WASHINGTON, July 26, 2016 - The Democratic National Convention heads into its second day after Bernie Sanders made a case to his restive supporters last night for supporting Hillary Clinton. Sanders wrapped up his speech by taking liberties with the language in the party’s newly approved platform to attack the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Sanders called the platform the “most progressive” in the party’s history and said it calls for “strong opposition to job-killing trade agreements like the” Trans-Pacific Partnership. In actual fact, Sanders supporters lost their fight to write opposition to the TPP into the platform.

But Sanders’ reference to the trade deal set off chants of “No TPP" that prompted Sanders to divert from his prepared text and add, “We’ve got to make sure the TPP does not get to the floor of the Congress in the lame duck session.”

What the platform says is that Democrats support trade agreements that “do not support good American jobs, raise wages, and improve our national security.”

Tonight’s schedule includes the roll call of the states in the nominating race and a keynote address by former President Bill Clinton.

Vilsack headlines agribusiness event. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding will be the featured speakers tonight at an agribusiness reception in downtown Philadelphia. The sponsors of the event include AgriBank, CoBank, FMC, Growth Energy, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and Pepsico.

Insurance critic not convinced by specialty crop progress. USDA’s Risk Management Agency provided an update last week on how federal crop insurance has expanded to protect more specialty crops and also lowered the program’s error rate. But the message isn’t winning over long-time critics like Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

The Oregon Democrat stopped by an event hosted in Philadelphia yesterday by Plate of the Union, a coalition of activist groups seeking to overhaul farm policy. Blumenauer told Agri-Pulse that many specialty crops like those grown in his home state don’t have access to “meaningful crop insurance.” The program is in “dire need of reform,” he emphasized, “We still pay too much to people who don’t need it.”

Acres covered by crop insurance increased from 264.7 million for 2009 to 297 million for 2015, while coverage for fruit, vegetables, and other specialty crops has increased from 7.7 million acres in 2009 to nearly 8.3 million acres in 2015, according to RMA. 

The Whole-Farm Revenue Protection policy was also retooled to help more organic producers and other diversified farming operations. The number of acres insured by organic producers grew from 576,700 in 2009 to more than 1 million in 2015.

Pork bellies and food policy. Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Jim McGovern, D-Mass., also appeared at the Plate of the Union event, held under a tent in the sweltering mid-day heat. Local chefs were serving up such items as vegetable kabobs, edamame hummus on crackers and pork belly wraps made with radicchio, green papaya and Espelette pepper vinaigrette.

Tom Colicchio, co-founder of Food Policy Action, one of the groups behind Plate of the Union, told Agri-Pulse in an interview at the event that he believes the GMO disclosure bill passed by Congress this month is a fair compromiseand that his fellow activists were wrong to fight it.  “Two or three years ago there’s no way this could have happened,” he said. 

Colicchio and DeLauro enjoy a laugh at the Plate of the Union event. 

Spotted at the DNC: Joe Shultz, minority staff director for the Senate Agriculture Committee, in the upper deck of the Wells Fargo Center yesterday as the convention opened … Kirk Johnson, senior vice president of government relations for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association … Delegates wearing buttons that read “No TPP” were all over the arena. 

Farm group asks for more transparency in freight rail investigations.Grain companies say the Surface Transportation Board needs to do a better job of informing the public when it investigates a potential problem on America’s railroads. 

The board was given new investigative authority under the STB Reauthorization Act of 2015 and it published a proposed rule in May to implement the provisions. One thing the board should do with its new authority is provide public reports on all of the investigations it conducts, even if no corrective action is called for, the National Grain and Feed Association says in a letter.  The grain group says the board is going too far to protect the secrecy of the railroads. 

Colombian importers explore U.S. wheat industry. Colombia is the largest foreign market for U.S. wheat in South America and buyers there are getting special treatment this week from the U.S. Wheat Associates. Five officials representing much of Colombia’s flour, cookie and pasta industry are in the U.S. for a week-long trip that will take them to farms, grain elevators, research facilities and USDA offices in North Dakota, Montana and Louisiana.

“Colombia is a top destination for U.S. soft red winter and hard red winter, and this team is very representative of the Colombian industry,” said Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, a marketing specialist for USW. The visiting officials are responsible for buying about 40 percent of the country’s imports.

Colombia bought about 670,000 tons of U.S. wheat in the 2015-16 marketing year. U.S. farmers typically provide about half of Colombia’s import needs.

She said it. “Don't let anyone tell you this country isn't great, that we need to make it great again. This is the greatest country on earth.” - First Lady Michelle Obama


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