agricultural regulation

Ag groups urge USDA to take over regulation of GE animals

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 …

Farmworker safety agency is needed in California, says report

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 …

How an Iowa hog baron accrued power and built a CAFO empire that transformed his state

"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)

Biden links climate change, jobs and environmental justice

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." 

Trump runs in rural America on ethanol, tax cuts, regulatory relief

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."

Balance safety, innovation in gene-edited animals, says FDA chief

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."

USDA approves state hemp production plans

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.

With Costco chicken plant set to open, Nebraskans want more oversight of poultry farms

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)

Missouri bill that would end local control of CAFOs heads to governor’s desk

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.

In Missouri, lawmakers are poised to eliminate local regulation of CAFOs

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)

Beto O’Rourke releases climate plan, includes ag measures

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.

Author of ‘Freedom to Farm’ law, Pat Roberts, to retire after 40 years in Congress

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.

Federal court finds Wyoming’s ag-gag laws unconstitutional

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.

USDA and FDA seek to cooperate on regulating cell-culture technology

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.

With new bill, Iowa Rep. aims to undercut state agriculture regulations

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.

Two House committee chairs call for dismissal of wetlands lawsuit

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.

Trump seeks regulatory reform for agriculture

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.

Aide to North Carolina senator becomes White House agriculture adviser

Ray Starling, who grew up on a farm in North Carolina and worked as chief of staff for Sen. Thom Tillis, will serve as White House adviser on agriculture, trade and food assistance, said the National Economic Council. The National Pork Producers Council, a farm group, called the appointment "a clear signal of (President Trump's) commitment to reverse unnecessary regulations inhibiting pork producers and all U.S. farmers."

Uncertain outlook for food policy in Trump era, say experts

President-elect Donald Trump attacked over-regulation by the government during his campaign, so "big questions have arisen over how far he'll go," said Civil Eats, which spoke to food-policy activists about the outlook. With Republicans in control of Congress, the budgets of the EPA and the FDA could come under attack, but it would be very difficult to eliminate an agency like EPA, said food-safety advocates.

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