WASHINGTON, July 15, 2016 - Donald Trump has picked his running mate and it’s Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, according to multiple reports. The presumptive GOP presidential nominee had planned to make the announcement this morning, but Thursday night he Tweeted that he’s postponing the event because of the “horrible” Bastille Day attack in Nice, France.
Former Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock calls Pence a “dream candidate” for agriculture. He says Pence understands and supports renewable fuels and is scale neutral when it comes to the livestock industry. At the same time, Pence has worked hard to promote smaller-scale producers and rural development and worked on immigration reform when he was in Congress, Villwock says.
“He is a good listener and seeks input on issues from all commodity groups,” Villwock says.
Pence served in the U.S. House from 2001 to 2013 before becoming governor. He voted for the 2002 farm bill, but he supported President George W. Bush’s unsuccessful veto of the 2008 version. Bush argued that the 2008 bill spent too much.
On the Democratic side, agriculture’s dream candidate for vice president would have to be Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and there’s continued speculation that he’s very much in the running. Agri-Pulse’s Bill Tomson caught up with Vilsack this week at USDA and he wouldn’t say whether he’s being vetted. Vilsack could have shut down the speculation, but he didn’t.
USDA already at work on GMO labeling rule. That historic congressional compromise on GMO labeling is on its way to the White House for President Obama’s signature. The House passed the legislation 306-117 with majorities of both Republicans and Democrats, a remarkable outcome on an issue that has been so controversial for so long. The word from USDA is that Vilsack already has a working group formed to begin writing regulations for the mandatory disclosure standard.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway has been critical of the discretion that the legislation gives to USDA, and he tells Agri-Pulse that lawmakers will be monitoring the implementation work. “I would anticipate that this won’t be a great deal different with the way they work with the farm bill implementation. They did a good job there… On balance they listened to affected parties and tried to work with them.”
Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., raised the possibility in a separate interview with Agri-Pulse that Congress could revisit the legislation if problems develop as USDA writes the rule. “Congress could certainly come back in and help if there is any misunderstanding of what is in the legislation. That's the normal process,” Roberts said.
The immediate question is when Vermont will shut down enforcement of its first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law that took effect two weeks ago.
The Vermont Retail and Grocers Association notified its members after the bill passed the House, but the group is awaiting guidance from the state attorney general as to the fate of the labeling law. The AG has been telling grocers in the state that they still must comply with the state law until a federal preemption measure is signed into law.
Interested in how your lawmaker voted? The American Soybean Association has compiled a list of how farm-state House members voted on the bill that passed yesterday (S. 764) as well as a voluntary labeling bill (HR 1599) that the House approved a year ago.
Report: Clinton’s views on biotech vary. A non-profit government watchdog group that has tracked Hillary Clinton’s views on genetically engineered crops says she’s has been consistent in her support for GMO labeling while also backing biotechnology. A spokesman for her campaign told the MapLight group that Clinton “strongly” opposed the biotech bill that cleared Congress yesterday.
But the report also notes instances where she has endorsed and advocated for the technology. As secretary of state, Clinton issued a strategy for promoting ag biotech worldwide that said genetic engineering “has great potential to help address the challenges of food insecurity and mitigate climate change.” The MapLight group also cited Clinton’s well-known appearance at a forum with the Biotechnology Industry Organization in 2014.
The report doesn’t mention that Clinton also is close to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who assisted with development of the labeling bill and has worked to streamline the approval process for biotech crops.
FY2017 budgets face uncertain future. Congress has broken for the national party conventions and its August recess, leaving behind a lot of uncertainty about agency budgets for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
None of the 12 appropriations bills have been enacted, which means Congress will have to pass a stopgap bill in September to keep the government operating. The question is whether Congress can agree on a government-wide spending bill in December, as it has done the last two years. Many conservatives are pushing to delay those negotiations into the next Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan is declining to say what he wants Congress to do. 
Ahead of the recess, the House approved a spending bill yesterday for the EPA and the Interior Department that would block many of the Obama administration's signature environmental initiatives, including the “waters of the U.S.” rule. Only three Democrats voting for the bill, including House Agriculture Committee members Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jim Costa of California.
The House adopted a series of amendments seeking to limit endangered species listings and to stop the EPA from penalizing states that don’t meet pollution reduction targets for the Chesapeake Bay.
She said it. “This legislation reaffirms the safety of genetic improvements of today’s agriculture, while providing American consumers with marketing information about the ingredients of their food.” - Barbara Glenn, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, on the GMO bill.


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