There are few things Democrats and Republicans in Congress usually agree on, but one of them is rushing federal money to victims of natural disasters.That sentiment crumbled this week when the Senate failed to advance two separate disaster funding bills. Both included bipartisan funding to help relieve damage across the country from flooding, wildfires, tornadoes and hurricanes. But a fight over assistance for Puerto Rico has derailed getting a deal on the entire package.The political fight intensified last week after President Trump told Senate Republicans in a closed-door lunch at the Capitol that he would not support sending any additional money to Puerto Rico, according to several people familiar with the conversation. Democrats, who had already been pushing for additional federal resources for Puerto Rico, responded by insisting that any disaster spending bill must help victims no matter where they reside.
The PLC (Price Loss Coverage) program option makes payments only if MYA (marketing year average) price is below ERP. Thus, a key program decision factor is the relationship between a covered commodity’s expected MYA price and ERP. Assuming a simple forecast that 2019 MYA price is the currently projected 2018 MYA price, expected 2019 MYA price ranges from 23% under ERP for long-grain rice to 51% above ERP for sesame seed (see Figure 1, Appendix Table 1, and Data Note 1). Corn, soybean, and wheat MYA price is 4% under, 2% over, and 6% under ERP, respectively, as of March 2018. Only 1 other covered commodity (dry peas) is within their range of values. Ten covered commodities have a MYA price that is 13% or more under ERP. The lower is MYA price compared to ERP, the more likely will a PLC payment be triggered. As of March 2018, this simple forecast analysis suggests corn, soybeans, and wheat will have a closer program decision than most other covered commodities and that it will be critically impacted by how demand and supply evolve over the 2019 production period. Small decreases in supply or small increases in demand could eliminate 2019 PLC payments for corn, soybeans, and wheat. Alternatively, the likelihood of PLC payments will increase if supply and demand changes for these crops lead to lower prices. Other key program decision factors include that: (1) ARC (Agriculture Risk Coverage) program option, but not PLC, pays on yield variation, (2) PLC pays over a wider, often much wider, range of MYA prices as ARC payments are limited to 10% of its benchmark revenue while PLC payments are bounded by the lower US loan rate, and (3) PLC payments start at 100% of ERP while ARC payments start at 86% of benchmark revenue.
On March 27, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a draft revised guidance for industry (GFI) #120, “Veterinary Feed Directive Regulation Questions & Answers.” FDA said the guidance is intended to aid industry in complying with the requirements of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) final rule published in June 2015 and serves as a "Small Entity Compliance Guide."The document is organized to help address the needs of all parties involved with a VFD order: veterinarians, VFD feed distributors (e.g., feed mills) and clients (owners or other caretakers of the animals).
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) launched an investigation into syndicated conservation easements, the tax-advantaged land deals that have already drawn scrutiny from the IRS and the Justice Department.
From the air, Lewis and Clark Lake along the Nebraska-South Dakota border appears immense as it stretches some 25 miles behind Gavins Point Dam.It would be logical to think of the sprawling lake — formed by damming the Missouri River — as a big deal in flood protection.It is formed by one of six massive dams on the Missouri River, all operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.Together they constitute the largest reservoir system in the United States.And together, they deny the Missouri River its nearly annual habit of flooding twice a year because of snowmelt — first from the plains and then from the mountains.When an epic storm hit in mid-March, the gargantuan system had 22 percent of its space set aside for flood storage, and a full 96 percent of that stood empty and ready to take in water.The dam, as it turns out, is not designed for significant flood control. So when the Niobrara dumped its floodwater into Lewis and Clark Lake — on the peak day of flooding, 31 times the river’s average March flow was pouring into the lake — the Corps of Engineers had few options but to open the floodgates.The timing couldn’t have been worse: Downstream, the Platte River was pouring even more water into the Missouri River, which was swelling to record levels. South of the Platte, levees were overtopped, broken or weakened. Low-lying neighborhoods, businesses and cropland flooded.
