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Winnowing farm programs

Ag Policy | Posted on November 8, 2018

The 2018 Farm Bill is being written in an intensely partisan environment. We see it in the campaign rallies, we see it in the ads on television, we see the results of partisanship in day to day interactions when neighbors are afraid to talk to each other if they are on opposite sides of the divide. That partisanship is clearly evident when it comes to the nutrition title of the farm bill where some want to make critical changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Program and others don’t. But when it comes to the commodity title, no partisanship is evident. Members of both parties are in agreement.Generally, that would be good news as members of both parties pull together to support farmers in their districts and states. But in this case, it is bad news because neither side has the best interest of crop farmers in mind. The enhancements that the leadership of the Congressional agriculture committees have generally agreed on will do little for farmers who soon will be facing reluctant bankers in tense discussions over 2019 farm operating loans.Right now, the three most important problems crop farmers are facing price, price, and price. Get the price near or above the full cost of production and the other farm challenges become manageable.The problem: no one in Congress wants to touch the price issue with a ten-foot pole. There is no farm income supplementation program that will provide farmers with the revenue they need to survive.Crop insurance won’t work. The lower the price goes, the lower the level of protection farmers are offered. ARC and PLC won’t work no matter how enhanced they are because even though the reference price is at historic levels, the payments will be paid on only a portion of production. And, that will not work for a large number of farmers.The trade supplementation program will not work. There is not enough money in the program to get farmers through one year, let alone multiple years.Any other kind of program that would shovel enough money to farmers to make them near whole would a) break the bank (federal budgetary limits), b) exceed the US Yellow Box limits under World Trade Organization rules, and c) result in the massive dumping of US crops on world markets at prices well below the full cost of production.Talk about trade disputes, supplementing US Farm income at the level needed would trigger more trade challenges than you can shake a stick at.

New NAFTA's sunset clause is a ticking time bomb

The Hill | Posted on November 8, 2018

The United States, Mexico and Canada just finished renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but the future of the new NAFTA remains uncertain. The United States was able to include a toned-down version of one of its so-called “poison pills” in the new deal: a "sunset clause" that will force new negotiations six years after the agreement comes into effect and could lead to it ending after 16 years.The new NAFTA's sunset clause is one of the most convoluted and unnecessary provisions ever seen in a trade agreement, and Congress should scrutinize the provision carefully and consider alternatives before approving the deal.The sunset provision states that the agreement shall terminate 16 years after it enters into force unless certain conditions are met. The conditions start with a "joint review" of the agreement after six years. At this review, the governments can express their desire to continue the agreement.

Frost thaws in U.S.-China ties ahead of G20 meeting

Reuters | Posted on November 7, 2018

The United States and China will hold a delayed top-level security dialogue on Friday, the latest sign of a thaw in relations, as China’s vice president said Beijing was willing to talk with Washington to resolve their bitter trade dispute.The resumption of high-level dialogue, marked by a phone call last week between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, comes ahead of an expected meeting between the two at the G20 summit in Argentina starting in late November.It follows months of recriminations spanning trade, U.S. accusations of Chinese political interference, the disputed South China Sea and self-ruled Taiwan.China and the United States have both described last week’s telephone call between Xi and Trump as positive. Trump predicted he’d be able to make a deal with China on trade.In a concrete sign of the unfreezing, the U.S. State Department said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Chinese politburo member Yang Jiechi and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe will take part in diplomatic and security talks later this week in Washington.

Dicamba Registration Extended To 2020, Additional Restrictions Apply

Ag Web | Posted on November 1, 2018

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would extend over-the-top use of dicamba in cotton and soybeans until Dec. 20, 2020. The agency said it considered several different sources of input before making this decision.

