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EPA Action would Break President’s Promises on Protecting the RFS

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on October 9, 2017

Efforts underway from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to scale back the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) would break repeated promises by President Donald Trump to protect the RFS. As part of a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) published by the agency on Oct. 4, EPA signaled that it is contemplating reducing proposed RFS volumes, including volumes that were finalized a year ago.

GMO mosquitoes aren't 'drugs,' need EPA oversight

ABC news | Posted on October 5, 2017

U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials say genetically modified mosquitoes are not "drugs" and should be regulated by environmental authorities. According to guidelines posted online Wednesday, federal officials have decided that mosquitoes engineered by the biotech firm Oxitec will be regulated from now on by the Environmental Protection Agency.The guidelines clarify that products intended to function as pesticides to control mosquito populations should fall under the EPA. The FDA has authority over mosquito-related products intended to prevent or treat diseases.Oxitec releases nonbiting male mosquitoes modified with synthetic DNA to produce offspring that die before maturing. The method aims to reduce mosquito populations that spread Zika and other viruses.

New era for agricultural transport in the U.S.

Freightwaves | Posted on October 5, 2017

Big changes abound for shippers of agricultural products in the U.S. In September of 2016, large agricultural production and shipping companies of more than 500 employees had to begin to abide by the Food Safety Modernization Act.All agricultural carriers must now be in compliance with the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule, commonly called the “Sanitary Transportation Rule.” This rule puts in place new regulations on vehicles and transportation equipment, transportation operations, training, and records maintenance for agricultural product carriers. For smaller companies these new regulations are going into effect just before the mandatory implementation of electronic logging devicesstarting in December of this year.Though the rule introduces the potential for increased carrier liability, it also opens the door to prospective innovation and necessitates smarter solutions in the agriculture and trucking industries. Blockchain technology will allow agricultural producers and shippers the transparency to easily prove that they operate in accordance with the new Sanitary Transportation Rule and other parts of FSMA. In addition, blockchain will allow agricultural producers and shippers a chance to gain efficiencies in their supply chain, especially in the areas of operations, accounts settlement, and finance.

Canada not a dumping ground for U.S. dairy

edairynews | Posted on October 5, 2017

It tells us of a massive trade ratio imbalance of five-to-one in favour of the American dairy producers exporting into Canada. I couldn’t help but laugh at Americans wanting to protect our consumers from needing to pay high prices on dairy products by eliminating our dairy marketing board.Two years ago, I saw a program called Northwest Profile on KSPS that featured a large dairy farmer along the Columbia River who has a herd of 10,000 dairy cows. The cattle live outside all year long and are milked automatically by just walking up to a machine that cleans them and milks them. Please explain how anyone in this country could compete with that?The same article mentioned that the great Stephen Harper was willing to allow a 3.25 per cent increase in imports of foreign dairy products. Harper was also willing to compensate our dairy industry for their loss of income by giving them billions of dollars. If a 3.25 per cent loss of our domestic market is worth billions, how much more will it cost if half or more is lost to imports?Where will this compensation money come from because someone has to pay for it?

State attorneys general seek more beds for drug treatment

AP | Posted on October 5, 2017

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general on Monday called on Congress to allow Medicaid funding to flow to larger drug treatment centers, potentially expanding the number of addicts who can get help as the nation grapples with an overdose crisis. The government lawyers for 38 states and Washington, D.C., sent a letter to congressional leaders requesting the change. They say it’s needed to help fight the opioid abuse and overdose epidemic, which continues to claim tens of thousands of lives a year.

Regulations, exports and death taxes, important issues all, but what about low farm prices?

Ag Policy | Posted on October 5, 2017

Recently a friend of ours told us about the farm bill listening session he attended during the August Congressional break. He expected the bulk of the comments would focus on the problems farmers are facing as the result of nearly four years of low commodity prices. Instead, he said, the bulk of the discussion focused on three issues: decreasing regulations, increasing exports, and eliminating inheritance taxes. These three issues are a good place for us to start as we embark on a series of columns laying out our analysis of farm policy instruments that will help farmers weather extended periods of low prices and stay out of the way when prices are above the cost of production. From our perspective, these issues pale in comparison to the issue of low farm prices. Estate taxes affect fewer than 50 small farm families each year while low prices affect every crop farmer. In the 1998-2001 period, below-the-cost-of-production crop prices did not increase US exports, they hurt farmers in the US and around the world. And, while farmers grumble about environmental regulations, it is doubtful that they would want to trade their regulation regime for the environmental regulations imposed on off-farm businesses and municipal governments.


