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Dairies reducing nitrogen, EPA says

Capital Press | Posted on July 4, 2016

Three Lower Yakima Valley dairies have made progress in controlling sources of nitrogen to a drinking water aquifer in the three years since reaching a legal agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA says.  The dairies have made “important progress” and “will continue this work as required by the consent order,” said Lucy Edmondson, director of EPA’s Washington state office.  The Cow Palace, owned by the Dolsen family, George DeRuyter & Son Dairy, and Henry Bosma Dairy and Liberty Dairy, both owned by the Bosma family, have improved field manure application and irrigation practices, the EPA said in a public update.

FDA Fifth Biannual Progress Report on Judicious Use of Antimicrobials in Food-producing Animals

FDA | Posted on July 4, 2016

The FDA issued a letter on June 20, 2016 reminding retail establishments that sell medically important antimicrobials for use in feed or water for food animals that the marketing status of those products will change from over-the-counter (OTC) to prescription (Rx) or to veterinary feed directive (VFD) at the end of calendar year 2016. Once the changes are in place, distributors of those medically important antimicrobials will need to comply with appropriate requirements for Rx and VFD drugs when dispensing these products. The letter also provides retail establishments with recommendations for addressing current and future inventory of medically important antimicrobials for use in feed or water for food animals.

The FDA recognizes the need for continued education and outreach during the implementation of GFI #213 and has made presentations to dozens of stakeholders groups and responded to hundreds of individual questions over the past six months. The agency intends to continue these efforts in the future as resources permit.

Pork producers oppose revised animal welfare standards for organic | Posted on July 4, 2016

USDA has proposed new animal welfare standards for the National Organic Program that, if enacted, would be the first time such standards are codified in federal law. The National Pork Producers Council said this would present serious challenges to livestock producers. “There are a number of problems with the proposed new standards, including: animal production practices have nothing to do with the basic concept of ‘organic’; the standards add complexity to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers; and they could jeopardize animal and public health,” wrote Jeremy Davis, director of grassroots and LEADR for NPPC on the organization’s website.

FDA Critical of GMO Labeling Bill

DTN | Posted on June 30, 2016

The Food and Drug Administration has sent the Senate Agriculture Committee technical comments on the genetically modified food labeling bill that Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., have developed in an attempt to preempt state labeling laws. The technical comments surfaced as both sides in the labeling debate are making arguments to the Senate on whether the bill should be passed. The FDA noted that the bill would give USDA labeling authority in an area that is usually reserved for the FDA and that FDA has long held that foods developed with genetic engineering are safe and do not require labeling.

But the FDA also said that: -- Provisions to allow information regarding the GE (genetically engineered) content of food to be presented only in an electronically accessible form and not on the package label would be in tension with FDA's statute and regulations, which require disclosures on food labels. -- The definition of "bioengineering" would result in a somewhat narrow scope of coverage because it leaves out food without genetic material, which means that oil made from genetically engineered soybeans would not be covered. -- It appears that the intent is to have the bill apply to all foods except those that are essentially meat, poultry, or eggs, and that the drafters may have assumed, incorrectly, that products covered by the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Egg Products Inspection Act are not covered by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. -- Language regarding exceptions and inclusions is unclear.

Panama Canal Expands For New Trade Opportunities

Growing Produce | Posted on June 30, 2016

he country of Panama celebrated as the first ship passed through the newly expanded Panama Canal. The container vessel COSCO Shipping Panama traveled through the new locks at Agua Clara as thousands cheered amid fireworks and bands playing.  The ship, measuring 158 feet wide and 984 feet long, is among the modern mega-container vessels now able to use the canal after the expansion, which began in 2007 with a price tag of $5.25 billion. The project doubled the waterway’s capacity.  Ports along the U.S. East Coast are deepening their channels and installing new cranes to accommodate the larger ships.

Yellen: Recession Unlikely, but Long-Run Growth Could Be Slow

Wall Street Journal | Posted on June 30, 2016

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the chances of recession this year are “quite low” despite mounting worries that the U.S. could be heading toward a downturn after seven years of tepid economic expansion. “The U.S. economy is doing well,” she said Tuesday, kicking off two days of testimony to Congress on the economic outlook and monetary policy. “My expectation is that the U.S. economy will continue to grow.” Still, a clearly tentative Fed leader has a long list of factors she worries will hold growth to a modest pace in the months ahead. Output growth, hiring, business investment and corporate profits have stumbled or slowed in recent months, leaving the Fed unsure when it will raise short-term interest rates again.

