The White House is establishing a new task force on supply chain disruptions to provide a “whole-of-government” response to near-term challenges. The task force will be led by the secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, and Transportation. 
 A White House summary doesn’t provide a lot of specificity on what issues the task force will address but does say they will include “areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident.” 
The task force “will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions — large and small, public or private — that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the summary says. 
Vilsack, Tai urged to press biotech trade concerns
The biotech industry is pushing the Biden administration to prioritize removing trade barriers to agricultural biotechnology as a way to address climate change. 
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization specifically cites barriers in China and Mexico as well as signs of the potential to ease regulatory hurdles in the European Union. 
“Harnessing the latest science to combat climate change will require a global strategy. One that addresses existing trade barriers in China, the EU, and Mexico and builds common ground on how these technologies can contribute to sustainable agricultural practices and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals,” the letter says. 
The letter notes that a recent European Commission study suggested gene editing could play a role in making agriculture more sustainable. “However, significant risks remain as Europe’s regulatory processes are fundamentally prejudiced to agricultural biotechnology,” the letter says. 
Mexican tomato farmers spurred by US demand
Mexican farmers are increasing tomato production, counting on demand to increase in the U.S. as pandemic conditions improve and more restaurants and hotels open up, according to a new analysis from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Mexico produces tomatoes all year long, and production is expected to reach 3.32 million metric tons in 2022, up from 3.3 million this year and about 3.2 million in 2020.
One unknown is the weather. Most of Mexico has been hit by drought conditions over the past eight months, but Sinaloa – the biggest tomato-producing region – is expected to get a rainy July.
Keep in mind: The U.S.- Mexico Tomato Suspension Agreement – a deal to allow trade to continue between the countries without tariffs – has been key to stabilizing commerce and strong prices in the U.S. are also encouraging imports, according to the FAS report.
Austria approves partial glyphosate ban
The Austrian parliament has unanimously voted to impose a partial ban on glyphosate, prohibiting its use on so-called “sensitive lands” –  including areas such as playgrounds and public parks – as well as residential land.
The law has no impact on “professional use of glyphosate,” which means “most applications in agriculture remains allowed,” according to a FAS report out of Vienna
Lawmakers have tried twice in the past two years to totally ban the herbicide, but failed each time.
“Unlike its earlier efforts to fully ban the substance, Austria does not anticipate any objections from the EU Commission to this partial ban,” FAS said in the report.
Bayer files brief in federal appeals court Roundup case
Bayer continues to argue that a warning label on Roundup is pre-empted by federal pesticide law, as it seeks to get the Supreme Court to address the matter.
The company filed a brief in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Monday supporting a Georgia federal judge’s decision that found federal law held sway over state law. After that decision, Bayer reached a settlement that paid the plaintiff $100,000 to appeal the preemption ruling but drop his other claims.
 That settlement drew the ire of attorneys for plaintiffs who claim exposure to Roundup caused their non-Hodgkin lymphoma. They said Bayer is involved in a “pay-to-appeal” scheme to help it obtain Supreme Court review of the pre-emption issue.
Bayer said it’s been transparent about its litigation goals. Its latest brief touches briefly on the settlement with plaintiff John Carson, saying that if Carson wins, “he gets an additional substantial payment.”
USDA asking for project suggestions on pest and disease management
 USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is making $75 million available in the next fiscal year for projects to protect plants from pests and diseases.
Goals for funding projects include enhancing plant/disease analysis and mitigation, targeting vulnerable inspection points, strengthening pest identification, and conducting targeted outreach and education, APHIS said.
About $5 million would go to the National Clean Plant Network. The Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program was established in the farm bill and allows APHIS and partners to prevent, detect, and mitigate invasive plant pests and diseases. PPDM and DPP project suggestions may be submitted to USDA until July 23.
She said it: “We believe it is critical for the United States government to proactively engage with like-minded countries and chart a path forward with the EU to enable science-based regulations for biotechnology tools and expand sustainable agricultural practices to achieve our shared climate goals.” –
Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, in a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
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