Court nixes Trump admin's 'unlawful' delay of Methane BLM rule

E & E News | Posted on October 5, 2017

The Trump administration acted unlawfully when it froze Obama-era restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry, a federal court ruled.  According to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Interior Department misused a provision of the Administrative Procedure Act when it stalled key provisions of a rule aimed at reducing methane venting and flaring on public and tribal lands.Just today, BLM unveiled a separate proposal to delay the standards until January 2019. However, the district court's order means that the rule will take effect now.The court's decision revives the standards, meaning any oil and gas companies not already in compliance will have to scramble to catch up.Secretary Ryan Zinke sidelined key provisions of the 2016 Bureau of Land Management regulation in June, indefinitely delaying deadlines for measuring flared gas, upgrading equipment and controlling leaks.Zinke's move followed a failed effort to kill the rule via the Congressional Review Act. Separately, the agency has launched a formal process to roll back the measure.According to the district court, BLM's approach to freezing parts of the rule violates federal law. The agency relied on APA Section 705, which allows for postponing the effective date of regulations that are facing litigation. But the BLM methane rule took effect in January, with various compliance deadlines spaced out over time.

US Agriculture Often Bears the Cost of Trade Disputes

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on October 5, 2017

Potential trade disputes are approaching from all directions with significant implications for American agriculture. To the north and south, the US government is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] with Canada and Mexico. Just last week, the three countries met in Ottawa, with many thorny issues yet to be resolved. Also last week, the US imposed a tariff of almost 220 percent on certain models of aircraft produced in Canada. West, after withdrawing from Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] negotiations that would have affected trade across the pacific, the government has further threatened to pull out of the US-South Korea trade agreement. The US is also considering imposing tariffs on steel imports, a move aimed at China, but which also opens up disputes to the east, specifically with Germany, Turkey, and the UK. Many of these disputes are not about agriculture, but agriculture may be affected by the fallout. In particular, even non-agricultural disputes can generate retaliatory tariffs on our agricultural exports. History provides very clear examples as to how trade disputes impact agriculture. Retaliatory tariffs are how countries respond to other countries' policies that have been found to distort trade, and that harm their domestic industry. Whenever a country enacts a new policy that may affect trade, its trading partners who are affected the most may threaten to impose tariffs in retaliation. Trade-distorting policies may include a nation deciding to pull out or rescind trade agreements (often to avoid WTO sanctions). These retaliatory tariffs, or import taxes, are meant to coerce or convince the instigating nation to reverse their policy, plus the tariffs garner income for the retaliating country. Retaliating nations can put tariffs on any export product they import from the targeted country - the products do not need to bear any relation to the industries affected by the initial trade-distorting policy. The WTO states that retaliatory measures need to stay within the same sector, defined as: Services (Business, Financial, Distribution, Educational, Communications, etc.), Intellectual Property, and Goods (the main thing we think of when it comes to trade). When it comes to the goods sector-- if a tariff on automobiles distorts trade, the retaliating nation need not target automobiles specifically, and can target any good(s)--often those targets include agriculture.Unlike other tariffs, these retaliatory tariffs can be sanctioned by the World Trade Organization [WTO] as legal penalties for trade-distorting policies. These tariffs are the last and final step in any WTO trade dispute as tariffs harm consumers in the country that imposes them as well as the country imposing the trade-distorting policy. In short, this action is often harmful to all nations in the dispute and most disputes don't reach this stage for this reason. However, when they do reach the retaliation stage, the cost of retaliation can be in the billions of dollars. This money comes both directly and indirectly out of the consumer's pocket, as markets shrink for US products and the cost of the tariff is passed to the producer. Given US agriculture's reliance on international markets, and being an industry with political clout, agricultural products are often high on the list of products targeted in retaliatory tariffs.

New Road Bump for US, Cuba Relations Puts Louisiana Trade Ambitions on Hold

Voice of Louisiana | Posted on October 5, 2017

Louisiana leaders see great possibility – and lots of money – in potential trade with Cuba. However, a new wedge between the U.S. and the island nation has put that dream in jeopardy. “It's a little bit distressing to see that we are now de-evolving in our relationship,” said Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

Perdue: Japan is No. 1 target for new FTA

Agri-Pulse | Posted on October 5, 2017

The U.S. needs to improve trade relationships with Pacific Rim countries where competitors like Australia and the European Union have advantages over U.S. exporters, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said today. Japan is the first target for new bilateral talks, Perdue stressed.