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Roberts, Stabenow question econ reorganization, ERS, NIFA moves

High Plains Journal | Posted on September 20, 2018

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-KS, and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, wrote a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Sept. 7 raising concerns about the Trump administration’s plans to place the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s economics functions under the Office of the Secretary and to move most of the employees of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture out of Washington. At the same time, USDA announced an extension of the deadline for communities to express an interest in housing the agencies until Oct. 15.In their letter, Roberts and Stabenow wrote how one of the concerns raised by stakeholders is that a large number of employees will be unable to relocate, causing a sharp loss of knowledgeable staff. “Additionally, stakeholders are concerned that relocating experts outside of the National Capitol Region will erode critical partnerships with other federal agencies who are engaged in interdisciplinary research important for preventing of infectious disease, improving bioenergy efficiency, and dealing with emerging threats like Zika and Ebola,” the senators’ letter said.


After 'major escalation' in US-China trade war, what happens next?

CNN | Posted on September 20, 2018

The trade war between the United States and China just got a lot bigger after both sides announced their broadest waves of tariffs yet.The latest exchange of fire means the two economic superpowers will soon have imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion of goods. And analysts say the battle is likely to get worse, even as China starts to run low on ways to retaliate.The new tariffs announced by Washington and Beijing this week "mark a major escalation of their conflict that will hit global economic growth," Louis Kuijs, head of Asia Economics at research firm Oxford Economics, said in a note.The Chinese government said late Tuesday that it would impose tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion following the Trump administration's announcement that it was hitting $200 billion worth of Chinese goods with new tariffs.The US tariffs start at a rate of 10%, before rising to 25% at the end of the year. They come into effect on September 24, and will apply to thousands of Chinese products, ranging from food seasonings and baseball gloves to network routers and industrial machinery parts.China's new tariffs will be levied at rates of 5% or 10%, depending on the product, from the same date, the Chinese government said.More than 5,000 US goods will be affected, including meat, nuts, alcoholic drinks, chemicals, clothes, machinery, furniture and auto parts.

 


No federal aid coming for livestock producers: Canadian agriculture minister

ipolitics | Posted on September 20, 2018

No financial aid package is in the works for Canada’s livestock sector, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay says — despite pleas from producer groups who warn plummeting prices are forcing producers out of business. “I’m willing to look at anything through the government, but with anything like this, you’d have to work with the government here, and the provincial governments, if there was going to be a special package put in place,” MacAulay said in an interview with iPolitics Monday afternoon.“But honestly, I am not looking at putting one in place at the moment,” he said, adding the federal government is “doing everything we can with the programs in place in order to help them.”As a former farmer himself, MacAulay said it’s well understood the sector “is looking for aid.”The Alberta government had asked the Trudeau government to consider supporting the province’s hog industry amid economic instability in North American commodity markets caused by an ongoing trade war.


Memo Contradicts Ross’s Rationale for Adding Citizenship Question to Census

Daily Intelligencer | Posted on September 20, 2018

The U.S. government’s decennial attempt to count every human being within its borders might seem like one of Uncle Sam’s most anodyne activities. But when those overseeing the count belong to a political movement that explicitly regards demographic change as its enemy — and disenfranchising Democratic constituencies as fair game — the Census can begin to resemble an ominous enterprise. Census data shapes the contours of political districts, and determines each state’s clout in the Electoral College. It dictates what proportion of federal funding for schools, roads, and libraries each state is entitled to. Thus, if a Republican administration found a facially neutral way of systematically undercounting residents in Democratic-leaning areas, it could inflate red America’s (already disproportionate) influence over our political system. And the Trump administration appeared to be doing just that last March, when it decided to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 census. Meanwhile, Census Bureau researchers had already warned that test surveys were prompting “unprecedented” levels of concern from immigrants, who feared that providing the government with information about themselves would result in their deportation. New York attorney general Barbara Underwood revealed what appears to be a smoking gun. As part of her lawsuit challenging the Census question, Underwood publicly filed a newly unredacted internal Commerce Department memo, which reveals that the Justice Department (DOJ) did not initiate the request for the citizenship question — but rather, resisted Commerce’s initial attempts to extract such a request from it.


