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Bill Introduced to Crack Down on Fake Organic Product Imports

Growing Produce | Posted on October 5, 2017

Reps. John Faso (R-NY) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) announced the introduction of the Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act. The bipartisan legislature provides for a modernization of organic import documentation, new technology advancements, and stricter enforcement of organic products entering the U.S.“Protecting the integrity of organic is critical for the advancement of organic, and we applaud Rep. Faso for introducing this important bill. Our farmers have to have a level playing field, and organic consumers have to be able to trust that they are getting what they pay for when they buy organic,” said Laura Batcha, Executive Director and CEO, Organic Trade Association. “We’re operating in a growing global market. It is essential that we modernize and get up to speed to prevent organic fraud and to ensure that every stakeholder in the organic chain is playing by the rules. This bill takes important steps towards making that happen.”When fraudulent organic products enter the U.S, local producers are hurt by lower prices and consumers are hurt by inauthentic products.

Goodlatte Officially Introduces the Ag Guestworker Act

Growing Produce | Posted on October 5, 2017

On Monday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his Agricultural Guestworker Act of 2017 Bill, which would replace H-2A with an H-2C program. Rep. Goodlatte introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. During his address at United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Conference in mid September, Rep. Goodlatte said he intends to move the bill through on a tight timetable. And that is exactly what he is doing. Rep. Goodlatte introduced the bill Monday night during a dinner with President Trump, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and other key Republicans, according to New Food Economy.The committee vote was originally scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 4, a mere day after most committee members had a chance to review the 49-page document. But the vote has been postponed, according the Judiary Committee page. At press time, the vote had not yet been rescheduled. Initial revisions to the bill has been posted, however, and as the bill moves forward, more may be added.

Groups on both ends of the political spectrum are plotting how to attack the farm bill

Agri-Pulse | Posted on October 5, 2017

Groups on both ends of the political spectrum are plotting how to attack the farm bill when it begins to move in Congress.  Representatives from about two dozen groups met yesterday near Capitol Hill to hear from an economist and then to brainstorm messages that they can agree to take to Congress. The plan is for the coalition to come up with a joint statement that most of the groups can sign. The organizations could not be more different on most issues. They range from the Heritage Foundation and Citizens Against Government Waste on the right to the Organic Consumers Association and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group on the left. The most significant proposal they are likely to get behind is the AFFIRM Act proposed by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis. The bill would make deep cuts in crop insurance and require disclosure of the amount of premium subsidies that individual farmers receive. 

Federal push to deport undocumented workers could bring pain, problems on many fronts, observers say

Times Union | Posted on October 4, 2017

Farmers rely on foreign workers, many of whom are undocumented, to keep their operations running. But as the Trump administration cracks down on illegal immigration and fewer Americans want to work in the fields, some fear they'll lack the workers to plant and harvest the crops that feed the nation. "Americans can't do these kinds of jobs," Cordona said.The loss of foreign workers could cut harvests and push supermarket prices higher.Produce imports could increase even as fruits and vegetables rot in American fields. Farms could fail, costing jobs and damaging the economy."Migrant labor is very important to agriculture," said Steve Ammerman, a spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau, a non-governmental organization with more than 200,000 members. "The average consumer would feel (the loss of workers) in many ways."

We All Need to Stand Up For the Medical Science that Yields the Miracles

Huffington Post | Posted on October 4, 2017

Investment in medical research, I would argue, is also a moral issue, a matter of political will and, ultimately, political accountability. The good news is that there is increasing bipartisan support for U.S. investment in medical research. The benefits of new therapies accrue to everyone regardless of political party or ideology.Support for increased research funding and the use of science in policymaking cannot be the purview of the scientific community or political leaders alone — it must come from all of us who benefit personally, and whose loved ones benefit, from the advances achieved through medical research. Nothing is more valuable than good health. We all have a powerful opportunity to improve our futures and those of our family. To do so, we must stand up for the science that yields the miracles of health. We must find effective ways to make our voices heard. Most of us have a medical miracle of one kind or another for which we’re profoundly grateful. I recently shared my story about successfully coming back from kidney cancer thanks to medical research including the discoveries of Lasker Laureates. I urge you to share your story too, using the hashtag: #ResearchSavedMe. By joining together, by telling our stories of how research saved our lives or improved the lives of those we love, we will make our voices heard all the way to Washington.

