News

  • Nathan  Bowen Posted on 10/21/2014 by Nathan Bowen

    The U.S.-Canada Bi-Lateral Working Group, which met as part of the 2014 Tri-National Agricultural Accord, has sent two letters as a product of their meetings. The Working Group wrote to Acting Assistant Deputy Minister Fred Gorrell, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse, USDA, on a science-based Low Level Presence (LLP) policy for genetically modified crops. The group also wrote to Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Dr. John Clifford, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), regarding the  Regionalization and Zoning for Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) issue which is being discussed through the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC).

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 10/21/2014 by Amanda Bryant
    NASDA Participates in PMA Fresh Summit Convention, FSMA Key Topic of Discussion

    President Scott Enright, Chairperson, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Anita MacMullan, North Carolina Department of Agriculture, and Dr. Barbara Glenn, CEO, NASDA participated in the Produce Marketing Assocation Fresh Summit Convention in Anaheim, California last week.

    PMA held a public workshop session on FSMA led by PMA’s Bob Whitaker, chief science and technology officer, and Jim Gorny, vice president for food safety and technology. FDA’s Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods for the agency, presented remarks stressing the common goal to enhance food safety as a journey and not a destination. He noted three principles supporting the agency’s FSMA effort:

    1) The focus must be on food safety based on best available science.
    2) The FDA is committed to implementing FSMA in a way that is workable and practical.
    3) FSMA implementation will require collaboration.

    He noted the close partnership with PMA and urged industry to comment on the four proposed ...

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  • Nathan  Bowen Posted on 10/21/2014 by Nathan Bowen

    A World Trade Organization (WTO) Compliance Panel released its report Monday on U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) revised rule on cuts of meat, finding the US rule to be non-compliant with its international trade obligations. The U.S. could now face possible tariffs imposed by Canada and Mexico if the issue is not resolved. During the Tri-National Accord earlier this month, delegates from Canada and the U.S. released a joint statement on COOL, encouraging the federal governments of each nation to determine a path forward that ensures each country can respect its obligations under negotiated international trade agreements.

    Written by Rebecca Creighton

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 10/21/2014 by Amanda Bryant
    Pennsylvania First in Nation to Preserve Half-Million Acres of Prime Farmland

    In the biggest milestone yet for the nation’s most successful farmland preservation effort, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and Agriculture Secretary George Greig recently commemorated the preservation of more than a half-million acres of prime Pennsylvania farmland for future development.

    “Preserving farmland requires a number of partners including landowners, county program administrators, our state staff and the volunteer board,” said Greig. “Because of this teamwork, we’re ensuring the continued success of the cornerstone of our state’s economy and keeping Pennsylvania growing for our next agriculturalists.”

    Four generations and 60 years after arriving in York County, the Flinchbaugh family of Flinchbaugh’s Orchard and Farm Market preserved 235 acres of their 420 acre farm. The farm was identified for its fertile and productive soil, development pressure and use of conservation practices that safeguard the environment.
    ...

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 10/21/2014 by Amanda Bryant

    Brewing an early morning coffee, operating farm and ranch equipment or watching TV at the end of a long day — all of these activities are made possible by more than 20 million miles of underground utilities that transport water, fuel, energy, electricity and even fertilizer across the United States and ultimately to end users like you.

    Unfortunately, someone unintentionally hits these underground utilities about once every three minutes, and with every strike comes the risk of some serious consequences. The easiest way to avoid these dangers is to make a free call to 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” number, before starting any soil-disturbing project.

    Here’s how it works: When you place a free call to 811, you’ll be connected to a local one call center that will contact professional line locators to mark your underground utilities at no cost to you. You may need to provide the one call center with basic information about the project, including ...

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 10/14/2014 by Amanda Bryant
    Michigan: MDARD Director says 95 percent of Michigan Counties are Now Bovine TB Free

    Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Jamie Clover Adams today signed the Michigan Bovine TB Zoning Rule giving Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Crawford, Emmet, Otsego, and Presque Isle counties Bovine TB Free status. They now are part of 79 counties with TB test-free movement in Michigan.

    “Today we congratulate our producers all over Michigan for their tireless contributions to the disease eradication effort,” Clover Adams said. “But the fight isn’t over yet, and we won’t be satisfied until we have eradicated this disease from the remaining four Michigan counties, Alcona, Alpena, Oscoda, and Montmorency.”

    Michigan has been diligently conducting surveillance testing for bovine TB since it was found in a wild free-ranging deer in 1994. Bovine TB is an infectious disease that is caused by bacteria. It primarily affects cattle; however, other animals may become infected. Bovine TB can be transmitted between ...

