Skip to content Skip to navigation

Federal News

Administration lifts GMO crop ban for U.S. wildlife refuges

Reuters | Posted on August 7, 2018

The Trump administration has rescinded an Obama-era ban on the use of pesticides linked to declining bee populations and the cultivation of genetically modified crops in dozens of national wildlife refuges where farming is permitted. Environmentalists, who had sued to bring about the 2-year-old ban, said on Friday that lifting the restriction poses a grave threat to pollinating insects and other sensitive creatures relying on toxic-free habitats afforded by wildlife refuges.“Industrial agriculture has no place on refuges dedicated to wildlife conservation and protection of some of the most vital and vulnerable species,” said Jenny Keating, federal lands policy analyst for the group Defenders of Wildlife.Limited agricultural activity is authorized on some refuges by law, including cooperative agreements in which farmers are permitted to grow certain crops to produce more food or improve habitat for the wildlife there.The rollback, spelled out in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service memo, ends a policy that had prohibited farmers on refuges from planting biotech crops - such as soybeans and corn - engineered to resist insect pests and weed-controlling herbicides.


The agriculture industry is losing its voice in American politics

Stratfor | Posted on August 7, 2018

Over the past few decades, agribusiness contributions to politics have declined substantially. Lobbying spending by agribusiness as a percentage of total lobbying spending has decreased since 2008, even in election years. Contributions have also gotten slightly more partisan, with more and more contributions going to the Republican Party. Moreover, the composition of the vital, influential Farm Bill has shifted significantly since 2000; its main focus has become funding for food assistance programs rather than protections for farmers.


U.S. trade gap widened in June

Wall Street Journal | Posted on August 7, 2018

The U.S. trade deficit expanded in June at the fastest rate since November 2016, underpinned by a stronger dollar and buoyant economic growth. The trade deficit in goods and services increased 7.3% in June from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted $46.35 billion, the Commerce Department said Friday. Exports fell 0.7% from May, while imports into the U.S. increased 0.6% on the month. The data confirmed economists’ expectations that a narrowing trade deficit earlier this year was likely to reverse, despite a renewed focus on trade policy from President Trump. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected an even wider gap of $46.6 billion in June. “We look for the trade deficit to widen modestly ahead as export growth slows on the heels of cooler global momentum while imports remain well-supported by fiscal stimulus and solid domestic demand,” Oxford Economics’ Gregory Daco and Oren Klachkin wrote in a note to clients Friday.


Farm groups go on anti-tariff blitz after Trump offers trade aid

Politico | Posted on August 2, 2018

arm groups are going on the offensive with a multimillion-dollar advertising and advocacy campaign against President Donald Trump’s tariffs just days after the administration rolled out a $12 billion bailout for farmers harmed by a mounting trade war. The launch of the campaign also comes as Trump is due Thursday in Iowa and Illinois, where he is likely to reassure farmers growing increasingly anxious over trade retaliation that has targeted soybeans, pork and other major farm commodities.


The casualties of Trump’s trade war

High Country News | Posted on August 2, 2018

The story of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company in Pueblo, Colorado, is a classic tale of American industry. It was founded in the late 19th century, and its mines, forges and quarries grew into a company of 15,000 people and the largest steel mill in the West. Yet even this behemoth, once part of the Rockefeller empire, could not endure. When the Reagan administration toppled barriers to free trade in the 1980s, CF&I bowed to foreign competition. It declared bankruptcy in 1990, almost a century after its founding, only to reboot as a shadow of its former self, the Rocky Mountain Steel Mill. When President Donald Trump levied tariffs this spring on imported steel and aluminum and then picked a trade war with China, he was hoping to throw a lifeline to iconic American companies like Rocky Mountain. His protectionist policies may help that particular mill, but in today’s economy, in which “local” industries are so often inextricably entangled with global supply chains, Trump’s tariffs and the resulting blowback are already hurting a lot of other Westerners. Theoretically, tariffs help U.S. companies by slapping a tax on imported goods so that they are no longer cheaper than domestic ones. Retailers are then more likely to purchase domestic goods, thereby supporting U.S. manufacturers. Yet this false sense of triumph relies on a simplistic worldview, in which shipping containers full of imported products flood American ports and then return empty to their points of origin. That’s not the case. In fact, goods move back and forth across a complex — sometimes illogical — global web of markets. Perhaps those who miss out on the aid can take some comfort in knowing that there are some winners in this scuffle. One of them is none other than Rocky Mountain Steel, which will benefit from the tariffs slapped on foreign competitors. There’s just one catch: The steel mill today is a wholly owned subsidiary of Evraz — a Russian company. One of its top shareholders is Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin — and allegedly gave him a $35 million yacht. Abramovich is also chummy with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. “America First,” indeed.


