WASHINGTON, June 21, 2016 - Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow say they continue to work toward an agreement on biotech labeling standards. But time is fast running out for anything to get enacted before House members leave town for their Independence Day break. 

Roberts told Agri-Pulse last night that he was more optimistic about getting a deal than he was last week. “It always happens this way: The train is coming, the damsel is on the tracks, and the hero rushes in. That’s the way we operate around here,’ he said. Roberts declined to discuss any details of the negotiations.

Stabenow would only say that the talks were “inching along.” An industry source who had been briefed on the talks told Agri-Pulse he was assured they had “momentum."

Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law takes effect July 1, although enforcement won’t start until later. 

Vietnamese catfish products recalled in U.S. About 26,000 pounds of imported frozen catfish products have entered U.S. commerce without undergoing the necessary USDA inspection and the department is asking people not to eat it.

“Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them,” FSIS said in a statement released Monday night. “These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.” 

USDA said the recall is aimed at “skinless and boneless Sea Queen brand Swai Fillet items were produced and packed on March 30, 2016, in Vietnam by Golden Quality Seafood Corporation.” The fish, a species of catfish in the siluriformesorder, is being sold in 2 lb. packages.

The USDA recently rejected two shipments of Vietnamese catfish after they tested positive for banned chemical residues.  

Groups are mapping out the CAFOs in North Carolina. Ever wonder exactly where the thousands of concentrated animal feeding operations, swine manure lagoons and poultry operations are? 

The Environmental Working Group and Waterkeeper Alliance – two groups that see the livestock operations as threats to the environment - say they’ll be releasing maps today to show exact locations in North Carolina.

The groups said they will be launching a “first-of-its-kind” geographical information system (GIS) mapping project to pinpoint 6,500 CAFO’s, 4,100 swine manure lagoons and 3,900 poultry barns.
“The mapping analysis estimates that these CAFOs produce more than 10 billion pounds of wet animal waste each year, which fill the open-air pits and puts human health and the environment at risk,” the groups said in a statement.
Farm group lauds conservation bill. The National Farmers Union is excited about new legislation from Reps. Ann Kuster, D-N.H., and Rick Crawford, R-Ark., that would cut government red tape on some farmers who participate in USDA conservation programs.

The recently introduced bill - the Improving Access to Farm Conservation Act of 2016 – exempts farmers who get less than $450,000 per year from having to fill out the normal reporting documents and register with government agencies.

“Restrictive reporting requirements erode economic incentives and restrict flexibility for landowners to participate in USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service programs that help foster sustainability and sound conservation practices,” NFU President Roger Johnson said. “We offer our support of initiatives that would lessen the regulatory burden on conservation incentives for our nearly 200,000 family farmer and rancher members.”

USAPEEC gets new chairman of the board. The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council has elected Steve Monroe, manager of export sales at Sanderson Farms, to be its next chairman of the board. 
Monroe, who replaces current Chairman Jim Wayt, the managing director of Intervision Foods, will lead the group’s 30-member board of directors. The board “sets policy and gives direction to USAPEEC, an organization whose mission is to promote and increase exports of U.S. chicken, turkey, duck, and egg products worldwide,” USAPEEC said in a statement.
Also elected last week at the group’s annual meeting at Lake Tahoe, Nev., were Marc Killebrew, vice president of international sales at Tyson Foods, and Butch Johnson, director of Globex International USA. Killebrew will take on the title of first vice chairman while Johnson was elected as second vice chairman.
Phil Brasher contributed to this report.


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