Public Meetings, Congressional Hearings, Calls for Comments

FOOD & AGRICULTURE

  • President Obama announced his Executive Action plan on immigration reform on Thursday evening. Read more 
  • House Republicans initiated legal action against the Obama administration Friday over its use of executive authority. Read more
  • Senator Thad Cochran applauded a northeast Mississippi company for securing the first USDA biobased certification for forest products since the 2014 farm bill made wood and forest products eligible for the procurement and labeling program.Read more
  • The House on Tuesday passed legislation to overhaul the EPA's Scientific Advisory Board. Read more
  • The Senate blocked a measure Tuesday that would have authorized construction of the Keystone XL pipeline as Democrats chose their pro-environment base over an old friend -- embattled Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu. Read more 
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., released a bill that would charge a per-ton carbon fee on large polluters, which he said could raise $2 trillion over a decade to be returned to taxpayers.
  • Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., narrowly beat out Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., to take the ranking member spot on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
  • Whole-Farm Revenue Protection is a new policy called for in the 2014 Farm Bill and developed by the Risk Management Agency that will allow farmers to insure all of their crops, livestock, and nursery and greenhouse crops for a revenue loss with a single policy rather than using individual crop policies. Read more
  • The battle over a measure to require labeling of genetically altered food appeared headed to a recount Thursday as new totals showed it losing by fewer than 1,500 votes. Read more
  • It sounds like something straight out of agricultural science fiction: a liquid solution containing unique bits of DNA that gets sprayed on foods in order to easily identify information about where it came from and how it was produced in the event of an outbreak or recall. Read more
  • The Center for Science in the Public Interest is asking the FDA to require that sesame be disclosed on food labels in the same manner as milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy are disclosed. In 2004, when Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, those "Big 8" allergens were understood to account for about 90 percent of allergic reactions caused by food. Read more
  • The national supply of turkey for this year's Thanksgiving dinner is down slightly from last year, and wholesale prices are higher. Read more
  • The USDA is considering whether or not to expand its non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) testing to include ground beef and ground beef components beyond beef manufacturing trimmings. Read more

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/business/article3987966.html#storylink=cpy

  • Soybeans rebounded from the lowest price in more than a week after a government report showed increasing demand for supplies from the U.S., the world's top grower. Read more 
  • Environmental groups are accusing Walmart of falling short on a number of its well-publicized sustainability goals. Read more
  • Consumer Reports (CR) issued new consumption guidelines for inorganic arsenic in rice and other grains. While past reports on the subject by CR and others have been complex and academic, this one is consumer friendly. Read more
  • Listen to NPR's story entitled, Consumers Contribute To Retail Food Waste. 
  • Sonic Corp. debuted this month a new research and development kitchen and innovation center at its headquarters in Oklahoma City. Read more 
  • Sweetgreen receives $18.5M investment. Read more
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said a USDA grant has helped initiate a partnership that is improving the environment, creating a market for carbon credits generated on working grasslands. Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, recently purchased almost 40,000 carbon dioxide reduction tons generated on working ranch grasslands in the Prairie Pothole region of North Dakota. Read more
  • Tom Vilsack announced the appointment of eight individuals to serve on the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board. Read more
  • Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service has awarded funding to more than 60 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for American products. Read more 
  • On National Rural Health Day, Tom Vilsack announced more than $10 million in grants through two USDA programs to improve access to health care for rural Americans across the nation. Read more

TRADE & INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURE NEWS

  • International organizations and 170 governments committed to battling poor nutrition on Wednesday, saying that while hunger had dropped, half the world's population was in some way affected by nutritional problems. Read more 
  • Dow AgroSciences' decision to severely restrict U.S. introduction of its Enlist genetically modified crops and herbicide - billed as the company's most important product launch ever - came after extensive talks with U.S. grain leaders who fear roiling trade with China, a company executive said on Thursday. Read more
  • China will reduce import tariffs across a range of Australian agriculture products including beef and dairy as part of a free trade agreement that may boost shipments to the world's second-largest economy. Read more
  • Dutch authorities said on Sunday they had found a highly contagious strain of bird flu at a poultry farm in the central Netherlands and set about destroying 150,00 chickens. Read more
  • Germany is pressing the European Commission to allow individual EU countries to ban cultivation of crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before the 2015 harvest. Read more
  • In what may be the most powerful attack on junk food published by any government in the world, Brazil is urging its citizens to avoid such "ultra-processed products" as chicken nuggets, potato chips, and soft drinks. Read more
  • The FDA, the official health protection agency in America, has warned Indian exporters of agricultural commodities to hold consignments upon arrival at a US port if they fail to register with it by December 31. Read more
  • The Senate's top Democrat signaled some openness to considering legislation that would give President Obama expanded trade powers. Read more
  • While the Republican landslide victory in the recent midterm elections was a clear defeat for President Obama, it will also serve to benefit Obama's foreign policy agenda. This is especially the case in Europe, an area where more U.S. leadership is called for after Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression on Ukraine. Three areas with relevance for Europe should be prioritized by Washington going forward. Read more
  • A new, comprehensive report ranks Canada and Ireland as the top countries in food safety performance. Read more
  • McDonald's Corp.'s largest restaurant in Russia reopened after local officials shuttered the location for three months, an optimistic sign for a company trying to return to business as usual in the country. Read more
  • A Dutch bird flu outbreak has spread to a third farm, the government said on Friday, prompting inspections at dozens of other farms in the Netherlands, a leading exporter of eggs and poultry. Read more
  • A trade deal signed with great fanfare between China and Australia has been touted as a major step towards Australia shifting its economy from a "mining boom" to a "dining boom," but the reality is likely to be more sobering. Read more

