February 28, 2020

Food Safety; Climate Issues; and Biofuels

Food Safety

Carolyn Lochhead reported in Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle that, “The Senate is set to vote Monday night on the biggest changes to food safety laws in 70 years, handing vast new authority to the Food and Drug Administration to regulate farms and food processors.

Controversy continues to dog the legislation, which is aimed at reducing bacterial contamination in spinach, peppers, peanut butter and a raft of foods plagued in recent years by salmonella and e. coli outbreaks. It would impose rigorous new safety protocols and stronger FDA oversight, particularly over fresh produce.

“The Food Safety Modernization Act has fueled a ferocious two-year battle that has pitted the small-farm, locavore food movement against large growers and food safety interest groups.”


Climate Change Issues (Cancun); Trade; and Food Issues

Climate Change Issues (Cancun)

Reuters news reported yesterday that, “Nearly 200 nations were to meet in Mexico on Monday to try to agree on modest steps to slow climate change, a United Nations gathering overshadowed by global economic problems and strains between the top two emitters, the United States and China.

The 12-day meeting, in a heavily guarded resort, will seek to revive negotiations stalled after last year’s Copenhagen summit meeting fell short of a binding United Nations treaty to slow global warming.”

The article stated that, “The ultimate goal is to extend the present Kyoto Protocol, which controls the greenhouse gas emissions of all industrialized countries except the United States, which did not ratify the pact. The United States and major emerging economies now have to make emissions pledges if the protocol is to survive, the European Union said Sunday.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy (Food Prices); and Biofuels

Farm Bill

Matthew Weaver reported on Wednesday at the Capital Press Online that, “Work on a new farm bill likely won’t begin in earnest until 2012, a Washington insider says.

“Instead, Rebecca Blue, confidential assistant with the USDA’s Office of Congressional Relations, predicted support for trade and an emphasis on reining in spending will be at the top of the agenda when the new Congress convenes in January.

“Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., was keen to work on a new farm bill in 2011, Blue said. But Rep. Frank Lucas, D-Okla., the likely new chairman, said he will not begin work on the bill until 2012.”

The article pointed out that, “Seven members of the Senate [Agriculture] committee will be up for re-election in 2012.

“‘We need to consider what it’s like to work on a farm bill in an election year,’ Blue said. ‘The last farm bill was tough.’”


Farm Bill; Biofuels; Trade; Ag Economy; Animal Agriculture; and Climate

Farm Bill Issues

The “Washington Insider” section of DTN reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “It is now safe to conclude the next farm bill will have a hard time reaching the funding level of the 2008 version — for several reasons. One is because 37 programs totaling around $9.5 billion will lose their baseline funding level in 2011. Some of that funding could be found, like budget offsets for the disaster/SURE program, which makes up just over 40 percent of the no-baseline amount. And some of the offsets could be found from some other farm bill funding levels.

“But the major budget test for the new farm bill could come a year or two after it is actually completed. Reason: Congress will eventually take steps to deal with the budget deficit and farm program spending will be part of that process. Still, many observers signal farm program cuts will be more backloaded — gaining momentum as the likely five- or six-year farm bill unfolds.”


Farm Bill; Biofuels; Ag Economy; and Animal Agriculture

Farm Bill

The “Washington Insider” section of DTN reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “Most observers would give high odds that current ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., would keep that position in the new Congress next year. But congressional contacts confirm there is a possibility Chambliss could be tapped to be the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Chambliss worked closely with Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.C., during the 2008 Farm Bill debate to form what turned out to be an effective North-South coalition that helped each region get some of their key omnibus farm bill objectives.

“Should Chambliss get the Intelligence position, the next possible ranking slot would be offered to Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. But some contacts signal Roberts, for whatever reason, may not get the Agriculture ranking position. If so, next in line would be Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.”


