WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2016 - Donald Trump has assured leaders of the American Farm Bureau Federation that they will like his policies on trade and immigration if he’s elected president. Trump called into the AFBF office for about 10 minutes yesterday to discuss issues with members of the Farm Bureau board and was also connected to several state offices.

According to participants, Trump made some introductory remarks in which he said that he understood that the farm economy is in a downturn, and then he took three questions. In response to a question about trade, Trump reiterated his pledge to renegotiate a new agreement to replace the Trans-Pacific Partnership and told the group that “it will be fantastic.”

California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger asked Trump about his immigration stance. Trump’s response was that agriculture needs a reliable workforce and he will work to see that it happens. He then pivoted to talking about California’s drought and promised to address farmers’ water needs. 

Another board member said Trump told the group that farmers and business people were more interested in regulatory relief than in his tax plan. 

The Farm Bureau also had requested time with Hillary Clinton. North Carolina’s Larry Wooten said he’s been on the board since 1999 and it was the first time a presidential candidate has called in.

HSUS campaigning against Trump. The Humane Society of the United States is getting involved in a presidential race for the first time to oppose Trump. The group has in the past focused on congressional races. 

But Mike Markarian, who runs the HSUS Legislative Fund, says the group is worried both about the Trump’s sons, who are avid big-game hunters, as well as the members of Trump’s agricultural advisory team. Among the people he’s worried about are businessman Forrest Lucas, who founded the advocacy group, Protect the Harvest, to fight restrictions on animal agriculture. 

“While Trump has advocates for trophy hunting, puppy mills, factory farming, and horse slaughter on his side, Hillary Clinton has a strong record of taking a stand against many of these issues,” Markarian says. The group has cut an ad that calls Trump a ‘threat to animals everywhere.”

White House garden has life beyond Obamas. A $2.5 million donation from the Burpee seed company and the Burpee Foundation will ensure that the White House kitchen garden stays in operation when the Obamas leave in January. The money is being given through the National Park Foundation to the National Park Service, which maintains the White House grounds. 

At an event yesterday to announce the funding, First Lady Michelle Obama said the kitchen garden started a “national conversation about how we live and eat” and has launched a movement that she predicted will continue long after she leaves the White House. 

She also defended her “Let’s Move!” anti-obesity initiative from critics on the left who say she gave in to the industry and achieved only superficial improvements in food products. She said industry has made “transformational changes.” Companies are “racing to market smaller, lower-calorie versions of their snacks and beverages – from half-sized candy bars to little, mini soda cans. We see it everywhere we go,” she said.

NCGA tells EPA to rethink atrazine assessment. The National Corn Growers Association says EPA's ecological risk assessment for atrazine is deeply flawed. NCGA submitted a scientific review of the agency’s work as a comment period ended yesterday.

The review, prepared by Intrinsik Environmental Sciences, says that throughout the assessment, EPA ignored the advice of its own scientific review panels and failed to consider high-quality data, resulting in significant overstatements of ecological risk from the herbicide, whose biggest user is corn growers.

NCGA says that if implemented, the assessment's recommended threshold for ecological risk would be so low that growers could no longer use atrazine, which NCGA says is needed more than ever with glyphosate-resistant weeds becoming more widespread.

"If atrazine, one of the most studied herbicides with a proven track-record of over 50 years of safe use, is experiencing such difficulty in re-registration the future does not bode well for other crop protection tools,” NCGA President Wesley Spurlock said in a letter that accompanied the group’s comments. 

USDA trimming ads, PR. USDA’s spending on advertising and public relations contracts has fallen sharply in recent years in contrast to many other areas of the government. According to a study by the Government Accountability Office, USDA’s spent about $4 million on ads and PR contracts in fiscal 2015, less than half the average that the department spent each year over the previous decade. 

By comparison, the Defense Department spent $591 million in 2015 and the Department of Health and Human Services spent $114 million.

On the other hand, USDA has maintained one of the government’s largest public relations staffs, although it has shrunk somewhat, falling from a high of 538 over the past decade to under 500. Public relations salaries at USDA average about $43 million a year, second only to the Pentagon.

FDA cracks down on Vietnamese rice. The USA Rice Federation is praising FDA for snagging some Vietnamese rice imports that had illegal pesticide residues.

The agency has rejected 95 shipping containers of jasmine rice from Vietnam from January through August, USA Rice said. The group said it hopes the rejections will help drum up more business for U.S.-grown rice.

Betsy Ward, CEO of USA Rice, said there is “no need to import jasmine rice from more than 11,000 miles away when we grow it here.”

She said it. “Let’s be very clear, this isn’t just a trend.  It’s not a passing fad.  This healthy eating stuff, it’s here to stay, and we now have everything we need to seize the opportunity and give all our kids the healthy futures they so richly deserve.” - First Lady Michelle Obama

Steve Davies and Bill Tomson contributed to this report. 


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