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Federal News

Trump’s Stalled Trade Agenda Leaves Industries in the Lurch

The New York Times | Posted on August 9, 2017

 After beginning his presidency with a bang by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact in January, Mr. Trump has accomplished little else of significance when it comes to reorienting deals with other countries. Instead, his administration has been struggling to work through the complicated rules that dictate international commerce. All the while, they are learning that bold campaign promises are hard to keep when many voices advocate different plans.For many businesses that had raised their hopes, frustration is mounting by the day.America’s steelworkers are on edge as they wait for Mr. Trump to fulfill his promise to place tariffs on steel imports. Home builders are desperate for the president to cut a deal with Canada to end a dispute over its softwood lumber exports. And cattle ranchers are longing for a bilateral pact with Japan to ease the flow of beef exports. One accomplishment that Mr. Trump has notched on trade has been an agreement with China that opened its market to American beef exports. For the beef industry, however, the benefits of that deal pale in comparison with the cost of abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had been spearheaded by President Barack Obama. It would have provided access to the enormous Japanese market.Instead, Japanese tariffs on American frozen beef, which would have declined under Mr. Obama’s deal, are on the rise. Last week, they increased to 50 percent from 38 percent, making America’s meat even more vulnerable to competition from countries such as Australia. The Trump administration has made the renegotiation of trade agreements central to its strategy for economic growth. Reducing trade deficits with other countries is one of its measures of success. Informed by his background in the real estate business, Mr. Trump has maintained that bilateral trade deals are simpler and more likely to benefit the United States than the multilateral pacts like Nafta or the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Mexican court rules against U.S. spud industry

Capital Press | Posted on August 9, 2017

A Mexican federal court has made an unusual ruling that bans the importation of U.S. potatoes on the grounds the imports violate Mexicans’ right to food sovereignty and a healthy environment. A group of Mexican potato growers had sought a constitutional injunction on the imports, claiming they threaten to spread agricultural diseases.

Rural families rely more on food stamps than those in metro areas

New York Daily News | Posted on August 8, 2017

Rural Americans are increasingly reliant on food stamps to make ends meet each month — and their usage outstrips that of urban residents, a new study found. Nationally, food stamp participation is highest overall among households in rural areas (16%) and small towns (16%) compared to metro counties (13%).In 23% of rural counties, at least 20% of households participate in the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, meaning they get monthly food stamps to help them purchase certain types of food.

USDA gives grants to induce poor to eat more produce

Capital Press | Posted on August 8, 2017

A northwest Washington nonprofit organization has received a four-year, $488,758 federal grant to encourage people receiving federal food assistance to eat more fruits and vegetables. Viva Farms in Skagit County will use some of the money to subsidize purchases of locally grown produce. People on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program also will receive information about nutrition and cooking. The grant was one of 32, totaling $16.8 million, awarded nationwide through the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program. “These grants help provide low-income families with the resources they need to consume more nutritious food,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a written statement. “At the same time, we’re also helping to strengthen local and regional food systems.”

Potential increase in ICE presence raises concerns in Idaho

Capital Press | Posted on August 3, 2017

The prospect of ICE leasing space at a county jail in the heart of Idaho dairy country is creating fear among Hispanic workers and worry among dairymen and processors.

Early gene-editing success holds promise for preventing inherited diseases

Science Daily | Posted on August 3, 2017

Scientists have, for the first time, corrected a disease-causing mutation in early stage human embryos with gene editing. The technique, which uses the CRISPR-Cas9 system, corrected the mutation for a heart condition at the earliest stage of embryonic development so that the defect would not be passed on to future generations.

Defense to Get Historically High Share of Research Budget

Roll Call | Posted on August 3, 2017

The Pentagon and other security agencies’ outsize consumption of federal research money would grow further under Republican plans, while nondefense research spending would drop, sometimes dramatically, a new congressional report shows.

Early Implications of the Veterinary Feed Directive

Precision Science | Posted on August 3, 2017

The FDA implemented the VFD on January 1. What significant changes and impacts have been witnessed to date?Recently the animal health industry has taken significant steps to promote the judicious use of antibiotics. The process of administering “medically important” (aka those that treat human and animal disease) antibiotics in livestock has been found to contribute to antimicrobial resistance, a scenario in which bacteria can withstand and eliminate the effects of drugs and related chemicals. Previously, there was no real standard in place to supervise and police in-feed antimicrobials procedures.

Immigration Operation Arrests 650, Including Child Migrants

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on August 3, 2017

Federal immigration enforcement agents arrested 650 people last week during an operation aimed at families and children who illegally crossed the border and had been ordered deported, officials said Tuesday. Those arrested included 73 individuals who crossed the border as part of family units and 120 who entered as unaccompanied minors. Agents also arrested 457 others whom they “encountered” during the operation.Under Trump administration policy, undocumented immigrants are not safe from deportation just because they are not high-priority targets like convicted criminals. Rather, anyone encountered during an operation can be arrested and processed for deportation.

Low net farm income among issues for challenging farm bill

Delta Farm Press | Posted on August 3, 2017

Don Koehler says the fact that net farm income has fallen to half of what it was four years ago will make writing the 2018 farm bill a “challenge.” That and the fact no new money is available for funding the legislation, according to leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. Koehler, executive director of the Georgia Peanut Commission, was one of four state peanut association executives, who gave their assessment of the climate for writing the next farm bill at the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation annual meeting in Sandestin, Fla., in a panel discussion moderated by Bob Redding, the Washington representative for the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation and other national groups.