Many farmers will "face tight bottom lines, even negative returns in some cases," during 2018, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in describing the state of the rural economy as fragile. "We project continuing low commodity prices and trade challenges in the face of large global supplies and a relatively strong dollar in the coming year."
In the face of industry complaints, the Food and Drug Administration said it would extend the date, now set for January 2018, to comply with agricultural water standards for produce. In an announcement, the agency said "the length of the extension is under consideration" and will be determined "using appropriate procedures at a later time." The extension does not apply to sprouts.
A new FDA regulation, issued as part of implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, says farms and farm-operated businesses that sell directly to customers are exempt from regulation as food facilities, a category aimed at processing plants. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said the regulation would prevent undue regulation of small farms.
The top FDA official involved in stricter controls on antibiotics in livestock and implementation of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization law, Michael Taylor, will leave the agency on June 1 after more than five years as deputy commissioner.
The Obama administration issued two rules, applying to food and feed, that require companies to analyze weak spots in their operations and implement plans to prevent contamination of their products. The so-called preventive-control rules are the first of seven that the FDA is writing under the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act.