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2018 FSMA inspections: Lessons learned

Watt Ag Net | Posted on March 26, 2019 in Agriculture, Federal News

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted 622 current good manufacturing practice inspections related to the Food Safety Modernization Act. Those inspections were conducted in 47 states, Puerto Rico and four foreign countries – Canada, India, Indonesia and Mexico – that do business in the U.S. and therefore must be in compliance with FSMA.

Residents Seek Answers About Health Risks Near Frac Sand Mines

Investigate Midwest  | Posted on March 26, 2019 in Energy News

Public health researchers disagree on the impact the dust has on the long-term health of residents living in an near silica sand mining communities like the tiny Mississippi River town of Clayton, which is in the Iowa county by the same name, and in southwest Wisconsin.Researchers and citizens have become concerned in recent years about the health effects because fracking, and the frac sand mining that helps drive it, only appeared on the national stage in the last 30 years.

Analysis: New wind, solar cheaper than operating most existing coal plants

Energy News Network | Posted on March 26, 2019 in Energy News

Locally generated solar and wind energy could already replace almost three-fourths of electricity made by U.S. coal plants for less than the cost of continuing to operate those plants. By 2025, the share of “at risk” coal generation will jump from 74 percent to 86 percent, adds the report by Energy Innovation Policy & Technology in San Francisco and Boulder-based Vibrant Clean Energy.

SARL Members and Alumni News

New Mexico governor signs landmark clean energy bill

AP News | Posted on March 26, 2019

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed landmark legislation that will mandate more solar panels and wind turbines as the state sets ambitious new renewable energy goals. The measure requires that investor-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives get at least half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That would jump to 80 percent by 2040.A 100 percent carbon-free mandate would kick in five years later for utilities. Electric co-ops would have until 2050 to meet that goal.

Maine says sludge must be tested for ‘forever chemicals’ before

Portland Press Herald | Posted on March 26, 2019

State environmental regulators announced Friday that all sludge will have to be tested for the presence of an industrial chemical before being used as fertilizer or applied to land. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection announced the new testing requirement in response to growing concerns about contamination from PFAS, a group of chemicals widely used to create non-stick coatings on cookware, food packaging and fabrics, as well as in firefighting foam.

Montana estimates GOP Medicaid expansion bill will halve number of people covered; add 84 state jobs

Missoulian | Posted on March 26, 2019

Legislators got a glimpse Friday of a state estimate showing the Republican version of a bill to continue Medicaid expansion with added work requirements would result in about half the 96,000 people on the program losing coverage.A Medicaid expansion bill must move to the state Senate by April 1 to meet transmittal deadlines.Montana expanded Medicaid to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level four years ago and put in a sunset of this summer so lawmakers would come back and review the program.  In April, the 2019 federal poverty level will be $17,236 for an individual a

CA Animal Welfare Act Could Impact Farm Practices Nationwide

Texas Agricultural Law | Posted on March 25, 2019

On its face, Proposition 12 applies only to California businesses selling pork, veal, and eggs.  However, in practice, it has the potential to impact farmers and ranchers producing beef, pork and eggs nationwide.  If a farmer in Texas, for example, does not adopt these practices, then he or she will be unable to sell his or her products in California.  These types of ballot initiatives could certainly be expanded to additional products and could have major impacts on the farm level, requiring producers to invest in new or different facilities in order to continue producing the products.  Th

Iowa Legislature Considers Sunshine Tax on Local Private Solar Power Systems

KIOW | Posted on March 25, 2019

Iowa’s largest investor-owned utility wants to make local owners of private solar power systems pay more for generating their own electricity, while opponents warn that could cause Iowa to lose its standing as a leader in promoting renewables. House Study Bill 185 would add a yearly “sunshine tax” on private solar generators, a move MidAmerican Energy says creates more fairness for all customers who use its electric grid.

Agriculture News

2018 FSMA inspections: Lessons learned

Watt Ag Net | Posted on March 26, 2019

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted 622 current good manufacturing practice inspections related to the Food Safety Modernization Act. Those inspections were conducted in 47 states, Puerto Rico and four foreign countries – Canada, India, Indonesia and Mexico – that do business in the U.S. and therefore must be in compliance with FSMA.

Spring Outlook: Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May

NOAA | Posted on March 26, 2019

Nearly two-thirds of the Lower 48 states face an elevated risk for flooding through May, with the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states, according to NOAA’s U.S. Spring Outlook issued today. The majority of the country is favored to experience above-average precipitation this spring, increasing the flood risk. Portions of the United States – especially in the upper Mississippi and Missouri River basins including Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa – have already experienced record flooding this year.

