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Initial Review of the Senate Ag Committee's Draft 2018 Farm Bill

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on June 13, 2018

The Senate Ag Committee draft bill contains reauthorizations for all twelve titles from the 2014 Farm Bill, much of which constitutes fairly straight-forward extensions of authorizations and funds, some with minor modifications. The Senate draft bill also includes reauthorization of the programs in the energy title which was eliminated by the House Ag Committee bill. The following initial review will focus only on the program reauthorizations and modifications in the four main titles with mandatory funding: Commodities (Title I); Conservation (Title II); Nutrition (Title IV) and Crop Insurance (Title XI). From a review of the proposed modifications to various programs, a larger point about legislating and policymaking also emerges.

Time Running Out for Agriculture ELD Exemption

DTN | Posted on June 13, 2018

While the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) 90-day electronic logging device (ELD) waiver for agriculture truckers expires June 18, one group has already been granted an extension until fall. When President Donald Trump signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill in March 2018, it also passed an extension on the ELD implementation for livestock haulers. The bill, passed on March 23, included a mandate for livestock and insect haulers to have an exemption through September 30, 2018. However, drivers hauling non-livestock ag commodities, such as produce, feed and fertilizer, must begin using an ELD by June 19, the date that enforcers will begin issuing citations and out-of-service orders for non-compliance, according to the FMCSA. Drivers who haul agricultural commodities within a "150-air mile radius of the farmer's farm or ranch," are exempt from hours of service regulations

ICE Raid at Corso’s Leads to More Than 100 Arrests

Greenhouse Grower | Posted on June 13, 2018

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents made more than 100 arrests Tuesday at Corso’s Flower and Garden Center in northern Ohio, aided by about 200 law enforcement workers, in one of the largest employer stings in recent years.

USDA streamlines produce safety rule

Brownfield Ag News | Posted on June 13, 2018

The USDA and FDA have streamlined produce safety requirements for specialty crop growers. U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the agency’s Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices Audit Program now aligns with the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule and inspection requirements from both agencies will be less of a burden for farmers.FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says his agency is working to provide more resources to states which conduct most of the food safety inspections.

Senate produces bipartisan draft farm bill

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition | Posted on June 13, 2018

Senate Agriculture Committee leadership has shown that the farm bill can and should remain a bipartisan affair. Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) have, true to their word, worked together to produce a bill that includes much-needed policy improvements and funding increases that will help drive the sustainability of American agriculture. The Senate bill stands in stark contrast to its companion in the House, which moved out of committee along completely partisan lines and was denounced by many farm and food advocates before it was defeated on the House floor. We are pleased, for example, that unlike the House companion bill, the Senate Committee’s draft bill makes no cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for low-income Americans. The draft bill scales up investments for farm-to-fork initiatives and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer programs, and makes important policy improvements to crop insurance and conservation programs. It also fails, however, to make meaningful reforms to farm subsidy programs to limit economic and farm concentration, and includes significant cuts to critical working lands conservation programs. In all, we believe the bill produced by Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow offers a good starting point for farm bill negotiations in the Senate. We look forward to actively working with our members and with our allies in the Senate to pass a bill that protects and supports American family farmers.

Age composition of SNAP recipients changes

USDA | Posted on June 13, 2018

In 2016, 44.1 percent of the 43.5 million Americans participating in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were children (age 17 and younger), 44.1 percent were working-age adults (age 18-59) and 11.8 percent were elderly. Eligibility for SNAP benefits is based on income and asset limits, subject to certain immigration status and work requirements. In addition, able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49, who are not caring for dependents, are required to work or participate in a work training program for at least 20 hours per week to receive SNAP benefits for more than 3 months in a 36-month period. The age composition of SNAP participants has changed over time in response to economic conditions, legislative modifications, and demographic trends. The job losses that accompanied the 2007-09 recession and the slow recovery resulted in more working-age adults becoming eligible for benefits and seeking assistance. Working-age adults’ share of the SNAP caseload rose from 42.4 percent in 2007 to 44.4 percent in 2009.

Lawmakers Join Forces in Bipartisan Attempt to End USDA Kitten Testing

Roll Call | Posted on June 12, 2018

Kittens and cupcakes in the Rayburn building caused a buzz Thursday among staffers and interns, but the reason for their presence was anything but a cute ball of fluff. For the past 50 years, the Department of Agriculture has been forcing 100 kittens each year to eat toxoplasma-infected raw meat to test their stool, according to Michigan Republican Rep. Mike Bishop. The parasite causes toxoplasmosis and is found only in cat feces, putting the brunt of these experiments on kittens. They are needed to breed the parasite, which is then studied, according to a report by watchdog group the White Coat Waste Project. Researchers later kill the kittens because they are deemed unfit for adoption given the potential health hazards they could cause owners, according to a USDA Agricultural Research Service spokesperson. The spokesperson called the estimation of 100 cats per year used in experiments a “serious over-estimation” and said the cats are essential to this sort of research.

The last thing America's dairy farmers need is a trade war with Mexico

The Hill | Posted on June 12, 2018

esides providing healthy and affordable food, dairy farmers are the backbone of a substantial contributor to the U.S. economy. America’s dairy products industry creates an economic ripple effect that is responsible for $24.9 billion in state and local business tax revenues and $39.5 billion in federal business tax revenues. It supports nearly three million workers, generates more than $39 billion in direct wages and has an overall economic impact of more than $628 billion. But this year, June has our dairy farmers more than a little on edge. Just a few days ago, they received news that their biggest foreign customer, Mexico, is threatening retaliatory tariffs on cheese, among other agricultural products. If these are enacted, the impacts could be detrimental to the industry. Like much of American agriculture, it is highly dependent on exports, especially with our NAFTA partners. 

Senate Ag Committee releases draft of Farm Bill

U.S. Senate Ag Committee | Posted on June 11, 2018

This is the draft of the Senate Agricuture Committee Farm Bill

Mexico imposes tariffs on US agricultural products

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 11, 2018

In retaliatory move, Mexico targets American farm products, including pork, cheese, apples, potatoes, whiskey and cranberries