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Trump science nominee admits lack of hard science credentials

The Hill | Posted on November 2, 2017

President Trump’s nominee for a top position in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has admitted that he has no credentials in the hard sciences.Sam Clovis, co-chairman for Trump's former campaign co-chairman, has been nominated as USDA undersecretary for research, a position that is typically held by individuals with advanced degrees and extensive experience in agricultural sciences.In a letter to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the Senate agriculture committee, obtained by  The Washington Post, Clovis responded “none” to questions about how many graduate level courses he has taken in natural science, and any membership or leadership roles he has held in agricultural scientific organizations.He also writes that he has not received any awards, designations or academic recognition related to agricultural scientist.Clovis also confirms in the letter that he has not published any articles in scientific peer-reviewed publications or had any experience as a peer reviewer or editor of such publications.


USDA proposes lifting mining ban near Grand Canyon

Reuters | Posted on November 2, 2017

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday proposed lifting a mining ban on land near Grand Canyon National Park as part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to sweep away regulations impeding development.“Adoption of this recommendation could re-open lands to mineral entry pursuant to the United States mining laws facilitating exploration for, and possibly development of, uranium resources,” the department wrote in a report to the White House seen by Reuters.The area potentially affected by the reopening is managed by the department’s Forest Service.


Exports are up, but what’s the future of trade deals?

National Hog Farmers | Posted on November 2, 2017

The only bad trade agreement is one that you’re not in, so it’s imperative that the United States can hold its own in existing trade pacts, while also developing new relationships. Seng sees the fact that the pork complex exports are up 9% is “very encouraging news for us because pork has always been a challenge to some degree. Mexico is up about 18%. … We’re watching Mexico because quietly it has become our No. 1 volume destination and it’s a very important market, a growing market for us.”In addition to Mexico, U.S. pork is also finding its way into the marketplace of other countries around the globe in increasing fashion: South Korea, up 27%, South America, up 96%, and “the Caribbean, ASEAN and even Taiwan has become very good for us,” Seng says.All that looks good, but then Seng sheds some light on the current trade issues. “Probably the most imminent thing we’re concerned about is as the U.S. goes into its fifth round of negotiations with NAFTA, is for NAFTA itself,” he says. “I think for the whole red meat industry, I don’t think anyone would disagree with me that it (North American Free Trade Agreement) has actually been a beautiful arrangement for the U.S. red meat industry.”


Ted Cruz is blocking Bill Northey's USDA appointment

Des Moines Register | Posted on November 1, 2017

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture’s Bill Northey’s confirmation to a top post at the USDA – long thought to be a slam-dunk – is reportedly being held up over oil-versus-corn politics in the U.S. Senate.  U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is holding back Northey’s nomination as the Ag Department’s new undersecretary for farm production and conservation. The move comes despite wide support for Northey on the Senate Agriculture Committee. The reason? According to Politico’s unnamed sources, it’s a “reaction” to successful efforts by Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst last week to block action by the Environmental Protection Agency to decrease the mandate for biofuels blended into the nation’s fuel supply.


Rural areas - already short on health resources - face enrollment hitches

North Carolina Health News | Posted on November 1, 2017

With enrollment assistance resources so strapped, it will be hard to reach out to rural consumers. “We had a booth at the PRIDE festival in Atlanta last Sunday, and someone said, ‘Why are y’all even here? Isn’t Obamacare dead?’” Ammons said. “And if they think that in Atlanta, you can only imagine what they think in south Georgia.”Health economist William Custer, who teaches at Georgia State University in Atlanta, echoed those fears about increases in the number of uninsured in rural Georgia.The effects of less insurance will be felt hard in those areas, he explained. Nearly half of the state’s counties, most of them in rural areas, do not have an OB-GYN. Seven hospitals in rural Georgia have closed within the past four years. Several have closed their labor and delivery units. If people in rural Georgia lose insurance rather than gain it, efforts made in recent years by state leaders to stanch financial bleeding at rural hospitals could be jeopardized, Custer said.“This is really the big worry. The problem in Georgia is that we have very different geographics, very different demographics and very different health care. These changes this year really seem to be pushing us even more to two Georgias,” Custer said.


