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The Making of a Farm Bill

Choices magazine | Posted on September 9, 2016

If you work on U.S. agricultural policy in Washington, D.C. for a long enough period, you learn two important rules of thumb. Rule No. 1: once a new farm bill is done, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will strongly resist any legislative changes to it, claiming it would jeopardize the bill’s delicate balance to ‘re-open it.’ Rule No. 2: as soon as that farm bill is fully implemented—if not sooner—stakeholder groups will start thinking about what changes they might like to be made the next time. Because of the first rule, over time the groups have learned they need to squirrel away their new policy ideas until the Committees commence their consideration of the new farm bill. Typically, that window opens around two years before the existing farm bill expires.  The Agricultural Act of 2014 expires on September 30, 2018. Even though recent farm bills have included between 10 to 15 separate titles, most of the public attention—both positive and negative—has focused on the titles which authorize and fund the programs which make up the farm safety net—the Commodity Title, usually Title I, and the Crop Insurance Title, which is a relatively recent addition to the farm bill pantheon. Stakeholder groups are actively engaged in trying to influence the final outcome of the farm bill debate by offering various proposals, especially for these two titles. - See more at: http://www.choicesmagazine.org/choices-magazine/submitted-articles/the-m...


FSA Increasing Funding for Farm Loans

Ag Web | Posted on September 9, 2016

The USDA has announced it will increase funding for farm loans to help more than 1,900 approved applicants.  The reprogrammed funds by Farm Service Agency (FSA) will leverage $185 million for operating loans.  Given the current farm economy, FSA loans are in higher demand in 2016.  The money is believed to cover nearly 30 percent of the loan back log ahead of the start of the next fiscal year.  In the 2016 fiscal year, more than 6,400 customers were guaranteed loans for farm ownership and operating. A new year coupled with fresh funding starts Oct. 1.


USDA Announces $26 Million Investment to Spur Agricultural Innovation

USDA | Posted on September 8, 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the investment of $26.6 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) into 45 projects that will spur innovative conservation initiatives on both rural and urban farms across the country. Public and private grantees will provide matching investments, bringing the total value of support to $59 million. The investment is made through USDA's Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which fosters innovation in conservation tools and strategies to improve things like on-farm energy and fertilizer use as well as market-based strategies to improve water quality or mitigate climate change.  The 2016 projects focus on water quality, conservation finance and assistance to historically underserved USDA customers. Approximately 25 percent of the funding announced today will go to projects that benefit historically underserved producers, military veterans, and new and beginning farmers.


Antibacterial ingredients in indoor dust linked to antibiotic resistance

UPI | Posted on September 8, 2016

Less than a week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a ban on 19 chemicals used in antibacterial soaps because they may pose a risk to rising resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, a new studies suggests one of the chemicals is found in indoor dust and contributes to the problem.  The chemicals triclosan and triclocarbon, as well as four other antimicrobial chemicals, were found in house dust by researchers at the University of Oregon, Harvard University and Arizona State University, according a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, suggesting their use in cleaners is contributing to antibiotic resistance.


States receive preemption letters on gmo labeling

USDA | Posted on September 8, 2016

USDA Secretary Vilsack sent letters to every state governor explaining the federal pre-emption of state law on gmo labeling. This is a link to those letters.


Deeper analysis on potential Pacific trade pact: Chile

Farm Futures | Posted on September 8, 2016

Chile's general notes section makes several trade commitments, as do other nations'. For example, most nations agree that "Customs duties on originating goods provided for in the items in the staging category [eliminated on entry into force] (EIF) shall be eliminated entirely, and these goods shall be duty free on the date of entry into force of this Agreement for Chile". This language sounds encouraging until you read subsequent paragraphs that Chile has inserted into the agreement. Two categories indicate that certain goods that fall into "staging category B4" will be eliminated in four years and whatever goods are in this category will be duty free after year four. Another category called B8 incorporates the same scheme and goods would be duty free after eight years.


USDOT proposes requiring speed limiting devices on heavy haulers

Equipment World | Posted on September 8, 2016

The U.S. Department of Transportation has released a proposed rule that would require trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiting devices (also known as speed governors or speed limiters), but the regulatory body did not propose a speed to which trucks would be limited.


Immigration, TPP, and Child Nutrition May be Lost Causes

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on September 8, 2016

National Milk Producers’ Federation CEO and President Jim Mulhern is skeptical that Congress will be able to tackle immigration reform, child nutrition programs, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement before or right after the elections in November. Lawmakers are expected, instead, to be mostly focusing on funding the government.  Mulhern said these three issues are policy priorities for the dairy producers and that they are focusing on them right now. When it comes to child nutrition, the dairy industry is hoping Congress will once again allow schools to offer flavored 1 percent milk. Currently, those offerings must be fat free which has led to lower consumption and lower overall student participation in the program.


Congress Turning a New Leaf on Marijuana

Roll Call | Posted on September 8, 2016

Marijuana-related legislation was on a fast track to nowhere until 2014. That was the year Republicans and Democrats alike approved a measure that kept federal authorities from interfering in states that allowed marijuana use for medical purposes. Since then, both houses of Congress have seen a flood of similar proposals. Lobbyists, policy experts and lawmakers who spoke to Roll Call said the trajectory is clear: Congress is leaning toward decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level — and it’s going to happen soon. That could happen as early as the next Congress, to some time within the next 10 years.

 


Fire breaks out at threatened USDA facility

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on September 7, 2016

A fire broke out Tuesday at a USDA facility in Beltsville, Md., which was one of five offices closed then reopened last week after anonymous emailed threats. USDA issued the following statement: "A fire occurred this morning in a storage shed building at USDA’s Beltsville facility. The fire has been contained, and no personnel were harmed. The building involved houses equipment only, and employees in a neighboring building have been safely evacuated. USDA officials reported the fire, and an investigation into its cause continues." The garage building housed several vehicles, which also caught fire. Prince George's fire investigators and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were on the scene.  Last week, threatened offices in Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina and Kearneysville, W.V., reopened two days later with additional security enhancements. Offices in Hamden, Conn., and Leetown, W.V., were to remain closed awaiting security improvements or notifications to union officials.


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