President Biden signed executive orders on Friday concerning anti-competitive issues in the United States that will impact farmers and ranchers. They include making it easier and cheaper for farmers to repair equipment they own by limiting manufacturers from barring self-repairs or third-party repairs of their products, empowering family farmers to increase their incomes by strengthening Department of Agriculture regulations to stop the abusive practices of some meat processors, and by committing $500 million to expand processing capacity in the meat industry. The National Cattleman’s Beef Association welcomed the announcement of rule-making to improve the accuracy of the “Product of the USA” beef label and implementing the $500 million-strategy to expand processing capacity as vital steps toward a more resilient industry supply chain. During a trip to Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Friday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that expansion of processing facilities would increase competition within meat and poultry processing, and make agricultural markets more accessible and fair. He said that “The COVID-19 pandemic led to massive disruptions for growers, food workers, and consumers alike, and it exposed a food system that was rigid, consolidated, and fragile. Meanwhile, those growing, processing and preparing our food are earning less each year in a system that rewards size over all else. To shift the balance of power back to the people, USDA will invest in building more, better, and fairer markets for producers and consumers alike.”

Medical care in many rural communities, is often hard to find for both humans and animals. Since medical and veterinary school graduates usually exit with huge student loan debts, and with lower income prospects in rural communities, new veterinarians and medical doctors are more likely to opt for practices in urban communities, where income levels are higher. Although there are programs that encourage new vets to practice in rural areas by helping them pay back student loans, the federal income taxes levied on these benefits soak up most of the benefits. Recently, the bipartisan Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act bill was introduced by Michigan democratic senator Debbie Stabenow and Idaho republican senator Mike Carpo. If passed, it would eliminate income taxes that veterinarians pay while participating in these programs.

A report issued in the fall of 2019 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy stated that North America had lost 3 billion birds in the last 50 years. That news has spurred some farmers and ranchers around the country to take steps to help birds on their operations. For example, California, farmers are building nesting houses for birds, attracting swallows, Western blue birds, and barn owls to combat pests, rather than relying on pesticides. Ornithologists suggest other measures too, that both ag producers and home owners can take to to take to help birds. They include, making Windows Safer, Day and Night by adding screens, film or paint to cut down on reflections, keeping cats indoors, reducing the size of lawns by planting vegetation that provides habitat and shelter for birds, maintaining fence row vegetation, limiting pesticide use and watching the birds around your home, and sharing what you see.

Mahatma Gandi said, ”There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.”

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