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EPA won’t regulate logging road runoff

High Country News | Posted on July 20, 2016

Dirt and crushed gravel from the West’s hundreds of thousands of miles of logging roads often erodes into nearby streams, where it can harm water quality and fish. State regulation of road runoff varies, so a 2003 Oregon lawsuit sought to require federal regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency. Despite some success in lower courts, in 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA is not required to control sediment from such roads.  In July, the EPA upheld that policy. The agency argued that streams are already adequately protected by the Clean Water Act and by regional programs that tailor soil erosion management according to local climate and topographies. A spokeswoman from the Environmental Defense Center, which brought the suit, says the decision is “a lost opportunity for much-needed improvements in water quality for public health.” 

Perdue, NCC at odds over stringent USDA care standards for organic chicken | Posted on July 19, 2016

The nation’s fourth largest poultry company is at odds with the National Chicken Council (NCC) over a proposed rule from the National Organic Program (NOP) designed to maintain a viable national organic poultry program. Perdue Farms supports the proposal to provide broilers more room inside chicken houses, ensure sufficient pasture space with ready access to the outdoors and require husbandry practices that are said to promote natural behaviors.

USDA Proposes Changes to Beef and Soybean Checkoff Programs

USDA | Posted on July 18, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has proposed changes to both the beef and soybean checkoff programs that would allow producers, under certain circumstances, to request that their assessments paid to a qualified state board or council be redirected to the national program. 

NIFA Announces $8.3 Million in Available Funding to Support Innovative Small Businesses

USDA | Posted on July 18, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced more than $8.3 million in available funding to support small businesses in the creation of advanced research and development projects that will lead to innovative solutions for American agriculture. This funding is available through the Small Business Innovation Research program, administered by NIFA. Companies initially apply for Phase I feasibility studies, which may be followed by Phase II research and development projects. Phase I grants are limited to $100,000 and a duration of eight months, while Phase II grants are limited to $600,000 and a duration of 24 months.

Trudeau government considers reopening prison farms shut down in 2010

The Globe and Mail | Posted on July 14, 2016

Pat Kincaid credits the dairy cows on a now-shuttered prison farm in Ontario with teaching him the skills he needed to break a life-long cycle of crime and incarceration. The 65-year-old Kingston, Ont., resident, who has spent a total of 35 years behind bars for assaults, thefts and other property crimes, hopes other inmates get the chance to benefit from a program the federal Liberal government is now considering reopening.

“There’s not a program in jail, even today, that can teach those skills that the cows have taught me by working with them,” said Kincaid, who’s been out of prison for seven years. The 2010 closure of the country’s prison farms by the then-Conservative government — six in total operating at institutions in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta — was highly controversial.

USDA Announces $210 Million to be Invested in Renewable Energy Infrastructure through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership

USDA | Posted on July 14, 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is partnering with 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide that supply renewable fuels to American motorists. In May 2015, USDA announced the availability of $100 million in grants through the BIP, and that to apply states and private partners match the federal funding by a 1:1 ratio. USDA received applications requesting over $130 million, outpacing the $100 million that is available. With the matching commitments by state and private entities, the BIP is investing a total of $210 million to strengthen the rural economy.

VIlsack declares Nationa Farmers Market Week

USDA | Posted on July 14, 2016

VIlsack declares the week of August 7-13 as National Farmers Market Week.

USDA makes it easier to export U.S. meat to Cuba | Posted on July 14, 2016

FSIS last week set updated export requirements for exports to Cuba, including fresh and frozen pork, poultry, beef – and their related products – along with sheep and goat meat. The eligible listings include specific exceptions and several ineligible products under the poultry category based in some cases on the origins of the birds from 13 U.S. states processed before Oct. 20, 2015. Those birds may have been affected by last year’s avian influenza outbreak.   

House to vote on gmo labeling bill

Consumer Reports | Posted on July 14, 2016

The House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday or Friday on a bill passed last week by the Senate that would nullify Vermont's geneticall modified organisms labeling law, which went into effect July 1, and prevent any state from enacting its own labeling law.

Brexit Could Bring Market, Policy Impacts for U.S. Grains

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on July 11, 2016

Britain’s decision last month to leave the European Union could have both market and trade policy effects on the U.S. grain industry, though the U.S. Grains Council says exactly how the change could impact farmers’ bottom lines is among the many unanswered questions. The EU does not import large volumes of U.S. corn due to trade barriers related to biotechnology. Overall, the total value of all types of U.S. feed grain and related products that were exported in the 2014/2015 marketing year was about $745 million. Though the initial grain market impact eased quickly, USGC says follow-on effects on exports could be seen from a stronger U.S. dollar. Markets might also face negative impacts from Brexit on the euro area and, to a lesser extent, the global economy, affecting demand for grain and the meat it produces. However, the largest and longest-term impacts of the Brexit on grains could come from the trade policy arena, not the marketplace.