Federal Register

U.S. relaxes trade regulations with Cuba, may aid ag exports

The Obama administration relaxed trade rules with Cuba, changes that were promised when President Obama announced normalization of relations on Dec 17. The Treasury and Commerce departments published regulations in the Federal Register to facilitate trade. "These changes will immediately enable the American people to provide more resources to empower the Cuban population to become less dependent upon the state-driven economy, and help facilitate our growing relationship with the Cuban people," said the White House.

USDA approves GE cotton and soy that tolerate dicamba

The government approved cultivation of genetically engineered cotton and soybean varieties from Monsanto that tolerate the weedkillers dicamba and glufosinate. So-called super weeds that are resistant to glyphosate, a widely used herbicide known as Roundup, have prompted work on biotech plants that can be matched with other herbicides.USDA said a Federal Register notice of its decision was scheduled to appear on Tuesday, the effective date for deregulation of the new Monsanto strains.

Goodbye, DEIP and EEP

The government has erased from its books the regulations for two export subsidy programs, the Export Enhancement Program and Dairy Export Incentive Program, that were mothballed years ago.

Environmental review clears way for release of parasitic wasp

There would be no significant environmental impact from releasing a parasitic wasp "to reduce the severity of infestations of" a tiny insect that spreads citrus greening disease, which kills citrus trees.

Maximum EQIP payment to rise to $450,000, says USDA

The maximum payment through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program will rise to $450,000 from the current $300,000, said USDA ahead of publishing an interim final rule that would incorporate changes made by the 2014 farm law.

USDA mulls “reverse auction” to preserve fragile land

USDA proposes use of a reverse auction to maximize the environmental benefits of targeted enrollment of land into the Conservation Reserve, according to a Federal Register notice.

EPA delays until 2015 the ethanol mandate for this year

With time running out to set the ethanol mandate for this year, EPA said it "is not in a position to finalize the 2014 RFS standards rule before the end of the year. Accordingly, we intend to take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015 prior to or in conjunction with action on the 2015 standards rule." EPA proposed a relaxation in the 2014 mandate nearly a year ago, saying the gasoline market was nearly saturated with biofuels at the traditional blend rate of 10 percent, partly because fuel usage is lower than expected.

USDA retools its working-lands conservation program

The Agriculture Department unveiled revisions in the Conservation Stewardship Program to reflect the directions of the 2014 farm law and invited public comments on its proposals.

USDA outlines quarterly and annual bee-loss surveys

Some 23,300 bee keepers nationwide would be contacted about honeybee mortality under a pair of surveys proposed by the Agriculture Department.

Larger loans for smaller-scale farmers

New rules for "micro loans" to small and beginning farmers will take effect on Nov 7, said the Agriculture Department in carrying out a provision of the 2014 farm law.

USDA drafting a new beef checkoff amid industry disarray

The Agriculture Department is drafting a $1 a head beef checkoff program of its own that would run alongside the current $1 checkoff that is a lightning rod for complaints of favoritism.

Parasitic wasp is safe to use against soybean aphid-USDA

In a Federal Register notice, USDA said it has drafted an environmental assessment and a finding of no significant impact if a parasitic wasp, Aphelinus rhamn, is used as a biologic control against the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines.

New dairy support program is ready for sign-up

The government announced a new approach to supporting dairy farmers, with enrollment to begin on Tuesday and conclude on Nov 28.

USDA assesses impact of GE diamondback moth

The Agriculture Department set a 30-day comment period on its environmental assessment of a proposed release of genetically engineered diamondback moths in upstate New York.

A honey of a regulation

The government set a 30-day comment period "on how a federal standard of identity for honey would be in the interest of consumers, the honey industry and U.S. agriculture."

USDA proposes broader survey of organic production

USDA, in a resubmission to the Federal Register, proposed to expand the scope of its Organic Production Survey and to make responses to its questions mandatory.

Fewer cattle will mean fewer seats on check-off board

The board that oversees the beef check-off program would lose three seats under a reapportionment proposed by USDA in the Federal Register.

Environmental review backs approval of 2,4-D crops, says USDA

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says its final environmental impact statement (EIS) for corn and soybeans genetically modified by Dow AgroSciences to tolerate herbicides including 2,4-D "affirms [our] preferred alternative to fully deregulate these new GE crops."

USDA asks comment on release of food-stamp sales data

USDA set a 35-day public comment period on how to comply with an appellate court decision for release of records showing a retailer's food stamp sales.

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