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Commodity Communicator Weekly

May 2, 2014

ARFB OPPOSES EPA PROPOSED GUIDANCE ON SPRAY DRIFT. . . . .Arkansas Farm Bureau this week joined with American Farm Bureau and other farm groups by responding to a Federal Register request for comments by the EPA regarding proposed guidance regarding spray drift. Those comments said, in part, “As a general approach, ARBF urges the agency to adopt realistic, scientifically based approaches that are not overly restrictive and do not impose unnecessarily broad buffer zones when determining pesticide applications.  It should be noted that pesticides, fungicides and other important crop protection tools are broadly used by the agricultural sector and are a critical component of farmers’ ability to grow, manage and market their products safely and profitably.”

…..Arkansas is hosting the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force Meeting for the first time in Little Rock, May 21st , at the Statehouse Convention Center.  The meeting will focus on state and national efforts to improve water quality and reduce nutrient loading at the watershed-level.  There are several Arkansas presentations on the agenda which will highlight nutrient reduction efforts and the success of active public and private sector partnerships in the state.  There is no cost to attend this meeting.  For more information concerning the Task Force or the May 21st meeting, you may go to or contact Ken Brazil ( at the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission.           

USDA PUSHES LIVESTOCK SCALE REGS…..The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking to standardize the scales that farmers use to weigh their livestock and poultry before they are sold in order to level the playing field across the industry. "The purpose of these regulations is to ensure fairness and accuracy in the determination of prices the regulated entities pay for livestock and poultry," the agency wrote in the Federal Register.

The USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration announced on Monday new requirements for these animal weight scales, which are based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology's 2013 handbook. The new rules apply to stockyard owners, market agencies, dealers, packers and live poultry dealers who use these scales to weigh their livestock, livestock carcasses, live poultry and feed.

The rules require that the scales be installed, maintained and operated in a way that ensures they are accurately measuring the weight of these animals, because they play a role in determining the purchase price. The rules goes into effect in 60 days.

…..A new report from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) used public polling, food safety and testing data and philosophical and legal evaluations to determine that mandatory labeling of genetically modified (GM) food would increase food costs and have "negative implications" for First Amendment rights.

The report also concludes there is no science–based reason to single out genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for labeling and finds that GMOs are safe for human consumption. CAST says the report is response to "seemingly contradictory" studies on labeling, some of which are funded by groups with stakes in the debate. The paper's authors call for a renewed dialogue on GMO issues, which would include a reenergized push for independent and fact–based studies on the issue.

"Independent objective information on the scientific issues and the possible legal and economic consequences of mandatory GE food labels need to be provided to legislators and consumers…to help move the national discussion from contentious claims to a more fact–based and informed dialog," the authors write.

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