News

  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 08/26/2014 by Amanda Bryant

    The California Department of Food and Agriculture, in accordance with CEQA guidelines, has released the draft Statewide Plant Pest Prevention and Management Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

    The draft Program EIR is a crucial step as CDFA carries out its responsibility to protect the state’s food supply and natural resources. Responding to invasive species such as plant pests and diseases is one of the primary ways that CDFA helps farmers and ranchers maintain a constant, dependable and safe supply of food.

    The draft Program EIR document provides a comprehensive, transparent overview of management programs to protect California’s food system through the principles of integrated pest management, while also protecting public health and the environment.

    The draft Program EIR includes a process to evaluate and include new developments and potential environmental impacts – called Tiering – while providing for public participation throughout the pest ...

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  • Nathan  Bowen Posted on 08/26/2014 by Nathan Bowen

    Reports circulated last week, confirming earlier rumors, that the U.S. had lost the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) case before the World Trade Organization (WTO). Canada and Mexico had challenged the U.S. labeling rule that requires COOL on meat products. Once the report is made public in late September or early October, the U.S. will have 60 days to appeal the ruling. Canada has issued a list of possible tariffs it is considering imposing on U.S. imports in retaliation.

    Written by Rebecca Creighton

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/26/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published its final amended rule for the “Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection,” which establishes a new inspection system for young chicken and all turkey slaughter establishments. FSIS is also making changes to regulations that will affect all establishments that slaughter poultry other than ratites. The final rule comes after a two year review of the more than 250,000 responses the government received during a 120-day comment period in 2012. The rule goes into effect Oct. 20, and companies seeking to operate under NPIS must notify USDA by Feb. 23, 2015.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/26/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    USDA is providing $25 million through the Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grant Program for agricultural entrepreneurs to turn commodities into Value-Added products. The 2014 Farm Bill increases mandatory funding for the program from $15 million to $63 million over five years (while also reauthorizing an additional $40 million in discretionary funding). USDA is awarding Value-Added Producer Grants in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Micronesia. A full list of recipients is available here. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/26/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    Last Friday, EPA submitted the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). There is no clearly defined timeline for OMB to complete its review. Some have speculated OMB may wait until after the election while others note OMB completed the review of the 2013 standards in just 34 days.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/26/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    U.S. District Court in Hawaii found a Kauai county ordinance is preempted by state law and therefore invalid. The county ordinance required farms to disclose pesticide use over a certain threshold and implemented a 500-foot buffer zone near schools, homes, and several other locations. The law's effective date was extended to October, but the court’s ruling stops the county from enforcing the ordinance altogether. Syngenta was the named plaintiff in the case, and the County of Kauai along with Earthjustice and other NGOs were the defendants.

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 08/19/2014 by Amanda Bryant
    A Welcome Note from Dr. Barbara Glenn

    As I begin my first week as NASDA CEO, I am excited to bring my experience as a policy researcher and advocate for agriculture to advance NASDA’s work as a unifying voice across the nationwide community of agriculture. I truly believe state departments of agriculture are the backbone of the ever important American agriculture sector.

    I am looking forward to working with NASDA Members from across the country, as well as our federal partners and other stakeholders that are so important to NASDA’s success. It is an honor to lead a team that has worked to raise the profile and financial stability of the organization over the past several years. I will devote my energies to continuing this work and look forward to working with all of you to advocate for American agriculture.

    I am available anytime via email at barb@nasda.org. I look forward to meeting all of you and hope to see you at our Annual Meeting in Vermont!

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/19/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    USDA Undersecretary for Marketing & Regulatory Programs, Ed Avalos, issued a letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) expressing concerns over Canadian Pacific’s (CP) shipping backlog and stated CP is not doing enough to prepare and facilitate this fall’s grain harvest in the upper Midwest. USDA is requesting CP explain how the rail carrier will facilitate the backlog by October and requesting the STB consider remedies if CP fails to meet its obligations.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/19/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    USDA announced nearly $40 million in loans for new or improved broadband service in rural parts of Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas. The loans are being funded through USDA Rural Utilities Service's Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program to finance projects to expand voice, video and data services.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/19/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    By all accounts, the White House is expected to take executive action in the coming weeks, possibly as soon as Labor Day, which may revise deportation protocols and expand a safe harbor program and work permits for qualified illegal immigrants. A broad coalition of agricultural and business interests is asking the Administration to provide more flexibility for farm workers.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/19/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    A U.S. District Judge in Utah ruled plaintiffs can continue their suit in the country’s first legal challenge to an “ag-gag” law criminalizing undercover investigations. Plaintiffs in the case, including PETA and other animal rights groups, intend to strike down Utah’s statue, which makes it a misdemeanor to enter a farm under false pretenses and take video or sound recordings. It was passed in 2012, and at least six other states have statutes with similar measures.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/19/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    USDA published a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) Inviting Applications for the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) for Fiscal Year 2014 to provide financial and technical assistance to housing, community facility, and community and economic development projects. The grants will make nearly $6 million available to qualified organizations under the RCDI. The deadline for submitting RCDI applications is November 12, 2014.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/19/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    NASDA recently submitted comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed changes to the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulation which was written in 1992. Although NASDA supports updating and modernizing the WPS regulation, significant areas of the proposal miss the mark by placing unnecessary burdens on state regulatory agencies and the regulated community, without providing additional appreciable protections for workers.

