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Federal News

US seizes pork from China amid swine flu fears

The Hill | Posted on March 19, 2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have seized about 1 million pounds of pork imported from China amid concerns it could contain the African swine flu disease. Authorities seized the supplies over the last week in New York after the disease was found to have infected some Chinese pork products.

Trump’s proposed SNAP cuts could damage the economy. Here’s how.

The Washington Post | Posted on March 18, 2019

One thing you can say about any member of the Trump administration: They are consistent in their hatred of almost anyone who needs a financial helping hand. And they will pursue that hatred to the point of damaging the American economy. The Trump administration’s new budget, released Monday, includes staggering proposed cuts to social welfare programs and needs such as Medicare, Medicaid, housing and education. These cuts are not just mean, though they are indeed very, very mean. They are also a form of economic sabotage.Let’s use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, to explain. The $17.4 billion the Trump administration proposes taking from the program in fiscal 2020, and the $220 billion it would cut over the next decade (a cut, by the way, of one-third), will leave many Americans scrambling for a way to feed themselves adequately. And it will, according to an analysis the Center for American Progress provided to The Post, also cost the economy jobs — lots of them. They estimate 200,000 positions in 2020 and as many as 2.8 million job-years over the next decade.

U.S. and EU Work out Deal on Beef

WNEX | Posted on March 18, 2019

The United States and European Union have reached an agreement in principle to allow U.S. farmers a share of the E.U.’s annual 45,000-ton quota for hormone-free beef imports. South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association President Steve Ollerich says that’s a good first step in possibly establishing more market share for U.S. beef in that market. He says a final trade agreement with the E.U. won’t come overnight.However, Ollerich says once the European consumers get a taste of U.S. beef, they’ll want even more of it.Negotiations to include the U.S. in the EU beef market started in September of last year as the Trump administration starting to work out a bi-lateral trade deal with the EU.

FDA Publishes Final Rule Extending Compliance Dates for Agricultural Water Provisions

FDA | Posted on March 18, 2019

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a rule to finalize the new compliance dates for the agricultural water requirements in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

Larger farms are now required to comply with the agricultural water requirements by January 26, 2022, while small farms have until January 26, 2023 and very small farms until January 26, 2024. This rule does not change the compliance dates for sprout operations.These compliance dates have been extended while the FDA considers how best to protect public health while addressing widespread concerns about the complexity of the agricultural water requirements and the practicality of implementing them across a wide variety of farms, water sources and uses. The FDA intends to use this time to work with stakeholders to address these concerns.

USDA Celebrates National Ag Day with New Youth Website

USDA | Posted on March 14, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture joins the nation in celebrating National Ag Day, which highlights agriculture’s crucial role in everyday life, and honors the farmers, foresters, scientists, producers and many others who contribute to America’s bountiful harvest. As part of this effort, USDA is launching a new Youth and Agriculture website to connect young people and youth-serving organizations with Department-wide resources that engage, empower, and educate the next generation of agricultural leaders.

The fog of trade wars

Progressive Farmer | Posted on March 14, 2019

Amid this trade-war fog, one thing seems clear: The Chinese are happy to talk about importing more American agricultural products -- maybe a lot more. That is not the case in another of America's unfolding trade wars. In the talks between the U.S. and the European Union, the EU is refusing to even discuss agriculture. Why? Because the EU knows what the U.S. would demand: relaxation of the EU's non-tariff barriers to American products, starting with genetically engineered crops. Previous EU-U.S. talks deadlocked over the Europeans' refusal to budge on these demands, which are highly unpopular with the European electorate. In 2015 150,000 Europeans took to the streets of Berlin assailing a proposed EU-U.S. trade deal as a "Trojan Horse" for sneaking unwanted GMOs into Europe. Faced with that threat, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker flew to Washington last July to meet with Trump. The presidents agreed to further negotiations, during which the car tariffs would not be imposed. From the moment they announced their agreement, though, they differed on what the negotiations would cover.

Perdue's list of possible relocation sites include private companies and private citizen

USDA | Posted on March 14, 2019

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the initial down-select list of 136 Expressions of Interest received from parties in 35 statesvying to become the new homes of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).  USDA is following a rigorous site selection process to identify the new locations with involvement from USDA, ERS, and NIFA leadership. 

Agriculture Department Staff Given Marching Orders for Controversial Move

Government Executive | Posted on March 12, 2019

Hundreds of employees of two key Agriculture Department research offices on Tuesday learned that they’re on the list to be transferred outside of Washington as part of Secretary Sonny Perdue’s disputed plan to move operations closer to farm industry stakeholders. At the Economic Research Service a list was circulated showing the job titles and descriptions (but not the names) of 76 positions that will remain in the national capital region, leaving the rest of that office’s 350 employees to assume their job will move to the still-unspecified new location.The “stay/go” list, obtained by Government Executive, was supplemented during a staff meeting with names, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity. This employee called the steps—for which there is still no timetable-- “a disaster” that will “split up operational groups that work together. It will engender departures,” the employee added, noting that supervisors are being separated from their underlings.

Census Bureau quietly seeking immigrants' legal status: report

The Hill | Posted on March 12, 2019

The Census Bureau is quietly seeking information on millions of immigrants’ legal status, The Associated Press reported. According to the news service, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would give the Census Bureau extensive personal data about immigrants under a pending agreement.The DHS data would include names, addresses, birth dates and places, Social Security numbers and sensitive alien registration numbers, the AP added, citing a document it obtained.The news service said the DHS data would be more precise than the information collected by the bureau in its household canvassing every 10 years.

For 3rd straight year, Trump proposes massive USDA cuts

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 12, 2019

The Trump administration’s latest budget recommendation for USDA looks a lot like proposals that failed to pass a Republican-controlled Congress for two years running. With Democrats now at the helm in the House, it’s doubtful the third time will be the charm for the president’s goal of creating big funding cuts for USDA.“People who are working day-to-day on the farm or in rural communities, they don’t have time to pay attention to all of this, those are the people getting the short end of the stick in this budget,” said Wes King, senior policy specialist for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “It does seem sometimes like they [the Trump administration] have made a calculation to keep the Freedom Caucus and Heritage Foundation happy.”