Farm Bill; Food Safety; Ag Economy; Climate; Biofuels; USDA Issue; and Animal Ag

Farm Bill- Debbie Stabenow to Chair Senate Ag Committee

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) indicated in a news release on Friday that, “After consulting constituents across North Dakota and colleagues in the U.S. Senate, Senator Kent Conrad announced today that he will retain his leadership position as Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and stay as a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“‘After many conversations with constituents, ag leaders and Senate colleagues, it is clear that the people of North Dakota are best served with me remaining the Chairman of the Budget Committee,’ Senator Conrad said. ‘As Chairman of the Budget Committee and a senior member of the Agriculture Committee, the people of North Dakota will be best represented in negotiations on the next Farm Bill, legislation to reduce our dependence on foreign energy, and renewed efforts to put our nation’s fiscal house in order.’”

Sen. Conrad spoke to the Red River Farm Network about his decision on Friday; to listen to his remarks on the “Agriculture Today” program, just click here (MP3- one minute).


Farm Bill; Food Safety; Ag Economy; Climate; and Animal Ag

Farm Bill- Deficit Focus

Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Voorhees reported yesterday at Politico that, “Republicans on the warpath against federal spending will soon be put to the test on three popular but expensive pork-laden bills for farms, highways and water projects.

“The major infrastructure bills are all due for major updates in the 112th Congress, forcing difficult decisions on measures that lawmakers in the past found easy to trumpet back home but could be more difficult to sell given the deficit-busting rhetoric that Republicans just rode to victory.”


Food Safety; Nutrition; FAO Report; Biofuels; Climate; Trade; and Animal Ag

Food Safety

Lyndsey Layton reported in today’s Washington Post that, “The Senate moved forward Wednesday on long-awaited legislation that would overhaul the nation’s food safety system, grant new powers to the Food and Drug Administration and make farmers and processors responsible for preventing food-borne illness.

“The legislation follows a spate of national outbreaks of food poisoning linked to items as varied as eggs, peanuts and spinach, in which thousands of people were sickened and more than a dozen died.

“The Senate voted 74 to 25 to begin debate on the bill, suggesting the measure has strong bipartisan support and good prospects for passage. The House approved its version more than a year ago, and food safety advocates have been pushing the Senate to act so differences between the two measures can be reconciled and the legislation signed into law by President Obama by the end of the lame-duck session.”


Farm Bill; Biofuels; Food Safety; Climate Issues; and Ag Economy

Farm Bill- Lawmaker Perspectives

Yesterday on the AgriTalk Radio Program, host Mike Adams spoke with current House Agriculture Committee member Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), who was just elected to the U.S. Senate.

In part the conversation focused on the 2012 Farm Bill debate, which is now underway in a political environment where many newly elected GOP lawmakers campaigned this fall on the prospect of cutting the size of the federal budget. Mr. Adams inquired, “Is that going to mean significant cuts to agriculture spending?”

After outlining some of the spending allocations under the 2008 Farm Bill and pointing out that over 70 percent of Farm Bill spending goes to nutrition related programs, Rep. Moran indicated that a bigger threat to agriculture could come from expanding federal regulations relating to the environment and animal rights; he noted that the GOP stands a better chance of holding off additional regulatory threats to production agriculture. As an example, Rep. Moran indicated that a Republican House would not have passed a cap and trade bill. So, as he sees it, the Republican gains in the House and Senate are a positive development for U.S. agriculture.

To listen to this interesting exchange from yesterday’s AgriTalk program, just click here, (MP3-2:56)


McLeod, Watkinson & Miller Webinar

Categories: Farm Bill

McLeod, Watkinson & Miller Webinar

On November 10, 2010, the Washington, D.C. based law firm McLeod, Watkinson & Miller held a webinar titled, “Election Results and the Agriculture Committees.”

Among those participating in the webinar discussion were Bill O’Conner, a former Staff Director of the House Agriculture Committee and former Chief of Staff for Secretary of Agriculture Ed Madigan; Dr. Craig Jagger, the Chief Economist of the House Agriculture Committee; and Dan Morgan, an independent journalist and former Washington Post reporter.

An audio replay of the webinar is available below.

* An unofficial transcript of the webinar is available here.

Audio Replay
* An audio replay of the webinar is available here (MP3).


