Daily Harvest -- 5/21/2015
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: House Ag Committee clears COOL repeal bill
- Just two days after the World Trade Organization (WTO) upheld an earlier decision that a U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rule is not compliant with international trade obligations, House lawmakers officially began the procedural steps necessary to repeal the law.
Agri-Pulse: Farm groups fight currency amendment
- Farm groups and agribusiness companies are urging the Senate to reject a proposed amendment to the fast-track trade bill aimed at stopping countries from manipulating their currency.
Agri-Pulse: Farm groups fear changes may make WOTUS more onerous
- (Subscriber only) The administration is expected to release the final waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in the next week or so. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has been promising to refine the definitions in the proposed rule to address concerns raised by critics.
Agri-Pulse: USDA announces new rural development priorities
- USDA released a new Regional Development Priority (RDP) policy Wednesday that details how the agency will support rural economic development by providing loans to small businesses and grants for community infrastructure improvements.
Agri-Pulse: USDA's improper payment reporting faulted for fourth straight year
- For the fourth straight year, the USDA's Inspector General has found the agency failed to comply with mandatory reporting requirements regarding improper payment information. Total improper payments in the 20 high-risk programs for fiscal 2014 came to $6.9 billion, or a 5.5 percent improper payment rate.
Reuters: Monsanto says would divest all of Syngenta's seed business
- Monsanto Co, the world's largest seed company, said on Wednesday it plans to divest Syngenta Ag's seeds and genetic traits businesses as well as some overlapping chemistry assets to win regulatory approval for a takeover of its Swiss rival.
Wall Street Journal: U.S. Lawmakers Squabble Over Farm Bill’s Catfish Provision
- Debate is heating up again over a provision of the Farm Bill that shifted inspection of foreign-grown catfish from the Food and Drug Administration to the Department of Agriculture.
CNBC: Agriculture: Job growth to boom over next five years
- Dire news about drought in the West and avian flu in the Midwest may lead Americans to believe farming is struggling. They'd be wrong. The industry is thriving—and hiring college grads.
Agri-Pulse: Senate bill on EPA advisory process needs work, panel says
- Several witnesses told a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee that a Republican sponsored bill designed to improve transparency and accountability in the EPA's scientific advisory process would actually add new bureaucratic inefficiencies and present ethical dilemmas.
The Salt Lake Tribune: Utah energy officials blast feds’ ‘clean power’ rules
- Proposed federal rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants could undermine the affordability and reliability of Utah's electricity, which comes primarily from coal, according to testimony Wednesday before a legislative interim committee.
Washington Post: Boston was just named the top city in the country for saving energy — here’s why
- The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published the 2015 edition of its biennial City Energy Efficiency Scorecard today, ranking U.S. cities based on their local energy policies and initiatives. And for the second time in a row, Boston is top of the class.
Chicago Tribune: Ald. Burke's lobbying bonanza ethanol bill is spared under council 'kill ordinance'
- A powerful alderman's controversial push to require most Chicago gas stations to offer fuel with higher levels of ethanol is still alive after the newly seated City Council on Wednesday exempted the measure from a routine housecleaning that wiped out most other pending legislation.
Agri-Pulse: Ethanol industry disputes RIN link to gas prices
- (Audio) As the deadline gets closer for EPA to release new volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard, the Renewable Fuels Association has released a new study disputing oil industry claims that the use of RIN credits have impacted gas prices.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Agri-Pulse: Killing GMO bill would force industry 'to the table,' critics say
- Critics of biotech foods say that stopping a House bill to preempt state GMO labeling laws would force the food industry to negotiate with labeling proponents.
Bloomberg: The FDA Has a Plan to Prevent the Next Ice Cream Disaster
- Months after an outbreak of deadly bacteria in ice cream that killed three and sickened seven more, U.S. regulators are near making food producers like Blue Bell Creameries Inc. have safety plans to minimize future outbreaks.
Wall Street Journal: Hormel Expects Bird-Flu Outbreak to Hurt Second-Half Turkey Sales
- Hormel Foods expects the avian influenza outbreak will crimp turkey sales in its fiscal second half and could have wider ramifications for the turkey industry, the company’s top executive said Wednesday.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Agri-Pulse: Senators debate how US relations with Cuba will benefit its citizens
- While the agricultural industry is anticipating more business due to President Barack Obama's actions to normalize relations with Cuba, several members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today questioned the administration's ability to negotiate with a totalitarian communist state known for human rights abuses.
US News and World Report: To protect US catfish and cars, senators get creative in debate over Obama's trade authority
- In Congress' roiling debate over trade, one senator calls his efforts to protect the U.S. catfish industry a matter of averting "the dangers of exposure to foreign agriculture drugs."
Reuters: Argentine farmers to register Monsanto Soy seed use in crackdown
- Argentina's Agriculture Ministry is creating a registry that will track the amount of genetically modified soybean seeds reaped from farmers' crops in order to crack down on the illegal resale of seeds developed by Monsanto Co.
Reuters: Crop-loss farmers sell their children to survive – authorities
- Worsening crop failures, brought on by extreme weather, are leading to increasing financial desperation in Madhya Pradesh – and a rash of suicides and child trafficking, officials say.
Bloomberg: Cotton Loses Allure for Indian Farmers as China Imports Less
- Farmers in India may plant fewer acres of cotton as slumping demand from China cuts exports to the lowest level in six years.
Bloomberg: Happiness Eludes Divided Thailand as Farmers Struggle
- There’s not much sign of Thailand’s yearlong military rule in Sakhon Sutasaeng’s home in the rice-growing northeast region of Isan.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
The Boston Globe: Forest Service sees hope in battle against bat disease
- Officials with the US Forest Service are cautiously optimistic that a new treatment may help bats survive a disease known as white-nose syndrome that has killed millions of bats.
Associated Press: California to order end to pumping from San Joaquin River
- Regulators are ordering farmers with California's oldest water rights to stop pumping from the San Joaquin River watershed for the first time in memory.
Associated Press: Feds providing $50 million for water-saving projects in the West
- The U.S. government will invest nearly $50 million in water conservation and reuse projects in the drought-stricken West.
Washington Post: Jeb Bush: ‘The climate is changing’
- The former Florida governor, whose state bears the brunt of rising seas and a changing climate more than most, conceded Wednesday evening that humans are partly -- but not entirely -- responsible for the changes.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
Sacramento Bee: California farms added workers in 2014, even amid drought
- Despite the drought, the number of workers employed in California’s agricultural industry rose to its highest level in at least 24 years, as many farmers shifted toward labor-intensive, permanent crops, according to the latest state and federal statistics.
Los Angeles Times: Op-Ed: Cheap food sows the seeds of shoddy housing for farmworkers
- Robert Solomon: The housing shortage is especially bad among farmworkers. This is not a surprise. Agricultural workers are at the bottom of the food chain: They perform difficult manual labor under brutal conditions, for low wages.
Bellingham Herald: NY officials ban fowl competitions at state and county fairs
- State officials are banning fowl competitions at the State Fair and all county fairs as a precaution against avian flu.
Yahoo: GOP primary for governor remains undecided in Kentucky
- Kentucky's Republican nominee for governor could be in limbo for weeks following a close primary, but either possible winner will offer voters a stark contrast to Democrat Jack Conway in a rare off-year election.
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