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The farm bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD

Brookings | Posted on January 2, 2019

Typically, cannabis is not part of the conversation around farm subsidies, nutritional assistance, and crop insurance. The new Farm Bill does not create a completely free system in which individuals or businesses can grow hemp whenever and wherever they want. There are numerous restrictions. Hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC, per section 10113 of the Farm Bill.Second, there will be significant, shared state-federal regulatory power over hemp cultivation and production. Under section 10113 of the Farm Bill, state departments of agriculture must consult with the state’s governor and chief law enforcement officer to devise a plan that must be submitted to the Secretary of USDA. A state’s plan to license and regulate hemp can only commence once the Secretary of USDA approves that state’s plan. In states opting not to devise a hemp regulatory program, USDA will construct a regulatory program under which hemp cultivators in those states must apply for licenses and comply with a federally-run program. 

Bioengineered food label rules draw criticism

Capital Press | Posted on January 2, 2019

While farm groups are pleased with USDA’s new disclosure standard for bioengineered foods, others are not. Some public interest and environmental advocacy groups contend the standard is deceptive and doesn’t go far enough to identify genetically modified foods and inform consumers.They take issue with the term “bioengineered,” the permitted methods of disclosure and the omission of foods they say should be labeled as genetically modified.“This deceptive rule will keep people in the dark about what they’re eating and feeding their families,” Wenonah Hauter, director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement.“It is meant to confuse consumers, not inform them. This deception is a tool being utilized to maximize corporate profits, plain and simple, she said.The use of “bioengineered,” rather than GMOs, is a deceptive strategy because consumers don’t know what that means. In addition, the use of digital codes and other technology makes GMO disclosure more difficult for consumers, and the definitions of what triggers labeling are far too limited, she said.Options for disclosure include text, symbol, electronic or digital link, text message and a phone number or web address where consumers can access information.The standard does not apply to foods such as meat, milk and eggs derived from animals fed forage or grain developed through biotechnology. It also does not apply to highly refined products such as sugar or oil derived from biotech crops.

U.S. Farmers Fear Lucrative Japanese Exports Will Wither

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on January 2, 2019

After seeing exports to China tumble, U.S. farmers and ranchers are now bracing for more losses in their next-biggest Asian market: Japan. On Dec. 30, Tokyo will begin cutting tariffs and easing quotas on products sold by some of American agriculture’s biggest competitors—including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Chile—as part of the new 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.




China bans raising pigs in wild boar areas to block swine fever

Reuters | Posted on January 2, 2019

China’s agriculture ministry will ban pig farming in areas inhabited by wild boars to prevent the spread of highly contagious African swine fever. China, the world’s top pork producer, has reported more than 80 outbreaks of African swine fever across the country since early August, leading to the culling of hundreds of thousands of pigs.The ministry said last month a strain of the virus found in a wild boar was different from the one circulating among pigs, and it warned of the risks of an additional strain infecting its domestic herd.

Farm Bill Signed, SNAP Proposal Released, and Trade Aid Payments Approved

Farm Policy News | Posted on December 27, 2018

President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law on Thursday, the same day the executive branch proposed a rule that could impact participation in the SNAP (food stamp) program.  And earlier this week, USDA announced that a second installment of payments would be made to some producers negatively impacted by ongoing trade disputes.

Growth in tenth district manufacturing slowing | Posted on December 27, 2018

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released the December Manufacturing Survey revealing that growth in Tenth District manufacturing activity slowed, while expectations for future activity edged slightly higher. Price indexes were mixed, with a considerable drop in month-over-month price indexes but higher prices expected in the next six months. The month-over-month composite index was 3 in December, down from 15 in November and 8 in October (Tables 1 & 2, Chart 1). The composite index is an average of the production, new orders, employment, supplier delivery time, and raw materials inventory indexes. The slowdown in factory growth was driven by both durable and nondurable goods producers, particularly metals, electronics, and petroleum/coal products. Most month-over-month indexes fell from the previous month’s reading, although the majority remained in positive territory. Exceptions included production, dropping from 24 to -18, and shipments, falling from 31 to -3, and new orders for exports, decreasing from 6 to -7. The employment index edged slightly higher, and new orders and order backlog indexes remained moderately positive. The materials inventory index rose from 15 to 19 and the finished goods inventory index also moved up.

