Trump’s immigration rhetoric roils farmers

Politico’s Bill Tomson writes today about farmers worried that surging Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s inflammatory statements on immigration will have long-lasting implications for farm labor.

High livestock production costs put France in an EU corner

Economic sanctions against Russia are magnifying the problems of French livestock producers, who have higher production costs than other EU members and nowhere to sell their animals in Europe's glutted meat market, says Politico.

Concerns over ‘The Other White Meat’

A U.S. Court of Appeals has allowed a lawsuit to go forward over payments between two pork organizations for the use of the iconic tagline, “Pork: the Other White Meat,” Politico reports.

Lobbying by the ‘good food’ sector is ‘limited to non-existent’

The "good food" sector, which includes Chipotle, Whole Foods and Applegate, are making inroads in the marketplace, but when it comes to policymaking, "their involvement on Capitol Hill, on issues from the farm bill to nutrition labeling, has ranged from limited to non-existent," says Politico.

Rural infrastructure fund makes first investments

The first round of funding for rural infrastructure projects was released by the year-old U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund that mixes public and private capital, said the USDA.

Five years later, update of U.S. food-safety system falters

A Politico investigation concludes that, "The Obama administration and Congress have all but squandered an opportunity to give the anemic Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for the safety of 80 percent of the food supply, a level of oversight the public has long assumed it already had.

In Hawaii, TPP question is breakthrough or break down?

Trade officials from the 12 nations involved in Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations are in Hawaii in hopes of reaching final agreement on a free-trade pact encompassing 40 percent of world economic outlook, says Politico.

The $1 billion elephant in Iowa’s caucus rooms

Iowa gets the first word on presidential nominees through its precinct caucuses, scheduled for Feb. 1, so the Hawkeye State is awash with candidates who are trying to build a bond with voters. "Yet for all their love for everyday Iowans, none of the candidates is getting anywhere near the biggest crisis to hit the state in years - one of the worst animal health emergencies in U.S. history," says Politico Magazine.

House leaders set Friday showdown on fast track for trade

Republican leaders in the House "are setting up a showdown vote Friday on the fast-track trade bill that the Obama administration says will clear the way for wrapping up negotiations on a Pacific Rim agreement," says Agri-Pulse.

FDA sets three-year phase-out for trans fats in food

Foodmakers will have three years to phase out the use of partially hydrogenated oils, the primary source of artificial trans fats, said the Food and Drug Administration. The agency said "a thorough review of the scientific evidence" showed the materials should not be part of the diet. The agency tentatively ruled in 2013 that artificial trans fats should be banned. It said it finalized that determination after considering public comments on the issue.

Ag panel members help stall fast-track package

President Obama's request for fast-track authority on trade agreements was in limbo after the House voted 302-126 against one of the elements of the package. That's a ratio of more than 2-to-1.

One-fifth of farmers have yet to make ARC/PLC choice

More than one-fifrth of farmers have yet to tell the USDA which crop-subsidy plan they want under the 2014 farm law, the insurance-like Agricultural Risk Coverage or the traditionally styled Price Loss Coverage. The deadline for action is Tuesday. Some 77 percent of grain and oilseed growers made the ARC/PLC selection by March 19, says the USDA. "We expect these numbers to continue to increase significantly by the end of the month," said Val Dolcini, head of the Farm Service Agency, during a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing.

EPA eases biofuels mandate that aided farmers

Months behind schedule, the EPA said it would set the biofuels share of the gasoline market well below the level specified by law because the fuel market is saturated with corn-based ethanol and second-generation biofuels are in scant supply. Farm groups and the ethanol industry said the agency was being short-sighted in its decision, and that the move would allow the oil industry to throttle a home-grown competitor. The American Petroleum Institute called for congressional repeal of the 2007 biofuels mandate.

White House releases five-year plan on antibiotics

The Obama administration released a five-year "national action plan" to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In a blog, the secretaries of Health, Agriculture and Defense say it is "a whole-of-government approach" built around slowing the spread of resistant bacteria; better surveillance to detect resistant bacteria; development of rapid tests to guide treatment of infections; more research into new antibiotics and alternative treatments; and expanded international health work.

House bill expected this week to pre-empt state GMO labels

Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo is expected to file a new version this week of his bill to pre-empt state laws that require labels on food made with genetically modified organisms, according to reports by Agri-Pulse and Politico. The bill would include language allowing the USDA to certify foods to be sold with a non-GMO label. Food companies that use the non-GMO label "would be barred from suggesting 'either expressly or by implication' that their products are safer than biotech versions," says Agri-Pulse.

Prospects for immigration reform dim in Congress

Comprehensive immigration reform, "until at least after the next election, is more likely to be fodder for the campaign trail than congressional action," says Politico.

First Lady brings in star power to boost produce consumption

First Lady Michelle Obama "is enlisting some high-wattage star power — including actresses Jessica Alba and Kristen Bell, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz — in a new national campaign to convince moms and teens to eat fruits and veggies," reports Politico.

Diet panel – Eat more fruit, veggies, dairy and less meat

The new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans should encourage people to eat more fruit, vegetables, dairy and whole grains and less sugar and refined grains, says a panel of experts advising the government. In its report, the panel says half of Americans have preventable, chronic diseases and two-thirds are overweight or obese. The persistent and high level of diet-related disease "raise the urgency for immediate attention and bold action," says the panel.

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