Daily Harvest -- 3/19/2015
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: Ag, energy money in politics keeps rising, with most going to GOP
- (Subscriber only) Agriculture producers and organizations along with food manufacturers, retailers and their associations contributed over $21.2 million to political campaigns – mostly Republican – during the two-year midterm election cycle that ended Dec. 31. Energy-sector PACs contributed nearly $32 million. (A version of this story in Wednesday's Agri-Pulse newsletter mis-identified the second-biggest contributor to political campaigns among Ag-related PACs. It was the Farm Credit Council. The story also had the wrong title for Sen. Agriculture Committee member Thad Cochran.)
Agri-Pulse: 'Death tax' can kill a farm or ranch, House panel told
- Members of a House Ways and Means subcommittee vehemently disagreed in a hearing this morning on whether the estate tax - which opponents call the death tax - is unreasonably burdensome to farmers and ranchers and if that burden means the tax should be repealed.
Agri-Pulse: Stability for ag important in budget process
- (Audio) Stability in both the long- and short-term is important for agriculture as Congress gets further into the budget process. Senate Ag Committee economist Matt Erickson spoke to the National Association of Wheat Growers for National Agriculture Day this week
Bloomberg: U.S. State Officials Knock on Doors to Stop Spread of Bird Flu
- From Minnesota to Arkansas, state officials are knocking on doors and quarantining areas in a fight to stop the spread of the biggest U.S. bird-flu outbreak on record.
Washington Post: Hogan, lawmakers reach compromise on chicken manure rules for farms
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has agreed to a firmer deadline for fully implementing regulations that limit the amount of chicken manure farmers can use as fertilizer — ending tense negotiations among his administration, state lawmakers, Eastern Shore farmers and environmentalists worried about pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.
Associated Press: Monsanto to Pay $350K to Settle More Wheat-Related Lawsuits
- Monsanto said Wednesday it will pay about $350,000 to settle class action lawsuits brought by farmers in seven states over genetically modified wheat.
Bloomberg News: Fed opens door to slow rate rise
- The Federal Reserve opened the door to the first interest-rate increase in almost a decade, while also indicating it will go slowly.
Reuters: Brazil ships ethanol to United States, as weak real hits trading
- Royal Dutch Shell Plc has booked a large cargo of Brazilian ethanol to the United States, the strongest sign yet that currency swings, hefty oversupply and weak prices in the world's biggest producers are roiling trade flows, sources said.
Hutchinson News: Proposed ethanol tax meets with opposition
- A firestorm of opposition swept through the Capitol on Wednesday when a House committee entertained the idea of imposing a $45 million tax on ethanol production and electricity generated from renewable sources.
Texas Tribune: Georgetown Goes All In on Renewable Energy
- A Central Texas city is waving goodbye to fossil fuels. Georgetown’s municipal utility on Wednesday unveiled plans to abandon traditional electricity sources like coal and gas power plants, instead exclusively tapping wind and solar energy to meet all of its customers’ power needs.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Wall Street Journal: What Is Coke CEO’s Solution for Lost Fizz? More Soda
- Last February, Coke confirmed it had fallen short of its 3% to 4% annual volume growth target for the first time in nearly a decade. Mr. Kent called it a “speed bump’’ and promised investors that 2014 would be “the year of execution.”
New York Times: A Cheese ‘Product’ Gains Kids’ Nutrition Seal
- Kraft Singles, those individually wrapped slices of processed cheese that have long been a staple of school lunches, are the first product to earn a nutrition seal from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the trade group representing 75,000 registered dietitians and other nutrition professionals.
Associated Press: Study: Fast-Food Curb Did Not Cut Obesity Rate in South LA
- A much-hailed law that restricted the opening of new stand-alone fast-food restaurants in one of the poorest sections of Los Angeles did not curb obesity or improve diets, a new study found.
Wall Street Journal: Culinary School Aims to Be ‘MIT of the Food World’
- A good cheesecake recipe can survive generations. But on a recent afternoon, students at the Culinary Institute of America attempted to follow one with unusual endurance: It was written by Cato, the Roman statesman, more than 2,000 years ago.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Agri-Pulse: US challenges Indonesia import restrictions at the WTO
- U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the United States is challenging Indonesia's import restrictions on several classes of agricultural products before the World Trade Organization.
Agri-Pulse: Ag groups trumpet trade at House hearing
- Legislators and officials from farm groups and agricultural organizations used a House Agriculture Committee hearing to remind each other of a well-known fact - trade can be very good for Ag.
Agri-Pulse: Senate crop insurance critic plans attack next week on program
- A leading critic of crop insurance said he's likely to use next week's debate on the Senate budget resolution to test support for cuts in the program.
Agri-Pulse: Opinion: Growing the global competitiveness of the American agriculture and food sector
- Dan Glickman and Doug Bereuter: To maintain this competitive edge in the century to come, American agriculture will need new approaches and a renewed commitment to research, education, market engagement, and trade.
Wall Street Journal: Japan Agriculture Minister Nishikawa Resigns
- Japanese Agriculture Minister Koya Nishikawa abruptly resigned over a fundraising scandal Monday, depriving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of his point person on widely anticipated agriculture changes only months after he was chosen for the job.
Bloomberg: South Sudan President Plans Farming Boost to Replace War-Hit Oil
- South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said the government will boost agriculture to help stem an economic crisis following a decline in oil production during a 15-month conflict and a plunge in world prices.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Agri-Pulse: Coalition challenges federal sage grouse protection plans
- A coalition of Western counties and ranching, mining, and energy associations is challenging information that federal agencies are using to make Endangered Species Act listing for the greater sage-grouse.
Los Angeles Times: Overpumping of Central Valley groundwater creating a crisis, experts say
- Parts of the San Joaquin Valley are deflating like a tire with a slow leak as growers pull more and more water from the ground. The land subsidence is cracking irrigation canals, buckling roads and permanently depleting storage space in the vast aquifer that underlies California's heartland.
Bloomberg: Bee Death Study Clears Bayer’s Insecticide as Sole Cause
- A widely used insecticide developed by Bayer AG and tied to deaths of honeybees isn’t the main cause of the fatalities, University of Maryland researchers said in a study that may weaken arguments used by environmentalists seeking to ban the chemical.
WAND: Proposal to benefit monarch butterfly habitat introduced to lawmakers
- Legislation that would create a specialty license plate to help generate money to benefit the state's monarch butterfly population has been introduced in the Illinois House and Senate.
New York Times: As California Drought Enters 4th Year, Conservation Efforts and Worries Increase
- Temperatures in Southern California soared to record-high levels over the weekend, approaching 100 degrees in some places. Reservoirs are low. Landscapes are parched and blighted with fields of dead or dormant orange trees.
New York Times: The Southwestern Water Wars
- Across Texas and the Southwest, the scene is repeated in the face of a triple threat: booming population, looming drought and the worsening effects of climate change.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
Associated Press: Mexican State Moves Against Farmworkers Protest, Arrests 200
- Police arrested more than 200 people in the Mexican border state of Baja California in a bid to quash protests and road blockages by farmworkers demanding higher wages, officials said Wednesday.
Bloomberg: Denham Seeks Invite From Obama to Talk Immigration
- Republican Representative Jeff Denham has split with his party time and again on immigration. Even so, he says he's never heard from President Barack Obama, who has long said changing federal immigration policy is a top priority.
Bloomberg: Clearpath Robotics Gets Funds in Push for Robot Trucks
- Canadian startup Clearpath Robotics Ltd. raised its first round of institutional funding as it develops technology to automate everything from lawnmowers to dump trucks.
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