The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced the awarding of a total of $21.8 million to support 42 states to help implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) produce safety rule. The rule, which the FDA finalized in November 2015, establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. “As efforts for a nationally integrated food safety system advance, this funding will play a vital role in establishing programs at the state level to educate growers and provide technical assistance to ensure high rates of compliance with the produce safety rule,” said Melinda Plaisier, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at the FDA. In March 2016, the FDA announced the funding opportunity, which was available to all states and U.S. territories, to begin the planning for and development of a state produce safety program. The cooperative agreement between the FDA and the states provides awardees with the resources to formulate a multi-year plan to implement a produce safety system, develop and provide education, outreach and technical assistance, and develop programs to address the specific and unique needs of the growers in their farming communities. State agencies are important because they have a better understanding and knowledge of the specific growing and harvesting practices in their areas and many have long standing relationships with produce growers and produce associations.
Food and farming are way, way, way down on the list of issues of greatest importance to American voters as they head to the polls this November. Yet agricultural policy is heavily implicated in a number of hot-button voter issues, like healthcare, immigration, and the economy. At any rate, food production is, arguably, the foundation of society, and voters would do well to understand how each candidate’s policy proposals are likely to affect it. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump are in the habit of speaking on food- and agriculture-related issues, but much can be implied from their stances on other subjects, as well as from their past actions and current personal and political alliances. Trump: Trump’s platform does not specifically mention food, agriculture, or rural communities, and to our knowledge he has never directly addressed the subject of local and regional food systems. But he recently released a list of agriculture advisors that paints a vivid picture of the sort of policies to expect under a President Trump. The 65 names on the list are a who’s who of industrial agriculture advocates, including senators, governors, state ag commissioners, and agribusiness executives. Clinton: Unlike Trump, Clinton’s platform includes a detailed “plan for a vibrant rural America”, which includes “build[ing] a strong local and regional food system by doubling funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Food Promotion Program to expand food hubs, farmers markets…and to encourage direct sales to local schools, hospitals, retailers and wholesalers.”
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts says the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is crucial for farmers wanting access to new and growing markets. But in the midst of the presidential campaign the deal faces an uphill battle. Speaking on a panel at the Kansas State Fair Saturday, Roberts, who is the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman, distinguished the TPP from other trade deals. He says the agriculture industry stands to benefit too much for it to be allowed to fail. “Every trade agreement I’ve been involved with – I’ve been involved with a lot of them – they’re always over-criticized, but they’re also always over-sold,” Roberts said. “But this particular agreement is absolutely important for us. We have to export our product.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today it is entering the next phase of its efforts to mitigate antimicrobial resistance by focusing for the first time on medically important antimicrobials (i.e., those important for treating human disease) used in animal feed or water that have at least one therapeutic indication without a defined duration of use. As the agency completes its work to implement changes under Guidance for Industry #213, which will, once fully implemented, limit the use of these drugs to therapeutic-only use under the oversight of a veterinarian, it is now turning its attention to ways to address those antimicrobials that may currently be legally used in food animals for no defined length of time. Although GFI #213 outlines the FDA’s expectation that any new approvals of medically important antimicrobial drugs administered to animals via feed and water will have a defined amount of time they can be used, the guidance does not address some currently approved therapeutics that lack defined durations of use on their labels. In a notice published today in the Federal Register, the agency requests information from the public about how to establish appropriately targeted durations of use for the approximately 32% of therapeutic products affected by GFI #213 with no defined duration of use in order to foster stewardship of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals and help preserve the effectiveness of these antimicrobials in animal and human medicine
In the first half of 2016, a total of $3.54 billion in U.S.-made agricultural equipment was sold to other countries. That number may sound impressive, but is less so compared with the 12% tumble it has taken in comparison to the same time period last year, according to data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). Not all areas saw a slip, however. The U.S. shipped $933 million worth of farm equipment to Europe so far this year, a 12% improvement from 2015. And Central America also saw a 12% boost. Elsewhere, the news wasn’t as positive. Canada – sales down 17%, Asia – sales down 38%, Australia/Oceania – sales down 26%, South America – sales down 32%, Africa – sales down 17%
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that Iowa firms have an opportunity to make money by manufacturing equipment related to cage-free egg production. Vilsack said McDonald's and other large restaurant chains and other businesses have switched to cage-free eggs, and the demand is stacking up. This cage-free egg thing is going to be huge because all of these companies like McDonald's decided to announce at the same time they are going to use only cage-free eggs. "No one bothered to ask if we have enough cage-free eggs," he said.
If you work on U.S. agricultural policy in Washington, D.C. for a long enough period, you learn two important rules of thumb. Rule No. 1: once a new farm bill is done, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will strongly resist any legislative changes to it, claiming it would jeopardize the bill’s delicate balance to ‘re-open it.’ Rule No. 2: as soon as that farm bill is fully implemented—if not sooner—stakeholder groups will start thinking about what changes they might like to be made the next time. Because of the first rule, over time the groups have learned they need to squirrel away their new policy ideas until the Committees commence their consideration of the new farm bill. Typically, that window opens around two years before the existing farm bill expires. The Agricultural Act of 2014 expires on September 30, 2018. Even though recent farm bills have included between 10 to 15 separate titles, most of the public attention—both positive and negative—has focused on the titles which authorize and fund the programs which make up the farm safety net—the Commodity Title, usually Title I, and the Crop Insurance Title, which is a relatively recent addition to the farm bill pantheon. Stakeholder groups are actively engaged in trying to influence the final outcome of the farm bill debate by offering various proposals, especially for these two titles. - See more at: http://www.choicesmagazine.org/choices-magazine/submitted-articles/the-m...
The USDA has announced it will increase funding for farm loans to help more than 1,900 approved applicants. The reprogrammed funds by Farm Service Agency (FSA) will leverage $185 million for operating loans. Given the current farm economy, FSA loans are in higher demand in 2016. The money is believed to cover nearly 30 percent of the loan back log ahead of the start of the next fiscal year. In the 2016 fiscal year, more than 6,400 customers were guaranteed loans for farm ownership and operating. A new year coupled with fresh funding starts Oct. 1.
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.
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.