Scientists join forces to save Puerto Rico’s ‘Monkey Island’

The Conversation | Posted on October 4, 2017

The Cayo Santiago Field Station is the longest-running primate field site in the world. Since it was founded in 1938, generations of monkeys have lived out their life with humans watching. Only monkeys live on the island; people take a 15-minute boat trip every day from Punta Santiago on Puerto Rico’s east coast. The huge amount of data on each individual monkey’s life, death and contributions to the next generation allow scientists to ask questions in biology, anthropology and psychology that can’t be answered anywhere else. This microcosm of monkey society opens the door onto these highly intelligent and social primates’ lives – thereby allowing us to better understand our own. After Hurricane Maria made landfall 30 minutes south of Cayo Santiago, scientists in the United States scrambled to make contact with students, staff and friends in Puerto Rico. Several days later we finally managed to reach Angelina Ruiz Lambides, the director of the research station. Scientists arranged a helicopter so that she could survey Punta Santiago and Cayo Santiago. The photos and videos she sent back were devastating. Punta Santiago, where many of the staff live, was destroyed. A phototaken from the helicopter showed a large chalk message: “S.O.S. Necesitamos Agua/Comida” – We need water and food. Cayo Santiago, formerly two lush islands connected by an isthmus, was unrecognizable. The forests were brown, the mangroves were flooded and the isthmus was submerged. Research labs and other infrastructure were in pieces. Yet the monkeys were spotted! Somehow, defying our expectations, many of the Cayo monkeys had weathered the storm. Over the next few days other staff traveled to Cayo in small boats and started searching for each individual monkey, like 00O – a process that will take weeks. Some observers might question our focus on saving animals when people across Puerto Rico are suffering, but this is not an either/or choice. The Cayo Santiago Field Station is the livelihood of many dedicated staffers who live in Punta Santiago. We cannot aid the monkeys without helping to rebuild the town, and we aim to do both.The staff and researchers who work at Cayo Santiago are stewards of these animals, who cannot survive without our help. Many of the Puerto Rican staffers on site have spent years caring for monkeys like 00O. Now they are spending their mornings rebuilding Cayo Santiago, and then working on their own homes in the afternoon.

FDA Inspector General Report on Progress of FSMA Inspections

OFW Law | Posted on October 4, 2017

On September 28, 2017, the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its internal report on the agency’s domestic food facility inspections: Challenges Remain in FDA’s Inspections of Domestic Food Facilities (the Report).  The Report concluded that FDA is on track to meet the initial domestic food facility inspection timeframes mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  But the Report’s key takeaway was: “FDA should do more to ensure that the food supply is safe by taking swift and effective action to ensure the prompt correction of problems identified at domestic food facilities.”

Trump Administration Files Additional WTO Request over BC Wine

NASDA | Posted on October 4, 2017

The Trump Administration has filed an additional formal request on September 28 for consultations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over British Columbia (BC) regulations that favor BC wines over imported US wines.  Notably, the BC regulations allow BC wine to be sold on grocery store shelves while US wines must be sold in a separate “store within a store.”  The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative filed an original request at the WTO for consultations over the British Columbia regulations on January 18, 2017.  This new request updates the previous request.

FDA Announces 2017 Public Meetings and Comment Period on Reauthorization of Two Animal Drug User Fee Program

FDA | Posted on October 4, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will hold public meetings to offer opportunity for discussion on the proposed recommendations for reauthorization of the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act (AGDUFA). The recommendations will be published and posted online when available, prior to the meeting on November 2, 2017. Interested parties can share their comments at the meeting or by submitting them to the public docket electronically or by mail as described below. ADUFA and AGDUFA give the FDA the authority to collect user fees that provide funding to support the new animal drug and generic new animal drug review processes, respectively. These resources support the FDA’s responsibility to review these drugs for safety and effectiveness and to enhance the timeliness and predictability of application reviews. These programs expire on September 30, 2018. Without new legislation reauthorizing these programs, FDA will no longer have the authority to collect user fees to help fund the new animal drug and generic new animal drug review processes.

Rick Perry manages to unite oil, gas, wind and solar — against him

The Washington Post | Posted on October 4, 2017

On Monday, a coalition of 11 energy lobbying groups asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to delay issuing and enforcing a new rule issued by the Energy Department. Energy Secretary Perry had asked for FERC to streamline the rulemaking process but the groups want time to weigh in during the traditional comment period. The coalition attracted some strange bedfellows, including renewable-energy lobbyists such as the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association and oil and gas heavyweights such as the Natural Gas Supply Association and the American Petroleum Institute.  “This is the first time we've filed a motion in conjunction with API,” said Gil Jenkins, a spokesman for the American Council on Renewable Energy, one of the groups in the coalition.“So, it's unprecedented,” Jenkins added. “Just as this very action taken by DOE.”Here's the backrgound. On Friday, Perry, issued a sweeping proposal to redefine how coal and nuclear power plants are compensated for the electricity they provide to the power grid.In a letter and proposed regulation, Perry asked FERC to consider issuing new rules to ensure that nuclear and coal-fired plants are compensated not only for the electricity they provide to homes and businesses, but for the reliability they add to the grid.