    NASDA expressed concerns in its comments with a number of additional regulatory requirements the proposal would impose on state agencies and the regulated community. Instead of promulgating these proposed revisions, NASDA urges the agency to focus the necessary resources to work with state lead agencies and agricultural stakeholders to enhance the effectiveness of the current WPS.

    NASDA formed a WPS Action Team, which consisted of over 30 state departments of agriculture participants, to review and inform NASDA’s ...

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  • Nathan  Bowen Posted on 08/12/2014 by Nathan Bowen

    Russia has banned imports of agricultural and food products from the U.S. and other countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. The one year ban extends to U.S. fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy products. Poultry, pork, tree nut exporters are expected to be the most heavily impacted U.S. sectors.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/12/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    USDA’s Farm Service Agency is now accepting enrollment for the Cotton Transition Assistance Program (CTAP) through Oct. 7, 2014. CTAP provides interim payments to cotton producers during the 2014 crop year until the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) is available. CTAP applications approved before Oct. 1 are subject to congressionally mandated automatic reductions of 7.2 percent for the 2014 crop year, and applications approved after Oct. 1 will be reduced by the required 7.3 percent for the 2015 crop year. These reductions to program payments are required under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/12/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    Last week’s USDA Grain Transportation Report found Canadian Pacific (CP) continues to experience challenges in addressing its backlog. According to the report, BNSF has made steady improvements, but the CP, “does not have an accurate idea of how large its backlog is, complicating efforts to estimate whether it can clear its backlog within the remaining time before harvest.” In addition to the rail capacity challenges, the on-going labor dispute in one of the largest terminals in the Pacific Northwest continues to cause growing backlogs for grain exports.

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  • Nathan  Bowen Posted on 08/05/2014 by Nathan Bowen

    Congress began its annual August recess at the end of last week, with the House and Senate leaving town without coming to an agreement on annual appropriations measures or a continuing resolution to fund the federal government past the September 30 end of the fiscal year. When Congress returns to Washington September 8, legislators will have only a handful of legislative days to enact a government funding measure and other “must-pass” legislation before breaking again at the beginning of October for the lead up to midterm elections.

    The House and Senate did agree last week, after significant jockeying between the two chambers, to a short-term patch for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) that would keep funds flowing to road and bridge construction projects. The $11 billion patch will keep the HTF afloat for 10 months.

    Prior to recessing for August, the House passed legislation (H.R. 935) Thursday that would remove duplicative Clean Water Act NPDES permitting requirements for ...

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  • Nathan  Bowen Posted on 08/05/2014 by Nathan Bowen

    The full D.C. Circuit Court ruled last week against an industry-backed challenge to USDA’s Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements. Meanwhile, the final WTO compliance report on the US’s implementation of COOL has been delivered to the parties in the case, but has yet to be publically released.

    India told the World Trade Organization (WTO) last week that it would oppose implementation of Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which was negotiated last year in Bali and would create binding commitments across over 150 WTO Members to expedite movement, release and clearance of goods, improve cooperation among WTO Members on customs matters, and help developing countries fully implement the obligations. India’s opposition to the TFA will pull the plug on the agreement as consensus among all parties was required for its implementation.

    Also this week, Russia is escalating pressure on U.S. and European agricultural interests as both sides continue to impose sanctions ...

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 08/05/2014 by Amanda Bryant
    NASDA Attends White House Event Honoring “Champions of Change”

    Last week, Dudley Hoskins, NASDA's Public Policy Counsel, attended a White House ceremony honoring “Champions of Change” in agriculture. USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden discussed efforts to make sure beginning farmers and ranchers have access to the programs and support they need. NASDA was also pleased to see DOL Assistant Secretary (and former NASDA member), Keith Kelly, host one of the panel discussions.

    Photo: Dudley Hoskins with Kent Schescke, Director, Government and Non-Profit Division, National FFA

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 08/05/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    Last week, EPA announced an extension to two compliance and reporting deadlines for the 2013 Renewable Fuels Standard. The new deadline for compliance and reporting for the 2013 RFS will not be due until 30 days and 90 days, respectively, following publication of the final rule establishing the 2014 renewable fuel percentage standards for cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel and total renewable fuel in the Federal Register. EPA has not yet announced a date for publication of the final rule.

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