New leaders for USDA meat inspection, crop subsidy and marketing agencies

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Carmen Rottenberg will lead USDA's meat inspection agency, Richard Fordyce will head the Farm Service Agency, and Bruce Summers is the new chief of the Agricultural Marketing Service.

FDA sniffs at snortable chocolate

Nutrition professor and food author Marion Nestle says the FDA dropped the hammer on the promoters of “snortable Coco Loko ... cocoa powder infused with caffeine, ginkgo, taurine, and guarani.”

It sounds like a spoof, but it’s your Thanksgiving turkey

It was a comic skit on Portlandia: two hipsters asking about the provenance of the locally raised chicken being served in a restaurant. But farce has become fact this holiday season under a pilot program by Cargill that allows consumers to identify the farm that raised their turkey.

Companion bills encourage sale of local food

With an eye toward the 2018 farm bill, congressional backers of regional food marketing efforts filed bills in the House and Senate that would expand local and direct sales of food, which were estimated at $8.7 billion in 2015.

Will setback for soda warnings in California affect GMO labeling?

The U.S. appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the city’s ordinance requiring health warnings on display advertisements for sugar-sweetened drinks is a violation of the Constitution’s freedom of speech protections. A lawyer for the Washington Legal Foundation told the San Francisco Chronicle that the ruling, by recognizing “the right not to speak,” puts a cloud over government efforts to require labeling of foods made with GMO ingredients.

Food companies go their own way on certifying what’s ethical, sustainable

In an effort to save money and better serve their brand image, some major companies are breaking from third-party certifiers, such as FairTrade and the Rainforest Alliance, and developing their own schemes for certifying which products meet standards of sustainability and ethics, reports Reuters. 

U.S. decides Amazon purchase of Whole Foods won’t hurt competition

Amazon can proceed with its purchase of Whole Foods after getting the green light from the Federal Trade Commission, which determined that the deal will not reduce competition in the grocery sector. The FTC announced its decision hours after Whole Foods’ stockholders approved the $13.7 billion transaction, said CNBC.

USDA delays fair-play rule for livestock marketing until April 22

In line with the regulatory freeze announced when President Trump took office, the USDA said it was delaying for 60 days, until April 22, the implementation of a new fair-play rule that makes it easier for livestock producers to prove unfair treatment at the hands of packers and processors. The largest cattle, hog and broiler chicken groups say the rule, issued in mid-December after being blocked for years by Congress, is the Obama administration's revenge on farmers for voting for Trump.

U.S. cyclist is first GMO-sponsored competitor at Olympics

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, a cyclist specializing in the individual women's time trial, "will head to the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro with the apparent distinction of being the first athlete ever sponsored by a crop bred using biotechnology," says Capital Press.