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 10/14/2014 by Amanda Bryant

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced nearly $118 million in grants to strengthen markets for specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops. The grants were authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill as part of an effort to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and provide resources to strengthen American agriculture. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is a top Farm Bill priority for NASDA. For a full collection of state specific press releases regarding this USDA announcement of funding, click here.

    Sales of specialty crops total nearly $65 billion per year, making them a critical part of the U.S. economy. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), will provide $66 million to state departments of agriculture for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research and ...

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 10/14/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    The Surface Transportation Board (STB) ordered all Class I railroads to publicly file weekly data reports in an effort to “promote industry-wide transparency, accountability, and improved service.” This new requirement calls for additional information on all shipments, not just agriculture, and is in addition to the STB’s previous requests for data from Canadian Pacific and BNSF railways.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 10/14/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    Last week, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) invited stakeholders to submit applications for fiscal year (FY) 2015 National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) projects under the 2014 Farm Bill Section 10007. Detailed submission instructions and an explanation of the evaluation process are available on the APHIS Farm Bill Section 10007 website. APHIS will accept applications for FY 2015 NCPN cooperative agreements from October 9, 2014, through December 19, 2014.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 10/14/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    The National Association of Egg Farmers (NAEF) ended its legal challenge to California’s new cage regulations, which take effect on January 1, 2015. Under the law, it will be illegal to sell eggs in California unless they are produced in cages that are roomier than the conventional style. NAEF cited an inability to retain a named plaintiff due to concerns over animal-rights activists targeting any individual named in the suit. NAEF intended to challenge California’s law as an illegal restraint on interstate trade under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. NAEF’s decision follows last week’s dismissal of a suit brought by the Missouri Attorney General and five other states. A U.S. District Judge found the six states lacked standing to sue California because the lawsuit was aimed only at protecting their states’ egg producers, not their states’ citizens.

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  • Nathan  Bowen Posted on 09/30/2014 by Nathan Bowen

    As a result of actions taken by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the summer of 2008, tomato growers, packers, and shippers in three states filed suit against the federal government. According to the plaintiffs, growers, packers, and shippers in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, the FDA’s flawed public health warnings resulted in a market collapse for their tomatoes. The plaintiffs sought federal reimbursement caused by damages they experienced after the FDA mistakenly named certain tomatoes as the likely cause of a Salmonella outbreak that later turned out to be caused by Mexican-grown jalapeño and serrano peppers. The plaintiffs alleged over $40 million loss; the greater tomato industry affected by FDA’s pronouncements projects the losses to be in the range of $600 million.

    Last week, Senior Federal Judge Lynn J. Bush, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, granted a government motion to dismiss the case and entered a final judgment in favor of the FDA. The ...

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 09/30/2014 by Amanda Bryant
    South Dakota: Growing in Agriculture - Rail Service Challenges and Opportunities

    Over the past several months, I’ve seen firsthand the leadership and team effort between our congressional and state delegations.

    Since the rail service issues became apparent earlier this year, Gov. Daugaard and your departments of agriculture and transportation have been working with railroad executives, congressional members, and the three-member U.S. Department of Transportation Surface Transportation Board (STB) to address the issues our South Dakota industries continue to face. With rail service under federal jurisdiction, a coordinated effort with the STB and our congressional delegation has been vital in making progress on the issues caused by railcar shortages, shipping delays and rail yard congestion. The summary below reflects the public efforts South Dakota has undertaken to communicate ongoing concerns with leading officials:

    The STB held a public hearing in Washington, D.C. on April 15 to assess the status of rail shipping in the northern plains. I attended this ...

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 09/26/2014 by Amanda Bryant
    NASDA Launches Review of Supplemental Food Safety Rules Released by FDA

    NASDA seeks to ensure that agricultural producers across the nation produce a safe and affordable supply of food, fuel and fiber and have the tools they need to access markets and conserve the environment. FSMA and associated rules promulgated by FDA are an important, even historic, advancement of regulations affecting agriculture. Previously, NASDA commented on the FDA proposed rules regarding Intentional Adulteration, Sanitary Transportation, Preventive Controls for Animal Foods, Foreign Supplier Verification, Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors, Preventive Controls for Human Foods, and Produce Safety. NASDA has now initiated a careful and comprehensive examination of supplemental FSMA proposals released by FDA last week. NASDA called on the FDA to release a second draft of the proposed rules in September of last year.

    NASDA welcomes the chance for an additional comment period and are actively engaged in a technical review to provide detailed comments within the 75-day ...

