Daily Harvest -- 3/27/2015
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: Senate votes to kill estate tax, backs state water rights
- In a message-sending vote, the Senate endorsed killing the estate tax, but the Republican majority could attract the support of just one Democrat.
Agri-Pulse: Lawmakers challenge USDA officials on farm bill implementation
- Lawmakers expressed general satisfaction with USDA's implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, but also asked pointed questions regarding their concerns about commodity programs and crop insurance during a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing Thursday.
Agri-Pulse: Obama antibiotics plan calls for monitoring farms, drug usage
- A White House strategy for fighting antibiotic resistance calls for studying the extent of the problem on farms and lays out plans for developing new drugs that producers can use more safely.
Agri-Pulse: House approves extension of Secure Rural Schools program
- With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House today passed legislation that includes a two-year extension of a program that provides assistance for schools, law enforcement, and infrastructure in rural forested communities that lack a tax base to adequately fund such activities.
NPR: Is Colorado primed to become the Silicon Valley of agriculture?
- In the last several years, Boulder and Denver have become hubs for tech startups, and companies in the state's Front Range are on a tear, patenting new technologies in irrigation, food science and plant genetics. Public scientists are keeping pace, publishing research articles in agricultural science in record numbers.
The Progressive Farmer: Group questions USDA science
- USDA needs to strengthen its internal rules to better protect the department's scientists from outside political and industry pressures over their research, a group alleges in a petition to the department being filed on Thursday.
Wall Street Journal: For Monsanto, a season of woes
- Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. is confronting some of its stiffest challenges in years, as it contends with consumer criticism of biotech foods, farmers tightening their belts, and a global health agency that has labeled its trademark weed killer as a potential carcinogen.
Popular Science: Soon a Texas town will run on 100 percent renewable energy
- Renewable energy is having its moment in the sun...and wind, and water. Costa Rica managed to run on 100 percent renewable power for over 75 days. And in Texas, a state historically associated with oil wells, one metropolis is determined to achieve the same goal, going cold turkey on fossil fuels by 2017.
United Press International: New Zealand breaks renewable energy record
- The share of renewable energy on the grid in New Zealand is the highest it's been in close to 20 years, the country's energy minister said Thursday. The share of electricity generated from renewable resources last year was 79.9 percent, a 5 percent increase from the previous year.
San Jose Mercury News: California’s shift toward renewables makes energy harder to mange
- California’s electrical grid has a problem – a nice problem, but a problem nonetheless: the state often has too much power.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Food Safety News: Witnesses tell House Agriculture Committee GE foods are safe, don’t need labels
- All six witnesses at Tuesday’s House Committee on Agriculture hearing argued against mandatory biotechnology labeling laws. Most of their testimony praised the efficiency they believe GE crops provide to farmers and enumerated the costs they say labeling would inflict on farmers, manufacturers and consumers.
U.S. News and World Report: Who owns your food besides Kraft, Heinz?
- A deal to merge Kraft Foods with Heinz and create the third-largest food and beverage company in North America will likely lead to top products in the control of fewer companies, as rival businesses are expected to compete by purchasing more brands.
Wall Street Journal: Balance of power shifts in groceries
- Orders for organic burritos, Thai stir-fry and other frozen products from Amy’s Kitchen Inc. have been growing so quickly that late last year the company bought a second factory—an Idaho plant that H.J. Heinz Co. had just shut amid shrinking demand for its frozen food.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Agri-Pulse: Ryan claims 'good progress' on congressional trade talks
- Republicans are expressing optimism that they can reach a deal with a key Democrat that's critical to wrapping up a Pacific Rim trade agreement.
Agri-Pulse: USDA Undersecretary pleased with trade mission to Malaysia and Philippines
- (Audio) Two Southeast Asian nations were the focus of an agricultural trade mission just led by USDA Undersecretary Michael Scuse.
Agri-Pulse: Gates says foreign aid is solid, relatively inexpensive investment
- (Subscriber only) Bill Gates encouraged members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee today to vote in favor of "modest" federal investments in foreign aid initiatives, including agriculture.
The Hill: Left threatens to oust key Dem over trade
- The linchpin of President Obama’s trade agenda in the Senate is coming under intense pressure from the left to go against the White House.
Times of San Diego: Atkins leading state agriculture delegation to Cuba
- Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins from San Diego will lead a California agricultural trade delegation to Cuba next week amid the thaw in relations with the Communist country.
The Economic Times: Agri-sector needs modern farming practices, technologies: Radha Mohan Singh
- Aimed at boosting the farm output, the government is looking at measures such as modernization of farming practices and introduction of latest technologies to increase the production of crops, Union Minister Radha Mohan Singh said today.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
Daily Journal: NC farm bill includes shifting oversight of deer farming from wildlife to agriculture agency
- North Carolina's agriculture agency could soon oversee deer farming for meat, hides and hunting scents, taking over from the state body that regulates hunting deer and other wildlife.
Alaska Public Media: Conservation groups appeal Big Thorne ruling
- Less than a week after losing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, a coalition of conservation groups seeking to stop the Big Thorne Timber Sale has filed a Notice of Appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and asked for an injunction pending the outcome.
LA Times: State drought relief package falls short, conservation advocates say
- Not only will the $1-billion spending plan approved by lawmakers Thursday provide little immediate relief to drought-stricken Californians, state leaders are missing an opportunity to take more decisive action to restrict water use, conservation advocates said.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
Wall Street Journal: Scott Walker adjusts stance on immigration at private dinner
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told a private dinner of New Hampshire Republicans this month that he backed the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and to eventually become eligible for citizenship, a position at odds with his previous public statements on the matter.
Bloomberg: Chris Christie joins states' Obama immigration fight
- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is supporting the fight by 26 other states to block the Obama administration’s plan to let as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants stay in the U.S.
The Week: How immigration reform would affect small businesses
- Immigration reform has long been a divisive issue, as politicians, advocacy groups, and pundits fight over whether Congress should grant legal status to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. But there's at least one group that has for the most part reliably remained in favor of taking action: the business community.
The Hill: Dems grease skids for Obama's immigration programs
- House Democrats are intensifying their efforts to help undocumented immigrants enroll in President Obama's new programs easing deportations.
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