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Russia extends ban on Western food | Posted on July 11, 2016

Russia has extended its ban on imports of Western food to the end of 2017.

U.K. Farmland's Bull Run Is Over After Brexit Puts Subsidies in Doubt

AgWeb | Posted on July 7, 2016

U.K. farmland, which for years has rivaled gold as a place for investors to park money in, is starting to lose its allure because of Brexit.  Farmland prices, which began falling in late 2015, should drop or at best stagnate in the next six to 12 months on concern about the industry’s future as the U.K. prepares to exit the European Union, said Simon Gooderham, who focuses on rural property at estate agent Cheffins. Many won’t risk buying land due to uncertainty over trade and EU subsidies farmers depend on, he said.

House vote sends food aid bill to Obama

Agri-Pulse | Posted on July 7, 2016

Legislation that will write into law President Obama's Feed the Future initiative and a new food aid program is headed to the White House for his signature. The House voted 369-53 Wednesday to give final congressional approval to the Global Food Security Act, which would ensure that both Feed the Future and the Emergency Food Security Program extend beyond the Obama administration.

Group drops $2,000 on Senate floor to protest GMO bill

The Hill | Posted on July 7, 2016

Members of the Organic Consumers Association threw money from the Senate gallery onto the floor to protest a vote on a bill to block states from issuing mandatory labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  The protesters yelled "Monsanto Money" and "Sen. Stabenow, listen to the people, not Monsanto" while $2,000 fell to the floor. 

No TPP trade deal? Some Japanese farmers say all the better for them

Los Angeles Times | Posted on July 7, 2016

Rice farmerTerada isn’t following the U.S. presidential election too closely. But there’s one issue that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton seem to agree on — that the U.S. should not ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact — and that’s music to his ears.  “We Japanese farmers can’t compete with the Americans. It costs us almost three times as much to produce rice,” he said on Thursday, watching one of his eight workers sowing seedlings in a wet paddy here in Shizuoka prefecture, a two-hour train ride southwest of Tokyo. “TPP will drive down prices and allow in more imports, and that will be a big problem.”

The Obama administration has said the trade pact — which would bind together the American and Japanese economies with Australia, Mexico and eight other countries — would eliminate more than 18,000 tariffs on made-in-America products and “make sure our farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and small businesses can compete — and win — in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world.”  

Maryland dairy farmer fought the Justice Department — and (finally) won

The Washington Post | Posted on July 7, 2016

Four years after federal agents showed up at his Frederick, Md., farmhouse and told him that they had seized the money in his bank account, dairy farmer Randy Sowers has gotten it all back.  The victory followed political pressure from Congress and legal pressure from the libertarian Institute for Justice on the government to roll back prosecution of the crime of structuring bank deposits to avoid Internal Revenue Service reporting requirements.

Chlorpyrifos decision needs to wait, EPA tells court

Agri-Pulse | Posted on July 7, 2016

EPA says it needs more time to decide whether to cancel the registration of chlorpyrifos and revoke all of the pesticide's food tolerances, as requested in a petition.  In a report filed with 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday, the agency asked the court to give it untilJune 30, 2017, to respond to the petition from Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA). Last December, the 9th Circuit ordered EPA to make a decision on the petition by Dec. 30. Chlorpyrifos is a broad-spectrum insecticide that has been used for more than 40 years to control pests in a wide variety of crops in the U.S., including alfalfa, soybeans, oranges and peanuts. It is “one of the most widely used active ingredients in insecticides in the world,” according to a paper prepared earlier this year for registrant Dow AgroSciences.

Froman: Rejecting TPP would weaken the US

Agri-Pulse | Posted on July 7, 2016

A rejection of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal would go far beyond just causing U.S. exporters to miss out on lower tariffs, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said today. It would also weaken America and hurt the status of the U.S. as an international leader, he said in an address to the CATO Institute in Washington.  “Rejecting TPP would undermine U.S. leadership, not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but around the world,” Froman said in a speech that warned about the consequences of becoming a more protectionist country. “Our allies couldn't help but question whether we had the will to make good on our commitments.”

To make his point, Froman passed along a comment to him from the prime minister of Singapore: “If you're not prepared to deal when it comes to cars, services and agriculture, can we depend on you when it comes to security and military arrangements?”

USDA finalizes crop insurance rules

Agri-Pulse | Posted on July 7, 2016

USDA's Risk Management Agency has announced the completion of the final round of crop insurance provisions stemming from the 2014 farm bill. RMA's Federal Crop Insurance Corporation will leave its 2014 proposal largely untouched save for some native sod provisions.  The final rule will clarify an exception allowing producers to break up to five acres of native sod without receiving reduced premium subsidies on coverage of native sod acreage. RMA began implementation of the provisions for the 2015 crop year, but the final rule “enables RMA to continue to offer and expand on the farm bill provisions for the federal crop insurance program.” USDA says the final rule also completes provisions such as enterprise units for irrigated and non-irrigated crops, adjustment in actual production history to establish insurable yields, farmer and rancher provisions, coverage levels by practice, and the authority to correct errors.

New standards for farm equipment visibility

Farm and Dairy | Posted on July 7, 2016

The U.S. Department of Transportation published a final rule standardizing lighting and agricultural equipment on highways, that incorporates two American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers standards. Formation of the rule was mandated in the 2012 highway bill.  Prior to the ruling, NHTSA has not regulated the manufacture of most agricultural equipment because it did not have specific authority to do so. Because of this, most states adapted their own regulations for agricultural equipment, which created a varied landscape of regulations.

Scott Cedarquist, director of standards and technical activities at American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, said the ruling was designed to level the standards across the board. “For a lot of larger manufacturers, it won’t matter. Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan already require S279,” he said, referring to the society’s standard Lighting and Marking of Agricultural Equipment on Highways.  The focus of this ruling will mostly be geared toward new equipment, explained Cedarquist. “Old equipment is not required to update and manufactures have a year to comply with the standards (until June 22, 2017),” he said.