Skip to content Skip to navigation

Federal News

Rural areas - already short on health resources - face enrollment hitches

North Carolina Health News | Posted on November 1, 2017

With enrollment assistance resources so strapped, it will be hard to reach out to rural consumers. “We had a booth at the PRIDE festival in Atlanta last Sunday, and someone said, ‘Why are y’all even here? Isn’t Obamacare dead?’” Ammons said. “And if they think that in Atlanta, you can only imagine what they think in south Georgia.”Health economist William Custer, who teaches at Georgia State University in Atlanta, echoed those fears about increases in the number of uninsured in rural Georgia.The effects of less insurance will be felt hard in those areas, he explained. Nearly half of the state’s counties, most of them in rural areas, do not have an OB-GYN. Seven hospitals in rural Georgia have closed within the past four years. Several have closed their labor and delivery units. If people in rural Georgia lose insurance rather than gain it, efforts made in recent years by state leaders to stanch financial bleeding at rural hospitals could be jeopardized, Custer said.“This is really the big worry. The problem in Georgia is that we have very different geographics, very different demographics and very different health care. These changes this year really seem to be pushing us even more to two Georgias,” Custer said.

CAFOs get a break on emissions reporting under EPA guidance

Agri-Pulse | Posted on November 1, 2017

Animal feeding operations (AFOs) are celebrating a big win with EPA’s announcement that they won’t be subject to certain emergency emissions reporting requirements. In guidance issued last week, the agency said that farms that use manure as part of their "routine agricultural operations" would not have to report emissions generated by that waste – such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide –  to state and local authorities under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). "EPA believes Congress did not intend to impose EPCRA reporting requirements on farms engaged in routine agricultural operations," the agency said in a document explaining its position.AFOs still would have to report emissions above certain levels under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), but they can qualify for streamlined reporting requirements because EPA considers emissions from animal waste to be “continuous and stable in quantity and rate,” the agency said. In addition, because of the difficulty of estimating emissions from animal waste, EPA said operators could report such emissions in a range.

Argentina: For The First Time, Country Will Sell Wheat To Mexico

Market Insider | Posted on November 1, 2017

Argentina will sell wheat to Mexico for the first time in modern history, said the Minister of Agroindustry, Ricardo Buryaile. The first shipment, with a volume of 30,000 tons of wheat, will be dispatched during the first half of December, the Argentinean minister added."This sale is the result of the efforts of the public and private sectors of both countries that have succeeded in reaching a consensus on the phytosanitary conditions required to enable it. This export opens a new market for a crop with great productive growth in the last two years," Buryaile said.

Iowa refugee farming program gets federal funding boost

Des Moines Register | Posted on November 1, 2017

A program that helps refugees in Iowa become farmers is growing, thanks in part to a federal funding boost. Organizers with Des Moines-based Lutheran Services in Iowa will use a $24,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer training to refugees about food safety, organic production and crop planning.The grant expands beyond previous USDA awards for the program. It solidifies a yearslong effort to expand the program from one that only offers community garden plots to one that also provides intense one-on-one training so some participants can start independent businesses.

Dept of Energy Subsidy plan for coal and nuclear plants 'will cost US taxpayers $10.6bn a year'

The Guardian | Posted on November 1, 2017

A Trump administration plan to subsidize coal and nuclear energy would cost US taxpayers about $10.6bn a year and prop up some of the oldest and dirtiest power plants in the country, a new analysis has found. The Department of Energy has proposed that coal and nuclear plants be compensated not only for the electricity they produce but also for the reliability they provide to the grid. The new rule would provide payments to facilities that store fuel on-site for 90 days or more because they are “indispensable for our economic and national security”. Just a handful of companies, operating about 90 plants on the eastern seaboard and the midwest, would benefit from the subsidies, the report found.

WTO compliance panel hands U.S. win in tuna-dolphin dispute; Mexico to appeal

Money | Posted on November 1, 2017

The U.S. and Mexico have been locked in a dispute over how tuna is fished in Mexico. The U.S. claims that Mexican fishermen allow dolphins to be netted and killed when they fish for tuna. Therefore, U.S. officials say that Mexican tuna fish can't be labeled "dolphin safe." Mexican leaders deny that the country's fishing industry isn't in compliance with rules imposed by the World Trade Organization and they demand their tuna get the "dolphin-safe" labeling. If it doesn't get that label, several major U.S. supermarkets, like Walmart, won't sell it, even though it can still legally cross the border.In April, the WTO said Mexico had the right to impose tariffs on up to $163 million of U.S. exports, arguing that the U.S. labeling requirements for "dolphin safe" unfairly discriminated against Mexican tuna.The WTO said $163 million was an amount equal to what Mexico had lost as a result of not having the U.S. label.But in a separate proceeding this week, the WTO said that the U.S. labeling is now in compliance with its standards after a unit of the U.S. Commerce Department tweaked its tuna-labeling laws last year.In other words, the ruling from Thursday means the U.S. labeling doesn't discriminate against Mexican tuna.This week's ruling all but dismisses the retaliation decision in April, though it hasn't been officially thrown out. Mexico actually never decided to impose tariffs on U.S. exports.

