Daily Harvest -- 2/16/2016
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: Washington Week in Review
- (Video) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke publicly for the first time about meetings he hosted to try and make progress on the GMO labeling debate. On Capitol Hill, a key Senate lawmaker may be making a move on the issue. Agri-Pulse's Phil Brasher and Spencer Chase have more in this video.
Agri-Pulse: Data science key to close the productivity gap, empower the next global ag transformation today
- (Opinion) Now is the time to lead a moon shoot for agriculture - rooted in data science.
Agri-Pulse: Crop insurance continues expansion while improper payment rate falls
- The federal crop insurance program can celebrate several successes, but one of the biggest comes from reducing the improper payment rate by more than 50 percent, said Brandon Willis, administrator of USDA's Risk Management Agency.
Agri-Pulse Open Mic: Jim Walker, V.P., Case IH North America Agriculture Division
- (Audio) Walker, also chair of the Ag Sector Board for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, says a progressive downturn in net farm income has brought a significant decline in the equipment industry. He tells Agri-Pulse he expects further declines but says advances in technology will fuel future sales as farmers strive for both efficiency and sustainability.
AP: Farmers file suit to stop cattle checkoff fee vote
- The Missouri Rural Crisis Center and two farmers are suing the Missouri Department of Agriculture to halt a referendum on higher fees for cattle farmers.
AP: Nebraska Lifts Only Ban on Packer-owned Hogs in U.S.
- The nation's only ban on meatpackers owning hogs has ended due to a new Nebraska law that allows processers to control the animals from birth to slaughter.
AP: Council: Conservation Can Likely Meet Power Needs of Northwest States
- The electricity needs of Pacific Northwest states can be met in the next 20 years mostly through conservation efforts, with little need to construct new power plants, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council predicted.
Des Moines Register: Iowa doesn't need another ethanol plant
- (Opinion) What was the Iowa Economic Development Authority thinking in recently approving a $4.2 million tax subsidy for a new corn ethanol plant? Haven’t they heard about the glut of ethanol?
FOOD & NUTRITION
Agri-Pulse: House votes to ease menu labeling rules
- Pizza chains, supermarkets and other retailers would get some relief from new menu labeling requirements under a bipartisan bill that has easily passed the House.
EcoRI.org: R.I. Lawmakers Debate GMO-Labeling Bills
- A five-year legislative effort to require labeling of genetically modified foods continued last week with a hearing of four House bills in Providence.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Agri-Pulse: USTR's Vetter: TPP education needs to start now
- (Audio) Fewer legislative days on the congressional calendar and the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may make it more difficult getting the deal through Congress. Amb. Darci Vetter talked up the deal to the U.S. Grains Council via FaceTime.
Agri-Pulse: APHIS proposes deregulation for Syngenta, Monsanto corn varieties
- The agency has made a preliminary decision not to regulate Syngenta's line of corn genetically engineered for both insect resistance and glufosinate-ammonium resistance, or Monsanto corn genetically engineered for resistance to the herbicides dicamba and glufosinate.
Reuters: Syngenta deal could pave way for biotech acceptance from China users
- ChemChina's purchase of Syngenta could remove some of the suspicion around genetically modified crops and ultimately lead to more rapid user acceptance of biotechnology in food production in China, Syngenta CEO Davor Pisk told Reuters.
Reuters: Subsidy sham: Fertilizers reach Indonesia plantations, not small farmers
- Millions of dollars worth of subsidized fertilizers meant for small Indonesian farmers are being sold to big plantations, such as palm oil and rubber, at huge profits by state-backed retailers, a government report viewed by Reuters shows.
France24: Angry farmers blockade French town to protest against falling prices
- A group of farmers barricaded the main roads into the northwestern French city of Vannes on Monday to protest against plummeting prices for milk, pork and other agricultural products. The protests came as EU agriculture ministers met in Brussels.
Reuters: France fails to win immediate EU action on farming crisis
- France failed to secure further relief measures for its struggling livestock farmers at a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers on Monday, as it tries to contain protests sparked by persistent low prices.
