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  • WOTUS: Where Are We Now? | Texas Agriculture Law Blog

    In February 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order which required the EPA and COE to “rescind or revise” the 2015 Rule.  The Order said that the agencies should “consider interpreting” the term consistent with Justice Scalia’s opinion in Rapanos. In June, the EPA announced it would be taking the first step to rescind the 2015 Rule and to re-codify the definition of WOTUS prior to the passage of the 2015 rule.Where Are We Now? Rescinding a rule already promulgated is not as simple as it may sound.  The EPA has published a new proposed rule in the Federal Register, which essentially seeks to codify the rule as it was prior to the 2015 EPA rule being passed (and, due to the 6th Circuit stay, the approach currently in place across the US).  Specifically, the proposed rule would rescind the 2015 approach and codify an approach consistent with the Rapanos Supreme Court decision, applicable case law, and other longstanding agency practices. Now, notice and comment rulemaking will take place, which will allow the public to offer input on the new proposed rule.  This period is open through August 28, 2017.  After that, the EPA plans to conduct a “substantive re-evaluation” of the definition of WOTUS and conduct notice and will likely propose a new rule after property notice and comment rulemaking occurs. Meanwhile, the 2015 rule is not in force anywhere in the United States, as the 6th Circuit stay remains in place.  Thus, currently, the definition of WOTUS is governed by the pre-2015 rule that got us the complex decision in the Rapanos case.  Unfortunately, until a new rule is promulgated, landowners are left with trying to interpret the Rapanos decision in order to know whether federal permits are required on their land.Hopefully, the revised rule will offer more clarity and certainty for both the government and landowners alike.

    Post date: Thu, 08/17/2017 - 13:26
  • FDA Clarifies Sanitary Transportation Rule Waiver for Retail Food Establishments | The Coastal Bend Chronicle

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued guidance to clarify that a waiver to the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food final rule (Sanitary Transportation rule) covers retail food establishments that sell food for humans, including those that sell both human and animal food, but does not apply to establishments that only sell food for animals. The Sanitary Transportation rule  established a process by which FDA may waive any of the rule’s requirements for certain classes of persons, vehicles, or types of food  if doing so will not result in the transportation of food under conditions that would be unsafe for human or animal health, or contrary to the public interest.  

    Post date: Thu, 08/17/2017 - 13:14
  • 4 Reasons Manufacturing Jobs Are Returning to the USA | The Agurban

    Manufacturing jobs are (still) being reshored to the US. Here are the main drivers behind this trend. 1. Automotive and Electronics Industry Growth, 2. Increased Labor Cost, 3. Logistical Challenges, 4. Lack of Skilled Workers

    Post date: Thu, 08/17/2017 - 13:13
  • 2018 Farm Bill: What shiny object will be used to distract this time? | Ag Policy

    During these last 30-plus years, farmers and major farm and commodity organizations, abetted by agribusiness, have gone after one shiny new thing (policy) after another, often that border on entrepreneurial rent seeking, while playing the sympathy card of public support for family farmers and the agrarian ideal. Our main theme in this series is that farmers and farm and commodity organizations have consistently ignored the economic characteristics of grain production that result in long periods of low prices punctuated by brief periods of high prices and, every few decades, with longer periods of high price that are the direct, disruptive result of government policies in this country or elsewhere in the world.In the first two months of writing this column in 2000 we laid out our understanding of the fundamental economic characteristics of agricultural production. Over the years we have repeatedly described a set of policies that take into account the root causes of chronic price and income problems faced by farmers—that is policies designed to respond to the economic characteristics of primarily, but not limited to, grain agriculture, providing a policy environment in which market forces would allocate supplies among competing uses, and result in minimal governmental costs, while protecting farmers on the low side of farm commodity prices and consumer from the high side. At the same time, we have criticized policies that treat the symptoms rather that respond to the causes of the farm price and income problems.

    Post date: Thu, 08/17/2017 - 13:11
  • FDA eases restrictions on ultra-filtered milk for cheese-making | Wisconsin State Farmer

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says ultra-filtered cow’s milk can now be used to make all types of natural cheeses, a move that Wisconsin cheese-makers have sought for nearly 20 years. Ultra-filtered milk is fresh farm milk run through a filter to reduce the amount of water and lactose and concentrate the natural proteins.“FDA’s announcement is an important win for Wisconsin and other great cheese-making states,” John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association said in a statement.Umhoefer said the FDA’s decision will allow cheese-makers to use the concentrated form of milk with flexible labeling restrictions.“There’s been an oversupply of milk in the U.S. for over a year, causing real financial stress for dairy farm families. This decision can lead to more production of … ultra-filtered milk and find new markets for our abundant milk supplies,” Umhoefer said.For years, the dairy industry has worked with the FDA to allow the use of ultra-filtered milk in cheeses with a federal standard of identity — such as cheddar, mozzarella, Colby and brick.The agency has allowed the use of the concentrated milk in standardized cheeses if the filtration took place at the factory where natural cheese was made.

    Post date: Thu, 08/17/2017 - 13:10

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Gleanings

Farmland Taxes Under Discussion in the Midwest Again

23 January, 2017

Senator Jean Leising knows it’s going to be another tough year for beef and hog producers, and 2016’s record national yields for corn and soybeans indicate that farm profitability will decline for the third straight year.  She is convinced that “the drop in net farm income again this year makes the changes Indiana made to the farmland taxation calculation in 2016 even more important.”  

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Farm

Are corporations taking over America’s food supply?

15 March, 2016

Family farms.  The foundation of America’s food security.  According to the USDA, 97 percent of farms are family farms, and they grow 90 percent of the food produced. But national policies to keep food affordable (American’s spend less than 7 percent of their paycheck for food) and the boom and bust cycles of farming have resulted in larger, more concentrated farming practices. 

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