Farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley didn’t stop over-pumping groundwater when doing so contaminated local water supplies with arsenic, and they didn’t stop when the valley’s floor began sinking underneath them, by a foot per year in some places. State officials have long hoped to stop them with regulations—and last week, they decided that several local regulatory plans weren’t strong enough. (No paywall)
Republican lawmakers, who have chafed and balked at President Biden's climate initiatives for months, would use their expanded strength from the midterm elections to hobble the administration's climate agenda for agriculture. Two members of the House Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture already have hinted at a crackdown on USDA's spending powers. (No paywall)
Calling it a step for “much-needed innovations,” 11 agricultural organizations urged an Agriculture Department takeover of federal regulation of genetically engineered food animals, now in FDA’s hands. The Trump administration proposed the transfer — over FDA objections — in late 2020 and it …
The pandemic “simply became another life-threatening hazard” among many facing Indigenous farmworkers in California, said a report released on Monday. Based on surveys and interviews of more than 300 workers, the report called for the creation of a state agency dedicated to enforcing …
"Since Iowa Select Farms was founded in 1992, the state’s pig population has increased more than 50 percent — while the number of farms raising hogs has declined over 80 percent," as Charlie Mitchell and Austin Frerick explain in FERN's latest story, published with Vox. "In the last 30 years, 26,000 Iowa farms quit the long-standing tradition of raising pigs. As confinements replaced them, rural communities have continued to hollow out." (No paywall)
Introducing his climate team, President-elect Biden said his administration would respond to the existential threat of climate change "by building a modern, climate-resilient infrastructure and a clean energy future" that would put millions of Americans to work. "And we are committed to facing climate change by delivering environmental justice."
President Trump is ending his re-election campaign in rural America on the same issues that boosted him in 2016: Promises of tax cuts, fewer federal regulations and support for corn ethanol. In addition, farmers are wealthy from $23 billion in trade-war payments, said Trump in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sunday; "That's why you're all here and you're all happy."
Gene editing has enormous potential to improve health and food production, but innovation must be governed by well-rooted standards of safety and effectiveness, said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. "The agency is a trusted global regulator and we are committed to overseeing this space in a manner that fosters innovation, protects consumer confidence and protects the public health."
For all its cachet as a potential money-making crop for American farmers, industrial hemp ranked midway between safflower and flaxseed in plantings, with an estimated 230,000 acres in 2019, and industry leaders disagree whether 2020 will be a year of expansion or retrenchment. But the USDA is approving state plans to regulate hemp production and offering crop insurance for hemp growers, steps that could help establish the crop.
The arrival of a Costco chicken processing plant in Fremont, Nebraska, spurred the introduction of the state’s first industrial chicken farms in 2018. With the plant set to begin operations after Labor Day, some residents are pushing for stronger — or any — oversight of large poultry farms in the state.(No paywall)
A bill in Missouri that would eliminate local regulation of CAFOs has passed in the state Senate and House and is headed to the desk of Gov. Mike Parson, who is expected to sign it into law. Opponents of the bill say it favors the interests of the largest livestock farms while exposing communities to greater health and environmental risks.
Communities in Missouri have been fighting the expansion of large-scale livestock operations in the state for years. But a controversial pair of bills moving through the state legislature would make community oversight of those farms even harder. The bills would eliminate local ordinances that regulate industrial animal farms in the state, or make it impossible to enforce those ordinances. The bills mirror trends in other states where legislators have moved to undermine local control of large-scale livestock farms.(No paywall)
Former congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke unveiled a $5-trillion climate plan Tuesday that calls for reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and includes a number of agricultural initiatives to reduce and mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions on farms and deal with extreme weather events.
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, the only lawmaker to chair the Senate and House Agriculture committees, will retire in 2020 after four decades in Congress. Roberts was the author of the landmark Freedom to Farm law of 1996 that removed most federal controls over what crops farmers grow.
The U.S. District Court in Wyoming ruled Monday that the state’s ag-gag laws are unconstitutional. The ruling comes after several years of litigation between the state and plaintiffs who argued the laws were written solely to deter monitoring of the effects of agriculture on the state’s water, land, and air.
The Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration began a two-day stakeholder meeting Tuesday to discuss how to regulate livestock and poultry produced with cell-culture technology. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb emphasized that both agencies have a role in creating a regulatory framework for lab-grown meat, but suggested such a framework will still take months to complete.
A vast body of state laws regulates farming, from monitoring agricultural pollution and farm runoff, to pesticide applications, labor rules, and animal welfare. But many of those regulations could be subject to challenge if recently proposed legislation in Congress becomes law. The skirmish over the new legislation is the latest in a long series of fights about who is best suited to regulate food production, processing, and labeling—the federal government, or the states. This time, the fight could make it all the way to the farm bill.
California farmer John Duarte, the poster boy for farm groups complaining of federal over-regulation of wetlands, has high-powered supporters in Congress who are appealing for the government to drop its long-running case against him. The Republican chairmen of the House Agriculture and Judiciary committees wrote Attorney General Jeff Sessions to argue that the case against Duarte is unfounded.
President Trump will sign an executive order today for a government-wide review of regulations, policies and laws "that hinder economic growth in agriculture," said White House agriculture adviser Ray Starling. Ag groups typically regard USDA as their advocate in the federal government and generally say their problems come from other agencies, EPA most prominently.