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USDA to Implement Regulatory Reforms to Increase Access to Capital in Rural Areas

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is hosting listening sessions to solicit feedback on a plan to increase access to capital in rural areas by streamlining regulations for four Rural Development loan guarantee programs. “At USDA, we know that for many rural communities the regulations that govern our programs can be outdated and difficult to navigate,” Hazlett said.

USDA Launches Webpage Highlighting Resources to Help Rural Communities Bridge the Broadband e-Connectivity Infrastructure Gap

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today unveiled a new webpage featuring information about the importance of rural e-Connectivity and the ways the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing to help deploy high-speed broadband infrastructure in rural America. “Rural high-speed broadband e-Connectivity is as important for economic development as rail, roads, bridges and airports – and as vital as the buildouts of rural telephone networks were decades ago,” Perdue said.

FDA expands Third-Party Certification program

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) established the Accredited Third-Party Certification Program, which is a voluntary program that allows “accreditation bodies” to apply for recognition by FDA. Recognized accreditation bodies have the authority to accredit third-party “certification bodies,” otherwise known as third-party auditors. In turn, the certification bodies (1) conduct consultative and/or regulatory food safety audits and (2) issue certifications to eligible entities that produce food for humans and animals.

From Hawaii to Vermont, States Tackle Efficiency Standards

With the Trump administration slowing progress on energy-saving efficiency standards for appliances, equipment, and electronics that save Americans billions of dollars, states are stepping in to try to fill the gap. So far this year, five states have introduced efficiency standards bills and one—Vermont—passed the bill into law. Vermont joins California as a leadership state with a comprehensive suite of state-level energy efficiency standards.

3 reasons to support farm bill’s nutrition provisions

Proposed changes to the farm bill nutrition title threaten to hang up the conference committee. So, it is as important as ever for farm groups to band with their partners in the nutrition community in calling on Congress to protect the integrity of the consumer food safety net.For organizations such as ours, National Farmers Union and Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger, there is little to commend in the House version of the farm bill, which was broadly condemned by progressive ag groups, conservationists and anti-hunger advocates.

While lawmakers laud compromise, Trump urges SNAP work requirements

Farm bill negotiators spoke smilingly of comity and compromise while budging not an inch on major issues such as SNAP work requirements on Wednesday during their first, and possibly last, public meeting. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, after wryly saying, “I can’t remember the last time I appointed myself to a conference,” told his fellow negotiators that if they fail to enact the farm bill before the Sept.

Questionable moves at USDA

When the House and Senate farm-bill conference committee meets Wednesday, there are some things they should discuss but probably won’t: the Trump administration’s decisions to place the Agriculture Department’s economic research functions directly under the secretary and to move most of the employees of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture out of Washington. Perdue’s argument is that he plans to move the agencies so that the researchers will be closer to the farmers who benefit from their work.

China races to corral an outbreak of deadly African swine fever

The Korean peninsular and Southeast Asia may be next to report outbreaks of African swine fever after the rapid onset of the deadly pig disease in China, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.China announced its fourth case of the disease last week in the province of Zhejiang, four days after it was reported in neighboring Jiangsu, and some 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) from where an initial outbreak was discovered Aug. 3 in northeastern Liaoning province.
 

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