Skip to content Skip to navigation

Federal News

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.”

Ag sector fear of NAFTA withdrawal intensifies, despite Trump's reassurances

Agri-Pulse | Posted on December 13, 2017

President Donald Trump’s repeated threats to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement have kept the U.S. ag sector on edge for months, but many have been able to dismiss the comments as just part of a particularly aggressive negotiating tactic.That time has passed, though, and farm sector leaders are expressing concern that Trump may have no intention of allowing the current NAFTA negotiations to succeed.Whether it’s through so-called “poison pill” proposals designed to doom the talks to failure or whether the White House will simply pull the plug, severing decades-old ties with Mexico and Canada, the prospect of an end to NAFTA is prompting an onslaught of lobbying from CEOs, lawmakers and state leaders across the country.The dairy industry has a lot to lose if NAFTA is scuttled. Mexico - with its 135 million consumers - is the largest foreign market for U.S. dairy products, and the trade pact insures that there are no tariffs on U.S. shipments south of the border.

Perdue: SNAP changes won't threaten 2018 farm bill

Politico | Posted on December 13, 2017

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday that he did not believe that GOP-desired changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, like stricter work requirements for able-bodied adults, would disrupt Congress' ability to pass a farm bill."I think the coalition that has passed the farm bill for years will be maintained," Perdue said during a speech at the National Press Club, referring to the long-standing alliance between anti-hunger and agriculture groups that has been crucial to securing votes for farm bills."By and large, there is a bipartisan group of people that believe able-bodied adults without dependents shouldn’t rely on supplemental nutrition assistance forever," he added.Perdue didn't directly answer a question about whether recent actions by the USDA to give states greater flexibility in administering SNAP were part of President Donald Trump's broad review of welfare programs.

White House pressures Big Corn to meet on U.S. biofuels policy

Reuters | Posted on December 12, 2017

President Donald Trump’s administration called two lawmakers from the U.S. corn belt to convince them to join talks about potential changes to biofuels policy to ease the burden on oil refineries, according to a spokesman for one of the lawmakers and a source briefed on the matter.

Scientists call on US to allow research on pot meds for pets

Leader-Telegram | Posted on December 12, 2017

A push is underway to have the U.S. government remove barriers to clinical trials of marijuana to see how effective it is in treating ailments in both pets and people, and one university in Colorado is already testing dogs with arthritis and epilepsy.People anxious to relieve suffering in their pets are increasingly turning to oils and powders that contain CBDs, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. But there’s little data on whether they work, or if they have harmful side effects.That’s because Washington has been standing in the way of clinical trials, veterinarians and researchers say. Now, a push is underway to have barriers removed, so both pets and people can benefit.

Members of ranch family sentenced to probation, fines on gun charges

Capital Press | Posted on December 12, 2017

Ranchers Terry and Mary Hunt and their sons Russell and Derek were sentenced to five years probation and fined after pleading guilty to federal charges related to illegally buying and selling firearms.

The Produce Safety Network: Supporting Regulators and Growers Across the Country

FDA | Posted on December 12, 2017

When the Produce Safety Rule became final in November 2015, the FDA began building the Produce Safety Network (PSN) to support the efforts of farmers, state regulators, and other key stakeholders to implement the rule, which is aimed at preventing foodborne illnesses associated with produce. The PSN is comprised of produce safety experts from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and specialized investigators from the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA). Stephen Hughes, M.S., leads the PSN’s team of produce safety experts from CFSAN.  Brittany Laymon, M.S., Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), is one of two Branch Chiefs leading the specialized investigators from ORA. They talk about the PSN’s goals, and what their teams are doing as the compliance date for larger farms subject to the Produce Safety Rule approaches in January 2018 (routine inspections won’t begin until the spring of 2019 to allow time for more guidance, training, technical assistance, and planning).

Food Stamp Fight Looms In Congress After Tax Code Overhaul

Huffington Post | Posted on December 12, 2017

Democrats have warned that after passing a tax bill that adds to the national debt, Republicans will say it’s all the more urgent to cut Social Security and Medicare.While overhauling those popular programs is a long-term Republican goal, in the near-term conservative lawmakers are more eager to cut food stamps.Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), founder of the House Freedom Caucus, told HuffPost on Tuesday that the influential bloc of conservative Republicans will push for “welfare reform” legislation next year that would add new restrictions on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.“That’s what’s coming,” Jordan said, adding that President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) support the idea. ”It’s got huge support. We just need to get it done next year.”

Animal Drugs at FDA Phase 3 Implementation

FDA | Posted on December 12, 2017

In our continued effort to improve transparency and public access to information about approved animal drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine is launching Phase III of the redesigned Animaldrugs@fda website. As before, the new Animal Drugs @ FDA website provides a searchable database for veterinarians, pet owners, animal producers and others to get information about approved animal drugs by application number, sponsor name, proprietary name, ingredient, application status, dosage form, route of administration, indication and species.With the completion of Phase 3 on December 6, 2017, Animal Drugs @ FDA will now display animal drug information using the FDA Structured Product Labeling (SPL) style sheet. This enhancement will permit CVM to post, approved animal drug SPL files in the future. Once posted, approved animal drug SPL files will provide additional information that includes all content of labeling and images of labeling components. Additional enhancements that were completed in this phase include:Adding of the marketing status to the search results table to better distinguish between approved and voluntarily withdrawn applications. Updating the Advance Search Logic to always use “and” searches instead of “or” searches when entering multiple search criteria

On Twitter, Farmers Are Begging Trump Not to Bail on Nafta

Bloomberg | Posted on December 12, 2017

Farmers showed up at the polls for Trump. Now they want him to do the same for them on NAFTA.Using the hashtag #Farmers4NAFTA, individual farmers and agricultural groups are tweeting about the benefits of Nafta.Canada received $20.3 billion worth of American agricultural products in 2016, making it the top destination for such goods, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mexico received $17.7 billion, coming in third place behind China. The tweets add to the voices in Congress calling on the administration to remain in Nafta. Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, published an Op-Ed in The Hillon Wednesday highlighting the benefits of the agreement. Republican Senators Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Joni Ernst of Iowa also made a case for the agreement on Tuesday over lunch with the president and the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.