August 6, 2020

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Farmworkers get masks at border crossing
Throughout the pandemic, the ag community has been procuring masks for farmworkers and labor contractors in the Imperial Valley. Now an anonymous donor has provided additional masks to be distributed by farmworker groups at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers CEO Shelby Dill.
The coalition has been giving masks to workers and their families once they cross, and at times when farmworkers tend to commute across the border.
“We are certainly appreciative of the effort by the donor to provide this generous and timely donation,” writes Dill in a letter to The Desert Review.

Roasted almonds are safe from Prop. 65
A proposed regulation could levy a cancer warning on foods containing certain chemicals that are formed through the cooking process. The concentration threshold being proposed, however, is considerably higher than the average concentrations found in roasted almonds, as well as roasted almond butter and chocolate-covered almonds, according to the Western Agricultural Processors Association.
That threshold is based on recent court settlements with the state. The Almond Board and FDA provided the data on almonds.
CalEPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is taking comments on the proposed rule.

US exports to China by year and first half of 2020 (AFBF) 

Biden blasts Trump over ‘phase one’ pace
New data from USDA show that China has a long way to go to fulfill its “phase one” commitments, despite a surge in sales in recent weeks.
The U.S. exported $6.6 billion worth of farm goods to China in the first half of this year, the second lowest amount since 2009.  China pledged to buy $36.5 billion this year.
Former Vice President Joe Biden says Trump’s trade policy is failing badly. “Trump hasn’t even managed to secure half of China’s purchase commitments under the agreement. This is only the latest setback for a deal that has failed to deliver for the American people literally every step of the way,” Biden said.
Read our report on the trade data here.
Elsewhere: Biden’s holding a virtual roundtable on rural issues today with Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Hemp: State agencies seeks early action on deadline
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the National Industrial Hemp Council are urging Congress to act quickly to extend USDA’s hemp pilot program through next year.
In a letter to congressional leaders, the two groups said they’re worried that an extension in the House ag appropriations bill won’t be enacted in time. New federal regulations are scheduled to take effect Oct. 31, replacing the pilot program. States also are supposed to have oversight programs in place by that date.
In a separate letter, NASDA and NIHC are asking Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue for enforcement discretion in implementing its hemp regulations.
FDA: Impact of arsenic limit likely minimal
FDA is setting a new action level of 100 parts per billion for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereals. The agency takes into account action levels and other factors in considering whether to pursue enforcement action.
Susan Mayne, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says most products on the market already are under the level. Tests done in 2018 showed 76% of samples were at or below the 100 ppb level, compared to 47% in 2014 and 36% between 2011-2013.
RMA mulls easing cover crop restrictions
Livestock producers may find out soon whether USDA’s Risk Management Agency will ease restrictions on haying and grazing on cover crops. “There’s some discussions going on; might see an announcement soon,” RMA Administrator Martin Barbre told Agri-Pulse.
The agency eased restrictions last year because of a forage deficit due to the unusually wet spring. Crop insurance rules bar harvesting or grazing of cover crops on prevented planting acreage before Nov. 1.
By the way: RMA is authorizing insurance companies to extend premium payment deadlines by 60 days. Premiums that originally would be due Oct. 1 now aren’t due until Dec. 1.
US group claims cheese name victory
The U.S.-based Consortium for Common Food Names is claiming victory over French and Swiss groups that tried to trademark the cheese name “gruyere” in the U.S.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the request, agreeing with CCFN that “gruyere” is generic name for a common cheese.
"This is a victory for consumers as it preserves a variety of choices for shoppers in the cheese case by safeguarding a term that has been used by cheesemakers outside of Europe for many years," said CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda, who is also a senior vice president for the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
He said it:
“If we can reach a compromise on these big issues, I think everything else will fall into place. If we can't reach an agreement on these big issues, then I don't see us coming to an overall deal.”—Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on what needs to be achieved by Friday in the negotiations over a coronavirus relief package

Bill Tomson, Steve Davies and Ben Nuelle contributed to this report.

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