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Looking Ahead to the Next Farm Bill

Choices magazine | Posted on January 10, 2017

The entire issue is on farm bill issues with articles covering every title of the farm bill. 80 Years of Farm Bills—Evolutionary Reform by Carl Zulauf and David Orden,The Nutrition Title’s Long, Sometimes Strained, but Not Yet Broken, Marriage with the Farm Bill by Parke Wilde, The Next Farm Bill May Present Opportunities for Hybrid Farm-Conservation Policies by Jonathan Coppess, The Farm Safety Net for Field Crops by Gary Schnitkey and Carl Zulauf, the Federal Interventions in Milk Markets by Andrew M. Novakovic and Christopher Wolf and Federal Benefits for Livestock and Specialty Crop Producers by Stephanie Mercier.

The titles discussed in these papers account for over 99% of farm bill spending and the actors interested in these titles will have important sway over not just their title but the entire farm bill. However, the farm bill’s scope extends much further. In addition to traditional titles such as research and extension, trade, credit and rural development, it includes contemporary issues such as the growing role of local and organic food production, land and farm preservation, and privately owned forests. Most farm bills contain surprises. Unforeseen issues, new actors, and new programmatic proposals change the landscape. Research uncovers a new, important inefficiency. Weather changes crop prices. Given the 2016 Presidential campaign, trade could be a change catalyst. The next farm bill will not only provide new research and outreach opportunities for economists but also many opportunities to participate in the national dialogue that is the farm bill. We, the authors, invite you to join this American participatory experience.

USDA announces volunteers for SNAP online pilot

Meat + Poultry | Posted on January 10, 2017

The US Dept. of Agriculture has authorized online ordering in a few locations for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The initiative is part of a two-year pilot program scheduled to begin this summer.  Retailer volunteers for the pilot program represent a cross-section of store types, including national online retailers as well as large grocery chains and smaller, regional networks. Firms selected include: • Amazon - Maryland, New Jersey, New York, • FreshDirect - New York, • Safeway - Maryland, Oregon, Washington, • ShopRite - Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, • Hy-Vee, Inc. - Iowa
• Hart’s Local Grocers - New York (based in Rochester), • Dash’s Market - New York (based in Buffalo).
Albertsons Companies, which operates Safeway, Vons, Tom Thumb and numerous other grocery retail stores, also provides online shopping and home delivery in 12 states and the District of Columbia.

Cuba, United States sign oil spill deal

Reuters | Posted on January 10, 2017

Cuba and the United States agreed on Monday to jointly prevent, contain and clean up oil and other toxic spills in the Gulf of Mexico, as they rush to conclude deals before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. U.S. Charge d'Affaires Jeffrey DeLaurentis, upon signing the agreement, said it was one of a series of deals to protect the shared marine environment of the two neighboring countries separated by just 90 miles (145 km) of water. Trump has threatened to scrap a still-fragile detente between the two countries unless Cuba makes further political and economic concessions. U.S. companies and the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama have announced a flurry of small deals in recent weeks aimed at making it harder for Trump to ditch the detente established by Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro in 2014.

Environmentalists win $60,000 for blocking motorized juniper removal

Capital Press | Posted on January 10, 2017

U.S. District Judge Garr King has awarded the Oregon Natural Desert Association nearly $63,500 because the nonprofit prevailed in a lawsuit opposing the use of motorized vehicles in an 80,000-acre “wilderness study area” near Steens Mountain. Ranchers and local officials worry the prohibition against motorized vehicles will impede juniper removal to the detriment of habitat for the sage grouse. The bird’s declining population has prompted restoration efforts in the arid West to forestall its designation as a threatened species, which would likely curtail cattle grazing on public land. In 2015, King found that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had interpreted its authority too broadly in allowing for the “administrative” use of off-road motorized vehicles to cut and remove juniper trees, which crowd out sage brush and sap water.

USDA seeks dismissal of pork trademark lawsuit

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on January 10, 2017

The USDA has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) against the agency over the sale by National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) to the National Pork Board of the “Pork. The Other White Meat” trademarks.  In 2006 NPPC sold the trademarks to the Pork Board for approximately $35 million. It financed the purchase over 20 years. USDA (which oversees the federal Pork Checkoff) approved the purchase, and the Pork Board’s annual payment was set at about $3 million. Then in 2012, an Iowa farmer, along with HSUS and the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, filed suit against USDA, alleging that the trademarks were overvalued. The suit sought to have the sale rescinded. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the suit for lack of standing, but in August 2015 a federal appeals court reinstated it.

Milk Cost of Production Estimates

USDA | Posted on January 10, 2017

Monthly milk cost-of-production (COP) estimates, and annual milk COP estimates by State and size of operation are shown below. Estimates since 2010 are based on the 2010 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) data from milk producers. Estimates for 2005 through 2009 are based on the 2005 ARMS data from milk producers. Maine and Kentucky farmers lose big..

WTO ruling helps U.S. ag exports to Indonesia

Capital Press | Posted on January 3, 2017

The World Trade Organization has ruled in favor of the U.S. and New Zealand against Indonesia’s restrictions on its imports of fruits, vegetables and meats.

Japan culling 90,000 more birds for avian flu

Business Standard | Posted on January 3, 2017

Japan began killing some 90,000 chickens today to contain another outbreak of a highly contagious strain of avian flu, officials said. 
The new drive means more than a million farm birds will have been killed in seven mass culls this season as officials work to prevent the spread of the virulent H5 strain, which has been detected at several farms across the country.

adds animal welfare assessment programs

USDA | Posted on January 3, 2017

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has developed a program under which it will offer assessments of animal welfare standards and programs to determine if they conform to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Specification (TS) 34700 — Animal Welfare Management/General Requirements and Guidance for Organizations in the Food Supply Chain.  

Canada seeking common ground, not confrontation as NAFTA talks open

CTV News | Posted on January 3, 2017

The Canadian government is signalling the approach it intends to take should Donald Trump make good on his promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Canada's ambassador to the U.S. is laying out some starting principles such as co-operation instead of confrontation. In a lengthy interview, David MacNaughton expressed his desire to see the countries propose common-ground, common-sense ideas that improve the old agreement instead of flinging out hardball demands that could produce deep, drama-filled bargaining.  MacNaughton wouldn't elaborate on the specific improvements he has in mind, saying he wants to avoid negotiating in public. He did confirm one potential change: to professional visas. International businesses have complained about an out-of-date visa system that creates unnecessary red tape when employees travel across the border for work. When asked about visas, MacNaughton confirmed that was the type of mutually beneficial upgrade he favours.