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EPA staffers get talking points playing down human role in climate change

Environmental Protection Agency staffers received a list of “talking points” this week instructing them to underscore the uncertainties about how human activity contributes to climate change. A career employee in the department’s Office of Public Affairs distributed the eight talking points to regional staffers.

How a food stamp fight could kill the farm bill

The Trump administration and House Republicans are pushing a crackdown on food stamps, but their effort to shrink a safety net program that boomed during the Obama era might come at a great cost — derailing a massive farm bill that’s heavily supported in Trump country. Talks between House Democrats and Republicans on the farm bill broke down two weeks ago over proposed changes to the nutrition program that Democrats say would cut off an estimated 1 million participants — a bad sign for the historically bipartisan legislation.

Secretary Perdue Issues USDA Statement on Plant Breeding Innovation

 U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued a statement providing clarification on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) oversight of plants produced through innovative new breeding techniques which include techniques called genome editing. Under its biotechnology regulations, USDA does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests.

FDA Investigates Pattern of Contamination in Certain Raw Pet Foods

The FDA has detected Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O128 and Salmonella in samples of raw pet foods manufactured by Arrow Reliance Inc. The samples were collected by the FDA to determine whether the firm had addressed an ongoing pattern of pathogenic contamination in Darwin’s and ZooLogics raw pet foods.The firm has recalled the affected products.

How the Omnibus Spending Bill Impacts Agriculture

When Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill back in December, there were provisions giving additional advantages in form of deductions to producers who sold grain to cooperatives that did not exist for farmers selling to independent buyers.  When this was discovered, numerous Congressmen said this was an inadvertent error that would be remedied.  The spending bill corrected this “grain glitch”  in Division T, Section 101, which essentially does away with the deduction advantaged given to coops under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Participating insurance companies annual rate of return on crop insurance

A Minnesota farm group says that the federal crop insurance, the nation’s largest “safety net” program for farmers, is a profit bonanza for private insurance companies. Farmers, taxpayers and rural environmental quality are paying the price. “I appreciate crop insurance. It does make a risky business less risky,” said Randy Krzmarzick, a crop farmer from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. “But crop insurance is not subject to any limits. The largest recipients have received over a million dollars in subsidies.

Budgetary Restraints Force CDC to Downsize International Programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been forced to reduce international epidemic detection and prevention programs. For many decades, the CDC has maintained a presence in as many as 49 nations to work with local health officials and to monitor outbreaks of disease. According to Dr. Rebecca Martin, Director of the CDC Center for Global Health, the agency will have to scale back the Global Health Security portfolio to focus efforts based on existing resources. Addressing her colleagues in an internal CDC E-mail, Dr.

Congressional Spending Bill Allocates $600 Million in New Rural Broadband Funding

New rural broadband funding is included in the $1.3 trillion congressional omnibus bill to fund the government this year. The bill calls for an additional $600 million to be distributed through the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). The funding authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to create a pilot program within RUS that distributes the new funding in the form of grants and loans. There are details to be worked out, but the authorization calls for “expedited” delivery of the program.A few conditions were mandated by the funding bill.

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