January 24, 2014
GROUPS URGE USE OF TAX POLICY TO CURB OBESITY
More than 20 groups, led by the Campaign to End Obesity Action Fund, have sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate tax-writing committees asking them to use tax policy to help curb obesity rates. The groups do not name specific tax policies, instead they urge lawmakers to make healthy lifestyles more accessible in communities where they currently are not. See letter here: http://tinyurl.com/plfe8k5
U.S. GRAIN GROUPS ASK SYNGENTA TO HOLD BACK ON MODIFIED CORN TYPES
The National Grain and Feed Association and North American Export Grain Association asked Syngenta to hold back on its Agrisure Viptera and Duracade corn varieties until China and other U.S. markets have granted regulatory approval. The move came after multiple cargoes of U.S. corn were rejected by China in the past few months because the grain contains a GM trait not approved by Beijing. (Reuters)
INCONVENIENT TRUTH, FOOD EDITION
There's a new food documentary out. Fed Up (http://fedupmovie.com/), a film produced and narrated by Katie Couric, now of Yahoo, and Laurie David, producer of the Oscar-winning Inconvenient Truth, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, last weekend and it has already caught the food industry's attention. The Grocery Manufacturers Association issued a press release Sunday responding to the film, which reportedly focuses not just on obesity, but more broadly on diet-related health concerns. It draws parallels between the food industry and big tobacco.
POWERFUL PEOPLE IN FOOD
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Monsanto Chairman, President and CEO Hugh Grant are on top of The Daily Meal’s “America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food” list for 2014. The annual list ranks food company leaders, restaurateurs, government officials and media personalities who wade into the food space each year and ranks them based on the potential of each person to substantially change, either for good or bad, the quality of the American diet. Rounding out the top five this year are: Doug McMillion, president and CEO of Walmart; Michael Taylor, the head of USDA’s food program; and Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.
FOOD, AG LOBBYING EXPENSES IN FOURTH QUARTER
The Grocery Manufacturers Association continued to dip into its bank account for lobbying in the fourth quarter of 2013, spending nearly $5 million between Oct. 1 and the end of the year, according to new lobbying disclosures. Overall, the group reported spending $14.3 million on lobbying the federal government last year. Monsanto spent $1.5 million during that time period; overall, the company spent nearly $7 million on lobbying in 2013. Other big lobbying spenders from the agriculture and food industry during the fourth quarter include: the U.S. Beet and Sugar Association, which spent $450,000; Campbell Soup, which spent $450,000; Kraft Foods, which spent $360,000; the American Sugar Alliance, which spent $350,000; Cargill, which spent $340,000; Tyson, which spent more than 300,000; and the Syngenta Corp., which spent $300,000.
BEE POPULATION DECLINES COULD BE LINKED TO TOBACCO VIRUS
A virus normally found in tobacco could be contributing to colony collapse disorder, according to a new study involving DNA analysis. The study, a joint effort between researchers at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, USDA, the University of North Carolina and Emory University, was published yesterday in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal mBio. The researchers say they found the rate of tobacco ringspot virus infection among European honeybees to be growing significantly. They note that the virus can travel through such things as pollen and the Varra mites.
Though there are still questions about how the virus works and any variations, “the increasing prevalence of TRSV in conjunction with other bee viruses from spring toward winter in infected colonies was associated with gradual decline of host populations and winter colony collapse, suggesting the negative impact of the virus on colony survival,” the researchers say.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY GRANTS
The USDA/RD office still has no applications for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). While we are still waiting to see what the funding level will be in 2014, some suspect funding will be similar to last year when Arkansas got more than $600,000 in grant funds. REAP is a 25% cost share program that covers irrigation upgrades, poultry house upgrades, and any other energy project you might be interested on your farm or rural business. Farm Bureau members have been very successful in getting these grants with members receiving more than $1.8 million in grant funds in just the last 4-years that we have been promoting the program. If you are interested in finding out more about this program please contact Matt King at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW NITROGEN RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ARKANSAS CORN
Previously, recommendations were based on the amount of N required to produce one bushel of corn on a particular soil texture. Recommendations also were based on yield goals. “So, a farmer would choose a yield goal and we’d multiply that goal by a set number,” says Espinoza. “Something we’ve since learned is that N is just one of many variables that affect yield production. So, rather than using the old, set number, the latest research results pointed us in another direction.” See full article http://tinyurl.com/lwpo9ch
HORSE SLAUGHTER BLOCKED
The resumption of commercial horse slaughter in the United States was blocked Friday when President Barack Obama signed a budget measure that withholds money for required federal inspections of the slaughtering process. The move blocks the opening anytime soon of a planned Roswell-area horse slaughterhouse, which had already been on hold due to a lawsuit by New Mexico Attorney General Gary King. Although the budget measure provides temporary funding for the federal government, it blocks the Agriculture Department from spending money for inspections necessary for slaughterhouses to ship horse meat interstate and eventually export it to overseas consumers.
U.S.-CANADA COOL HEARING SET
The World Trade Organization will hear Canada’s complaint against U.S. country-of-origin labeling rules next month. The WTO has scheduled a hearing for the dates of Feb. 19 and Feb. 19 in Geneva. Canada is calling into question Washington’s new COOL rules, which it contends are more restrictive and harmful to Canadian beef cattle and pigs imported into the U.S. than an earlier version of the legislation that was found to violate WTO rules.
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