CAFOs get a break on emissions reporting under EPA guidance

Agri-Pulse | Posted on November 1, 2017

Animal feeding operations (AFOs) are celebrating a big win with EPA’s announcement that they won’t be subject to certain emergency emissions reporting requirements. In guidance issued last week, the agency said that farms that use manure as part of their "routine agricultural operations" would not have to report emissions generated by that waste – such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide –  to state and local authorities under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). "EPA believes Congress did not intend to impose EPCRA reporting requirements on farms engaged in routine agricultural operations," the agency said in a document explaining its position.AFOs still would have to report emissions above certain levels under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), but they can qualify for streamlined reporting requirements because EPA considers emissions from animal waste to be “continuous and stable in quantity and rate,” the agency said. In addition, because of the difficulty of estimating emissions from animal waste, EPA said operators could report such emissions in a range.


Argentina: For The First Time, Country Will Sell Wheat To Mexico

Market Insider | Posted on November 1, 2017

Argentina will sell wheat to Mexico for the first time in modern history, said the Minister of Agroindustry, Ricardo Buryaile. The first shipment, with a volume of 30,000 tons of wheat, will be dispatched during the first half of December, the Argentinean minister added."This sale is the result of the efforts of the public and private sectors of both countries that have succeeded in reaching a consensus on the phytosanitary conditions required to enable it. This export opens a new market for a crop with great productive growth in the last two years," Buryaile said.


Iowa refugee farming program gets federal funding boost

Des Moines Register | Posted on November 1, 2017

A program that helps refugees in Iowa become farmers is growing, thanks in part to a federal funding boost. Organizers with Des Moines-based Lutheran Services in Iowa will use a $24,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer training to refugees about food safety, organic production and crop planning.The grant expands beyond previous USDA awards for the program. It solidifies a yearslong effort to expand the program from one that only offers community garden plots to one that also provides intense one-on-one training so some participants can start independent businesses.


Dept of Energy Subsidy plan for coal and nuclear plants 'will cost US taxpayers $10.6bn a year'

The Guardian | Posted on November 1, 2017

A Trump administration plan to subsidize coal and nuclear energy would cost US taxpayers about $10.6bn a year and prop up some of the oldest and dirtiest power plants in the country, a new analysis has found. The Department of Energy has proposed that coal and nuclear plants be compensated not only for the electricity they produce but also for the reliability they provide to the grid. The new rule would provide payments to facilities that store fuel on-site for 90 days or more because they are “indispensable for our economic and national security”. Just a handful of companies, operating about 90 plants on the eastern seaboard and the midwest, would benefit from the subsidies, the report found.


WTO compliance panel hands U.S. win in tuna-dolphin dispute; Mexico to appeal

Money | Posted on November 1, 2017

The U.S. and Mexico have been locked in a dispute over how tuna is fished in Mexico. The U.S. claims that Mexican fishermen allow dolphins to be netted and killed when they fish for tuna. Therefore, U.S. officials say that Mexican tuna fish can't be labeled "dolphin safe." Mexican leaders deny that the country's fishing industry isn't in compliance with rules imposed by the World Trade Organization and they demand their tuna get the "dolphin-safe" labeling. If it doesn't get that label, several major U.S. supermarkets, like Walmart, won't sell it, even though it can still legally cross the border.In April, the WTO said Mexico had the right to impose tariffs on up to $163 million of U.S. exports, arguing that the U.S. labeling requirements for "dolphin safe" unfairly discriminated against Mexican tuna.The WTO said $163 million was an amount equal to what Mexico had lost as a result of not having the U.S. label.But in a separate proceeding this week, the WTO said that the U.S. labeling is now in compliance with its standards after a unit of the U.S. Commerce Department tweaked its tuna-labeling laws last year.In other words, the ruling from Thursday means the U.S. labeling doesn't discriminate against Mexican tuna.This week's ruling all but dismisses the retaliation decision in April, though it hasn't been officially thrown out. Mexico actually never decided to impose tariffs on U.S. exports.


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