Daily Harvest -- 12/26/2013
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FARM & RURAL POLICY
Agri-Pulse: USDA extends comment period for `agricultural coexistence' plan
- The USDA is giving the public an extra 60 days to comment on its plan for strengthening agricultural coexistence in the U.S.
NewsOK: US senators push for farm, water bills in new year
- Securing passage of a new, five-year farm bill tops the to-do list for North Dakota's congressional delegation as it heads into 2014.
AgWeek: No farm bill news until January
- Congressional farm leaders will make no announcements about the content of the farm bill until they return to Washington the first week of January.
Wall Street Journal: Landrieu In Line to Head Senate Energy Panel
- The nomination of Sen. Max Baucus to be ambassador to China could result in Sen. Mary Landrieu, a strong supporter of the oil and gas industry, taking over the energy committee in the Senate.
FOOD & NUTRITION
Agri-Pulse: USDA forecasts moderate increase in food price inflation for 2014
- The food, food-at-home, and food-away-from-home consumer price index (CPI) are expected to increase 2.5 to 3.5 percent over 2013 levels, ERS reports.
New York Times: More Hunger for the Poorest Americans
- Last month, the long lines at food pantries across the country grew longer with the expiration of the boost to food stamp benefit levels included in the 2009 economic stimulus plan.
Washington Post: Benefits to end Saturday for long-term jobless
- The extended benefits, staunchly opposed by Republicans, were left out of the bipartisan federal budget agreement reached this month. Senate Democrats have vowed to make the issue a top priority when they return to Washington in January.
Seattle Times: The year in food news
- Thanksgiving converged with Hanukkah, creating a holiday mashup that hasn’t happened since 1888, and won’t again for 79,000 years.
San Francisco Chronicle: Influential voices in food movement seek better worker wages
- Some foodies seem to care more about the treatment of the animals they eat than the workers who prepare and serve them. Now, some of the most influential voices in the food movement are chiming in.
Washington Post: Antibiotics on farms: Can curbing their use also curb resistant infections in humans?
- Given that hard numbers — how much antibiotic is used on farms, how much of that is used for growth, and how much any of it contributes to resistance — are hard to come by, it’s anybody’s guess.
TRADE & INTERNATIONAL
Agri-Pulse: Ag trade priorities for China visit
- (Audio) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is part of a delegation visiting China this week. He said serious issues with China include regulatory blocks to biotechnology, but the meetings have led to progress in policies regarding poultry and other areas.
Washington Post: Through trade treaty, U.S. hopes rules that favor its companies will become the norm
- Like earlier trade agreements, the TransPacific Partnership involves its share of old-school disputes: whether U.S. sugar subsidies are unfair to sugar farmers in other countries, for example, or whether Japan will fully open itself to buying foreign-made cars.
Wall Street Journal: Free Trade and Obama's Rule by Fiat
- President Obama's request for fast-track trade authority is in trouble in Congress, and one reason is his habit of ruling by executive fiat. Republicans who aren't normally protectionists fear that he may use trade accords to impose labor and environmental rules on the U.S. that he otherwise can't get Congress to pass.
Bloomberg: China Reopens Investigation Into U.S. Chicken After Losing Case
- China will re-investigate U.S. poultry-product shipments for potential violations of trade terms after the World Trade Organization ruled against penalties the government imposed on imports.
Bloomberg: China Said to Increase Scrutiny of U.S. Imports for GMO Corn
- China ordered wider inspections of imports of corn-based animal feed ingredients to ensure they don’t contain an unapproved genetically-modified variety of the grain, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENT & WILDLIFE
New York Times: Start-Up Uses Plant Seeds for a Biofuel
- The seeds of the inedible, drought-resistant plants, called jatropha, produce a prize: high-quality oil that can be refined into low-carbon jet fuel or diesel fuel.
FARM LABOR & IMMIGRATION
CBS: Nearly Half Of All Immigration Judges Eligible For Retirement In 2014
- The nation’s immigration court system, already bogged down with a backlog of nearly 350,000 cases, could fall even more behind in in 2014. That’s because nearly half of its 220 judges will be eligible for retirement next year.
Wall Street Journal: Immigration-Bill Pressure Backfires
- Supporters of an immigration overhaul, looking for allies in the Republican-led House, concluded months ago that a top prospect would be Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
Reuters: High cash rents to squeeze U.S. Midwest grain farmers in 2014
- Rents on prime U.S. crop land are expected to stay high in 2014 despite a sharp drop in grain prices, raising financial pressure on farmers who rent most of their land and risk big losses in the coming year, analysts and bankers say.
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