FDA to Hold Four Public Meetings to Discuss Draft Produce Safety Rule Guidance

FDA | Posted on November 1, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it will hold four one-day public meetings to discuss the recently published draft guidance created to help farmers meet the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule. The draft guidance, entitled “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption: Draft Guidance for Industry,” is a compliance and implementation guide that gives information and examples to demonstrate how farmers can meet the rule’s requirements in various ways. Established by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the rule requires that domestic and foreign farms use science and risk-based preventive measures to protect their fruits and vegetables from contamination.The public meetings will be held in different regions of the country to provide information and facilitate comment so that stakeholders can better evaluate and provide input on the draft Produce Safety Rule guidance. The information presented will focus on the various chapters of the draft guidance: general provisions; personnel qualifications and training; health and hygiene; biological soil amendments of animal origin; domesticated and wild animals; growing, harvesting, packing and holding activities on a farm; equipment, tools, buildings, and sanitation; records; and variances. Stakeholder panels will discuss various issues. There will be opportunities for questions and open public comment.

FDA moves toward clearer, faster biotech regulatory action

Agri-Pulse | Posted on November 1, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration announced plans Tuesday to clarify and speed up the regulatory path for new gene-edited traits in both plants and animals. In its new Plant and Animal Biotechnology Innovation Action Plan, the agency declared broadly that it will “clarify our science-and-risk-based approach for product developers; avoid unnecessary barriers to future innovation in plant and animal biotechnology; and advance safety and our public health mission.”The initiative is focused on facilitating regulatory approvals for animal biotech advances and products.

CVM, along with representatives from FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), will host a live-cast webinar on Dec. 3, 2018 to discuss FDA’s flexible, risk-based regulatory approach and current scientific evidence and regulatory science

Fortune | Posted on November 1, 2018

The Chinese government announced on Oct. 29 that it would modify its total ban on the trade of rhinoceros and tiger parts, allowing rhino horns and tiger bones from animals raised on farms in China to be used on a limited basis by accredited doctors in Chinese hospitals. An outright ban on trading has been in effect since 1993. The use of these animal parts, often ground into a powder, have a long history in traditional Chinese medicine, along with genitalia from bulls, deer, and snakes and elephant tusks. But, say Chinese medicine experts, there is no proven or unique medical benefit to these and similar ingredients from other animals, many of which come from endangered creatures.Advocates for the elimination of trade in parts from tigers, rhinos, elephants, and other endangered animals say that because it’s nearly impossible to distinguish between farmed and wild animals, it effectively creates a market for poaching.

FDA Announces Plant and Animal Biotechnology Innovation Action Plan

FDA | Posted on November 1, 2018

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the Plant and Animal Biotechnology Innovation Action Plan to outline the key priorities the agency will pursue to support innovation in plant and animal biotechnology while advancing the agency’s public health mission. The overall goal of the action plan is to ensure the safety of plant and animal products of biotechnology while avoiding unnecessary barriers to future innovation.The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is launching a pilot of this program today to offer intensive technical and programmatic assistance to developers of certain innovative veterinary products, including animal biotechnology products. VIP includes a set of tools to guide sponsors through the regulatory process, options to develop alternative strategies for generating necessary evidence, pre-submission reviews of data packages, and cross-disciplinary and coordinated FDA review.CVM, along with representatives from FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), will host a live-cast webinar on Dec. 3, 2018 to discuss FDA’s flexible, risk-based regulatory approach and current scientific evidence and regulatory science questions that are important for the agency’s decision-making for genome editing in animals.

Perdue says no plan to extend farm aid to offset tariffs

Reuters | Posted on November 1, 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is not planning to extend an up to $12 billion aid package for farmers into 2019, Secretary Sonny Perdue said, to mitigate farmer losses due to the imposition of tariffs on American exports. “Farmers are very resilient and adept in making their planning and marketing decisions based on the current market,” Perdue told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Washington.

White House won’t talk trade with China without concrete offer: Report

Asia Times | Posted on November 1, 2018

Another tariff deadline imposed by the Trump administration is fast approaching, and a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping next month at the Group of Twenty summit may be the last chance for a breakthrough. The White House has said that the tariff rate already slapped on US$200 billion in Chinese goods will increase from 10% to 25% starting next year.That has increased the stakes for trade talks between the world’s two largest economies, but reporting on Thursday suggests that the Trump administration won’t even come to the table until Beijing presents a firm offer of concessions.