The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Western Washington tribes another $25 million for Puget Sound projects, but with stronger instructions to collaborate with others, a response to congressional complaints that one tribe misspent EPA funds to malign farmers. The new grant to the 20-tribe Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission extends for five years a federal program that financed What’s Upstream, a media campaign directed by the Swinomish Indian tribe portraying farmers as careless and unregulated polluters. EPA staff members had concerns about the project’s tone and accuracy, but the EPA’s Northwest administrator, Dennis McLerran, stated in a letter in May to a lawmaker that the agency couldn’t control the grant-funded campaign. The EPA did, however, sever ties with What’s Upstream when confronted on the national level by angry federal lawmakers
Japan ordered the culling of 326,500 poultry after confirming bird flu in two northern Japanese farms, marking the worst outbreak of the disease since 2011, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service is proposing to amend the nutrition labeling regulations for meat and poultry products to parallel the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's final nutrition regulations, which were published on May 27, 2016. The proposed rule will improve the presentation of nutrition information to assist consumers in maintaining healthy dietary practices. Specifically, FSIS is proposing to:Update the list of nutrients that are required or permitted to be declared;Provide updated Daily Reference Values (DRVs) and Reference Daily Intake (RDI) values that are based on current dietary recommendations from consensus reports;Amend the labeling requirements for foods represented or purported to be specifically for children under the age of 4 years and pregnant women and lactating women and establish nutrient reference values specifically for these population subgroups;Revise the format and appearance of the Nutrition Facts label;Amend the definition of a single-serving container;Require dual-column labeling for certain containers;Update and modify several reference amounts customarily consumed (RACCs or reference amounts); and Consolidate the nutrition labeling regulations for meat and poultry products into a new Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part.
USDA says that an already grim financial picture in the farm sector has actually gotten worse and will continue to do so. In its November update of its farm sector income forecast, USDA's Economic Research Service predicts a drop in farm income for the third consecutive year. Net cash farm income is forecast at $90.1 billion, down 14.6 percent from 2015, and down from $94.1 billion seen in August. Net farm income, meanwhile, is seen at $66.9 billion, a 17.2 percent drop from last year. The decreases come after the sector set record highs for farm income in 2012 and 2013. The animal ag sector is perhaps playing the biggest role in the decrease. Crop receipt forecasts are essentially unchanged, but animal and animal products receipts are forecast to drop $23.4 billion, about 12.3 percent, in 2016. Some slight relief looks to be headed to producers as production expenses are predicted to fall while government payments increase. Those payments are seen rising by $2.1 billion, or just over 19 percent in 2016, pushed by a whopping 159.6 percent jump in payments under the Price Loss Coverage program and a 35.7 percent increase in the Agricultural Risk Coverage program.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Lillian Salerno today announced three new public-private partnerships that will create economic opportunities in Elgin, Texas; Fresno, Calif.; and Chicago. The Food LINC partnerships will help community leaders and private philanthropic partners develop regional food supply chains that drive job growth and increase farm income while helping to meet consumer demand for regionally produced food. "USDA investments in regional food have the biggest impact when coordination between producers, processors, distributors and buyers is strong and locally led," said Salerno. "We are excited to add three new locations to the nationwide network of cities that are already leveraging government and private resources to build robust regional food systems, for the benefit of consumers, producers, and the economy." USDA Food LINC (Leveraging Investment for Network Coordination) partnerships are already working in ten communities to better connect the urban demand for local food and agricultural products with the supply from regional farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs. USDA's initial investment of $1 million provided the seed capital to attract an additional $2.5 million from 18 philanthropic organizations, plus more than $1.5 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority. This expansion establishes partnerships in three new regions
In this series of columns, we have argued that a) governmental farm program programs are necessary because of the inability of aggregate agriculture on both the supply and demand sides to adjust to low prices in the short-to-medium run, b) current farm programs are ineffective in dealing with the price/income problems that result from extended periods of low prices, c) current farm programs are more expensive than alternative policies that treat the cause of these low price periods, and d) a government supply management program that puts the relatively small amount of a crop that is in excess of current demand into a reserve deals with the cause of chronic low prices (for a fuller discussion of these and related ideas, see www.agpolicy.org, columns 845 to 850). Early on in the supply management program in the US, when farmers forfeited the portion of their crop used as the basis for a government crop marketing loan in lieu of paying off the loan plus accumulated interest, the ownership of that portion crop was transferred to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), a government entity. The farmer was not able to sell the crop until a release price was reached at which time the farmer was could sell the crop and use the proceeds of the sale to pay off the loan plus interest. The farmer would be able to keep the difference between the sale price and the loan payoff. Now let’s look at the difference between the two ways of holding the reserve. When the CCC held the reserve, if the price was not reached, even if it was just a nickel or a penny away from that level, the crop was not sold. The interest of the government in this program was to provide a reasonable, predictable, stable price band that benefitted both producers and crop consumers and was not in receiving the immediate profit. Crop users may have wanted to gain access to the crop, but until the release price was reached it remained in storage.
President Barack Obama appointed Dallas Tonsager to the position last week but the selection was announced today. Tonsager, who was appointed to the FCA board last year, replaces Kenneth Spearman, who has held the job since March 2015. Tonsager is currently board chairman of Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation. He previously served on the boards of FCA and FCSIC from 2004 to 2009 during the George W. Bush administration. Tonsager was also the USDA's under secretary for Rural Development during Obama's first term, but resigned that post in early 2013. Before that, he co-chaired the department's transition committee in 2009 after co-chairing Obama's first farm and rural campaign committee in 2008. Tonsager's term as FCA chairman and CEO expires in 2020. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the incoming Trump administration will not have an opportunity to name a chairman until then. Trump, however, will have the chance to fill a seat on the board to replace Spearman. That appointee will require Senate confirmation.
The possible implications of the election is the topic of a recent reportpublished by the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) group. “Republican-controlled Executive and Legislative branches could mean swift action when the new administration takes office,” according to Pablo Sherwell, Rabobank’s head of food and agribusiness research and advisory, North America. “Our analysts and others around the world are keeping a close eye on trade, labor, the upcoming Farm Bill and regulations impacting production agriculture, as these areas are where potential policy changes could have longer-term implications on the industry as a whole.” For the short term, agricultural markets may have foreign exchange volatility and uncertainty with the lack of market information. In the long term, Rabobank and others will look at trade agreements, agricultural policy and labor policies and business regulations to see how it affects economic growth.
As part of a trade agenda that would begin on the first day of his presidency, President-elect Donald Trump “would order the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to review food security in trade and reciprocity in international corporate takeovers (i.e. whether a U.S. company would be able to buy a Chinese company like a Chinese company would be able to be buy a U.S. company),” CNN said. CNN said it got the information from a Trump transition memo it had obtained. Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said he had received answers to questions he had posed to ChemChina about its planned acquisition of Syngenta, a Swiss company that has substantial operations in the United States, but that he still has concerns about ChemChina’s “possible use of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has launched its annual “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” program, designed to provide information on progress to help the industry promote responsible use of antibiotics in pigs. The agency has set a goal of slowing the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant infections through improving the way antibiotics are prescribed and used, according Dr. Lauri Hicks, director of the CDC’s Office of Antibiotic Stewardship, in a news release. To that end, the CDC is using a $160-million allocation from the U.S. Congress to support additional research projects and to inform the industry and the general public on responsible antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance.