U.S. hits Thailand for blocking American pork

The United States suspended $817 million in trade preferences granted to Thailand "based on its lack of sufficient progress [in] providing the United States with equitable and reasonable market access for pork products," said the Office of the U.S. trade representative on Sunday. Trade representative Robert Lighthizer said when countries fail to meet the criteria to participate in the General System of Preferences, "we will take action by limiting their preferential duty-free access to the U.S. market."

Can your seafood be free of slave labor? New tool tries to help.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, known best for its red, yellow, and green sustainable seafood-rating scheme, is unveiling its first Seafood Slavery Risk Tool today. It’s a database designed to help corporate seafood buyers assess the risk of forced labor, human trafficking, and hazardous child labor in the seafood they purchase. (No paywall)

Human rights violations continue in Thai seafood industry, report finds

More than three years after an investigation by the Guardian revealed that Thai fishing boats were enslaving their workers, Human Rights Watch reports that little has changed in the Thai seafood supply chain.

Report finds trafficking, abuse still rampant in Thailand’s fishing industry

More than a third of migrant fishermen working in Thailand over the past five years have been victims of trafficking, and three-quarters of them have been in “debt bondage, working to pay off an obligation,” said Reuters, citing a new study by the anti-trafficking group International Justice Mission.

Chinese call for end to dog meat festival

A growing number of Chinese activists are calling for the city of Yulin, China, to cancel its annual dog-meat festival, slated for June 21st, says NPR. Since 2010, the city has butchered thousands of dogs, many of which were originally pets that were stolen from their owners, sometimes by gangs who sedate them with poisoned darts. Activists in the UK, Canada and U.S. have long campaigned against the country’s dog-eating traditions. But now that more Chinese citizens own pets, the practice of consuming dog is increasingly unpopular domestically, too.

El Niño droughts may test world rice reserves

The world may be headed for its first tight rice supply since the spike in global food prices nearly a decade ago, says a social scientist at the International Rice Research Institute, part of a network of agricultural research centers.

Dry weather threatens world’s largest rice exporter

The rice harvest for the world's largest rice exporter, Thailand, is shriveling due to water shortages. USDA forecasts a crop of 10 million tonnes for 2015/16, down 15 percent from last season.

Back as top exporter, Thailand to set record for rice sales

Back as the No 1 rice exporter in the world, Thailand will export a record 11 million tonnes of rice during 2015 due in part to higher demand from Indonesia, whose population is growing more rapidly than rice production, said the Agriculture Department in...

Smallest rice crop in drought-hit California in 16 years

While U.S. rice production is zooming, California will see its smallest crop in 16 years, said USDA in its Rice Outlook report. The harvest was forecast at 36.4 million hundredweight, down 24 percent due to drought that restricted plantings.

Global corn crop up 12 percent in two years

Farmers around the world are boosting corn production by 12 percent, or 112 million tonnes, since drought-hit 2012, says the International Grains Council. Larger corn crops are the major reason for the surge in global grain production notwithstanding a record-large wheat crop this season, forecast for 713 million tonnes. IGC, based in London, estimated the global corn crop at 973 million tonnes this year, led by 355 million tonnes in the United States, more than a third of the world total. China is the second-largest grower, with 22 percent of the world crop.