Imperiled wildlife are caught in a political tug-of-war

High Country News | Posted on August 2, 2018

As temperatures climb to triple digits and fires rage from California to Colorado, Western lawmakers and the Trump administration are turning up the heat on the Endangered Species Act. On July 12, the conservative Western Congressional Caucus, which was founded to “fight federal overreach” and advocates for extractive industries, introduced a  nine bill ESA reform package. And in a separate move, the Trump administration is proposing to change how federal agencies implement the law. A common thread in the bills is a push to give more authority to the Interior Secretary and states. The proposed rule changes dial back federal agencies’ ability to pursue policies that hamper development. Taken together, these actions limit the creation and enforcement of endangered species protections while opening up new avenues of influence for special interests.

 

 


Opinion: Trumps $12 billion PR stunt

Daily Yonder | Posted on August 2, 2018

Despite strong continued support for President Trump in rural America, farmers fear they will bear the brunt of the retaliatory tariffs from the president’s trade war.  Farm country can ill afford it: In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted 2018 crop profits would hit a 12-year low. Dairy farmers’ prices have fallen 30% in two years, while pork producers have seen a price drop of roughly $20 per head. Overall farm incomes are down nearly 50% from 2013. Long before the trade war began, I and many other farmers feared we were in a farm crisis as bad as that of the 1980s. Now we know it will be even worse. we have a new $12 billion emergency aid package for farmers to ease the sting of the tariffs, clearly designed to keep his rural base firmly behind him. But will it actually solve farmers’ problems? I doubt it. Twelve billion dollars is a lot of money, but spread across all the major agricultural commodities, it will be a drop in the bucket. Details on how the money will be dispersed are still hazy, but I suspect most of it will not find its way into the pockets of struggling farmers. 


AFIA applauds passage of bill to improve process for new animal drug approval

AFIA | Posted on August 2, 2018

he American Feed Industry Association commends Congress for sending a bill to the president this week for signature - the Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2018 (H.R. 5554). This bipartisan legislation will continue providing the necessary resources to support the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine with completing more expeditious reviews of new animal drugs and improving FDA’s review and approval process for animal food ingredients.


Dairy labeling and added sugar labeling for maple make the omnibus spending bill

Politico | Posted on August 2, 2018

Dairy labeling makes a cameo appearance: When debating the so-called minibus, H.R. 6147, on Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) offered an amendment that, in effect, would block FDA's planned effort to crack down on having the term "milk" used to market plant-based alternatives like soy and almond beverages. The proposal was handily defeated 14-86, Jen and Kaitlyn write. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said during the POLITICO Pro Summit last month that the agency will soon issue a guidance document outlining changes to its "standards-of-identity" for labeling milk. The National Milk Producers Federation, which lobbied against Lee's amendment, said in a statement that the Senate's rejection should send the message to food manufacturers that their days of "inappropriately" using dairy terms on products that don't contain dairy are numbered. The organization argues such labeling is misleading to consumers, but advocates of plant-based food contend the dairy sector hasn't offered any credible evidence to support that assertion. Defending maple: The agricultural appropriations bill would also block FDA from requiring maple syrup and honey to bear an "added sugars" label under the Nutrition Facts panel update. Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King touted that they secured the provision in order to make sure consumers aren't misled into thinking that pure maple syrup or honey contains artificial sweeteners like corn syrup.


U.S. Share of World Economic Growth: Implications for U.S. Trade Policy

Farm Doc Daily | Posted on August 2, 2018

Between 1980 and 1985, the U.S. accounted for 24.6% of world economic growth. Since then, 2 distinct periods emerge, with the millennium being the break point. Until 2000, U.S. share fluctuated around a very slight downtrend. U.S. share of world economic growth was still 24.1% from 1995 to 2000. Since 2000, U.S. share has dropped at an annual rate of around -0.7 percentage point per year. U.S. share was 12.6% of world growth between 2012 and 2017. A common measure of a country’s economic size is its gross domestic product, but arguably a more important measure is its contribution to world economic growth.Economics has clearly established that free trade increases economic growth. However, free trade also produces losers, specifically firms and their workers who do not have competitive advantage.Economics has clearly established that a factor, such as freer trade, which spurs economic growth leads to even more growth. While less than the initial growth, the additional growth can be notable.As the U.S. role in world economic growth has shrunk, its share of freer trade’s additional growth has shrunk. This dynamic has changed the math of the U.S. position on freer trade.When the U.S. share of world economic growth was larger, it could consider whether it might take a smaller initial share of the benefits of freer trade since it was a major beneficiary of the additional world growth. Since its share of additional growth is now smaller, the U.S. is likely to focus more on capturing a larger share of the initial benefits of freer trade.


Pages