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  • Peel Back the Label produces humerous video on labeling | Peel Back The Label

    As food companies struggle to prop up their profits in an increasingly competitive marketplace, many are turning to deceptive food labeling to distinguish their products. And they’re doing it by playing upon food safety fears and misconceptions. This includes claims like: Gluten-free water! (which could never contain gluten in the first place). GMO-free tomatoes! (all tomatoes currently available for consumption are already GMO-free). No high-fructose corn syrup peanut butter! (true for all brands). GMO-free milk! (all milk is inherently GMO-free). Nowhere is this fear-based labeling more rampant than with GMOs. Companies like TruMoo milk, which says that GMOs are safe on its website, while at the same time touting the absence of GMOs in its chocolate milk through on-product labels and fear-based commercials targeting parents and children. Or like Hunt’s canned tomatoes and Florida’s Natural orange juice, both of which prominently feature GMO-free labels, despite the fact that there are no GMO tomatoes or oranges on the market. To further illustrate these confusing claims, we teamed up with Emmy award winning Funny Or Die to create this short video.

    Post date: Fri, 06/22/2018 - 15:41
  • U.S. House OKs farm bill with major food stamps changes | Reuters

    The U.S. House of Representatives approved a massive Republican farm bill with changes to the government food stamps program that make it unlikely to become law in this form. The Senate is considering its own farm bill with no major changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) used by more than 40 million Americans, or about 12 percent of the total U.S. population.  The House passed the $867 billion farm bill in a 213-to-211 vote, earning the support of some conservative Republicans who helped defeat it in May after its renewal became entangled in an unrelated debate over immigration.

    Post date: Thu, 06/21/2018 - 19:28
  • Trump to propose government reorganization, targeting safety net programs | The New York Times

    President Trump plans to propose a reorganization of the federal government as early as Thursday that includes a possible merger of the Education and Labor Departments, coupled with a reshuffling of other domestic agencies to make them easier to cut or revamp, according to administration officials briefed on the proposal. Mr. Trump and his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, the architect of the plan, have sought to redefine as welfare subsistence benefit programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and housing aid. It is part of a rebranding effort, championed by conservative think tanks and House Republicans, to link them to unpopular direct-cash assistance programs that have traditionally been called welfare.“They have been using the word welfare because it is pejorative,” said Elaine Waxman, a senior fellow in the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank. “The programs you can call welfare are actually very small in comparison to SNAP, which is an income support necessary to help families, workers and millions of kids.”At the heart of the plan is expected to be an attempt to shift SNAP, which serves more than 42 million poor and working-class Americans, to the new agency from the Agriculture Department. Conservative think tanks, including the Heritage Foundation and Koch-related entities, have long sought to de-link food aid from agriculture in hopes of cutting costs.

    Post date: Thu, 06/21/2018 - 15:00
  • Double whammy: U.S. pork, fruit producers brace for second wave of Chinese tariffs |

    U.S. producers of pork, already saddled with duties enacted in an earlier round of the escalating trade dispute with China, are bracing for further pain after Beijing hit the products with additional tariffs due to come into effect next month.  China implemented a 25 percent duty on most U.S. pork items on April 2, and a 15 percent tariff on a range of fruits and nuts, in response to U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum products. Last week it included both categories in a second round of tariffs to be imposed on July 6. No other products have been listed twice.  Pork now faces cumulative import duties of 71 percent, not including value added tax, according to a formula published on the website of China’s finance ministry last week. Cumulative duties on fruit amount to 50 percent.  “The additional tariff will put us out of business,” said Zhong Zheng, founder of China-based Heartland Brothers, which sells U.S.-produced Berkshire pork to Chinese supermarkets and restaurants. The United States shipped $489 million worth of pork to China last year, and had the biggest share of import volumes in the first quarter of 2018, at about 117,000 tonnes, according to Chinese customs.

    Post date: Thu, 06/21/2018 - 14:59
  • EPA to propose reallocating waived biofuels volumes to other refiners | Reuters

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will propose reallocating biofuel blending obligations waived under its small refinery exemption program to other refiners, in an announcement that could come as early as Friday, according to two sources familiar with the agency’s plans. The move is a nod to biofuel groups frustrated with the agency’s broad expansion of the waiver program under the Trump administration, but will antagonize refining companies who say it will unjustly increase their regulatory costs. U.S. renewable fuel credits tied to ethanol jumped by a nickel on Wednesday on the news, hitting 28 cents apiece, according to two traders. The EPA is expected to make the announcement as part of the release on Friday of the agency’s proposed annual biofuel blending mandates under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), one source told Reuters. The RFS requires refiners to blend biofuels like ethanol into the fuel pool or buy compliance credits from those who do. Refineries with capacity of less than 75,000 barrels per day can seek waivers from the program if they can show that complying would cause them significant financial damage. The EPA under administrator Scott Pruitt has roughly tripled the number of waivers issued compared with the previous administration, drawing criticism that he is gutting the program. Biofuel groups say the waivers have cut the ethanol mandate from 15 billion gallons to 13.5 billion gallons.

    Post date: Thu, 06/21/2018 - 14:58

Ag and Rural Leaders

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STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, to provide and promote educational opportunities for state officials and others on technology, policy, processes and issues that are of concern to agrculture and rural communities.

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STATE AGRICULTURE AND RURAL LEADERS is where state leaders find the answers they need on agriculture and rural policy issues.

Gleanings

Talk to your governor about the Opportunity Zones in your state

30 January, 2018

Qualified Opportunity Zones in the Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017

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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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