Three-quarters of a million people would likely lose their food stamps later this year under a new proposal by the Trump administration. The goal is to encourage able-bodied adults to go to work and get off government aid. But opponents predict people would go hungry instead, if the rule goes into effect. A public comment period has so far drawn more than 28,000 comments overwhelmingly against the proposed rule.Those affected by the proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits are known as able-bodied adults without dependents, or ABAWDs. There were close to 4 million adults in this category receiving food stamps in 2016. About three-quarters of them did not work, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It's part of a broader effort by the administration to impose tighter work requirements on recipients of government aid, such as housing vouchers and Medicaid. A federal judge last week blocked two states, Arkansas and Kentucky, from implementing the Medicaid work rule, calling it "arbitrary and capricious."Others here are struggling with other barriers, such as homelessness, mental illness and drug addiction. Some already work, but not enough to meet the 20-hour-a-week threshold. One man says he has a janitorial job at the Baltimore Orioles' stadium, but only when the baseball team is in town. In the winter, he relies on food stamps.Others here are struggling with other barriers, such as homelessness, mental illness and drug addiction. Some already work, but not enough to meet the 20-hour-a-week threshold. One man says he has a janitorial job at the Baltimore Orioles' stadium, but only when the baseball team is in town. In the winter, he relies on food stamps.
House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson, Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, along with more than 70 Democratic and Republican colleagues wrote a letter last week to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. They’re asking the secretary to make implementing the dairy provisions in the new farm bill a high priority. The lawmakers are concerned about the continuing loss of dairy farms, as well as just how deficient previous dairy programs were in slowing those farm losses. Peterson and Thompson note that the 2018 Farm Bill can provide much-needed assistance to the nation’s struggling dairy farmers. The letter says, “Provisions of the new farm bill, especially the new Dairy Margin Coverage Program, will provide vital help if they can get it to dairy farmers quickly enough.” Peterson says the average Minnesota dairy farmer earned $15,000 last year, about a third of what they did in 2017. “Given what faces dairy farmers, USDA needs to get a move on implementing these dairy programs as soon as possible,” Peterson says.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced an enforcement discretion policy for certain crops under the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule portion of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FDA indicated in a guidance document that the agency would not be holding entities that are growing, harvesting, packing, or holding either winegrapes, hops, pulse crops, or almonds responsible for meeting the requirements set forth by the Produce Safety Rule.Several industry groups that have been affected by the announcement expressed appreciation the FDA has decided to exclude certain crops from compliance expectations. “This is significant for the California almond industry. The leadership at FDA has accepted the information and evidence that almonds are in fact rarely consumed raw,” Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino said in a press release. “We are pleased the FDA listened to the science and evidence that we presented and took the appropriate action in placing almonds on the rarely consumed raw list.”
Meat and dairy are piling up across the U.S. It has cold storage places packed to the rafters, and the federal government, which subsidizes the agriculture industry, looking for ways to alleviate the problem, at least in the short-term. A combination of factors have led to this: increased production, flat demand despite near-record consumption of milk and cheese and trade issues. And in the long run, it’s unclear whether market forces will get production in line with demand.
States fear the EPA is preparing to override state-level pesticide regulations aimed at curbing crop damage and environmental fallout, after the agency quietly announced last week it’s considering a new way to handle state requests to impose stricter pesticide rules or training requirements.States can seek additional restrictions from the EPA for various reasons, such as accounting for local pests or environmental concerns. But the EPA noted that some requests it gets are to “narrow the federal label.” Rose Kachadoorian, president of the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials, told POLITICO she doesn’t see what problem the agency is trying to address, adding that she believes the existing system is working well.“A lot of these states want to ensure the continued availability of a technology,” she said, stressing that making adjustments would limit states’ rights. “By having the ability to have increased training, cut-off dates and other restrictions, it’s actually enabling states to use that technology and they want to be able to use it.”