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FDA Adds New States to Cooperative Agreement Program to Support Produce Safety

U.S. FDA | Posted on July 15, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced new cooperative agreements with Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi and American Samoa, as well as renewed agreements with 43 other states, in support of efforts to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. In this third year of the State Produce Implementation Cooperative Agreement Program (CAP), awardees are being provided with the resources to formulate and implement produce safety systems; develop and provide education, outreach, and technical assistance; deliver produce safety training; recruit personnel; and develop inventories of farms covered by the Produce Safety Rule to target outreach, education and inspection activities. The funding can also be used by states to support the On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR) program, a voluntary program to help farmers learn about the Produce Safety Rule and determine how prepared they are to comply with the rule’s requirements. The availability of CAP funding was first announced in March 2016. Bids were open to all states and U.S. territories. The FDA announced the first cooperative agreements with $21.8 million for 42 states in September 2016, and the second-year agreements, which awarded $30.9 million to 43 states, were announced in July 2017. Today, the FDA is announcing $32.5 million in funding for the 46 states and one territory. Successful implementation of the Produce Safety Rule depends on partnerships between the FDA and the states, both to deliver education and technical assistance to farmers and to provide on-going inspections, compliance, and oversight. The Produce Safety Rule, which the FDA finalized in November 2015, establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.


Trump Falsely Claims It’s ‘Impossible’ for American Farmers to Do Business in Europe

The New York Times | Posted on July 15, 2018

Mr. Trump’s suggestion that it is “impossible” for American farmers to sell their products to the European Union is wrong. In fact, the 28 countries of the European Union are the United States’ fifth-largest export market for agricultural goods, like tree nuts and soybeans, totaling $11.5 billion in 2017, according to the Department of Agriculture.But the United States did import about $10 billion more in agricultural products, like wine, beer and chocolate, from the European Union than it exported there. (Overall, the United States has had an agricultural trade surplus with the rest of the world since 1960.) The European Union does impose a higher average tariff on agricultural products (11 to 12 percent) than the United States (about 5 percent), but about a third of farm goods enter both the European Union and the United States tariff-free, according to the World Trade Organization.


How Rare Earths (What?) Could Be Crucial in a U.S.-China Trade War

The New York Times | Posted on July 14, 2018

Amanda Lacaze grabbed her iPhone and rattled off the names of the special minerals needed to make it. The screen was polished with lanthanum and cerium. The inside has a magnet made with neodymium and praseodymium.Those minerals almost certainly came from China. Ms. Lacaze’s job is to give the world an alternative source, in case a global trade war spirals out of control and China cuts off supply.Right now, she can’t. Her company, Lynas Corporation, can provide only a fraction of the minerals — known as rare earths — that China produces. And even that source isn’t a sure thing: The work is so volatile, complex and expensive that Lynas once came close to collapsing. The Trump administration amped up its trade fight with China on Tuesday when it threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods, ranging from frozen catfish fillets to copper wires to piston engines. China has threatened to match them dollar for dollar.But it has other ways to retaliate beyond tariffs. It could refuse to buy American products, like planes from Boeing. It could intensify regulation of American companies doing business on the mainland. It could threaten to offload a piece of its huge portfolio of Treasuries, which could rattle the bond market. And in one of its more strategic weapons, Beijing could use its dominance to cut off key parts of the global supply chain. China is the major supplier of a number of mundane but crucial materials and components needed to keep the world’s factories humming. They include obscure materials like arsenic metals, used to make semiconductors; cadmium, found in rechargeable batteries; and tungsten, found in light bulbs and heating elements.


USDA removes bovine TB testing requirement for Manitoba cattle exports

Manitoba Cooperator | Posted on July 12, 2018

Cattle and bison breeding stock bound for the U.S. no longer have to undergo mandatory bovine TB testing as of July 1.


Food Stamp Work Requirements Would Force States to Provide Job Training. Many Aren’t Ready

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on July 11, 2018

The House version of the food-stamp-to-work program Congress is considering this week would require recipients to enroll in job training programs if they can’t find work — but in many states, those programs won’t be fully available for at least another decade. This will have a big impact on the people who depend on food stamps, some 42 million in 2017. The average beneficiary receives about $125 a month, and a family of four must have an annual income of about $25,000 or less to qualify. Many are already working.Lawmakers’ effort to increase work requirements continues a trend in the past year of asking impoverished families to put so-called “skin in the game” when receiving government benefits. In this case, the families don’t have full control over what’s being required of them: If Congress requires more food stamp recipients to get jobs, states will have to greatly expand training programs to comply with federal law. States that don’t offer training for beneficiaries who are required to work could lose federal funding. Many states would have a hard time offering job training to all of them — especially in the next two years, which is what the House bill calls for. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that it will take more than a decade for states to ramp up their job training programs. State work training programs vary widely, the CBO found, and “offering training services to all eligible recipients would require many states to expand their programs substantially.”


