Daily Harvest -- 2/25/2016
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse Daybreak for Feb. 25, 2016
- (Audio) Markup of biotech bill postponed; voluntary COOL bill in the works; and Vilsack defends biotech record while Concannon defends USDA’s newly proposed SNAP rule.
Agri-Pulse: Senate Ag markup of biotech labeling bill postponed amid lack of Democratic support
- The markup scheduled for Thursday for Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts' voluntary biotech labeling bill has been postponed until sometime next week.
Agri-Pulse: Vilsack reiterates cottonseed stand but pledges to work on ginning cost-share program
- (Subscriber only) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledged that cotton growers need help, but reaffirmed his position that the department is currently prohibited from designating cottonseed as an oilseed, which would allow growers to receive farm program payments.
NPR: More Rural Hospitals Are Closing Their Maternity Units
- Though comprehensive figures are spotty, a recent analysis of 306 rural hospitals in nine states with large rural populations found that 7.2 percent closed their obstetrics units between 2010 and 2014.
LA Times: Irvine council decides to go organic on pesticides, herbicides
- Taking unusually swift action for a government process, the Irvine, California, City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved using organic pesticides and herbicides on all city-maintained landscaping, including at parks, athletic fields and public buildings.
Agri-Pulse: EPA 'committed' to releasing RFS on time
- After failing in recent years to meet mandated timelines for the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Environmental Protection Agency is vowing to get the program back on schedule.
MarketWatch: Class-action suit filed against VW in U.S. court
- In what is expected to be a high profile civil proceeding, attorneys have filed a consolidated class-action suit in a U.S. District Court in California against Volkswagen AG, alleging that the German car maker engaged in widespread fraud, citing federal laws used to curb racketeering.
New York Times: Falling Oil Prices Force Cutbacks at Smallest Companies
- The plunging price of crude has inflicted pain in the Oklahoma oil patch, and now it is threatening to take out the smallest of the small operators, those that have survived decades of booms and busts.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Agri-Pulse: GOP targeting SNAP, summer food benefits
- USDA officials fielded tough questions from a philosophically split House Ag Appropriations panel Wednesday on the president's new summer feeding program, which is projected to cost billions of dollars, and drug testing for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
Agri-Pulse: Califf wins Senate approval as new chief at FDA
- Dr. Robert Califf, a prominent cardiologist who spent more than three decades as a medical researcher at Duke University, was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate Wednesday as the new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
Agri-Pulse: Healthy recipe contest could win kids a trip to White House
- Kids from all 50 states are being challenged to come up with a healthy, affordable lunch recipe tasty enough to be served at the White House.
New York Times: Calorie Counts on the Kids’ Menu
- (Opinion) If we use calorie counts on menus as a reminder to think more about what we are eating and what we’re feeding our children, they can have a positive impact on those meals.
New York Times: A Bad Effort in Congress to Thwart States on Food Labels
- (Opinion) The Senate could soon join the House to try to make it harder for consumers to know what is in their food by prohibiting state governments from requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods. This is a bad idea that lawmakers and the Obama administration should oppose.
Yahoo News: Judge: NYC can fine chains that don't post salt warnings
- A state judge Wednesday upheld New York City’s move to put high-sodium labels on restaurant menus, saying the city’s Board of Health didn’t overstep its authority in requiring the warnings.
Associated Press: Snacks nation: Food makers turning everything into snacks
- As around-the-clock grazing upends the way people eat, companies are reimagining foods that aren't normally seen as snacks to elbow in on the trend.
ABC News: Polygamous Sect Expected to Survive Food Stamp Fraud Charges
- And imprisoned leader Warren Jeffs will likely spin the arrests by telling his flock that the Tuesday raids are more evidence that the government is an evil entity out to attack their way of life, former sect members say.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Washington Post: Obama bans US imports of slave-produced goods
- President Barack Obama signed a bill Wednesday that includes a provision banning U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh.
Associated Press: The Latest: WFP food airdrop faced difficulties
- The World Food Program says its first high-altitude airdrop over the Syrian city of Deir el-Zour, which is under siege from the radical Islamic State group, may have been off-target.
Reuters: Indian Farmers Deep in Debt, Seek Subsidies, Help With Insurance
- Indian government action to increase spending on irrigation and crop insurance is not enough to end a cycle of indebtedness that has led to thousands of farmer suicides, and a complete overhaul of credit and subsidies to farmers is needed, activists said.
Wall Street Journal: Vietnam Tries New Tack in Climate-Change Battle: Teach a Man to Fish
- Off the coast of Vietnam, the country’s economic planners have set out on what could be their biggest-ever engineering project: A network of walls designed to hold back rising sea levels that are swamping fertile rice-growing regions.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Des Moines Register: Why aren't Iowans leading on water quality?
- (Opinion) This isn’t just about farmers. Our governor, our DNR, our legislators, our secretary of agriculture largely ignore the Clean Water Act.
Sacramento Bee: California increases water allocation to farms, cities
- The Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday that the State Water Project will increase its allocation to an estimated 30 percent of what’s been requested by the project’s customers. A month ago, the allocation was pegged at 15 percent.
UC Food Observer: Q&A: Ferd Hoefner, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
- Hoefer talks upcoming policy related to sustainable agriculture, the most pressing issues in rural areas, and sustainable food production.
Reuters: Every Year Could Bring a Heat Wave if Climate Change Continues
- Without reductions in planet-warming emissions, blistering heat waves of the strength that now typically occur once every 20 years could happen annually on 60 percent of the Earth's land areas by 2075, scientists have warned.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
SF Gate: Blueberry farm settles lawsuit over jobs, housing
- A small group of migrant workers in western Michigan has agreed to a $58,000 settlement in a lawsuit that accused a blueberry farm of breaking promises about jobs and housing.
CTV News: Farmers want feds to allow more seasonal foreign workers
- The Canadian Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program already allows about 20,000 temporary foreign workers to be hired for up to eight months each year in specific industries such as the tobacco, livestock, fruit and vegetable sectors.
Agri-Pulse: Students travel to Washington for FFA week
- (Audio) This week, more than 600,000 members and supporters across the country are celebrating National FFA Week, and that includes a group of students walking the halls of Capitol Hill.
Reuters: U.S. Aviation Regulator Starts Rule-Making Process for Public Drone Flights
- The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday said it would develop drone regulations allowing some unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to fly over people, an authorization eagerly sought by the agriculture industry.
Financial Times: Outgoing Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers set to join Unilever as chairman
- Marijn Dekkers has been nominated to succeed Michael Treschow as chairman of Unilever after stepping down as chief executive of Bayer at the end of April.
Wall Street Journal: Supermarket Operator Wakefern Promotes Veteran IT Manager to CIO
- ShopRite (parent Wakefern Food Corp.) has tapped veteran IT manager Cheryl Williams as chief information officer, the supermarket operator and wholesaler confirmed Wednesday.
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