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  • Nathan  Bowen Posted on 09/23/2014 by Nathan Bowen

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided against appealing a court decision that ruled EPA could not require West Virginia poultry farmer, Louis Alt, to seek a Clean Water Act discharge permit for storm water runoff. EPA asked the court to dismiss the case.

    In 2011, the EPA performed a review of Alt’s poultry concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) and determined that manure and other pollutants were draining into the Potomac River when it rained. EPA said Alt’s operation needed to be permitted under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The American Farm Bureau Federation intervened and challenged the EPA’s position that an agriculture exemption in the Clean Water Act does not apply to CAFOs. The district court determined that the runoff in question was agricultural stormwater and exempt from the CWA permitting requirements.

    EPA said it believes that “the district court decision is wrong” and that “it is time to stop spending resources on ...

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 09/23/2014 by Amanda Bryant
    Texas: Ag Commissioner Todd Staples Steps Aside After 20 Years of Service to State

    Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced he will be stepping aside after a lengthy tenure serving the State of Texas as an elected official. Commissioner Staples released the following statement about his decision:

    “Serving the people of Texas in elected office for more than twenty years has been an indescribable honor. From working at the local level as a city council member in my hometown of Palestine to serving in both the House and Senate of the Texas Legislature to now serving statewide as the elected Agriculture Commissioner, one element has been consistently clear to me: God has blessed Texas beyond description.

    “Texas has led the nation in many categories and experienced phenomenal growth over the past few years because the same strength and resolve that were present at the Alamo in 1836 are alive and well today. Fostering the principles of liberty and independence, as well as continuing to cultivate an atmosphere of growth and opportunity for all ...

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  • Amanda  Bryant Posted on 09/23/2014 by Amanda Bryant
    State Ag Communicators to host National Conference in Teton Village

    Agriculture communicators from around the country will travel to the Equality State for this year’s annual Communications Officers of State Departments of Agriculture (COSDA) conference on October 12-15. The agriculture community has a positive story to share with consumers across the globe and COSDA Members are dedicated to sharing that message and work every day to educate the public on the importance of food and agriculture.

    Timely, accurate and effective professional development and networking opportunities are key components of the COSDA Annual Meeting and this year’s conference in Wyoming is no different. While in Wyoming at the base of the Teton Mountains, conference attendees will learn more about GMO’s, effective messaging, the use of social media on a budget, and how to bounce back from a crisis situation. Along with this, they will have the chance to use the conference to learn about what other states are doing from a communications standpoint and build ...

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  • Nathan  Bowen Posted on 09/23/2014 by Nathan Bowen

    Earlier this week Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and Farm Service Agency (FSA) released materials designed to provide producers with additional information and clarification related to new conservation compliance provisions for crop insurance participants. The resources, available on the NRCS website, include fact sheets, webinar Q&As, and more. An interactive tool and flow chart of the process is also available to help participants determine if they are in compliance or not. New conservation compliance requirements were included in the 2014 Agricultural Act for crop insurance participants.

    Written by Emily Ruby

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 09/23/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    Last week, USDA completed its environmental analysis and issued a Record of Decision (ROD) to deregulate genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybean plants resistant to several herbicides, including 2,4-D. Dow AgroSciences developed these new GE plants as part of its Enlist Duo system, which now goes to EPA for approval for use in the market place. EPA is nearing completion of its concurrent review of the new use of Enlist herbicide on these GE plants, and EPA is expected to make a final regulatory decision in the coming weeks.

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  • Dudley W Hoskins Posted on 09/23/2014 by Dudley W Hoskins

    Sens. Thune (SD) and Rockefeller (WV) moved the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2014 (S. 2777) out of the Senate Commerce Committee with unanimous approval. The bill would expand the Surface Transportation Board’s autonomy and ability in overseeing freight lines, specifically in addressing the current shortage of rail cars and delivery delays. The bill is not expected to be enacted this year.

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  • Elizabeth  Rowland Posted on 09/23/2014 by Elizabeth Rowland
    NASDA Seeking Applications for Ag Policy Internship Program

    NASDA is currently seeking highly motivated public policy interns interested in learning about the legislation and regulations that impact American agriculture. There is one internship position available per semester and we most urgently need applications for the upcoming spring semester (January - May). The deadline to apply for this semester is October 31. This full-time position is located in Arlington, Virginia. To view a sharable brochure, click here.

    Applicants should be classified as a sophomore or greater by their academic institution and have excellent written and oral communication skills. A basic understanding of the legislative process is preferred but not required.

    Intern responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Conduct research on various legislative issues of importance to NASDA’s membership
    • Represent NASDA in Congressional hearings, conference calls, and other venues, and provide written analysis of these events to policy ...
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