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Boswell defends ERS, NIFA moves

Agri-Pulse | Posted on March 28, 2019

A USDA senior adviser acknowledged “missed opportunities to engage stakeholders” on the department’s plan to move the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture outside the Washington, D.C., area, but said the relocations would benefit both employees and taxpayers. At a hearing held by the House Appropriations Committee’s agriculture subcommittee Wednesday, Kristi Boswell (pictured above) said taxpayers would benefit because USDA would save money on rent by moving to locations outside of Washington, D.C. She also said the lives of ERS and NIFA employees would be improved by shorter commute times and cheaper housing prices.Boswell faced skeptical questions from congressional critics of the proposal. Subcommittee Chairman Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., said he was concerned by the way the proposal has been handled “and the lack of clear, transparent communication with ERS and NIFA employees has already done irreversible damage to the department’s reputation.”

FDA Announces New Date for Webinar on Genome Editing in Animals

FDA | Posted on March 27, 2019

On April 25, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), with participation from the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), will hold a public webinar about genome editing in animals, an innovative and rapidly evolving technology that offers significant public health benefits.While the webinar is open to the public, the content will be focused on information for those using genome editing to develop animals with genomic alterations.The webinar will focus primarily on current scientific evidence, promising uses of this technology in animals, and the potential risks. It will also provide information about CVM’s flexible, risk-based approach to the regulation of intentional genomic alterations (IGAs) in animals, including alterations made with genome editing, and how, if needed, to navigate FDA approval requirements for IGAs that are products of this technology. It will also seek to address common questions associated with FDA oversight. The final portion of the webinar will be dedicated to answering stakeholder-submitted questions.

USDA announces first dairy safety net payment

High Plains Journal | Posted on March 27, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency announced recently that the January 2019 income over feed cost margin was $7.99 per hundredweight, triggering the first payment for eligible dairy producers who purchase the appropriate level of coverage under the new but yet-to-be established Dairy Margin Coverage program.DMC, which replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy, is a voluntary risk management program for dairy producers that was authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill. DMC offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer.Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that sign up for DMC will open by mid-June of this year. At the time of sign up, producers who elect a DMC coverage level between $8.00 and $9.50 would be eligible for a payment for January 2019.For example, a dairy operation with an established production history of 3 million pounds (30,000 hundredweight) that elects the $9.50 coverage level for 50 percent of its production could potentially be eligible to receive $1,887.50 for January.

2018 FSMA inspections: Lessons learned

Watt Ag Net | Posted on March 26, 2019

In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted 622 current good manufacturing practice inspections related to the Food Safety Modernization Act. Those inspections were conducted in 47 states, Puerto Rico and four foreign countries – Canada, India, Indonesia and Mexico – that do business in the U.S. and therefore must be in compliance with FSMA. Fifty-eight percent of the inspections took place at feed integrators, 11 percent at pet food facilities, 24 percent at ingredient/rendering facilities, 6 percent at warehouses and 1 percent at food/beverage facilities or other type of facility.Davis said that, as a result of these inspections, 28 Form 483s were issued. According to the FDA, “Form 483 is issued to management at the conclusion of an inspection when an investigator has observed any conditions that, in their judgment, may constitute violations of the Food Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act and related acts.”

FDA starts on-farm inspections in Oregon

Capital Press | Posted on March 26, 2019

Federal inspectors will soon venture onto Oregon farms to ensure compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act for the first time since it became law in 2011. This spring, FDA inspectors are beginning routine on-farm inspections of large operations — those earning more than $500,000 in annual revenue — that grow produce meant to be consumed raw. The agency’s goal is to “educate before and while we regulate” during this initial round of inspections, though officials would take action to stop an imminent threat to public health, said Kate Allen, an FDA investigator. When notified of an upcoming FDA visit, farmers should ask about the extent of the inspection, such as how long it will last and what will be examined, he said. “Try to set some parameters or understand their parameters.”If inspectors take samples of crops or water, growers should ask them to retain portions for future testing or collect their own specimens, Evans said.

Recent Dept. of Commerce decision could negatively impact RGV agribusiness trade

Rio Grande Guardian | Posted on March 26, 2019

NAFTA has been a boon for states like Texas, California and Arizona, where tens of thousands of jobs are directly linked to selling, distributing, warehousing, and transporting Mexican produce throughout the country. It has served as an even bigger job creator for corn growers in Iowa and Nebraska, pork producers in Minnesota and South Dakota, wheat farmers in North Dakota and Kansas, apple and pear growers in Washington and soybean farmers in Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Kansas and, again, Iowa and Nebraska.Recently, however, cross-border trade in agriculture has been put at needless risk by an issue that could turn a win-win situation into a trade war threatening farmers on both sides of the border. At the urging of a small group of tomato growers from Florida the U.S. Commerce Department has preliminarily withdrawn from a 22-year-old Tomato Suspension Agreement that has permitted imports of Mexico’s superior vine-ripe tomatoes while maintaining a minimum U.S. price for that produce. That agreement has worked well and was updated only six years ago. It has also averted a trade war over a longstanding U.S.-Mexico trade issue.

EPA may limit state restrictions on pesticide use, such as Dicamba

DTN | Posted on March 25, 2019

After months of denials and vague language, EPA has confirmed it is considering limiting the ability of states to restrict pesticide use beyond the federal label. State regulators are expressing alarm at this development, particularly those dealing with widespread dicamba injury, which appears to be the catalyst for EPA's announcement.At issue is Section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), which allows states to grant "special local needs" (SLN) labels that supplement federal pesticide labels. Several states in the Midwest and South have used 24(c) labels to limit use of new dicamba formulations for the past few years, in an effort to control overwhelming off-target injury complaints to crops and plants. For example, most recently, Illinois granted a 24(c) label with a June 30 cut-off date for XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan in the state.

China corn purchase spurs optimism for future trade

Agri-Pulse | Posted on March 25, 2019

The USDA announced Friday that China is making a significant purchase of U.S. corn after years of deteriorating trade, spurring hope that the trade talks between the two countries are producing real progress that could have lasting effects. The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service announced Friday morning an export sale of 300,000 metric tons of U.S. corn to China and U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight says he hopes it’s a sign that the two countries are working out their biotech regulatory concerns.

US beef facing possible tariff hike in Japan, TPP members not affected

Beef Central | Posted on March 25, 2019

The United States is facing the prospect of potentially significant tariff increases on its beef exports to Japan in coming months, hikes its main competitors would be safeguarded from due to economic partnership agreements with the country.

FDA Chief Warns CBD Rulemaking Could Take Years Without Congressional Action

Marijuana Moment | Posted on March 21, 2019

The outgoing head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggested on Tuesday that it would take several years for the agency to come up with rules around allowing hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) in food products—unless Congress steps in. At a Brookings Institution event, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recognized that there’s strong interest among the cannabis industry and lawmakers in developing a regulatory framework through which CBD from hemp could be extracted, sold and introduced into the food supply. The problem is that “CBD didn’t previously exist in the food supply, and it exists as a drug under the statute.”“It can’t just be put into the food supply,” he said, arguing that current law only allows the FDA to “contemplate putting a drug that wasn’t previously in the food supply into the food supply if it goes through a rulemaking process.”