EPA guidance on reporting air emissions of hazardous substances from animal waste

Farm Forum | Posted on November 1, 2017

EPA released guidance to assist farmers in reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at farms. EPA is making this information available to provide time for farmers to review and prepare for the reporting deadline, currently set for November 15, 2017. “EPA is working diligently to address undue regulatory burden on American farmers,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “While we continue to examine our options for reporting requirements for emissions from animal waste, EPA’s guidance is designed to help farmers comply with the current requirements.” On December 18, 2008, EPA published a final rule that exempted farms from reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste. On April 11, 2017, the DC Circuit Court vacated this final rule. In response to a request from EPA, the DC Circuit Court extended the date by which farms must begin reporting these releases to November 15, 2017. Unless the court further delays this date, all farms (including those previously exempted) that have releases of hazardous substances to air from animal wastes equal to or greater than the reportable quantities for those hazardous substances within any 24-hour period must provide notification of such releases.

Taxation for antibiotic use?

American Society of Animal Science | Posted on November 1, 2017

The authors summarized three main points or avenues to reduce the antimicrobials in food animals, which could result in a 9% to 80% reduction in antimicrobial use by 2030. First, they discuss regulations that would put a cap of 50 mg of antimicrobials per PCU per year, suggesting a 64% reduction in antimicrobial use from today’s available data. Second, they discuss limiting meat consumption worldwide to 40 g/day, suggesting a reduction in antimicrobial use of 66% use. Third, they discuss a user fee or tax on current veterinary antimicrobials, suggesting a 31% reduction in antimicrobial use.  Unfortunately, the authors did not discuss the fact that very limited evidence exists to support a claim that growing incidence of AMR in humans is due to livestock producers using antibiotics, even though they are a potential contributor to the problem. During the discussion of global trends, antimicrobial use varied greatly between countries or regions. They cite policy initiatives to aid in reducing antimicrobial use in the EU, but there is unharnessed use in China because of lack of policy. However, they did not dig deeper into their research to better understand the disease challenges in different regions when compared to antimicrobial usage. Furthermore, the authors have not considered how sufficient plant-based food would be produced to feed people adequately if animal units are reduced. Similarly, by-products from sustainable fuel initiatives and the food industry would become waste products rather than affordable and sustainable feedstuffs, as they are in today's livestock sector. Also, as obesity increases, high-protein diets utilizing lean meats have become great alternatives for individuals managing this health concern.

Top Trump official says U.S. isn’t offering ‘anything’ to Canada in exchange for NAFTA demands

Toronto Star | Posted on October 27, 2017

The Trump administration is demanding NAFTA concessions from Canada and Mexico but not offering “anything” in exchange, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday. Ross’s remarkable public statement corroborates the complaints of Canadian and Mexican officials, who have accused the U.S. of taking an unusually and unreasonably hard line in the talks to renegotiate the North American free trade pact.U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said in August that the negotiation would be a “win-win-win” for all three countries, and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has repeated that this is what Canada is seeking. Ross, however, suggested the U.S. was pushing for something different.“We’re trying to do a difficult thing. We’re asking two countries to give up some privileges that they have enjoyed for 22 years. And we’re not in a position to offer anything in return,” he said on CNBC. “So that’s a tough sell. And I don’t know that we’ll get every single thing we want. The question is, will we get enough to make it worthwhile.”

Senators from refinery states request Trump meeting on biofuels

Reuters | Posted on October 27, 2017

Nine U.S. senators from states that have oil refineries sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday urging changes to the country’s biofuels policy and asking for a meeting to discuss the issue. The letter reflects growing tensions between refiners that oppose the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard - a law requiring them to blend increasing amounts of ethanol into the nation’s fuel each year - and the Midwest corn lobby that supports it.The Trump administration bowed to rising pressure from Midwest lawmakers last week, assuring them in letters and phone calls that it would ditch proposals, supported by the refining industry, to overhaul the biofuels policy.The senators said that decision could cost jobs.“If your administration does not make adjustments or reforms on matters related to the Renewable Fuel Standard, it will result in a loss of jobs around the country, particularly in our states,” according to the letter, which was signed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey and six others.