WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2016 - That historic GMO disclosure bill that Congress overwhelmingly passed last month is now the law of the land. The White House quietly announced late Friday afternoon that President Obama had signed the legislation. The bill was buried in a list of 20 newly signed measures, most having to do with names for post offices. 

By waiting until Friday to sign the biotech bill, the White House assured that it wouldn’t become a distraction during the Democratic convention, which ended one day earlier in Philadelphia. 

The Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service, which is responsible for implementing the disclosure law, has already established a website for the new biotech program. The website includes a link to the text of the new law and a statement pledging to “ensure an open and transparent process for effectively establishing this new program,”

A USDA working group has been working on a timeline for implementation. The law gives AMS one year to study consumer access to digitally disclosed information and two years to finalize a rule implementing the law. 

On the road with Agri-Pulse. The conventions are over but the Agri-Pulse team is on the road against this week. Managing Editor Daniel Enoch will be reporting from 33rd International Sweetener Symposium in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Associate Editor Spencer Chase will be on the Mississippi River getting a look at the locks and dams with the Waterways Council.  

And Senior Trade Editor Bill Tomson is in Japan, which is one of many countries that will be watching to see how the new GMO disclosure law will work. The U.S. Soybean Export Council invited Tomson to talk to senior executives from Japanese crushers, vegetable oils wholesalers, vegetable oil processors and margarine/mayonnaise manufacturers. 

With so much interest in this topic, the export council’s Japanese office is partnering with the largest vegetable oil associations there to co-sponsor two conferences in Tokyo and Osaka.

Clinton: Presidents get to decide deportations. In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Hillary Clinton defended her plan to allow all illegal immigrants to stay in the country unless they have been convicted of crimes or anyone with “even a passable link to terrorism.”

She said the government should not “go rounding up hard-working mothers and fathers, taking them out of the factories or the hotels or the homes where they're working, making these disappear and leaving their children alone.”

Clinton insisted that the president has the right to stop all other deportations although she acknowledged that a 4-4 tie on the Supreme Court had blocked the Obama administration from going forward with its plan to allow parents of undocumented children to stay in the United States. 

Clinton also said that comprehensive immigration reform would be on her “must-do list” as president.

Clinton in Nebraska, Stabenow in Iowa. Clinton makes a campaign stop in Omaha today in hopes of picking up one of Nebraska’s electoral votes in November. Nebraska is unusual in that it allocates electoral votes by congressional district. 

Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, will be next door in Iowa, trying to rally women behind the Clinton campaign. Stabenow will appear at events in Davenport, Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.

Trump challenged on import, immigration record. Donald Trump was challenged yesterday on ABC’s This Week about his practices of importing foreign workers as well as apparel that carries his brand.  

Trump said it’s difficult to find an adequate number of workers for his Palm Beach, Fla., property or to find many products made in America. “Our country doesn't make (products) anymore. You have other countries devalue their currencies. They make it impossible,” he said.

Brexit could be good for U.S. rice. U.S. rice farmers expect to benefit when the United Kingdom severs its ties with the EU. That’s because EU rice tariffs are designed to protect Italian and Spanish farmers while at the same time favoring imports from developing countries, according to the USA Rice Federation.

Without that complex system in place, the U.S. could get a much bigger tariff rate quota, the group believes.

"I think this could potentially be a positive opportunity for the U.S. rice industry," said Keith Glover, president of Arkansas-based Producers Rice Mill. "It's worth remembering that the one country in Europe that has consistently imported rice from the U.S. is the UK. They've stuck with us and that's been appreciated and could be the basis for growing the relationship."

US wheat group pitches Venezuelan millers on quality. Wheat growers would like to increase exports to Venezuela, but there isn’t much chance of doing that based on price alone, due to the strength of the dollar. So, U.S. Wheat Associates is stressing the quality of U.S. grain and the strength of the U.S. production and export sectors. 

The group has brought three major Venezuelan millers to the U.S. this week to visit Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio and North Dakota.

“With key decision makers like these, we have to demonstrate why performance and value is worth more, but it is very difficult for our staff to conduct activities in Venezuela,” said Chad Weigand, an assistant regional director for the U.S. group. 

“By coordinating with our state wheat commissions, however, we can bring these customers to the United States to see our production and export system at work.”

She said it. “This law also gives our nation’s farmers and food companies a fresh opportunity to start a conversation with consumers about the importance and safety of biotechnology.” - Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., on the GMO labeling bill.

Bill Tomson contributed to this report. 



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