Why President Trump Hates Canadian Dairy — And Canada Insists On Protecting It

NPR | Posted on July 11, 2018

President Trump has railed against Canada for taking advantage of the U.S. when it comes to trade. Trump may not like it, but those tariffs are part of a politically sensitive, decades-old policy to protect Canada's dairy farmers. The system is called "supply management" and it sets production quotas for the country's dairy, poultry products and eggs.Murray Sherk, the owner of the family-run Pinehill Dairy in Plattsville, Ontario, says supply management helps keep prices stable, gives farmers a steady income and has succeeded in avoiding a milk surplus in Canada. "The stability of our system is of great benefit to not only farmers, but also all kinds of other businesses," he says — like restaurants and trucking. But other countries, including the U.S., see the system as protectionist, in large part because of the high tariffs Canada places on dairy imports. They range from 241 percent for milk (and more for dried milk) to 300 percent for butter, according to the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. Those tariffs kick in after imports have reached a certain quota. In the case of the U.S., once it reaches its annual quota of 3,274 metric tons of butter to Canada, tariffs of 300 percent are applied. President Trump has called the steep tariffs unfair. But Graham Lloyd, the CEO of Dairy Farmers of Ontario, says Canada's supply management system wasn't designed for Canadian dairy farmers to compete with the U.S. It's intended only for domestic use. "We're not challenging them internationally ... we don't increase production with a view to saying, 'let's go and pursue a Mexican market' or 'let's go in pursuit of a European market,'" he says. "It is designed for domestic consumption, so it's a domestic policy."


Scott Pruitt gave “super polluting” trucks a gift on his last day at the EPA

Vox | Posted on July 9, 2018

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt managed to fire a Parthian shot on his final day in office when he cemented a massive loophole for some of the dirtiest, most polluting trucks on the road, allowing manufacturers to build even more them. It was Pruitt’s final knock to clean air after President Donald Trump asked him to resign Thursday as months of mounting scandals came to a head. “Pruitt didn’t want to leave his post and was described as being devastated that he had to resign,” according to Jennifer Dlouhy and Jennifer Jacobs at BloombergAndrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist for industries including coal, will take over EPA as acting director on Monday. Pruitt’s last policy decision benefits a small slice of truck manufacturers, including one that hosted a campaign event for Donald Trump. The loophole, which the Obama administration took steps to close, involves glider kits. These are brand new trucks, but without an engine or transmission (hence why they “glide”). This category of truck was created so manufacturers could salvage parts from older trucks, or parts from those damaged in accidents.


4 charts that show US-Canadian trade is far different from what Trump portrays

Business Insider | Posted on July 9, 2018

Steven Rattner shares four charts that show US-Canadian trade is far different from what Trump has portrayed. The US actually has a trade surplus with Canada — and a substantial one with dairy product. We export roughly twice as much in dairy to Canada as we import from them — and our total dairy trade is only a small fraction of overall trade with the country last year. Canada's tariffs are actually the lowest of the major developed countries.


Trump's trade war against China is officially underway

The New York Times | Posted on July 7, 2018

A trade war between the world’s two largest economies officially began on Friday morning as the Trump administration followed through with its threat to impose tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese products, a significant escalation of a fight that could hurt companies and consumers in both the United States and China. The penalties, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m., prompted quick retaliation by Beijing. China said it immediately put its own similarly sized tariffs on an unspecified clutch of American goods. Previously, the Chinese government had said it would tax pork, soybeans and automobiles, among other goods. In a statement, China’s Ministry of Commerce said the United States “has launched the biggest trade war in economic history so far.”  The escalation of the trade war from threat to reality is expected to ripple through global supply chains, raise costs for businesses and consumers and roil global stock markets, which have been volatile in anticipation of a prolonged trade fight between the United States and almost everyone else. “At the moment, I don’t see how this ends,” said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “This is very much in the president’s hands because he’s got advisers that seem divided, some substantively, some tactically. I just don’t think we’ve had any clear signs of the resolution he wants.” The Trump administration is waging trade wars on multiple fronts as it imposes tariffs on foreign steel, aluminum, solar panels and washing machines from countries like Canada, Mexico, the European Union and Japan. Yet the tariffs on China, the world’s largest manufacturing hub, affect a much larger share of products and a greater percentage of companies that rely on global supply chains, potentially hurting American companies even more than the Chinese firms the Trump administration is targeting. Mr. Trump’s aggressive stance toward China is aimed at pressuring the country to curtail what the White House describes as a pattern of unfair trade practices and theft of American intellectual property. In addition to the tariffs, the White House is placing restrictions on investment and on visas for Chinese nationals. The administration says the trade barriers are being used as leverage to force Beijing to make changes, including opening its markets to American companies and ending its practice of requiring firms operating in China to hand over valuable technology.


EPA leader Scott Pruitt resigns after numerous scandals

CNBC | Posted on July 5, 2018

cott Pruitt's polarizing tenure as head of the Environmental Protection Agency has come to an end. President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that he has accepted Pruitt's resignation. Trump said that the agency's deputy administrator, Andrew Wheeler, will become the acting head of EPA. The departure follows months of scrutiny that gathered momentum following reports that Pruitt had rented a Capitol Hill condominium linked to an energy lobbyist on favorable terms. The revelation exacerbated concerns about the high cost of Pruitt's travel and security detail and triggered a flood of allegations that Pruitt fostered a culture of workplace retaliation, wasteful spending and self-dealing at EPA.The steady flow of negative news stories prompted multiple government investigators to open several inquiries into Pruitt. His EPA now faces about a dozen probes into its spending, ethics and policy decisions.


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