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US needs FMD vaccine bank to protect food

Watt Ag Net | Posted on July 26, 2017

Citing economic, food and national security concerns, a coalition of more than 100 agricultural organizations and allied industries groups urged Congress to include in the next Farm Bill language establishing and funding a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank. FMD is an infectious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals, including cattle, pigs and sheep; it is not a food safety or human health threat. Although the disease was last detected in the United States in 1929, it is endemic in many parts of the world.In a letter sent today to the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House agriculture committees, the coalition pointed out that “an outbreak of FMD will have a devastating effect on all of agriculture – not just livestock producers – and will have long-lasting ramifications for the viability of U.S. agriculture, the maintenance of food security and affordability … and overall national security.”

Funding for federal agricultural research facilities falls far short of needs

Ag Policy | Posted on July 26, 2017

In discussing the agricultural budget, it is easy to focus in on commodity support, nutrition, and environmental programs and ignore the cost of maintaining the agricultural research facilities that are at the heart of the work of the USDA. When farmers go to their local extension agent with a problem, the agent’s answer is probably dependent on work that has been conducted with money and in facilities supported by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Land Grant Universities, which receive a portion of their funding from the Federal Government.Currently, the ARS owns and operates facilities that are valued at nearly $3.7 billion and carries out research on everything from citrus greening disease (a problem for Florida citrus growers) to highly pathogenic avian influenza (a disease that resulted in the destruction of over 50 million birds in 211 commercial and 21 backyard flocks from the fall of 2014 through mid-June 2015).From field to table, ARS scientists find solutions to technical problems that affect agricultural producers and American consumers every day. In conjunction with the Land Grant System, the ARS conducts research that benefits the public. Much of this research does not have the profit potential that would attract investment by commercial firms. They need a payback period that is much shorter than the type of basic research conducted by ARS provides.The ARS focuses on areas of research most crucial to US agriculture where federal research is inherently suited to make innovative contributions.

Italy demands origin labels for pasta and rice

Reuters | Posted on July 26, 2017

All packets of pasta and rice sold in Italy will have to include labels of origin showing where the produce was grown, the government ruled on Thursday, in a move it said was aimed at protecting local farmers. The agriculture and industry ministers signed a decree ordering the new labeling policy, saying it would run in an experimental fashion for two years, and criticizing the European Union for not introducing the measure across the 28-nation bloc.

The U.S. Can Now Ship Rice to China for the First Time

Bloomberg | Posted on July 26, 2017

The U.S. can now ship rice to China for the first time ever, signaling a win for President Donald Trump in his efforts to reshape the trade relationship just after talks between the nations broke down Wednesday. Officials from the nations finalized a protocol to allow for the first-ever American shipments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday in a statement. China is the world’s biggest rice consumer, importer and producer.The rice deal comes just a month after China reopened its market to U.S. beef imports for the first time in more than a decade and is the latest in a flurry of trade negotiations between the nations. China is also approving more biotech products and increasing U.S. natural gas imports.

Senate panel votes to keep top USDA Rural Development Job | Posted on July 26, 2017

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved unanimously a USDA-FDA funding bill that rejects President Trump’s proposals to slash spending on rural development, crop insurance, and food stamps. In the first major congressional disagreement with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the $145 billion funding bill overrides his recent elimination of the slot for an undersecretary in charge of rural economic development — and directs the administration to fill the job.

Keep strong safety net for agriculture and rural communities

Independent Review | Posted on July 26, 2017

As commodity prices remain low and rural economies struggle, farmers and rural citizens need a strong safety net to stay afloat until conditions improve.However, the budget proposals from the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives do not address that need. The House Budget Committee recently released its 2018 budget proposal, which called for a $10 billion cut in programs under the control of the House Agriculture Committee. And the 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, released by the Congressional Budget Office, called for $8.5 billion less in agriculture funding than the 2017 fiscal year enacted level. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to eliminate its undersecretary position for rural development. We are deeply concerned about these changes.

Here are five key NAFTA battlegrounds to watch as negotiations get underway

Financial Post | Posted on July 26, 2017

 U.S.-initiated negotiations to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement are bound to be long and hard. Canadian officials maintain that Mexico is the real target of President Donald Trump’s determination to renegotiate what he considers to be a bad deal for America. Nevertheless, there are a number of issues bound to spark friction between Canada and the United States. Here’s a primer on five of them:Dispute resolution mechanism, Dairy, Wine, Investment, Duty Free Cross Border Shipping.

Medicaid work requirements could create additional problems in rural

Daily Yonder | Posted on July 26, 2017

The efforts of eight states to enact work requirements for Medicaid recipients could create special problems for rural participants, according to a new study.  Researchers Andrew Schaefer and Jessica Carson at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire found that one in four of potentially impacted Medicaid participants already worked at least part of the previous year or were motivated to work but could not find a job.“As state policymakers consider Medicaid-related work requirements, it is worthwhile to consider the administrative costs of implementing this kind of [work requirement] waiver alongside the benefits of cost savings associated with reducing Medicaid rolls, and the expenses related to increasing the uninsured low income population,” the researchers said. “In both rural and urban places, legislators should consider whether the consequences to families losing health insurance coverage outweigh the relative benefits of enforcing work requirements.” Rural residents participate in Medicaid at a higher rate than metropolitan residents. And rural areas generally have greater unemployment rates or discouraged workers.MaryBeth Musumeci, of the Kaiser Family Foundation, has also studied state-level proposals to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. “The data shows that most Medicaid recipients who can work are already working. There are some additional risks with the work requirements proposals that could complicate the implementation and administration of the program. We’re concerned that many eligible people, especially low and moderate income working people, would fall through the cracks.”

Despite Growing Support for Marijuana, Legalization Faces Rocky Road

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on July 26, 2017

Ask advocates of marijuana legalization how their cause fared during the 2017 state legislative sessions and they’ll tell you that though the gains were incremental, they’re hopeful that several legislatures will eventually make possession and sale of the federally prohibited drug legal. Ask the same of people who oppose legalization and they’ll say it’s been a banner year — they choked efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in many statehouses and stalled implementation of pot sales in at least one other.Lawmakers in at least 23 states considered legislation to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana this year and 16 states weighed bills to establish medical marijuana programs.But even as public support for marijuana continues to grow, few of those measures survived. That’s in part because many lawmakers are concerned that the Trump administration may begin strict enforcement of federal drug laws, political analysts say. Many legislators are also beholden to conservative supporters and face little political pressure to sign off on marijuana legislation, the analysts say.

MA: State cannot hold immigrants so U.S. can detain them

Reuters | Posted on July 26, 2017

Massachusetts police do not have the authority to detain illegal immigrants solely to buy time for federal law enforcement officials to take them into custody the state's top court ruled.  The decision amounts to a rejection of requests by the federal Immigration and Customs and Enforcement agency for courts and law enforcement agencies to hold illegal immigrants, who are facing civil deportation orders, in custody for up to 48 hours after their cases are resolved. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that doing so amounts to a fresh arrest of the person that is not authorized by state law, in the first such ruling to apply to an entire state, according to Massachusetts' attorney general."Massachusetts law provides no authority for Massachusetts court officers to arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a Federal civil immigration detainer, beyond the time that the individual would otherwise be entitled to be released from State custody," the court wrote in its decision.