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Trade chief: protectionism is not the answer to job losses

AP | Posted on November 8, 2016

The head of the world's leading trade body says that hostility toward trade agreements witnessed in the United States and other countries is misplaced and that protectionist measures can hurt the poorest most. World Trade Organization chief Roberto Azevedo says protectionism "is the wrong response" to voter concerns about job losses and economic uncertainty. He says the introduction of new technology is a much bigger threat to jobs. Azevedo declined to comment specifically on the U.S. presidential candidates. However, he said Monday that "the major question is ... is a restrictive trade policy the answer to the kind of sentiments that you see in the electorate today, and I don't think it would be."

Obama on Food, Big Ag and GMOs

DTN | Posted on November 8, 2016

Agriculture and food policy have not become even small issues in the 2016 presidential campaign, but on Friday, TV host Bill Maher asked President Barack Obama about “food purity” and “torturing animals on factory farms” and got answers.  Obama did not say anything that deviated from his previous statements, but it was a rare, three-minute exchange with the president on the subject.  Maher asked if food should not be put “more at the top of the agenda” on health care.  Obama replied, “We’ve got a disease care system; we should have a health care system,” which would include nutrition and exercise. Obama also noted that “for a long time, agribusiness has had an obviously prominent seat at the table in Congress, and it is bipartisan.”

EU and Canada sign long-delayed free trade deal

BBC | Posted on November 2, 2016

The deal was signed in Brussels by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and top EU officials. The signing ceremony initially planned for Thursday had been cancelled after Belgium's Wallonia region vetoed the agreement. All 28 EU states approved the deal on Friday when consensus was reached. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, known as Ceta, required all EU member states to endorse it. The deal removes 99% of tariffs - and officials hope it will generate an increase in trade worth $12bn

FDA releases new guidance for small entities

FDA | Posted on November 2, 2016

The Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCHF) rule creates new requirements for the production of human food by registered food facilities, and revises previous requirements. This guide was developed to inform domestic and foreign food facilities about thePCHF regulation and how to comply with it. It contains important information that may affect your firm.  We have prepared this Small Entity Compliance Guide in accordance with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (Pub. Law 104-121). The intent of this guide is to inform domestic and foreign food facilities about the PCHF regulation and enable them to better understand the requirements of the rule. The rule is binding and has the full force and effect of law.

NCBA, Farm Bureau among groups filing brief in WOTUS challenge

Agri-Pulse | Posted on November 2, 2016

In a joint release, NCBA and the PLC said the brief details how the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers disregarded the statutory and constitutional limits of federal authority, lobbied on their own rule-making, and failed to craft a rule that meets the rigors of the law.

State firms look to cash in on Cuban trade rules

Journal Courier | Posted on October 27, 2016

While the lifting of a $100 cap on Cuban cigars and their famous rum has gotten headlines, it’s the lifting of other trade restrictions with the island country that has Illinois companies in a position to profit.  President Barack Obama’s latest decree allows for tractors and certain agricultural products like pesticides and fertilizers to be sold on credit.  Before, Cuban business had to be done with cash-in-hand and often pushed the island’s business elsewhere.

Farm BIll Counter Cyclical not protecting farms

Ag Policy | Posted on October 27, 2016

With low prices facing farmers as they harvest their 2016 crop, it is becoming clear that the counter-cyclical policies contained in the 2014 Farm Bill will not provide much protection for most producers. As a result, farm groups are beginning to look toward the next farm bill and the types of policies that might best protect farmers against low prices.  In last week’s column, we argued against direct payments, subsidized revenue insurance when crop prices are above the cost of production, and loan deficiency payments. We promised future columns that would lay out some policy instruments we support. To start with, we want to identify a couple of principles that we keep uppermost in our minds as we identify program instruments that make sense to us.  We believe that farm policies ought to be designed so as to treat the cause of farm problems, not the symptoms. Our concern about the current array of crop programs is that they are designed to treat the symptoms, price variability while prices are at or above the cost of production, while ignoring the possibility of prices that are well below the cost of production and likely to remain there for extended periods of time.

Drought triggers Livestock Forage Program

Tulsa World | Posted on October 27, 2016

Earlier this month, Wagoner County was rated as a D2 (severe drought) for eight consecutive weeks, triggering the Livestock Forage Program, County Executive Director for the USDA Wagoner County Farm Service Agency Mary Kunze reported.  The Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) authorized the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) to provide compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses for covered livestock on land that is native or improved pastureland with permanent vegetative cover or is planted specifically for grazing. The grazing losses must be due to a qualifying drought condition during the normal grazing period for the county.

Preserving the sweet life in Minnesota

Minnesota Post | Posted on October 26, 2016

To make a living growing sugar beets, you need the conditions to be just right. Rich, fertile soil. A long, cool fall. Plenty of rainfall.  And a lot of help from the United States federal government. Minnesota’s got those first parts covered: the area centered around the Red River has the richest land and best climate for sugar beets in the U.S., making one of the most productive growing regions in the world. Those things won’t change, at least not anytime soon. But what could change is the other thing you need to profit from sugar beets: deep commitment from Uncle Sam to support this industry. The federal government effectively subsidizes the business of sugar beets through a set of policies — collectively referred to as the sugar program — that Congress has approved largely without incident since the early 1980s in its twice-a-decade farm bills. Without the sugar program, beet farmers and their allies say that their industry would wither and maybe even die, outperformed by competitors like Mexico and Brazil, who strongly subsidize their sugar industries and employ aggressive trade policies.

Small Island, Big Experiment

fivethirtyeight Science | Posted on October 26, 2016

The first thing Billy Ryan does after he arrives at work most mornings is drive to a yacht club or construction company lot, crawl into a mangrove, and stand for 60 seconds to count the mosquitoes that land on him. If there are five or more, he’ll request that a crew come spray the area the next day. From there, the 56-year-old inspector with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District will visit commercial and residential properties, hunting for standing water and the mosquito larvae and pupae that are frequently found within it. “With salt marsh mosquitoes, you can kill 95 percent on a good night,” said Michael Doyle, who was director of the district from 2011 until he resigned on Sept. 1. “With Aedes aegypti, you’re lucky if it’s 50 percent.”  This is why Doyle and his colleagues have been searching for new tools to beat back the Aedes aegypti on the islands — and why they’re now involved in a messy public battle over genetically modified organisms. The mosquito control district has been in talks for years with Oxitec, a British company that engineered a strain of mosquitoes with a gene that causes the insect’s offspring to die before reaching maturity, and in August, the company finally made its way through the maze of the federal government’s approval process for field testing.