H5N1 virus was spread by cattle, people and shared equipment

After the H5N1 avian flu virus jumped from birds to dairy cattle in Texas last December, it was spread across the country by infected cows, contaminated machinery, and people who inadvertently carried the virus on their clothes and footwear from farm to farm, said USDA scientists on Thursday. Officials said the risk to the public was low because the virus has not shown signs of adapting to humans. “We should be, as we are, alert, not alarmed,” said Nirav Shah, the CDC’s principal deputy director.

Inspector general slams FDA handling of infant formula recall

The FDA lacked or had inadequate policies in place to identify risks to the infant formula supply chain when it received complaints about production at a plant in Sturgis, Michigan, said an inspector general’s report on Thursday. Months passed before the FDA warned consumers in February 2022 not to use some of the products made at the Abbott Laboratories plant, leading to a formula shortage.

Today’s quick hits, June 14, 2024

Lawsuit challenges tailpipe rule: The oil industry, two farm groups, and six auto dealers filed suit in a U.S. appeals court against the EPA’s so-called tailpipe rule, claiming it is biased against electric vehicles and discourages the sale of new cars and pickup trucks fueled by gasoline and …

Frost and dry weather damage crop in Russia, world’s top wheat exporter

Russia will harvest a markedly smaller wheat crop this summer due to harsh weather that will also reduce the wheat harvest in Ukraine, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. U.S. growers will see higher farm-gate prices for their wheat and larger exports as a result of the setbacks in the Black Sea region, said the USDA.

Survey: Higher food prices stick in Americans’ minds

A clear majority of Americans say that food prices increased more than any other household expense in the past year and that the food inflation rate is three times higher than its current 2.1 percent, according to a Purdue University survey released on Wednesday.

Today’s quick hits, June 13, 2024

Louisiana okays raw milk: State legislators passed a bill to legalize the sale of raw milk in Louisiana as long as it is labeled “not for human consumption.” More than 30 states now allow the sale of unpasteurized milk. (nola.com) Food-waste plan: The USDA, FDA, EPA, and White House announced …

Senate GOP farm bill plan: Billions more for farm subsidies, cuts in SNAP

The new farm bill should spend tens of billions of dollars more on crop subsidies and crop insurance while paring SNAP outlays, said Arkansas Sen. John Boozman in releasing the Senate GOP's outline for farm bill discussions on Tuesday. "I hope that we can get a farm bill done" this year, he said.

Pilot program advances, would limit SNAP purchases

A House Appropriations subcommittee approved on a voice vote on Tuesday a USDA-FDA funding bill that would create a pilot program to keep SNAP recipients from buying "unhealthy" foods. Subcommittee chairman Rep. Andy Harris proposed the same idea a year ago but it was ultimately dropped.

Today’s quick hits, June 12, 2024

Got oat milk?: Oat milk is a standout among beverages with U.S. sales that are soaring, increasing demand for oats by 10-15 percent, and straining supplies: the United States imports twice as many oats as it grows. (Ambrook Research) H5N1 in 93 herds: With the discovery of the H5N1 avian flu …

The hog industry embraces biogas as ‘renewable energy’; critics say its greenwashing.

As Barry Yeoman explains in FERN’s latest story, published with Sierra Magazine, “[i]ndustrial hog farms are ramping up efforts to convert methane from swine waste into biogas—a fuel that can heat homes, produce electricity, and power vehicles—by fitting waste lagoons with airtight covers …

Iowa asks USDA to compensate farmers for cows culled due to H5N1 virus

The federal government should compensate dairy farmers who send dairy cattle to slaughter because of the H5N1 avian flu virus, said Iowa state Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig, in announcing the second outbreak in the state. At least 90 herds in 12 states from Wyoming to North Carolina have been infected since bird flu was discovered in cattle in Texas in March.

Pilot project in USDA-FDA bill would limit SNAP purchases

The government would set up five pilot projects to keep SNAP recipients from buying "unhealthy foods" under a provision in the USDA-FDA funding bill released on Monday. The House bill also would block the USDA from implementing three fair-play regulations on livestock marketing and refuse to pay for "President Biden's bureaucratic pay increases."

Today’s quick hits, June 11, 2024

Jobs growth slower in rural areas: Rural employment grew by 0.9 percent last year, an increase of more than 171,000 jobs, but trailed urban increases of 1.4 to 1.6 percent, depending on the size of the metropolitan area. (Daily Yonder) Aquaculture tops fisheries: Global fisheries and …

Boosted by forage policies, crop insurance coverage tops 500 million acres

Farmers and ranchers bought crop insurance policies on more than 500 million acres of land last year, the largest amount ever, driven by the surging popularity of forage policies. Overall enrollment in crop insurance was up 85 percent in the seven years from 2016, according to USDA data.

Ethanol and oil industries decry new fuel economy standards

Gas and biofuel trade groups say new Biden administration rules that call for cars and pickup trucks to average 50.4 miles per gallon of fuel by 2031 unwisely quash the potential role of liquid fuels. The American Petroleum Institute said Congress should override the new corporate average …

Today’s quick hits, June 10, 2024

H5N1 in Wyoming herd: Wyoming is the 12th state with a dairy herd infected by the H5N1 avian flu virus, said state officials. (Wyoming Livestock Board) Aridification challenges Drought Monitor: The long-running trend toward dryness in the U.S. West raises questions about whether the weekly …

The final day of FERN’s food-waste series: the role of farm-labor abuse, and charting waste through apples

An estimated 33 percent — some 78 million tons — of the U.S. food supply is wasted every year, including nearly a pound of food per day in every household. This in a country with some 44 million food insecure people. It’s also a climate problem; all the waste generates methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide. Can’t we just send would-be-wasted food to hungry mouths? Unfortunately, our food system is notoriously inefficient, with waste found on farms, in grocery stores, schools, and our refrigerators.This special six-part series, produced in partnership with Inverse, looks at how data, technology, ingenuity, and common sense can be used to fight this waste. With all these ingredients, and a handful of worms, the solution may be within reach.

Block sales of raw milk that may contain H5N1 virus, FDA asks states

To reduce the risk of bird flu infections, state health officials should bar the sale of raw milk to consumers if it contains the H5N1 avian flu virus, said the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday. Although the FDA has long warned that raw milk is a high-risk food that may carry disease-causing pathogens, more than 30 states allow the sale of unpasteurized milk from the farm, in retail stores, or through so-called cow shares.

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