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COOL provisions changed to add venison meat

Feedstuffs | Posted on January 19, 2017

Once finalized, retailers and suppliers would be required to keep records and provide their customers with notification of the country of origin of muscle cuts and ground venison they sell. The Agricultural Act of 2014 (farm bill) directed AMS to add muscle cuts of venison and ground venison to the list of covered commodities subject to mandatory COOL requirements. Once finalized, retailers and suppliers would be required to keep records and provide their customers with notification of the country of origin of muscle cuts and ground venison they sell. Individuals that supply venison would be required to establish and maintain country-of-origin information for venison and supply this information to retailers. Producers, handlers, manufacturers, wholesalers, importers and retailers of venison would be affected.

Trump's Last Vacant Cabinet Post

The Atlantic | Posted on January 17, 2017

Three days before Donald Trump is to be inaugurated as America’s new president, just one Cabinet agency lacks a nominee to lead it: the Department of Agriculture.

The pick has become mired in politics and drama, unsettling the agriculture industry and potentially imperiling Trump’s standing with some of his most ardent supporters—the residents of rural America. In the process, it has become a case study in the difficulty Trump will face as he begins to govern, as his sweeping promises and catchy slogans run up against competing interests.

Already, the delay in picking an agriculture secretary has caused alarm. “The lack of quick and decisive action on picking a new Secretary of Agriculture by the Trump administration has given rise to charges that agriculture is not a high priority for the incoming president,” columnist Gary Truitt wrote recently in Hoosier Ag Today. “While this may or may not be true, the fact that this was the last cabinet post to be filled has raised concerns and will produce some challenges for the new nominee.”

U.S. dairy groups urge Trump to set his sights on Canadian dairy policies | Posted on January 17, 2017

U.S. dairy groups are calling on Donald Trump to set his sights on Canada's "protectionist" dairy practices as he seeks to safeguard American jobs. The International Dairy Foods Association, National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council, along with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture say a planned national Canadian ingredients strategy will block U.S. exports in violation of NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. Ontario milk pricing policies adopted last April are hurting U.S. exports of ultra-filtered milk used to make dairy products, costing thousands of American jobs especially in border states like Wisconsin and New York, said a letter sent Wednesday to the incoming president and his trade nominees.

Theresa May confirms: Britain is heading for Brexit Max

The Economist | Posted on January 17, 2017

Britain will leave the single market and the customs union. She wants this all wrapped up within the two years permitted by Article 50, the exit process she will launch by the end of March; ideally with a “phased process of implementation” afterwards covering things like immigration controls and financial regulation. In other words there will be no formal transitional period. There will, in fact, be a cliff edge of sorts. Mrs May unequivocally interprets the vote for Brexit as a vote for lower immigration even at the cost of some prosperity.  She wants a comprehensive free-trade agreement (FTA) based on the one recently signed between the EU and Canada; but where “CETA” took about seven years to negotiate, she has permitted herself two. So Britain’s economy is in for a rough ride and, though the government will try to smooth it out, the priority is getting the country out of the EU in the most complete and rapid way possible. If the price of this priority is economic pain, then pay Britain must.

FSIS issues notice on humane handling and slaughter

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on January 16, 2017

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection service has issued a notice providing instructions to FSIS Public Health Veterinarians (PHVs), inspection program personnel (IPP) and District Veterinary Medical Specialists (DVMSs) about assessing and informing official livestock establishments whether their written systematic approach for humane handling and slaughter meets the criteria for being a robust plan or not.

USDA Announces $27 Million in Grants Available to Support the Local Food Sector

USDA | Posted on January 14, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced the availability of $27 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed to strengthen market opportunities for local and regional food producers and businesses.  “These grants will continue USDA’s support for the local food sector as an important strategy for keeping wealth in rural communities,” said AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer.  “Entrepreneurs around the country are creating jobs and new economic opportunities in response to growing consumer demand for local food. 

If Trump builds the wall, what will happen to our food system?

Modern Farmer | Posted on January 12, 2017

One of the most comprehensive studies on how immigration policy impacts the food system was commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation in 2014. Their report examines several policy scenarios, including what the authors refer to as the “enforcement only” option, which they define as “strengthened border security and…more aggressive use of deportation”—essentially Trump’s plan to date. The Farm Bureau strongly condemned this strategy, recommending instead “an adjustment of status for experienced, but unauthorized, agricultural workers”—in other words, making them legal.  The report found that stemming the flow of undocumented immigrants across the southern border—which currently accounts for between 50 and 70 percent of the agricultural workforce—would cause retail food prices to jump an average of five to six percent, and that “the quantity and variety of grocery store produce would diminish.” Five or six percent may not sound like much, but for folks suffering from food insecurity it could make a huge difference in their diet, in terms of both quality and quantity, as the average SNAP (food stamps) recipient makes do on a food budget of just $4.23 per day. The price shocks would not be diminished evenly across the supermarket aisles, with foods that are typically imported (like olives) or produced primarily with mechanized means (grains and legumes), staying roughly the same. The biggest price increases would be seen in the produce department—as fruits and vegetables are by far the most labor intensive foods to produce—though the researchers did not provide a specific number. A study by the National Milk Producers Federation, however, found that the price of dairy products—also a very labor-intensive segment of the food system—would go up dramatically. The NMPF says to expect a 90 percent increase in retail milk prices if the immigrant labor supply is taken away from American dairy farmers.

America needs a real farmer as secretary of Agriculture

The Hill | Posted on January 12, 2017

If there is one clear message to take from this election, it is that Americans are angry. They feel that politicians in Washington are out of touch with their lives and their communities. It is a problem that is felt even deeper in the farms that drive our economy and the lives of rural Americans. We don’t read about farming anymore.

Sadly, as Americans, we often take for granted the contributions of farmers who work tirelessly to provide Americans with the food we put on our tables. We don’t hear about their trials and tribulations until there is a natural disaster, such as the drought in California. In fact, more people are likely to identify California as the country’s center of technology than the country’s leading agricultural producer.



Trade experts: barriers stand in way of US exports to Cuba

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on January 12, 2017

Though a future agriculture commodity market in Cuba holds promise, it will depend on whether the industry can convince the new administration and Congress about the benefits to U.S. farmers and ranchers of normalizing trade with the communist island.  There are a number of additional barriers that will need to be removed to open agricultural trade with Cuba. Three trade experts highlighted the issues for farmers and ranchers Monday at the American Farm Bureau Federation national convention in Phoenix. David Salmonsen, AFBF senior director of congressional relations, said it is unknown what the future of trade with Cuba will be with a Trump administration and a new Congress. "You start talking agriculture in Cuba with members of Congress and they change the subject," he said. "There are an awful lot of products wrapped up in this. We're not sure of the new administration's attitude on this. We don't know if they'll go backwards."

As Trump meets biotech CEOs, farm advisers fret over empty USDA spot

Reuters | Posted on January 12, 2017

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has left the agriculture secretary as the last department head to be named to his Cabinet, while a meeting with the chief executives of two agribusiness giants gave a hint at a roster of farm issues the incoming president will face.

Trump met on Wednesday with the leaders of Monsanto Co (MON.N) and Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE), who pitched the benefits of their proposed $66 billion merger. While critical of other large tie-ups, Trump has not publicly taken a stance on the Bayer-Monsanto deal.

The secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will not approve or reject the merger but will face the issue of industry consolidation.