Republicans appear to be getting some momentum in the final weeks of the congressional campaigns. But the battle for control of the Senate could still go either way – and the outcome may not be known until a run-off in Georgia. That’s the assessment of Jessica Taylor, an analyst for the Cook Political Report.
 In a briefing on the Senate races, Taylor said economic issues appear to have taken center stage, bringing Democrats off the “sugar high” they had after the Dobbs abortion decision and the passage of key legislation.
 The battle for control of the Senate appears likely to hinge on races in three states – Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania, she said. And the Georgia race, where Senate Ag member Raphael Warnock is running against Republican Herschel Walker, is likely to go to a Dec. 6 run-off, she said.
Bottom line: “I still think the most likely outcome is a gain of either plus one for Democrats or plus two for Republicans,” Taylor said, “but a 50-50 split or a 51-49 split either way is still possible.” The Senate is now split, 50-50, giving Democrats effective control of the chamber since they hold the vice presidency.
FDA briefs stakeholders on proposed ‘healthy’ claim
FDA officials fielded questions Friday from industry stakeholders about the agency’s proposed rule to update regulations for labeling foods as "healthy."
 The new rule is designed to align the “healthy” label more closely with the federal dietary guidelines. Foods that wouldn’t qualify for the claim include yogurts with excessive added sugars and some fortified breakfast cereals.
 Several questioners wanted to know if foods with low-calorie sugar substitutes or other such ingredients could still obtain a healthy claim. Sarah Gebauer, a nutritionist in FDA’s Nutrition Science Review Branch, said they could, if they meet the requirements for an eligible food group.
 Vincent DeJesus, a nutritionist at FDA’s Nutrition Assessment and Evaluation Branch, noted the FDA is considering developing a symbol that could be used with “healthy” food labels. If the agency goes forward with that idea, the agency will start a new notice and comment process separate from the current one on the regulations for “healthy” labeling, he said.
Lawmakers seek tax on foreign-owned farms in US
 Two Arizona House Democrats want to place a 300% excise tax on crops grown by foreign companies in areas experiencing prolonged drought.
 Reps. Ruben Gallego and Raúl Grijalva proposed the tax last week through a bill they call the “Domestic Water Protection Act. In a release, the two lawmakers specifically called out the Fondomonte, a Saudi Arabian company that grows alfalfa using Arizona groundwater.
 “While Arizona experiences the driest conditions in centuries, our water is being given away in a sweetheart deal with Saudi Arabia,” Gallego said in the release. “We need to act to stop our state from being sucked dry by a nonsensical agreement.”
EPA ordered to respond to CAFO petition
  The Environmental Protection Agency has been given a deadline to respond to a lawsuit seeking to force EPA to address the issue of Clean Water Act regulations rules for concentrated animal feeding operations.
 Technically, environmental groups filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit asking the court to order EPA to respond to its 2017 petition. The court found the legal petition “raises issues that warrant an answer” and has ordered EPA to respond by Nov. 2.
“The petition, filed in May 2017, provided a roadmap for EPA to close loopholes that have enabled CAFOs to avoid regulation, and to make permits stronger and more effective,” Food & Water Watch said last month.
USTR offers to help Florida farmers cope with Mexican produce imports
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Sunday that it knows Florida farmers are hurting and offered to help them compete with Mexican fruit and vegetable exports, but not by complying with a petition that sought a Section 301 investigation that could result in tariffs.

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 The U.S. trade agency on Sunday rejected a petition for the investigation but promised that it and the USDA “will work with the petitioners and producers to examine the issues raised in the petition and to consider any further actions that may be appropriate.”
 Florida farm groups supported the petition by 24 lawmakers, but national farm groups like the American Soybean Association and the National Pork Producers Council staunchly opposed it out of fear of Mexican retaliation.
Ethiopia bans import of ‘luxury’ food
The Ethiopian government, in an effort to keep dwindling supplies of hard foreign currency from leaving the country, is banning the importation of some “luxury items,” including packaged foods, according to a report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.That includes cookies, chocolate, meat, fruit juice, canned fruits, potato chips, tomato paste, wine and beer.
 “The business community reportedly is lobbying government officials and politicians through the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce for a reconsideration of the banned food items listed,” FAS said.
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