One of the last of the "Watergate babies" elected to Congress in 1974, Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy said on Monday he will retire next year after eight terms in the Senate that included stints as chairman of its Appropriations, Agriculture and Judiciary committees. Leahy shepherded passage of the national organic standards law in 1990 and oversaw expansion of SNAP and the school lunch program.
Global food company Danone has given a year's notice to 79 organic dairy farms in the Northeast that it will stop buying their milk on Aug. 31, 2022. The decision is just the latest squeeze on organic dairy producers, who face rising costs and pressures to consolidate.
The farmer-members of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery in Vermont voted overwhelmingly on Monday to merge with the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America.
Members of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, a century-old dairy cooperative in Vermont, will vote later this month on whether to merge with the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America. But even as low milk prices and ongoing consolidation have threatened the region’s dairy farmers, St. Albans’ members are split on whether linking up with DFA will address their woes.
In a first for the dairy industry, the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s has signed an agreement to eventually buy all of its milk from Vermont dairies that uphold rigorous standards for treatment and pay of employees. The standards, known as Milk with Dignity, were devised by the workers themselves and based on the Fair Food Program established by tomato workers in Florida under the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).
From Vermont’s Lake Champlain to rivers in California, waterways are being overloaded with nutrient pollution running off farms. But Vermont took an approach to cleaning up its waterways that could well serve as a model for other states, especially now that the federal government is in regulatory retreat in the Trump era, writes Paul Greenberg in FERN’s latest story with Eating Well magazine.
When Congress passed the GMOs-in-food disclosure bill a week ago, the White House said President Obama would sign it. The bill, which reverses a longstanding federal policy that labels are not needed, is likely to be treated matter of factly, to be marked by a written notice rather than the pubic signing ceremony given to major legislation.
President Obama is ready to sign the GMOs-in-food disclosure bill that is speeding through Congress and would punctuate more than two decades of controversy over agricultural biotechnology. The House was expected to give final congressional approval to the bill today, sending it to the White House one week after Senate passage.
If a gate-keeping committee has its way, the House will have one hour to debate a GMO-disclosure bill with no opportunity to amend it before being asked to pass the most talked-about food-and-ag legislation of the year. House approval would send the bill, which pre-empts state GMO-labeling laws and mandates nationwide disclosure of GMO ingredients, to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.
Food processors, grocers, farm groups and exporters asked House leaders for speedy passage this week of the GMO-disclosure bill to resolve "one of the most significant issues that the agriculture and food industry has faced in recent years." The Rules Committee would take the first step toward a vote at a meeting today to set the parameters of debate on the bill, which senators passed last week.
In a 2-to-1 vote, senators cleared the way for passage as early as today of the GMO-disclosure bill that pre-empts state labeling laws and allows foodmakers to use a digital code, a symbol or wording on food packages to alert consumers to genetically engineered ingredients. That would leave one week for the House to act before Congress adjourns for the summer.
The Republican leaders of the House may call the GMO-in-food disclosure bill for a vote as early as Wednesday, the last hurdle before sending the bill to the White House to be signed into law. The advocacy group Just Label It, which opposes the bill but considers passage certain, said "the fight for national mandatory GMO transparency now shifts to USDA and the marketplace."
Senate backers of the GMO-disclosure bill are optimistic of winning a showdown vote today that would allow passage of the bill this week. With little time for Congress to act before its summer recess, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley said the Senate bill would arrive as a "take it or leave it proposition" for the House — and Rep. Mike Pompeo, sponsor of a successful GMO bill, said the House probably would accept the Senate version.
Two decades into the era of agricultural biotechnology, the Senate passed, 63-30, a bill that requires foodmakers nationwide to say if their products contain GMO ingredients. The bill, which also pre-empts state GMO food-labeling laws, now goes to the House for action one week before Congress adjourns for the summer.
After the showdown vote scheduled for Wednesday in the Senate, the outlook for a GMO-disclosure bill may darken. The Senate bill, which preempts state GMO food-labeling laws along with allowing foodmakers to use a symbol, a digital code or wording on a package to disclose GMO ingredients, has few friends in the House, which has voted against mandatory labeling.
Vermont's first-in-the-nation GMO food-labeling law takes effect today and some grocers worry that some products will suddenly be unavailable. Store owner Ray Bouffard told the Burlington Free Press that a soda vendor plans to stop shipments today and, with Fourth of July cookouts approaching, a supplier says it won't provide marshmallows, a staple for campfire snacks.
The GMOs-in-food disclosure bill written by leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee "is actually a non-labeling bill" that "exempts major portions of current and future GMO foods from labeling," said a coalition of organic food, environmental and consumer groups on the same day the largest U.S. farm group announced support for the bill. "The bill is not perfect but it correctly puts the federal government in the driver's seat in important areas such as protecting interstate commerce and new crop development techniques," said the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Vermont broadcaster WCAX-TV says Coca-Cola, the largest soft drink company in the world, "is advising stores that some of its products, like individual cans and bottles, will no longer be available" when the state's GMO food-label law goes into effect on Friday.
The senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee gave a copy of her GMO food-labeling bill to chairman Pat Roberts and started staff-level briefings of farm and environmental groups, said The Hagstrom Report — steps that suggest a well-advanced effort to resolve the issue.