Vermont Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee yesterday met with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at a town hall meeting in Concord, New Hampshire, where he joined other Northeast agriculture commissioners, emphasizing the serious need for assistance for dairy farmers in Vermont and across the nation. At his first face-to-face meeting with the Obama administration official, Allbee thanked Secretary Vilsack for the leadership he has already provided the dairy industry including moving surplus products into food export and nutrition programs. He also asked for more direct assistance, explaining the dire need for help on behalf of the State s 1,046 dairy farmers. Secretary Vilsack indicated yesterday that he understands the seriousness of the situation our dairy farmers are facing and that he is continuing to work on additional options for the industry. He also stated the need for USDA to renew its focus on regional food production, said Allbee.Secretary Allbee specifically requested Vilsack support an immediate and retroactive increase to the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) safety net program, as well as a minimum six-month interest-free extension or debt forgiveness on USDA loans. Both of these actions would bring immediate relief to dairy farmers, as they experience the perfect storm of high input costs and protracted low milk prices. A surprise announcement by Secretary Vilsack in New Hampshire yesterday was his pledge to form an advisory group to recommend changes to the federal milk pricing system for fairness for farmers and to help promote profitability and stability in the dairy industry acknowledging that the current system is antiquated. This is a concept that Secretary Allbee and his counterparts in New York and Pennsylvania, as part of the Northeast Dairy Leadership Team, suggested to the Secretary in a letter sent earlier this year.
INDOT is awarding $86 million in federal transportation funds to rural cities, towns and counties. The announcement includes $47 million for road construction, $22 million for bridges and $14 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Over $10 million goes to recipients in southeastern Indiana.INDOT has awarded local federal transportation funding to:Dearborn County, $960,000 for replacing Bridge #24 on Cold Springs RoadDecatur County, $774,560 for rehabilitation of C.R. 1100S bridge over Sand CreekFranklin County, $796,800 for rehabilitation of St. Mary’s Road bridge over Whitewater RiverFranklin County, $65,280 for replacement of signage on county roadsCity of Greensburg, $269,730 for replacement of street signsCity of Seymour, $648,000 for West 2nd Street construction from Springhill RD to Vehslage RDAwarded rural projects would be designed, developed and have purchased land according to federal standards prior to bid during the state fiscal year beginning July 2016. Applications for those awards were due Friday, Dec. 13. In the near future, INDOT plans to issue a call for applications for rural local projects that would be bid during the state fiscal year beginning July 2017.The state programs 25 percent of its federal highway appropriation each year to fund larger local transportation projects. Metropolitan Planning Organizations distribute federal highway funds to local communities within the state’s larger urbanized areas while INDOT distributes such funds outside MPO areas. To receive federal monies, communities typically pay 20 percent in local matching funds.
Press Association Only four went to post for the Grade One feature, and while all were of significant ability the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner oozed class in making it two from two over the larger obstacles. Willie Mullins’ five-year-old was expected to have a fight on his hands for the lead with Jessica Harrington’s Ttebbob, but Douvan’s jumping immediately put that rival under pressure and he was eventually pulled up. Sizing John closed after Douvan made a semblance of a mistake at the second-last, but Mullins knew what he had underneath him. Without asking for an effort Douvan began to pull away again and while he was not fluent at the last, he never looked like falling and the 4-7 favourite coasted home, nearly eased to a walk at the line in winning by 18 lengths. Paul Townend was supposed to take the mount on the Rich Ricci-owned victor, but after returning from injury after a spell out, he had a fall in the first race and stood himself down. Former jockey David Casey, representing Mullins, said: “Everything comes easy to him, and it was an easy decision to go over fences with his size. He’s built for fences and oozes class. “It’s about keeping the wheels on the bus now. He’s a special horse.” Patrick Mullins, winning his first Grade One over hurdles or fences, said: “That’s one of the best thrills that I’ve ever had. He was magnificent. “He was clever at the last and put in a short one, whereas at Navan he went long at the last. He was just idling in front. He covers so much ground that you don’t think you are going that quick. He’s like a Ferrari!” William Hill make Douvan the even-money favourite for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March, with RaceBets 10-11 from 6-4. Townend is expected to be out of the saddle for around 10 days. He returned to action on Saturday for his first mounts since December 13, and finished fourth on Beau Mome in the Clayton Hotel Leopardstown Maiden Hurdle, but felt he was not in the right shape to continue. The Turf Club’s medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick said: “Paul Townend has a bone bruise on his right lower tibia which is still giving him some trouble. He will be out for 10 days but should be OK after that.” Douvan was an imperious winner of the Racing Post Novice Chase under replacement rider Patrick Mullins at Leopardstown.