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FDA Releases Food Protection Plan

        The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a comprehensive Food Protection Plan on November 6 to further strengthen the safety of the U.S. food supply. The plan was released as part of the administration's Import Safety Action Plan (see separate NASDA News story) and was initiated by the agency last May in the wake of several food product recalls.         The Food…

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USDA Increases Testing of Canadian Meat and Poultry

        USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has instituted additional import requirements for meat and poultry products from Canada. The action stems from a recent finding by FSIS that a Canadian plant was the likely source of the multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to the Topps Meat Company.         FSIS will increase testing for…

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USDA Leads Efforts to Streamline Procurement of Biobased Products

      Acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner said last week that USDA is updating the federal procurement of biobased products under the BioPreferred Program. The update will clarify the preference process in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), which will in turn make it easier for procurement officials and manufacturers to participate in the program. These regulations…

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USDA Streamlines Forms And Rules For Farm Loans Programs

        Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner said last week that the forms and rules for USDA's Farm Loan Programs will be modernized by Jan. 1, 2008, to make it easier for America's farmers, ranchers, and producers to apply for loans. This is the largest such initiative in the 60-year history of farm loans. USDA incorporated about 1,500 comments from nearly 600 members of the…

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Scientists Link Key Gene to Response to Sunlight Exposure in Corn

       Plants, like humans, suffer from increased exposure to the sun's rays. Scientists have discovered a unique feature of genes in corn that are affected by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Understanding how UV radiation affects corn at the genetic level will help scientists develop methods and approaches to help plants protect themselves from the harmful effects of UV-B…

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Representative Petersen Named Mass. Agriculture Commissioner

        Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles has announced that he has appointed state Representative Douglas Petersen of Marblehead as Commissioner of the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR). The mission of DAR is to support, promote, and enhance the long-term viability of Massachusetts agriculture with the aim of helping agricultural…

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Spell, Farmer Reelected

        Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer both won reelection Tuesday, November 6. Unofficial election results as of November 7 reported Richie Farmer at 64.0%. Results were not available for the Mississippi agriculture commissioner race at press time.        Richie Farmer was elected Kentucky's…

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Senate Begins Debate on Farm Bill Amid Veto Threat

        The Senate began debate on the 2007 farm bill late November 5 while the Bush administration announced that it would veto the legislation because of budget concerns. Senate debate on the farm bill is expected to continue through next week and numerous amendments are expected.        On November 5, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and ranking…

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NASDA Supports Supplemental Disaster Assistance Program in Farm Bill; Joins 51 organizations to Urge Support of Senators

        This week, NASDA and 51 agricultural organizations, banks, and businesses urged members of the U.S. Senate to support the Supplemental Disaster Assistance Program in the 2007 farm bill. In the letter, the groups pointed out that 34 ad hoc disaster packages have been approved since FY89, totaling $59 billion. Each approved measure requires the USDA to recreate an…