Maine says sludge must be tested for ‘forever chemicals’ before

Portland Press Herald | Posted on March 26, 2019

State environmental regulators announced Friday that all sludge will have to be tested for the presence of an industrial chemical before being used as fertilizer or applied to land. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection announced the new testing requirement in response to growing concerns about contamination from PFAS, a group of chemicals widely used to create non-stick coatings on cookware, food packaging and fabrics, as well as in firefighting foam.

Walmart and Costco become farmers

Agrinews | Posted on March 25, 2019

In mid-2018, Walmart, the Arkansas retailing giant, began bottling milk in a newly-built facility near Fort Wayne, Indiana, for its 500 stores in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. In doing so, this newcomer shoved an industry veteran, Dean Foods, its former bottler, out the door and with Dean went 100 or so dairy farmers in surrounding states who sold milk to it.

The Unexpected Side Effects of Trump’s Trade War

The Atlantic | Posted on March 25, 2019

Farm income is down, and equipment prices are sky-high.  Like farmers around the country, Boyd is in the crosshairs of the trade war, caught between the 25 percent tariffs that the United States has imposed on imported raw materials such as steel and aluminum and the retaliatory tariffs that China and other countries have imposed on major American agricultural exports, especially soybeans.

Federal News

2018 FSMA inspections: Lessons learned

Watt Ag Net | Posted on March 26, 2019

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted 622 current good manufacturing practice inspections related to the Food Safety Modernization Act. Those inspections were conducted in 47 states, Puerto Rico and four foreign countries – Canada, India, Indonesia and Mexico – that do business in the U.S. and therefore must be in compliance with FSMA.

FDA starts on-farm inspections in Oregon

Capital Press | Posted on March 26, 2019

Federal inspectors will soon venture onto Oregon farms to ensure compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act for the first time since it became law in 2011. This spring, FDA inspectors are beginning routine on-farm inspections of large operations — those earning more than $500,000 in annual revenue — that grow produce meant to be consumed raw. The agency’s goal is to “educate before and while we regulate” during this initial round of inspections, though officials would take action to stop an imminent threat to public health, said Kate Allen, an FDA investigator.

Recent Dept. of Commerce decision could negatively impact RGV agribusiness trade

Rio Grande Guardian | Posted on March 26, 2019

NAFTA has been a boon for states like Texas, California and Arizona, where tens of thousands of jobs are directly linked to selling, distributing, warehousing, and transporting Mexican produce throughout the country.

EPA may limit state restrictions on pesticide use, such as Dicamba

DTN | Posted on March 25, 2019

After months of denials and vague language, EPA has confirmed it is considering limiting the ability of states to restrict pesticide use beyond the federal label. State regulators are expressing alarm at this development, particularly those dealing with widespread dicamba injury, which appears to be the catalyst for EPA's announcement.At issue is Section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which allows states to grant "special local needs" (SLN) labels that supplement federal pesticide labels.

China corn purchase spurs optimism for future trade

Agri-Pulse | Posted on March 25, 2019

The USDA announced Friday that China is making a significant purchase of U.S. corn after years of deteriorating trade, spurring hope that the trade talks between the two countries are producing real progress that could have lasting effects. The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service announced Friday morning an export sale of 300,000 metric tons of U.S. corn to China and U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight says he hopes it’s a sign that the two countries are working out their biotech regulatory concerns.

Rural News

What's possible in rural America? Plenty

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 26, 2019

When commercial providers failed to bring broadband infrastructure to their community, the people of Wilson, North Carolina, built it themselves. Soon they’ll open a rural innovation hub where entrepreneurs, remote workers, and people learning tech skills will leverage that fiber connectivity as part of Wilson’s growing presence in the digital economy. Independence, Oregon, population 9,250, uses its municipal fiber and farming expertise to pilot cutting-edge agricultural solutions in partnership with tech companies, including Intel.

Rural America Faces a Housing Cost Crunch

Pew Trust | Posted on March 26, 2019

The problem of housing affordability, long a concern in popular big cities, has moved to rural America.

Rural America and a tale of two columnists

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 26, 2019

Americans have a couple of ways they tend to think about rural America. On one side of the coin, we see it as a post-apocalyptic wasteland of dysfunction, intolerance, and economic ruin.On the other, we see a pastoral cornucopia of small-town charm, neighbor helping neighbor, and home-grown tomatoes.In other words, it’s all bad or all good.Last week the New York Times published columns by Paul Krugman and David Brooks that fit these all-or-nothing patterns to a T.

Grandparents increasingly raising grandkids as opioid epidemic rages

Oregon Live | Posted on March 25, 2019

American grandparents have long raised their grandkids when their children are unfit or unable to do so. Now grandparents are stepping up again, Census Bureau data show, and the burden is largely falling to low-income white families.As the middle generation has been hollowed out by the abuse of opioids and other substances, the oldest generation has become increasingly responsible for their grandkids, experts say. It's a responsibility that many didn't expect and weren't prepared for.

