Skip to content Skip to navigation

Federal News

Homeland Security’s inspector general has reported moldy food and mistreatment in immigrant detention centers

Pittsburgh Post Gazette | Posted on December 18, 2017

The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security has criticized several immigration detention facilities for having spoiled and moldy food and inadequate medical care, and for inappropriate treatment of detainees, such as locking down a detainee for sharing coffee and interfering with Muslims’ prayer times.

Tax reform bills will affect Iowa’s farmers and ranchers

The Gazette | Posted on December 18, 2017

At Iowa Farmers Union’s annual convention earlier this month, if tax reform was raised, it was out of concern over who would benefit, and at what cost. IFU’s family farmer members had greater concern for low crop prices, increased corporate consolidation, and efforts to improve on-farm conservation practices. And their alternative priorities track with broader American sentiment, as the rest of America seems resigned to accept that current tax reform efforts just aren’t for them. A recent Quinnipiac poll found Americans oppose current tax bills by a margin of two to one, and CBS found that 70 percent of respondent don’t think tax reform should be a priority.With so many challenges facing the country and rural America in particular, you, like me, might be asking what is Washington thinking? The next congressional agenda item appears to be entitlement reform out of concern over the skyrocketing national debt. At the same time and by Congress’s own estimate, these tax reform bills will add between $1-$1.45 trillion to the debt even after economic growth is factored in. As an American, its alarming to me that we will cut programs like Medicaid, social security, and nutrition programs to offset tax cuts that analysts predict will be a windfall for corporations and the wealthy.


EU seeks to simplify and make farm policy fairer in sweeping changes

Farming UK | Posted on December 18, 2017

The European Union is looking to simplify farming policy rules and boost farmers' bargaining power against supermarkets in a list of sweeping changes announced. They also looked at rules for farmers to cope with market and production risks better, and more flexibility for member states to help young farmers.The reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which is to take effect next year, was approved by 503 votes in favour to 87 against, with 13 abstentions.New rules will allow all recognised farmers’ organisations to plan production and negotiate supply contracts on behalf of its members without falling foul of the EU’s competition rules. Collective negotiations have so far been allowed only in a few sectors such as milk, olive oil, beef or cereals.

As NAFTA talks continue, Canada strengthens ag ties with Mexico

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on December 14, 2017

In between rounds of negotiation on possible changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada’s Agriculture Minister concluded a two-day visit to Mexico City to strengthen bilateral relations and promote trade last week. Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay also attended the Mexican food and beverage trade show Alimentaria, touring the show with Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto and Mexican Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food, José Calzada.

US says WTO losing focus on trade, becoming litigation group

ABC News | Posted on December 13, 2017

The United States said Monday that the World Trade Organization is losing its focus on trade negotiation and "becoming a litigation-centered organization." U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also complained that some WTO members try to gain concessions through lawsuits that he said they could never get at the negotiating table."We have to ask ourselves whether this is good for the institution and whether the current litigation structure makes sense," Lighthizer said at the WTO's ministerial meeting

USDA nearing end of feral hog removal

Albuquerque Journal | Posted on December 13, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is nearing the end of an eradication program targeting feral hogs that have been rooting up New Mexico and other parts of the country. The program is set to end in September 2018 and more funding will be needed to continue fighting the pests, USDA District Supervisor for Wildlife Services Brian Archuleta said.

USDA Clears Arizona to Test SNAP Fraud Prevention Improvement

USDA | Posted on December 13, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cleared the state of Arizona to test a program aimed at limiting fraud and reducing illegal trafficking in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) electronic benefit (EBT) cards. The two-year waiver, granted by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), will allow the state to require direct contact with SNAP benefit recipients who request a replacement EBT card more than two times in a 12 month period.

Prevented Planting Option Ended

DTN | Posted on December 13, 2017

USDA Racks Up Cost Savings by Dialing Back Indemnity Potential for Prevented Planting Claims. Farmers in Northern Plains states and parts of the Corn Belt will lose the prospect of larger potential payouts under prevented planting claims following a crop-insurance change announced earlier this week by USDA's Risk Management Agency.For years, the Obama administration repeatedly sought a $1.4-billion cost savings over 10 years by asking Congress to reform prevented planting coverage by eliminating the option of buying 10% higher coverage for prevented planting. Without calling on Congress, the Trump administration made multiple changes to prevented planting insurance this week in line with spending cuts proposed in the Obama era.On Monday, in a memo sent out to insurers and USDA Risk Management Agency field offices, USDA eliminated the Prevented Planting +10 Percent Option for the 2018 crop year and future crop years. USDA kept the 5% option for farmers, though analysis shows very few farmers have taken the 5% option. The 10% option paid out more than $4 billion in indemnities from 1994-2013.

Under Trump, E.P.A. Has Slowed Actions Against Polluters, and Put Limits on Enforcement Officers

The New York Times | Posted on December 13, 2017

The highway billboard at the entrance to town still displays a giant campaign photograph of President Trump, who handily won the election across industrial Ohio. But a revolt is brewing here in East Liverpool over Mr. Trump’s move to slow down the federal government’s policing of air and water pollution.The City Council moved unanimously last month to send a protest letter to the Environmental Protection Agency about a hazardous waste incinerator near downtown. Since Mr. Trump took office, the E.P.A. has not moved to punish the plant’s owner, even after extensive evidence was assembled during the Obama administration that the plant had repeatedly, and illegally, released harmful pollutants into the air.“I don’t know where we go,” Councilman William Hogue, a retired social studies teacher, said in frustration to his fellow council members. “They haven’t resolved anything.”Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, has said the Trump administration’s high-profile regulatory rollback does not mean a free pass for violators of environmental laws. But as the Trump administration moves from one attention-grabbing headline to the next, it has taken a significant but less-noticed turn in the enforcement of federal pollution laws.

Bipartisan bill might seed the future of organic farming

Civil eats | Posted on December 13, 2017

In order to move this needle, Pingree in May introduced the Organic Agriculture Research Act of 2017 (H.R. 2436), which proposes more than doubling the program’s funding to $50 million per year through 2023, with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Support for the legislation has been picking up steam, with more than 50 new co-sponsors (47 Democrats, 4 Republicans) signing on between September and November 2017. Organizations like the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), and Beyond Pesticides are all lobbying for its passage, and Rodale Institute’s Organic Farmers’ Association included it in the group’s first round of policy positions.But at a time when the administration is largely focused on cuts to agricultural funding, will lawmakers be able to gain enough support to get the increased funding into the 2018 Farm Bill?At this stage in the process, the legislation has strong bipartisan support and Tencer says she’s “cautiously optimistic.” Although it’s not clear where the money will come from, Gandhi says, since the overall tenor of conversations is on paring down costs, “in the big scheme of things, this ask is not that drastic. Its impact on the people who apply for these grants, however, is huge.”