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UK to replace EU farm subsidies with 7-year transition scheme

Financial Times | Posted on September 19, 2018

The UK government plans to introduce a seven-year transition period for farmers’ funding from 2021, during which direct payments from the state will be reduced and tied more closely to delivering environmental and other “public” goods. The Environmental Land Management scheme will replace EU basic farm payments, which are based on the amount of land farmed, under which farmers who provide the greatest environmental benefit will receive the largest amount of public money.

FDA Announces Fees for the Accredited Third-Party Certification Program

FDA | Posted on September 13, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration is announcing the user fees for Fiscal Year 2019 for accreditation bodies seeking recognition, as well as annual fees for recognized accreditation bodies and accredited certification bodies participating in the Accredited Third-Party Certification Program. This voluntary program creates a framework for the accreditation of certification bodies that conduct food safety audits and issue certifications for foreign facilities and the foods they produce.In 2018, FDA has recognized four accreditation bodies, and most recently announced that Perry Johnson Registrars Food Safety Inc. has become the first accredited certification body as part of this program

Tariffs will cost U.S. dairy farmers $1.5B this year

Capital Press | Posted on September 13, 2018

A study by Informa Economics found retaliatory tariffs by China and Mexico will reduce U.S. dairy farmer revenue by $1.5 billion in 2018 and $3 billion in 2019 if they remain in place.While U.S. dairy producers appreciate USDA’s plan to purchase dairy products and increase funding to develop foreign markets in its tariff-mitigation strategy, they say the agency’s plan to distribute $127 million in direct payments to dairy producers falls far short of what’s needed.

Economists say ERS move penny-wise, dollar-foolish

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on September 13, 2018

The American Statistical Association and 41 other economic institutes have issued a statement saying USDA’s decision to move the Economic Research Service out of Washington, DC, will drive a brain drain from a vital research component in the nation's $1 trillion food, agriculture, and rural economy.

'Enough is enough': Canadian farmers say they will not accept dairy concessions in NAFTA talks

National Post | Posted on September 13, 2018

It seems almost a given now that any trade deal Canada strikes with the United States will have to offer up more American access to the Canadian dairy market. But a leader of this country’s main milk-producing lobby group said Monday his industry has given enough in previous trade deals and will not tolerate more concessions.As the two nations’ chief negotiators prepared to resume their talks in Washington Tuesday, dairy producers suggest this deal is a line in the sand for them.“We’ve taken those hits for team Canada, and we are determined that there be no further concessions on dairy,” said David Wiens, vice president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada. “We have hit a wall on this where enough is enough.”

USDA, FDA to hold joint meeting on cell culture technology

Meat + Poultry | Posted on September 13, 2018

The topic of cell culture technology and the products produced from it is a controversial one throughout the industry as well as in Washington. US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Sept. 10 announced a joint public meeting Oct. 23-24 to focus on the potential hazards, oversight considerations, and labeling of cell cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry. The public meeting will be held on Oct. 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Oct. 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Jefferson Auditorium in the USDA South Building, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC, 20250.“This is an important opportunity to hear from the agricultural industry and consumers as we consider the regulatory framework for these new products,” Perdue said. “American farmers and ranchers feed the world, but as technology advances, we must consider how to inspect and regulate to ensure food safety, regardless of the production method.”

Detention of Migrant Children Has Skyrocketed to Highest Levels Ever

The New York Times | Posted on September 13, 2018

Even though hundreds of children separated from their families after crossing the border have been released under court order, the overall number of detained migrant children has exploded to the highest ever recorded — a significant counternarrative to the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce the number of undocumented families coming to the United States.Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer, according to data obtained by The New York Times, reaching a total of 12,800 this month. There were 2,400 such children in custody in May 2017.The huge increases, which have placed the federal shelter system near capacity, are due not to an influx of children entering the country, but a reduction in the number being released to live with families and other sponsors, the data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services suggests. Some of those who work in the migrant shelter network say the bottleneck is straining both the children and the system that cares for them.

Eight states are fighting Trump’s attempt to declaw the Migratory Bird Treaty

The Washington Post | Posted on September 13, 2018

Eight state attorneys general filed a legal challenge Wednesday to the Trump administration's bid to dramatically weaken the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a century-old law established to protect birds. The lawsuit, led by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, and supported by Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, California and New Mexico, is an effort to stop the Interior Department from fully implementing a directive to its law enforcement division to forgive mass bird kills, even when the animals are threatened or endangered.In accordance with a new interpretation of the act issued in April, the department informed its wildlife police that the slaughter “of birds resulting from an activity is not prohibited . . . when the underlying purpose of that activity is not to take birds.” For example, the guidance said, a person who destroys a structure such as a barn knowing that it is full of baby owls in nests is not liable for killing them. “All that is relevant is that the landowner undertook an action that did not have the killing of barn owls as its purpose,” the opinion said.An even broader interpretation by the administration held that the act would no longer apply even in a catastrophe such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that injured and killed up to a million birds. Interior would pursue penalties under the Natural Resources Damage Assessment program, which is not specific to birds, and ignore penalties that could be levied under the act.

How did the USDA determine trade damage estimate calculations?

USDA | Posted on September 13, 2018

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today released a detailed accounting of how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calculated estimated damage from trade disruptions. USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist developed an estimate of gross trade damages for commodities with assessed retaliatory tariffs by Canada, China, the European Union, Mexico, and Turkey to set commodity payment rates and purchase levels in the trade mitigation package announced by USDA. USDA employed the same approach often used in adjudicating World Trade Organization trade dispute cases. MFP example 1: Sorghum Step 1: In 2017, China imported $956 million of sorghum from the United States. Step 2: With additional 25% tariff, China is estimated to import $642 million from the United States. Step 3: Estimated gross trade damage = $642 million - $956 million = -$314 million Initial MFP rate = $314 million/364 million bushels = $0.86/bu. MFP example 2: Corn Step 1: In 2017, China and EU combined imported $309 million of corn from the United States. Step 2: With additional 25% tariff from both countries, the combined imports from the United States is estimated to be $117 million. Step 3: Estimated gross trade damage = $117 million - $309 million = -$192 million Initial MFP rate = $192 million/14.6 billion bushels = $0.01/bu.

Food Safety Costs for Farms Vary Across Commodities Due to Differences in Farm Size

Amber Waves - USDA | Posted on September 13, 2018

An ERS study estimated farm-level costs to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act's Produce Rule by commodity, State, and farm size. Costs ranged from as little as 0.3 percent of annual produce sales for the largest farms and 6.8 percent for the smallest.