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First Amendment: Skim Milk Labeling Leads Maryland Dairy to Sue FDA

Dairy Herd Management | Posted on April 19, 2018

A Maryland dairy farm with its own milk bottling business is suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the labeling of skim milk and if it violates the First Amendment. A lawsuit was filed by the non-profit group the Institute for Justice with Randy and Karen Sowers, owners of South Mountain Creamery near Frederick, Maryland, on April 5 against the FDA. At issue is South Mountain Creamery’s labeling of skim milk. The dairy milks 550 cows and bottles milk on-farm selling to about 5,000 customers. South Mountain Creamery is attempting to sell pasteurized, all-natural skim milk in Pennsylvania. However, the FDA wants the milk to be labeled as “imitation skim milk” or “imitation milk product” because it does not contain added vitamins.

EU moves to ban sale of lower-quality branded food in eastern Europe

The Guardian | Posted on April 19, 2018

Brussels wants to make it illegal for food and drink multinationals to sell inferior versions of well-known brands to customers in eastern Europe, after studies suggested hundreds of products were involved in the practice. An EU directive banning so-called “dual food” was announced on Wednesday following longstanding complaints from member states in central and eastern Europe. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, HiPP baby food, Birds Eye, Lidl and Spar have denied accusations of selling lower quality goods in the east bearing identical branding to products sold in western Europe. Persil and Ariel have been accused of selling a less effective washing product formula in eastern Europe, a claim they also refute. The European commission will next month provide member states with a methodology for testing multinational brands, so that the real culprits can be identified. 

AG Jeff Sessions halts free legal assistance program for detained immigrants

Dallas News | Posted on April 19, 2018

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has suspended a free legal assistance program for detained immigrants who need  basic advice as their cases wind their way through court. "Every day this program is not in operation puts family unity at risk, harms our communities, and infringes on the right of all people to make informed decisions about their legal claims," the Vera Institute said in a statement Wednesday. It said the program was cost-efficient and helped curb the record backlog of nearly 700,000 cases in the nation's immigration courts.   They also called the program a "lifeline for many immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and green-card holders —some who are fighting for their lives — who would otherwise not know the rights they have or the odds they face." 

US manufacturers seek relief from steel and aluminum tariffs

ABC News | Posted on April 19, 2018

Rising costs. Delayed shipments. A baffling bureaucracy. President Donald Trump's tariffs on imported aluminum and steel are disrupting business for American companies that buy those metals, and many are pressing for relief.Hundreds of companies are asking the Commerce Department to exempt them from the 25 percent steel tariff and the 10 percent aluminum tariff.Other companies are weighing their options. Jody Fledderman, CEO of Batesville Tool & Die in Indiana, says American steelmakers have already raised their prices since Trump's tariffs were announced last month. Fledderman says he may have to shift production to a plant in Mexico, where he can buy cheaper steel. A group of small- and medium-size manufacturers gathered in Washington to announce a new group — the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users — to fight the steel tariff.

SCOTUS nixes part of law requiring deportation of immigrants convicted of some crimes

CNN | Posted on April 19, 2018

The Supreme Court on Tuesday invalidated a provision of federal law that requires the mandatory deportation of immigrants who have been convicted of some "crimes of violence," holding that the law is unconstitutionally vague.The case, Sessions v. Dimaya, had originated during the Obama administration but had been closely watched to see if the justices would reveal how they will consider the Trump administration's overall push to both limit immigration and increase deportations. As expected after the oral argument, Justice Neil Gorsuch joined with the more liberal justices for the first time since joining the court to produce a 5-4 majority invalidating the federal statute. In doing so, Gorsuch was continuing the jurisprudence of Justice Antonin Scalia, who also sided with liberals when it came to the vagueness of statutes used to convict criminal defendants.

Farm Bill Ties Food Stamps to Work, Adjusts Farm Aid

Roll Call | Posted on April 19, 2018

The House Agriculture Committee released its 2018 farm bill Thursday with proposals to reshape the nation’s largest domestic food aid program, consolidate conservation efforts and tweak farm aid. The bill arrives amid controversy over its focus on shifting funding within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, into work and training programs. It does not have the support of Democrats, who worry that some states could use the tougher work requirements in the bill to push thousands out of the program by making it difficult to meet the terms. “It makes no sense to put the farmers and rural communities who rely on the farm bill’s safety net programs at risk in pursuit of partisan ideology on SNAP,” the Minnesota Democrat said in a statement Thursday. “Between record low farm incomes, and the escalating threat of a trade war and other market disruptions, farmers have enough to worry about. Breaking up the long-standing, bipartisan, urban-rural farm bill alliance is a dangerous and unproductive step that will only sow division and jeopardize both this and future farm bills.”

Trump tweet appears to back away from rejoining TPP

Capital Press | Posted on April 19, 2018

President Donald Trump this week appeared to extinguish the glimmer of hope he offered U.S. farmers last week over rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty. After meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida, Trump suggested there was one area where they would have to agree to disagree: the TPP, which Trump pulled the U.S. out of days after his inauguration, but has recently said he might be open to rejoining.“While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the United States,” Trump tweeted following a dinner with Abe and their wives. “Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers.”

Schumer asks Trump to make NY dairy part of NAFTA talks with Canada | Posted on April 18, 2018

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer asked President Donald Trump's administration on Monday to make dairy trade with Canada a priority in any effort to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Schumer, D-N.Y., visited Cayuga Milk Ingredients in Aurelius, Cayuga County, to draw attention to how Canadian trade practices have affected the $101 million milk processing plant that opened in 2014.

Canadian Milk Protein Imports Declining

USDA | Posted on April 18, 2018

Canadian imports of milk protein substances (MPS) declined in 2017, after reaching a peak in 2016. Canada’s cheese production, which has used increasing volumes of MPS, and cheese consumption have grown twenty percent over the past five years, reaching approximately 475,000 metric tons in 2017. In February 2017, Canada introduced class 7, a milk price class that provides Canadian manufacturers access to milk for ingredient processing.

Farm bill changes expand legal entities and family eligibility for commodity programs

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on April 17, 2018

While most of the focus on the House farm bill is on changes to nutrition programs, a new kerfuffle has cropped up over changes to farm programs that would benefit LLCs, S corporations and farmers who want to enroll cousins, nieces and nephews for commodity payments. The changes, if they become law, would expand the eligibility of pass-through entities for farm-program payments to include limited-liability corporations and S-corps, as a way to avoid adjusted gross income caps for commodity payments. Currently, joint ventures and general partnerships are not subject to payment limits or income means testing. New language would expand those provisions for LLCs and S-corps.In a response to DTN, House Agriculture Committee GOP staff stated there have been several examples of farmers forming LLCs based on advice of attorneys who did not understand the impact of limiting the entire farm to a single $125,000 payment limit. In at least some instances, that failed decision on which entity to form has led to bankruptcies, committee staff wrote in an email. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition came out aggressively Monday against the new language in the farm bill, stating the changes would "pave the way for further farm consolidation."Ferd Hoefner, a policy analyst for NSAC, said some of the language in the House bill would go "back to the days of the full-on Mississippi Christmas Tree."Hoefner said in an interview, "It's just a complete evisceration of means testing and payment limits."