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EPA removes 'international priorities' page from site

The Hill | Posted on May 1, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed an "international priorities" page from its website in December, according to a report released this week by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI). The page had listed climate change, clean air, clean water, e-waste, toxic chemicals and strong environmental institutions among its international priorities.EDGI also reports the agency removed its “International Grants and Cooperative Agreements” and “International Cooperation” pages.  The "International Cooperation" page said the EPA sought to "promote sustainable development, protect vulnerable populations, facilitate commerce, and engage diplomatically around the world” with “global and bilateral partners.” An EPA spokesperson told Think Progress that the agency continually updates its website to reflect new initiatives. This is not the first time the agency has removed references from its website, with the EPA under the Trump administration removing various references to climate change from its website in the past.

Agriculture Committee includes sheep in proposed farm bill

KTIC Radio | Posted on April 26, 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture approved a new edition of the Farm Bill on April 18. The farm bill, HR 2, is required to authorize farm and food program support which expires this fall. The committee wrote strong legislation for sheep producers with new authorization of funding for minor use minor species pharmaceutical development – a top ask of the American Sheep Industry Association. This program for pharmaceuticals development and labeling for American application is critical for minor species, such as sheep. ASI is pleased with this opportunity for annual funding under the U.S. Department of Agriculture in cooperation with FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine as the existing program, while successful, has exhausted funding and would not be able to continue.The committee addresses a key trade issue for wool suit and fabric manufacturers in the United States with establishment of a textile trust. This provision to address a trade loophole under the North American Free Trade Agreement is key to wool manufacturing and an American customer base for United States wool growers. ASI is a key partner of the wool textile business and spurred creation of this successful provision in the years following NAFTA implementation.This version of the Farm Bill increases funding in reauthorizing a competitive grant program to strengthen infrastructure in the lamb and wool businesses, which is another ask of ASI in formal testimony before the House agriculture leadership.

Report Looks at Trade Retaliation Impact on California

DTN | Posted on April 26, 2018

Farmers for Free Trade released a report that will highlight California concerns that retaliatory tariffs from China hurt commodities like almonds, grapes, apples, and what the group calls “many other iconic California exports.”

Russian Farmer Alters Rural Economy With Virtual Currency, as Moscow Watches Warily

Wall Street Journal | Posted on April 26, 2018

Farmer Mikhail Shlyapnikov says the best way to revive the ailing economy in this remote village is cutting financial ties to Moscow. Mr. Shlyapnikov has launched a cryptocurrency, the kolion, named after his hamlet some 80 miles southeast of Moscow, buoyed by an initial investment of a half-million dollars from investors in Russia and abroad.

U.S. sorghum armada U-turns at sea after China tariffs

Reuters | Posted on April 26, 2018

Several ships carrying cargoes of sorghum from the United States to China have changed course since Beijing slapped hefty anti-dumping deposits on U.S. imports of the grain, trade sources and a Reuters analysis of export and shipping data showed. The supply-chain pain felt by sorghum suppliers on the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans underscores how quickly the mounting trade tensions between the U.S. and China can impact the global agricultural sector, which has been reeling from low commodity prices amid a global grains glut.

Soybeans symbolize the costs of a US-China trade war

Nikkei Asian Review | Posted on April 25, 2018

When the U.S. announced on April 3 plans to impose tariffs on certain Chinese goods to punish it for alleged infringement of intellectual property rights, China quickly retaliated with duties on 106 U.S. products. The surprise for the global commodities market is the inclusion of soybeans on the list. The question is whether, given the interdependence of the two countries in soybean trade, China can handle the pain the tariffs would impose. There is no doubt the tariffs will sting the U.S. if they cause a slump in exports. The U.S. devotes just under half its soybean production to exports; of those, 60% go to China. U.S. soybean exports to China totaled $14.2 billion in 2016. That far outstrips Japan's global export target for all agricultural products in 2019.

Europe and Mexico show the world can trade without the U.S.

Wall Street Journal | Posted on April 25, 2018

Mexico and the European Union agreed to a new trade deal over the weekend, and the timing is no accident. With the French and German leaders in Washington this week, and the Nafta talks getting serious, America’s trading partners are showing that the world won’t stop if the U.S. goes protectionist. The EU-Mexico deal is the sort of trade opening that is increasingly common beyond America’s shores. The two sides have agreed in principle to remove protections on a long list of agricultural goods, and to expand two-way trade...

Expanding Work Requirements For Food Assistance At Center Of Farm Bill Debate

Iowa Public Radio | Posted on April 25, 2018

There’s a Republican-authored proposal in the next farm bill that would require millions more people to work or volunteer in order to receive federal food assistance. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program accounts for most of the spending in the bill, which is up for renewal this year, and provides monthly stipends for more than 40 million low-income Americans to buy food (though in many cases the funds may only cover a couple weeks).Conservatives argue expanding work requirements will help SNAP recipients find jobs and move off of food assistance. But House Democrats have said the requirements would punish people who struggle to work, and it’s become the central contentious issue in this year’s farm bill debate.

Our View: Beware of Anti-Farm, Socialist Rhetoric

Farm Policy Facts | Posted on April 25, 2018

Critics contend that farmers can pick up an extra shift or two at the local mill, so we don’t need a Farm Bill to deal with things like weather disasters, or trade wars, or volatile price swings. We didn’t think agriculture’s critics could get more out of touch, or heartless.  But, they did. The “thinkers” who inhabit DC’s ivory tower think tanks now want farmers to work for free.Yes, you read that right.  In fact, here’s the Cato Institute’s view on farm policies that help growers survive low prices: Food is essential for human survival and we would all be better served if its price was, like sunlight and air, zero. The benefits of cheaper food and reduced hunger easily outweigh any losses borne by the farm sector….The best farm bill is none at all. How we stumbled upon this little socialist gem is just as significant as Cato’s words.

USDA Rural Development Innovation Center Launches Interactive Webpage to Share Best Practices for Rural Economic Development

USDA | Posted on April 25, 2018

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today unveiled a new interactive webpage to identify best practices for building rural prosperity. “Rural communities need forward-thinking strategies to build strong, resilient futures,” Hazlett said. “USDA’s Rural Development Innovation Center is focused on identifying unique opportunities, pioneering new, creative solutions to tough challenges, and making Rural Development’s programs easier to understand, use and access.”The webpage highlights effective strategies that have been used to create jobs, build infrastructure, strengthen partnerships and promote economic development in rural America.An interactive feature allows webpage visitors to submit comments on ways USDA can improve Rural Development program delivery. Innovation Center staff will review these recommendations and direct customers to resources, services and expertise that will help their communities create transformative solutions to complex rural challenges.The webpage also highlights USDA resources that can be used for investments in infrastructure and innovation. These resources include USDA’s Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant ProgramCommunity Connect Grant Program, and Community Facilities Programs.