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USDA Announces $26 Million Investment to Spur Agricultural Innovation

USDA | Posted on September 8, 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the investment of $26.6 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) into 45 projects that will spur innovative conservation initiatives on both rural and urban farms across the country. Public and private grantees will provide matching investments, bringing the total value of support to $59 million. The investment is made through USDA's Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which fosters innovation in conservation tools and strategies to improve things like on-farm energy and fertilizer use as well as market-based strategies to improve water quality or mitigate climate change.  The 2016 projects focus on water quality, conservation finance and assistance to historically underserved USDA customers. Approximately 25 percent of the funding announced today will go to projects that benefit historically underserved producers, military veterans, and new and beginning farmers.

Antibacterial ingredients in indoor dust linked to antibiotic resistance

UPI | Posted on September 8, 2016

Less than a week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a ban on 19 chemicals used in antibacterial soaps because they may pose a risk to rising resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, a new studies suggests one of the chemicals is found in indoor dust and contributes to the problem.  The chemicals triclosan and triclocarbon, as well as four other antimicrobial chemicals, were found in house dust by researchers at the University of Oregon, Harvard University and Arizona State University, according a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, suggesting their use in cleaners is contributing to antibiotic resistance.

States receive preemption letters on gmo labeling

USDA | Posted on September 8, 2016

USDA Secretary Vilsack sent letters to every state governor explaining the federal pre-emption of state law on gmo labeling. This is a link to those letters.

Deeper analysis on potential Pacific trade pact: Chile

Farm Futures | Posted on September 8, 2016

Chile's general notes section makes several trade commitments, as do other nations'. For example, most nations agree that "Customs duties on originating goods provided for in the items in the staging category [eliminated on entry into force] (EIF) shall be eliminated entirely, and these goods shall be duty free on the date of entry into force of this Agreement for Chile". This language sounds encouraging until you read subsequent paragraphs that Chile has inserted into the agreement. Two categories indicate that certain goods that fall into "staging category B4" will be eliminated in four years and whatever goods are in this category will be duty free after year four. Another category called B8 incorporates the same scheme and goods would be duty free after eight years.

USDOT proposes requiring speed limiting devices on heavy haulers

Equipment World | Posted on September 8, 2016

The U.S. Department of Transportation has released a proposed rule that would require trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiting devices (also known as speed governors or speed limiters), but the regulatory body did not propose a speed to which trucks would be limited.

Immigration, TPP, and Child Nutrition May be Lost Causes

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on September 8, 2016

National Milk Producers’ Federation CEO and President Jim Mulhern is skeptical that Congress will be able to tackle immigration reform, child nutrition programs, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement before or right after the elections in November. Lawmakers are expected, instead, to be mostly focusing on funding the government.  Mulhern said these three issues are policy priorities for the dairy producers and that they are focusing on them right now. When it comes to child nutrition, the dairy industry is hoping Congress will once again allow schools to offer flavored 1 percent milk. Currently, those offerings must be fat free which has led to lower consumption and lower overall student participation in the program.

Congress Turning a New Leaf on Marijuana

Roll Call | Posted on September 8, 2016

Marijuana-related legislation was on a fast track to nowhere until 2014. That was the year Republicans and Democrats alike approved a measure that kept federal authorities from interfering in states that allowed marijuana use for medical purposes. Since then, both houses of Congress have seen a flood of similar proposals. Lobbyists, policy experts and lawmakers who spoke to Roll Call said the trajectory is clear: Congress is leaning toward decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level — and it’s going to happen soon. That could happen as early as the next Congress, to some time within the next 10 years.


Fire breaks out at threatened USDA facility

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on September 7, 2016

A fire broke out Tuesday at a USDA facility in Beltsville, Md., which was one of five offices closed then reopened last week after anonymous emailed threats. USDA issued the following statement: "A fire occurred this morning in a storage shed building at USDA’s Beltsville facility. The fire has been contained, and no personnel were harmed. The building involved houses equipment only, and employees in a neighboring building have been safely evacuated. USDA officials reported the fire, and an investigation into its cause continues." The garage building housed several vehicles, which also caught fire. Prince George's fire investigators and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were on the scene.  Last week, threatened offices in Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina and Kearneysville, W.V., reopened two days later with additional security enhancements. Offices in Hamden, Conn., and Leetown, W.V., were to remain closed awaiting security improvements or notifications to union officials.

Chinese Province to Slaughter Chickens More Humanely

The Nan Fang | Posted on September 5, 2016

Independent of any animal welfare law, Shandong is the first province in China to implement its own standards for the humane slaughter of poultry.  Shandong’s food quality authority has implemented suggestions made by the College of Food Science and Engineering at Qingdao Agricultural University that promote the humane slaughter and the safe processing of chickens.  The guidelines say slaughterhouses must avoid frightening or upsetting the birds in order to meet the natural needs of a chicken before and during the slaughter process. That includes no violence during transportation, which can only last three hours at most. Before being slaughtered, a chicken must now be outfitted with a soothing pad on its chest to calm it down, and must lose consciousness through techniques like gas inhalation.

EPA seeking comments on all sulfonylurea product labels

Rural Radio | Posted on September 5, 2016

EPA is seeking public comment by September 12, 2016 on a Proposed Interim Decision (PID) for regulating the class of herbicides known as sulfonylureas.  The sulfonylurea herbicides are currently used on millions of acres in the United States.  Using the most conservative models and endpoints to predict exposures of concern, the EPA has determined that risks to non-target plants warrant additional label restrictions when products are applied either by ground or air.  To protect against the potential damage that these models predict, EPA is proposing that labels would be required to instruct that:All applications of products which include a sulfonylurea must be made using equipment delivering an Extremely Coarse droplet size. All applications would be prohibited when wind speeds at the application site exceed 10 miles per hour. When making aerial applications maximum boom lengths, swath displacement and nozzle orientation would be defined and made mandatory. When making ground application the distance between the spray nozzle and the ground or crop canopy would be restricted to no more than two feet. Tank mixes with with different mode-of-action and and contact herbicides such as glyphosate would be prohibited if the extremely course droplet size is required as these applications generally require small droplet size to be efficacious.