US poultry faces ‘Trump factor,’ anti-trade sentiment

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 30, 2016

Anti-trade sentiment among U.S. voters – fanned by rhetoric in the 2016 presidential campaign – could work to disrupt U.S. efforts to restore trade with China in chicken leg quarters and paws, according to Jim Sumner, president, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.  Pew polling earlier in 2016 showed most Democrats supporting trade (60 percent), but anti-trade sentiments surging among Republicans (with 40 percent calling free trade a good thing vs. 52 percent seeing it as a bad thing). Supporters of presidential candidate Donald Trump are especially anti-trade (67 percent viewed it as negative vs. 27 percent positive). “It’s not just the Trump factor,” Sumner said. “The current sentiment among U.S. consumers is basically anti-trade. I am not sure how this happened but consumer polling around the United States shows that they think that ‘trade’ is a dirty, five-letter word.”  He urged action by the poultry industry to educate consumers and elected officials about the importance of trade to the poultry industry and general economy.


EPA: Maryland on track to meet 2017 Bay pollution goals

The Star | Posted on June 30, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently released its evaluations of Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions’ restoration efforts, and Maryland is on track to meet all its 2017 target goals. The EPA evaluated restoration efforts of the six Bay states — Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia — and the District of Columbia from 2014 to 2015 to determine whether the jurisdictions will meet their midpoint 2017 goals. The Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load goals aim to reduce pollution to the Bay, with a deadline to implement what was deemed necessary to restore the Bay by 2025. Sixty percent of the pollution reduction measures need to be in place by 2017. The TMDL aims to reduce phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment pollution across different sectors, including agriculture, wastewater, urban runoff, septic and forrest coverage. EPA’s evaluation indicates it is unlikely jurisdictions, collectively, will meet the 60 percent threshold for reducing nitrogen by 2017, but they are collectively on track to meet local reductions for phosphorus and sediment.

Farmer to challenge Clean Water Act tillage ruling

Capital Press | Posted on June 30, 2016

A California farmer plans to challenge a recent court ruling that he violated the Clean Water Act by tilling through wetlands in his field. A federal judge has ruled John Duarte of Tehama County, Calif., should have obtained a Clean Water Act permit to run shanks through the wetlands at a depth of four to six inches, creating furrows prior to planting wheat in a 450-acre pasture. The ruling is significant for other farmers because it undermines the “plowing exemption” to Clean Water Act regulations, said Tony Francois, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a property-rights group that represents Duarte. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers claims the tillage operation on Duarte’s property doesn’t qualify as plowing because it “relocated earthen material into ridges,” unlawfully raising the elevation of the soil in the wetlands with “fill material.” Under this interpretation, the plowing exemption to the Clean Water Act would essentially be rendered meaningless

Rep. Pingree -How to Revive Local Agriculture

The Atlantic | Posted on June 29, 2016

“I think this administration has really missed their chance to do some innovative things, but also to help the rural economy,” Representative Chellie Pingree said on Monday. The Maine Democrat is upset that even as demand for local, sustainable, and organic agriculture has boomed, the Obama administration has done little to support the efforts of small farmers to supply it. In her view, it’s a wasted opportunity. Pingree’s approach reflects a broader shift in how federal policymakers address agricultural policy. As consumers become more conscious of the origins of the foods they eat, the demand for locally grown, sustainable, and organic products is growing far faster than the available supply. Two of her fellow panelists—Walter Robb, the co-CEO of Whole Foods, and Jeff Dunn, the president of Campbell Fresh—emphasized that support for expanding supply isn’t just good policy; it’s good business. “A lot of this is no longer being driven by environmental concerns or health concerns or ideology” on the part of the farmers, Pingree said, but by their awareness of the economic opportunities that meeting market demand represents. But two sets of hurdles lie in their way. One is regulatory. State and federal rules are often tuned for industrial-scale operations, and can be difficult for smaller producers to navigate. The other is a lack of support. “Part of the challenge in the growth of small farms and medium-size farms is that we’ve lost a lot of our infrastructure over the last 50 years,” Pingree said. She pointed, for example, to the consolidation of slaughterhouses, which may now be distant from smaller producers. And a variety of federal efforts that once supported local farmers have withered away.