Dairy Provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on December 24, 2018

 Premiums and coverage levels are presented in Figures 1 and 2 for the 2014-2017 period of the 2014 farm bill vs. the 2019-2023 period of the 2018 farm bill.  This comparison argues that, for dairy commodity support policy, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 should be treated as the 2018 farm bill.  Taken together the two bills expand the covered milk production history that qualifies for Tier I protection by 25% (5 vs. 4 million pounds), substantially reduce Tier I premiums (for example, by 79% at the $8.00/cwt. coverage margin), adds higher Tier I coverage margins ($8.50, $9.00, and $9.50 per cwt.), and expands the share of production history a dairy can elect to cover from 25%-90% to 5%-95%, with both ranges at 5% increments.  By allowing coverage down to 5%, herds with production up to 100 million pounds (approximately 4,000 average milk cows) can limit covered milk production to Tier I.  In contrast, Tier II premiums are raised at coverage margins above $5.50/cwt. (for example, by 34% at the $8.00/cwt. margin).  Covered production history is the largest production in 2011, 2012 or 2013.

U.S.D.A. announces G.M.O. labeling standard

Food Business News | Posted on December 21, 2018

 “The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard increases the transparency of our nation’s food system, establishing guidelines for regulated entities on when and how to disclose bioengineered ingredients,” Mr. Perdue said. “This ensures clear information and labeling consistency for consumers about the ingredients in their food. The standard also avoids a patchwork state-by-state system that could be confusing to consumers.”The standard defines bioengineered foods as those containing detectable genetic material that has been modified through lab techniques and may not be created through conventional breeding or found in nature. Implementation of the standard begins Jan. 1, 2020, or Jan. 1, 2021, for small food manufacturers. The mandatory compliance date is Jan. 1, 2022. Regulated entities may voluntarily comply with the standard until Dec. 31, 2021.The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed a list of bioengineered foods to identify crops or foods that are available in a bioengineered form and for which regulated entities must maintain records to inform whether a food product must include labeling of bioengineered ingredients.Regulated entities may use text, a symbol, an electronic or digital link or a text message to disclose bioengineering. Additionally, a phone number and web address are available for small food manufacturers or for small packages.Certain products made from the 13 bioengineered crops and foods on the U.S.D.A.’s list do not require labeling. The list of bioengineered foods are alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, potato, salmon (AquAdvantage), soybean, squash, sugarbeet and certain varieties of apple, eggplant, papaya and pineapple.

New rules limiting clean water protections ignore stream science

High Country News | Posted on December 21, 2018

The Trump administration announced plans to cut back the number of wetlands and creeks protected under the Clean Water Act, which regulates water pollution in the U.S. The new rules would leave about half the nation’s wetlands and all of its ephemeral streams — those waterways, common in the West, that flow only after rainfall or snowmelt — without federal safeguards. The proposed guidelines, which will almost certainly face years of lawsuits, are a stark departure from how previous administrations have interpreted the act — and a sharp divergence from research on how to protect clean water. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers argued that the new rules were informed by science. But the agencies did not conduct a new scientific assessment of which waterways the Clean Water Act should cover; instead, they relied on a comprehensive report prepared by the EPA in 2015. That report, on how streams and wetlands are connected to downstream waters, highlights the importance of the very waterways the new guidelines would leave unprotected.The regional example I’ve used is the Pacific Northwest. They have a very different attitude toward rivers than anywhere else in the U.S., and I think it’s because of the focus on salmon. They get it — a salmon can’t survive without a watershed. It needs to migrate upstream, it needs spawning habitat, it needs rearing habitat. They’ve made the connection between a particular fish that everybody is excited about and the whole watershed.Even though there are these national rules, and even if they go into effect, there are things you can do locally to protect your local river. If people feel strongly about this, I would encourage them to become active in, or form, local watershed groups. Then you get the immediate benefits of a clean, healthy river. So adopt a river, and care for it.

Farm Bill Outlaws Cat and Dog Meat in the U.S.

Fortune | Posted on December 21, 2018

Specifically, this year’s Farm Bill would prohibit the slaughter and sale (both import and export) of cat and dog meat for human consumption. While it is not a typical or widespread practice to eat dogs and cats in the U.S., it is still legal in 44 states. If President Trump signs the Farm Bill as expected, this will no longer be the case.