USDA REPORTS

WHITE HOUSE

CONGRESS 

POLITICS

BUDGET, ECONOMY & FINANCE

FOREIGN AFFAIRS & DEFENSE

HEALTH CARE

MEETINGS

December 10-11, 2014
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY  
Technical Research Workshop Supporting EPA and NHTSA Phase 2 Standards for MD/HD Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency  
SUMMARY: EPA and NHTSA are sponsoring a technical workshop on December 10 and 11, 2014, at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-21/html/2014-27638.htm 

December 11-12, 2014
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee; Notice of Public Meeting   
SUMMARY: Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) is announcing a public meeting of the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC) on December 11-12, 2014.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-21/html/2014-27635.htm 

January 13, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Codex Alimentarius Commission: Meeting of the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils  
SUMMARY: The Office of the Under Secretary for Food Safety, USDA, and the FDA, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) are sponsoring a public meeting on January 13, 2015. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-19/html/2014-27413.htm 

MARKETING

December 18, 2014
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE  
Honey Packers and Importers Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Information Order; Assessment Rate Increase   
SUMMARY: This proposed rule invites comments on amending the Honey Packers and Importers Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Information Order (Order) to increase the assessment rate from $0.01 per pound to $0.015 per pound on honey and honey products, over a two- year period. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-18/html/2014-27253.htm 

FOOD SAFETY

January 20, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE   
Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in Certain Raw Beef Products  
SUMMARY: FSIS is announcing that it has completed and is making available its analysis on the estimated costs and benefits associated with the implementation of its non-O157 STEC testing on beef manufacturing trimmings and the costs and benefits associated with the potential expansion of its non-O157 STEC testing to ground beef and ground beef components other than beef manufacturing trimmings. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-19/html/2014-27418.htm 

OTHER ITEMS

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Office of the Secretary Notice of Appointment of Members to the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board 
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App 2, the United States Department of Agriculture announces the appointment of members made by the Secretary of Agriculture to fill 8 vacancies on the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board.  
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-18/html/2014-27199.htm

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Questions and Answers Regarding Food Facility Registration (Sixth Edition); Guidance for Industry; Availability  
SUMMARY: The FDA is announcing the availability of a guidance for industry entitled "Questions and Answers Regarding Food Facility Registration (Sixth Edition).'' 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-19/html/2014-27290.htm 

December 17, 2014
FARM CREDIT ADMINISTRATION 
Disclosure to Shareholders; Pension Benefit Disclosures  
SUMMARY: The Farm Credit Administration is proposing to amend our regulations related to Farm Credit System bank and association disclosures to shareholders and investors. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-17/html/2014-27192.htm 

December 18, 2014
COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION
CCC Export Credit Guarantee (GSM-102) Program and Facility Guarantee Program (FGP)  
SUMMARY: This final rule amends the regulations that administer the Export Credit Guarantee (GSM-102) Program and eliminates provisions for the Intermediate Export Credit Guarantee (GSM-103) Program, consistent with the repeal of authority to operate this program in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Act).
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-18/html/2014-27129.htm 

January 16, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
National Agricultural Statistics Service Notice of Intent To Request Revision and Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection  
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the intention of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to request revision and extension of a currently approved information collection, the Field Crops Objective Yield Surveys. 
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-17/html/2014-27119.htm 

January 20, 2015
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 
Farm Service Agency Information Collection; Direct Loan Servicing--Special  
SUMMARY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the  FSA is requesting comments from all interested individuals and organizations on an extension of a currently approved information collection that supports 7 CFR part 766, Direct Loan Servicing--Special programs.
Link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-11-21/html/2014-27434.htm 

Call for Comments

IFT calls for comments on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  For details please refer to http://www.ift.org/public-policy-and-regulations/advocacy/ift-comments/call-for-comments.aspx.