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USDA implements new poultry-inspection rule


July 31, 2014 | Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a new long-awaited poultry inspection rule that will require companies to conduct microbiological tests for pathogens that cannot be seen by the naked the eye, and will remove federal inspectors from the beginning of lines, but will not increase the speed at which birds can whiz by the inspectors. ...

USDA releases report on how to quantify ag, forestry greenhouse gas emissions


July 31, 2014 | The Agriculture Department today released a report on greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture and forestry that USDA officials say can help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners figure out how to participate in carbon markets, but is more likely to be used by government officials and consultants to try to help farmers. …

Rural development nominee moved forward in Senate


July 31, 2014 | The papers for President Barack Obama’s nomination of Lisa Mensah to be the Agriculture undersecretary for rural development have gone to the Senate Agriculture Committtee, and Mensah has begun meeting with senators to discuss her nomination. …

House members call for Japan, Canada to be left out of TPP


July 31, 2014 | House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., subcommittee ranking member Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and 138 other House members said Wednesday that if Japan and Canada do not provide full market access under the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement they should be left out. …

WTO finishes COOL compliance report


July 31, 2014 | The chief parties involved in the continuing dispute over the latest iteration of the U.S. country-of-origin import labeling law received a final World Trade Organization compliance report Wednesday, Washington Trade Daily reported late Wednesday. …

Vilsack continues promotion of private-sector financing in rural America


July 30, 2014 | Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Bridgeport, N.Y., today to continue promoting the potential of the Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund USDA launched with CoBank last week, although there are still some questions about exactly how the fund will function and what benefits it will provide to rural America. …

USDA reviewing Port of Vancouver grain inspection shutdown


July 30, 2014 | Agriculture Department officials are reviewing the shutdown of grain inspection and weighing services at the Port of Vancouver, Wash., but cannot comment on any possible action until the review is complete, a USDA spokeswoman told The Hagstrom Report late Wednesday. …

Center releases model for ag youth employment


July 30, 2014 | The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety today release a document entitled “Model Policy: Youth Employment in Agriculture,” which addresses age- and developmentally appropriate assignments, training needs for adolescent workers, and ideal supervision and mentoring by adult workers. …

USDA announces small and beginning farmer assistance


July 30, 2014 | The Agriculture Department on Tuesday announced the availability of more than $9 million in outreach and technical assistance for minority farmers and ranchers and military veterans who are new to farming and ranching. …

USDA implements Supplemental Coverage Option


July 30, 2014 | The Agriculture Department announced Tuesday that the new Supplemental Coverage Option known as SCO will be available for corn, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, spring barley, spring wheat, and winter wheat in selected counties for the 2015 crop year. …

DeLauro introduces soda tax bill


July 30, 2014 | Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., today introduced a bill that would impose a federal tax of 1 cent per teaspoon of caloric sweetener, such as sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in sweetened beverages. ...

Appeals Court upholds COOL law in blow to meatpackers


July 29, 2014 | The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today upheld the Agriculture Department’s authority to issue rules implementing the country-of-origin labeling law for meat and poultry products and denied a request for a preliminary injunction to block implementation of the USDA’s May 2013 final rule for the labeling law. …

White House meeting with food, ag, tech businesses on addressing climate change today


July 29, 2014 | Senior Obama administration officials are meeting at the White House today with representatives of leading food, agriculture and technology businesses to discuss ways these companies are leveraging open government data, information tools, and other innovations to improve the resilience of the U.S. and global food system and reduce the contributions of food production to climate change, the White House announced early today. …

White House, companies announcing new climate-change steps


July 29, 2014 | The White House today will release a report that says delaying action to stem climate change will have major negative economic consequences, and companies will announce steps to focus on food security and resilience in the agricultural sector, White House officials said Monday. …

Insecticides linked to bees found in rivers


July 29, 2014 | Neonicotinoids, the insecticides that affect bee health, have been found to be “pervasive” in six states and nine Midwestern rivers, including the portion of the Mississippi that drains southern Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Monday. ...

Froman, Punke: WTO in crisis over failure on trade facilitation, food stockpiling


July 25, 2014 | Trade Representative Michael Froman and Michael Punke, the U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization, today expressed disappointment that India has blocked a finalization of a trade facilitation agreement over the issue of food stockpiling, and said the situation has put the WTO and the future of the Doha round of negotiations in danger. …

House ag subcommittee SNAP hearing shows partisan divisions


July 25, 2014 | A House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps, Thursday showed partisan differences over the program that were similar to those during the farm bill debate. …

Ryan proposes ‘opportunity’ block grant to include food stamps


July 25, 2014 | House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Thursday released a proposal to turn a dozen federal social programs including food stamps into a block grant. Ryan released what he called a discussion draft of the proposals. …

SBA official says definition of small agricultural enterprise by receipts is too low


July 25, 2014 | The government’s definition of the size of a small agricultural enterprise by annual receipts is too low, a Small Business Administration official and business leaders testified Thursday before the House Small Business Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee. …

Cargill explains need for immigrant laborers


July 25, 2014 | Cargill Meat Solutions successful employment of immigrant laborers shows the importance of immigration reform legislation, a Cargill executive explained last week at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event entitled “Open for Business: Spurring Local Economic Growth by Welcoming Immigrants.” …

Roll Call: Man arrested with gun on Capitol Hill was Pork Council leader


July 25, 2014 | The man with a firearm arrested Wednesday trying to enter the Cannon House Office Building is the president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, Roll Call reported. …

Franken: Podesta says RFS announcement is imminent


July 24, 2014 | White House counselor John Podesta told a group of senators today that the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of the volumetric requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014 is imminent, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said today. …

BlackRock executive: Investors should seek returns in rural America


July 24, 2014 | Investors should put more of their money into projects in rural America because they are not generating high enough returns in traditional investments, a key Wall Street investment banker said today at a White House Rural Council conference. …

Lew: Ex-Im Bank, Treasury stand ready to finance rural America


July 24, 2014 | The Export-Import Bank is an essential tool to finance exports in rural America and several Treasury Department programs are also available to participate in financing in rural America, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told investors today at the White House Rural Opportunity Investment Conference. …

Advocates to Justice: Extend Tyson-Hillshire merger review


July 24, 2014 | A coalition of 82 farm, ranch consumer and faith-based groups sent a letter to the Justice Department today urging it to extend its review of Tyson Foods’ proposal to take over Hillshire Brands. …

SNA calls Michelle Obama remarks ‘offensive’


July 24, 2014 | The School Nutrition Association today sent First Lady Michelle Obama a letter saying they consider her remarks at a Tuesday event about people serving junk food to students to be “disappointing” and “offensive to school cafeteria professionals.” …

CoBank to announce rural investment fund at Rural Opportunity conference today


July 24, 2014 | CoBank, the large cooperative agricultural bank, will announce today that it has created a Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund to finance the projects that USDA’s Rural Development division usually funds, such as electricity, water and sewer projects and rural business loans and grants, CoBank CEO Robert Engel and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said late Wednesday. …