Hunger Report; Ag Economy; Biofuels; Climate; Farm Bill; and Trade

Hunger Report

P.J. Huffstutter reported yesterday at the Los Angeles Times Online that, “About 15% of U.S. households — 17.4 million families — lacked enough money to feed themselves at some point last year, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

Released Monday, the study also found that 6.8 million of these households — with as many as 1 million children — had ongoing financial problems that forced them to miss meals regularly.

“The number of these ‘food insecure’ homes, or households that had a tough time providing enough food for their members, stayed somewhat steady from 2008 to 2009. But that number was more than triple compared with 2006, before the recession brought double-digit unemployment.”


Farm Bill Issues; Ag’s Public Image; Farmland Values; Climate Issue; and Food Safety

Farm Bill- Election Implications

Last week, the Washington, D.C. based law firm McLeod, Watkinson & Miller held a webinar titled, “Election Results and the Agriculture Committees.”

Among those participating in the webinar discussion were Bill O’Conner, a former Staff Director of the House Agriculture Committee and former Chief of Staff for Secretary of Agriculture Ed Madigan; Dr. Craig Jagger, the Chief Economist of the House Agriculture Committee; and Dan Morgan, an independent journalist and former Washington Post reporter.

A complete unofficial transcript of the webinar is available here, while a few excerpts are highlighted below.


Trade; and Farm Bill- Debt Commission Issues

Categories: Doha / Trade /Farm Bill


Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Sewell Chan reported in today’s New York Times that, “President Obama and President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea failed to reach an agreement Thursday on a long-awaited free-trade agreement, saying they had decided instead to give their negotiators more time to work out differences, which revolved around Korean imports of American autos and beef.

“The two men said at a news conference that they expected a deal to be reached soon. By soon, Mr. Obama said, he did not mean months.

“‘We want this to be done in a matter of weeks,’ he said.”


Debt Commission; Farm Bill; Biofuels; Climate; Trade; GIPSA; and CFTC Issues

Debt Commission

John D. McKinnon, Corey Boles and Martin Vaughan reported today at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “The leaders of a White House commission laid out a sweeping proposal to cut the federal budget deficit by hundreds of billions a year by targeting sacrosanct areas of U.S. tax and spending policy, such as Social Security benefits, middle-class tax breaks and defense spending.”

The Journal article noted that, “Overall, the plan would hold down the growth of the federal debt by roughly $3.8 trillion by 2020, or about half of the $7.7 trillion by which the debt would have otherwise grown by that year, according to commission staff. The current national debt is about $13.7 trillion.”


WASDE (Food Security); Biofuels; Farm Bill; and Political Notes

WASDE (Food Security)

Yesterday, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its Crop Production report, which indicated that, “Corn production is forecast at 12.5 billion bushels, down 1 percent from the October forecast and down 4 percent from last year’s record production of 13.1 billion bushels [related graph]. As of November 1, yields are expected to average 154.3 bushels per acre, down 1.5 bushels from the previous month and 10.4 bushels below last year’s record of 164.7 bushels.

The NASS report added that, “Soybean production is forecast at a record high 3.38 billion bushels, down 1 percent from the October forecast but up slightly from last year [related graph]. Based on November 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 43.9 bushels per acre, down 0.5 bushel from last month and down 0.1 bushel from last year’s record high yield.


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Climate; Trade; Animal Agriculture; and Food Safety

Farm Bill

Alan Beattie reported yesterday at The Financial Times Online that, “The Republicans have portrayed themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility. But even Republicans on the heavily conservative wing of the party have only suggested broad outlines for cuts to balance the budget.”

Nonetheless, Tony Kindelspire reported on Sunday at the Longmont Times-Call Online (Colorado) that, “Tuesday’s election has farmers across the country nervous, according to Kent Peppler, a fourth-generation farmer near Mead who also is president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

It’s not because the Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives; it’s how they took control and what that might mean for the 2012 Farm Bill, which is being crafted now.

“‘The Republicans were elected primarily on the platform of cutting spending, so that’s not good news for the Farm Bill,’ said Peppler, who grows a variety of crops on about 500 acres. ‘Under the budget constraints that we’re seeing right now, we could see some severe attacks on the Farm Bill itself.’”


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