US eases land restrictions meant to protect Sage Grouse in West

AP News | Posted on March 20, 2019

 The Trump administration on Friday finalized changes to sweeping federal land use plans for the West, easing restrictions on energy companies and other industries in a way officials said would still protect a struggling bird species. The Trump administration on Friday finalized changes to sweeping federal land use plans for the West, easing restrictions on energy companies and other industries in a way officials said would still protect a struggling bird species.

Energy News

Residents Seek Answers About Health Risks Near Frac Sand Mines

Investigate Midwest  | Posted on March 26, 2019

Public health researchers disagree on the impact the dust has on the long-term health of residents living in an near silica sand mining communities like the tiny Mississippi River town of Clayton, which is in the Iowa county by the same name, and in southwest Wisconsin.Researchers and citizens have become concerned in recent years about the health effects because fracking, and the frac sand mining that helps drive it, only appeared on the national stage in the last 30 years.

Analysis: New wind, solar cheaper than operating most existing coal plants

Energy News Network | Posted on March 26, 2019

Locally generated solar and wind energy could already replace almost three-fourths of electricity made by U.S. coal plants for less than the cost of continuing to operate those plants. By 2025, the share of “at risk” coal generation will jump from 74 percent to 86 percent, adds the report by Energy Innovation Policy & Technology in San Francisco and Boulder-based Vibrant Clean Energy.

New Mexico governor signs landmark clean energy bill

AP News | Posted on March 26, 2019

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed landmark legislation that will mandate more solar panels and wind turbines as the state sets ambitious new renewable energy goals. The measure requires that investor-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives get at least half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. That would jump to 80 percent by 2040.A 100 percent carbon-free mandate would kick in five years later for utilities. Electric co-ops would have until 2050 to meet that goal.

After Paris agreement, big oil and gas companies invested $110 billion in fossil fuels

CBS News | Posted on March 26, 2019

In the three years since most of the world's nations signed on to the Paris climate agreement, major oil and gas companies have poured more than $100 billion into their fossil-fuel infrastructure. That's more than 10 times the amount the same companies have spent on low-carbon investments, despite lip service toward that area, according to a new report.The five biggest—ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, BP and Total—will collectively spend $115 billion on capital investments this year, according to the report.

Recording reveals oil industry execs laughing at Trump access

Reveal News | Posted on March 26, 2019

Gathered for a private meeting at a beachside RitzCarlton in Southern California, the oil executives were celebrating a colleague’s sudden rise. David Bernhardt, their former lawyer, had been appointed by President Donald Trump to the powerful No. 2 spot at the Department of the Interior.

Food News

MillerCoors sues Anheuser-Busch over controversial ad campaign

CNBC | Posted on March 26, 2019

MillerCoors is suing Anheuser-Busch InBev for its controversial Bud Light Super Bowl ad. The lawsuit is the latest retaliation from MillerCoors for the ad that shamed Miller Lite and Coors Light for using corn syrup during its brewing process.MillerCoors is seeking an immediate halt to the campaign, which it claims is false advertising.

Pesticides in food: Strawberries, spinach, kale have the most residue

USA Today | Posted on March 25, 2019

If you're looking for another reason not to eat spinach or kale, you now have one. The leafy greens are ranked second and third, respectively, on Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen, a list of the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue. At the top of the advocacy group's latest roster, released Wednesday, is strawberries; nectarines and apples round out the top five.

FDA issues update on possible tie between grain-free diets and heart disease

Veterinary 360 | Posted on March 20, 2019

The FDA has issued an update to its investigation into reports of dogs developing dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) while eating certain pet foods, according to a release from the agency. Since first announcing it would investigate the issue in July 2018, the agency has analyzed reports it has received from January 1, 2014, through November 30, 2018.

As Home-Cooked Cottage-Food Industry Grows, States Work to Keep Up

Pew Trust | Posted on March 20, 2019

As more consumers shop at farmers markets and “eat local,” U.S. local food sales, including cottage-food sales, have soared from $5 billion annually in 2008 to a projected $20 billion this year.

The curious case of tainted milk from a Maine dairy farm

Reuters | Posted on March 20, 2019

For Maine dairy farmer Fred Stone, the discovery in 2016 that his cows were producing tainted milk has since brought financial ruin and threatened to shut down a century-old family business.  Now state regulators and health experts are investigating whether the contamination could reflect a much broader problem for farms that used similar methods to fertilize their land.The chemicals on Stone’s farm likely came from biosolids, or nutrient-rich sewage from municipal utilities, that he spread across his fields, according to a report last year by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection