USDA Projects Drop in Wheat Production; Zinke Tours Monuments
**On the heels of a late snowfall devastating much of the Kansas winter wheat crop, the Department of Agriculture is projecting a 25 percent drop in U.S. production from a year ago.
The projection comes in the Crop Production Report released by the National Ag Statistics Service. The report forecasts winter wheat production at 1.25 billion bushels, down from 1.67 billion in the previous harvest, with an average yield of 48.8 bushels per acre, compared to last year’s record yield of 55.3 bushels.
**Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke took a tour of two contentious national monuments this week after being tasked with examining uses of the Antiquities Act that allows presidents to create national monuments from federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features.
The Interior Department is looking at recent designations that topped 100,000 acres. Two such monuments in Utah are the Bears Ears, a 1.3-million-acre designation by President Obama, and Grand Staircase-Escalante, 1.7 million acres under President Clinton.
Zinke wonders if a monument designation is the right way to go, while livestock producers point to lost grazing.
**The Senate Wednesday unexpectedly rejected a resolution calling for the repeal of an Obama administration rule restricting methane venting and flaring on public and tribal lands.
Three Republicans, John McCain of Arizona, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Maine’s Susan Collins, joined every Democrat in voting against the resolution, which failed in a 51-49 vote. The House voted to get rid of the rule in February.