As part of President Biden's initiative to strengthen U.S. supply chains, the Agriculture Department announced $196 million in grants, loans, and loan guarantees to projects to expand domestic food and agriculture production on Monday. The awards range from loan guarantees to expand a nut processing plant in California and develop a 35-acre tomato greenhouse and processing plant in South Carolina, to 170 smaller grants across the country.
While California took the spotlight with a new law banning four food additives, FDA deputy commissioner Jim Jones said on Monday that the agency will adopt "a more meaningful agenda" on food chemicals as it reorganizes its food safety wing. Jones, who began work two months ago as chief of human foods, has said the safe use of chemicals and dietary supplements is one of his three priorities.
As Golden State farmers brace for another rainy winter, a new report is urging state officials to aggressively prepare for wet years as much as it prepares for dry ones. Climate change is expected to fuel both more extreme droughts and more winter storms. And while California has made progress in managing drought conditions, it has a long way to go in managing floods. (No paywall)
The Food and Drug Administration moved to ban the use of brominated vegetable oil in food on Thursday, saying new tests proved conclusively that it was not safe. The agency acted a month after California outlawed BVO, along with three other food additives: potassium bromate, propylparaben, and red dye No. 3.
A generation ago, California surpassed Wisconsin, "America's Dairyland," as the No. 1 milk-producing state, a shift that exemplified the growing prominence of dairy farms in the West and Southwest with huge herds producing a flood of milk. The competition is more equally balanced now, said an analysis on Monday. Milk production is roughly equal between the "traditional" dairy states of the Midwest and Northeast and the "modern" states.
By the end of this decade, "there is a high chance there will be no petroleum diesel used" in California, said agricultural economist Aaron Smith on Monday. This historic upheaval of the fuel market is being driven by state regulations promoting cleaner-burning fuels, he said. "Most California diesel is now made from animal fat, corn oil, soybean oil or used cooking oil."
While price is the key concern for grocery shoppers at the meat case, a Purdue survey indicates that consumers are more willing to accept higher pork prices if they are the result of meeting animal welfare standards such as California’s Proposition 12, which requires farmers to give breeding sows more room to stand up, lie down, and turn around.
The president of the National Pork Producers Council, which fought California’s Proposition 12 animal welfare law all the way to the Supreme Court, said on Tuesday he won’t convert his Missouri hog farm to satisfy the California rules. Scott Hays told reporters that it wasn’t clear if making the required renovations, meant to give breeding sows more room to move about, would pay off.
Since it was confirmed in Florida 25 years ago, citrus greening disease has slashed citrus production in the state by 75 percent and infected trees in Louisiana, Texas, and California. USDA researchers said on Thursday they have found a potential remedy that boosts a citrus tree’s natural resistance to disease, including citrus greening.
A growing number of states are reimbursing schools for buying locally grown and produced foods in an effort to improve children's diets while supporting local farmers. Before the pandemic, eight states and the District of Columbia had programs that subsidize local food purchases at schools — seven more states have added these programs since 2020.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law legislation banning sow crates and veal-calf stalls that severely restrict the movements of the animals in New Jersey, saying it would ensure humane farming practices. New Jersey is the 15th state to ban sow crates, veal stalls, or "battery" cages for egg-laying hens, said the Humane Society of the United States, which fought for the legislation for years.
Large-scale farmers and ranchers are slightly more optimistic than they were last month that Congress will pass a farm bill this year, but they doubt it will be a vehicle for overturning California’s Proposition 12 animal welfare law, said the Ag Economy Barometer on Wednesday. The pork industry is seeking a legislative override of Prop 12 after losing a Supreme Court challenge to the voter-approved law in May.
Irked by California’s Proposition 12, seven farm-state senators announced legislation on Thursday to prohibit states from regulating agricultural production in other states. Virtually anyone — producer, distributor, trade group, transporter, consumer, and laborer were named in the bill — would be empowered to challenge such regulatory infringement in court and seek financial compensation.
One in six of the older Americans targeted by an expansion of SNAP work requirements in the debt ceiling bill negotiated by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden lives in California, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Wednesday.
California’s historic snowmelt is refilling the Central Valley’s Tulare Lake Basin and reviving what was once the largest lake west of the Mississippi, but state officials now expect the flooding will be less devastating than previously feared.
In the last few weeks, academics and labor advocates have released a flurry of studies and surveys with the same urgent finding: Climate disasters are wreaking havoc on the health, safety, and economic stability of farmworkers, and well-funded government programs are the best way to provide workers with relief. (No paywall)
The meat industry encouraged farm-state lawmakers on Wednesday to legislatively override the Supreme Court ruling that gives states the power to set animal welfare standards and regulate meat sales. The Supreme Court decision upholding California’s Proposition 12 “opens the door to chaos,” said Bryan Burns of the North American Meat Institute.
David "Mas" Matsumoto says he farms with ghosts, says producer Lisa Morehouse. On his family’s organic peach, nectarine and grape farm south of Fresno, he points out pruning scars from long-time workers, and walks down rows of trees he planted with his father. He says the labor and lessons of his ancestors are in the soil and the grapevines and orchards, and he’s passing these on to the next generations, Morehouse says in FERN's latest audio report produced in collaboration with KQED's The California Report. No paywall