block that they get in elections, so one way to win an election is to turn more independent, self-reliant voters into moochers.”

The congressman from Huntsville believes this is nothing new and noted how political it all is.

“Democrats perceive that that’s going to help them tremendously in the 2020 elections just a few months from now,” he advised.

My takeaway:

Brooks, of course, is right.

The argument from the media and their Democrats is always going to be some version of: “We want to give you [this] and they don’t because they want you to die.”

Free healthcare, free childcare, free college education, and it never stops.

Stopping any of this is the equivalent of kicking a baby in the face and taking its food.

Democrats have bought into this idea for years, and in the time of rampant unemployment and a pandemic, they will kick their grievance politics into full gear to gain new power.

The House, Senate and presidency are at risk this year. Republicans can give in and extend the $600 unemployment benefit (they will), and Democrats will just move to the next free item.

In 2020, this strategy might work.

Listen:

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

12 hours ago

Dollar General opens 450,000 square foot distribution center in Montgomery

Budget shopping chain Dollar General on Wednesday announced the opening of its large, new cold storage distribution center in Montgomery.

The 450,000 square foot facility is the product of a $26 million investment for the company and will support around 65 new jobs in the River Region.

The Montgomery facility is cold storage, meaning it is designed to store goods that must be kept chilled like milk and deli products.

“Welcome to Montgomery Dollar General, thank you for investing in our state and in our people,” said Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday during a digital event celebrating the facility being opened.

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“We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous support from both state and local officials who helped make this project happen,” remarked Rod West, Dollar General’s vice president of perishables growth and development.

The low-cost retailer opened its first store in Alabama in 1965 and now has around 800 retail locations in the Yellowhammer State.

“Dollar General is a trusted company with a long history in Alabama,” said Elton Dean, Montgomery County Commission chairman, in a statement on Monday.

“The River Region has a lot to offer, and we are thrilled that this esteemed organization, that does business across the country, recognizes that,” Dean added.

Dollar General also has a traditional distribution center in Bessemer and claims to employ approximately 8,100 Alabamians in total.

Montgomery’s new distribution center is located on Mobile Highway, around 15 minutes southwest of downtown.

“We welcome Dollar General and look forward to years of partnership and progress to come,” commented Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed on Wednesday,

The company says it will support around 1,500 stores in surrounding areas and help spur the “DG Fresh” initiative “which is a strategic multi-phased shift to self-distribution of frozen and refrigerated goods such as dairy, deli and frozen products” according to a release.

“We are confident that Dollar General recognized our strong workforce and business-friendly environment when choosing a location for this facility. We are excited to welcome Dollar General and countless companies to come, to grow in Montgomery,” concluded Arthur DuCote, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce chairman.

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

12 hours ago

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate

The Alabama Forestry Association (AFA) on Wednesday announced its endorsement of Republican nominee Tommy Tuberville in the Yellowhammer State’s 2020 U.S. Senate race.

Tuberville, after defeating former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in last month’s GOP primary runoff, is set to face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November’s general election. The AFA had endorsed Sessions in the runoff contest.

In a statement, AFA executive vice president Chris Isaacson said, “We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race. He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator.”

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“Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama,” he concluded.

This comes as another major endorsement for Tuberville from the agribusiness community. The Alabama Farmers Federation endorsed the former Auburn University football coach last year and has been credited as being integral along his path to securing the Republican nomination.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association. The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success,” Tuberville stated.

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