AP: U.S. OK’s first factory in Cuba since revolution
- The Obama administration has approved the first U.S. factory in Cuba in more than half a century, allowing a two-man company from Alabama to build a plant assembling as many as 1,000 small tractors a year for sale to private farmers in Cuba.
Missoulian: Trans Pacific Partnership will kill Montana agriculture
- (Opinion) As a rancher, I am not only concerned by the TPP, I am outraged by what it would mean to this country. I can’t help but see through the empty logic that our own industry is using to support this deal.
The Guardian: Organic farmer loses last appeal against genetically modified canola decision
- An organic farmer who failed in a bid to sue his neighbor after genetically modified canola blew on to his West Australian property has been denied leave to appeal by the high court.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Agri-Pulse: Obama designates three monuments in California desert
- Three new national monument designations covering 1.8 million acres of California will connect Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park, San Bernardino National Forest, and 15 wilderness areas previously designated by Congress.
Agri-Pulse: USDA Inspector General may survey agency scientists about censorship
- The Agriculture Department's inspector general is opening a broad investigation into complaints that agency officials have silenced USDA researchers on issues such as pesticides.
Agri-Pulse: USDA awards $220 M, leverages another $500 M for conservation projects
- The department announced Friday it will award $220 million to 84 Regional Conservation Partnership Projects this year to help communities improve water quality, wildlife habitat and soil.
N.Y. Times: Wild Tomatoes Repel Whiteflies, Study Finds
- Whiteflies are the scourge of many farms, damaging tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other crops. Now, researchers in Britain report that a species of wild tomato is more resistant to the pest than its commercial counterparts.
Des Moines Register: Editorial: Clean up water by focusing on landlords
- (Opinion) Let’s be clear: All farmers must be responsible stewards of the land. But what if their landlords don't understand the value of planting cover crops or investing in bioreactors? If no one ever washed a rental car, as the economic maxim goes, how much should we realistically expect a tenant to do?
Des Moines Register: Iowa's water quality efforts get $47 million boost
- Iowa’s efforts to help farmers tackle water quality challenges got a boost from a $9.5 million federal grant that will be matched with $4.75 million in state funding and $33 million from the private companies and groups, officials say.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
Washington Post: Donald Trump attacks Ted Cruz by repeating false claims about illegal immigration
- Fact Checker finds solid ground to criticize Cruz’s statements about his amendments in 2013 and 2015, but Trump’s comments about the undocumented immigrants “pouring in” across the southern border and doing “tremendous damage” to crime rates are worthy of Four Pinocchios.
KQED: Farm Contractors Balk at Obamacare’s Requirements
- The Affordable Care Act is putting the agricultural industry in a tizzy. Many contractors who provide farm labor and must now offer workers health insurance are complaining loudly about the cost in their already low-margin business.
N.Y. Times: More Republicans Say They’ll Block Supreme Court Nominee
- The coming clash on Capitol Hill is a testament to the stakes: A president has a chance to establish a clear liberal majority on the Supreme Court, which could shift the direction of legal thought on a wide variety of issues like climate change, gay rights, affirmative action, abortion, immigration, gun control, campaign finance and labor unions.
NPR: Farmer John Boyd Jr. Wants African-Americans To Reconnect With Farming
- As an African-American, John Boyd Jr. might not be what Americans imagine when they think of a typical farmer. But Boyd has been farming his entire life, like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him. He grows wheat, corn, soybean and has cattle at his southwestern Virginia farm.
AP: Experts: Building case in 2014 Nevada standoff is complex
- When rancher Cliven Bundy faces a federal judge in Oregon on Tuesday, it won’t be because he is accused with his sons of having a hand in the armed occupation of a federal wildlife preserve that ended last week; instead, the 69-year-old patriarch will be answering charges stemming from a 2014 armed standoff that forced federal officials to release cattle being rounded up near his Nevada ranch.
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