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FDA reaches out to Ag Commissioners on Food Safety

FDA's Scott Gottlieb wrote to the state Ag Commissioners reinforcing the agency’s commitment to work in partnership with the states to effectively implement FSMA.  Issues that are still being addressed include terminal markets, dispute resolution, on farm visits and agriculture water.

Removing and Replacing Production Deduction Risks Benefits for Farmer Cooperatives

 The head of the National Council of Farmer Cooperative is concerned about how tax law will treat a 17.4% tax deduction that could pass from cooperatives through to farmers but leave farmer cooperatives without the same financial benefit they now receive from the Section 199 Domestic Production Activities Deduction. Senate Republicans worked Tuesday to ensure passage of a $1.41 trillion tax-cut bill by seeking changes that would shore up the benefits to small businesses.

USDA Publishes School Meals Rule, Expands Options, Eases Challenges

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today provided local food service professionals the flexibility they need to serve wholesome, nutritious, and tasty meals in schools across the nation. The new School Meal Flexibility Rule, published today, makes targeted changes to standards for meals provided under USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, and asks customers to share their thoughts on those changes with the Department.The interim final rule published today gives schools the option to serve low-fat (1 percent) flavored milk.

Tax Legislation and the Specter of Sequestration on the Farm Bill

A recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has raised concerns about the potential impact the Congressional tax bills could have on farm programs and the farm bill. In short, the concern raised is that if the tax bills increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, existing statutory requirements for sequestration and Pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) would require automatic reductions to offset the deficit increases.

Turkey farmers facing squeeze after Trump kills agriculture rules

Ike Horst raises 22,000 turkeys a year on his farm in the rolling hills of south-central Pennsylvania, selling them to a processing company that was providing him with enough of a nest egg that he hoped he could sell the farm and retire. But a Trump administration decision to block proposed agriculture regulations may blow up those plans, preserving the multibillion-dollar meat industry’s power over the smaller turkey farmers whose birds will grace the tables in millions of American homes this Thanksgiving.

USDA Awards Funds to Support Rural Veterinary Services

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 13 grants to support rural veterinary services and relieve veterinarian shortages in parts of the U.S. and its insular areas. The funding from NIFA’s Veterinary Services Grant Program (VSGP) is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. “Rural veterinary practitioners address a variety of unique challenges related to the health and welfare of agricultural animals, public health concerns, and managing their practices,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy.

States Face Children’s Health Coverage Uncertainty

About two months after federal funding lapsed for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, state officials still don’t know exactly when they’ll run out of money or when Congress will renew funding — leaving families that depend on the program increasingly anxious about their benefits. At least a few states say that they could exhaust funds as soon as next month. States are growing more concerned about the program with just a few days left on the congressional calendar until December and no signs that lawmakers plan in the immediate future to renew funding. 

The Importance of NAFTA for the Agricultural Sector

Trade flows of agricultural commodities between the United States, Canada, and Mexico are very large. In 2016, US agricultural imports from Canada totaled $24.9 billion while US exports amounted to $25.3 billion. In the same year, US imports of agricultural products from Mexico reached $24.66 billion and US exports to Mexico were $17.68 billion. Generally, NAFTA has been operating very well except for a few irritants. Trade talks are notoriously slow and agriculture is typically a major point of contention. However, agriculture may not be a major obstacle in the current NAFTA negotiations.

Canada 'prepared for the worst' amid squabbles over NAFTA, Freeland says

Despite making progress on "bread and butter" issues, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said differences remain between Canada and the U.S. on a number of key chapters of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Speaking to reporters as the fifth round of negotiations concluded in Mexico City, the Toronto-area minister said "significant" sticking points include the U.S.

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