Farm bill hurts ability of communities to protect health, environment of citizens

The Hill | Posted on September 20, 2018

As city mayors, we are deeply troubled that Congress is considering taking away our right to home rule. In House and Senate negotiations last week, legislators considered Section 9101 of the federal Farm Bill that would rescind the right of our communities and their elected officials to restrict hazardous pesticides. During the past two years, our neighboring cities passed landmark legislation to restrict pesticides, require organic land care and protect public health. We believe federal preemption of our authority is undemocratic and contrary to our country’s founding principles. Our legislation was passed after extensive public hearings and in-depth research into the adverse effects of pesticides and the availability of non-toxic alternatives. Through our deliberations with community stakeholders and experts, we learned from the independent scientific literature that pesticides can harm people and are linked to a range of diseases from cancer to neurological disorders, immune and reproductive effects to respiratory impacts and learning disabilities. We learned that children are at elevated risk from exposure to normal daily use and that the chemicals end up in our waterways, while putting the health of pets and wildlife, including fisheries and pollinators, at significant risk. Most importantly, our research found that we could successfully maintain our parks, playing fields and private lawns without the use of high-risk pesticides.  


Cybersecurity: ‘We cannot rely on Washington to keep us safe’

The Connecticut Mirror | Posted on September 20, 2018

The leader of Connecticut’s cybersecurity efforts said Tuesday that Washington, with a deeply polarized Congress and faction-riven White House, has abrogated its role in defending the nation’s electrical grid, natural gas system and public water supplies against hackers who are growing bolder, more numerous and more sophisticated. “I’m often asked in my job, ‘Are we safe from a cyber attack?’ And the answer, of course, is no,” said Arthur H. House, the state’s chief cybersecurity risk officer. “We’re not safe. No one’s safe. No federal agency, no state agency, no city, no business, no individual can take safety as an assumption. We’re all threatened. We’re threatened all the time. What’s important is that Connecticut and Connecticut’s utilities take cyber security vey, very seriously.”House joined Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and representatives of state agencies and utilities to release the second annual cybersecurity review of Connecticut’s systems for the delivery of electricity, natural gas and water. The report found no penetrations of any Connecticut utility, despite hundreds of millions of attempts annually from every corner of the world.


NASDA Debuts Model Preventive Controls for Animal Food Framework

NASDA | Posted on September 20, 2018

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is pleased to announce the debut of their Model Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Controls for Animal Food Implementation Framework. The document contains the fundamental and essential components for the operation of a state animal food safety program that can fully implement the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-based Preventive Control for Animal Food regulation. This regulation, as well as NASDA’s Framework, establishes preventive actions to ensure the safety of animal food in an effort to protect animal and human health. The national framework emphasizes the need for alignment and consistency across state programs. “As co-regulators with the FDA and other agencies, NASDA members are committed to ensuring a safe food supply,” said NASDA CEO Dr. Barbara P. Glenn. “This framework is an important step in expanding the partnerships between state departments of agriculture and the FDA to effectively implement the rules of FSMA.” The Framework was produced in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), state departments of agriculture, universities, and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) as part of NASDA’s programmatic work on an FDA cooperative agreement for implementation of the rule.


Trump's dairy dilemma

Politico | Posted on September 20, 2018

The Trump administration wants any NAFTA 2.0 deal involving Canada to feature major concessions on dairy from America’s northern neighbor. The dairy standoff is one of the most challenging issues facing trade negotiators in each country because of political considerations on both sides of the border. Trudeau’s Liberal Party is vying to maintain its supporters in Ontario and Quebec, where the country’s powerful dairy industry is concentrated and provincial elections are approaching. The Trump administration, looking ahead to the November elections, wants to bolster support among a hard-hit dairy sector that’s struggling with a global milk glut and depressed prices. At issue is market access to Canada’s $17 billion dairy sector, which operates under a so-called supply management system that limits production, restricts imports and sets floor prices — similar to American sugar policy. U.S. trade negotiators want Canada to expand import quotas that currently permit only a small amount of dairy products to enter the country tariff-free, as well as eliminate a low-price policy for a protein-rich milk ingredient called ultrafiltered milk, which is used to make cheese and yogurt. It’s formally known as Class 7.Gregg Doud, USTR’s chief agricultural negotiator, told senators last week that ending Class 7 is the major focus of dairy talks. Two former U.S. trade negotiators and experts on U.S.-Canada relations told POLITICO they expect Canada to open a small percentage of its dairy market by expanding quotas that allow imports to cross the border tariff-free. The new access would likely be similar to what Canada offered the European Union and Asia Pacific nations in recent trade deals: an additional 5 percent of its cheese market and 3.5 percent of its overall dairy market, respectively. 


Major U.S. trade groups link up in anti-tariff coalition

CBS | Posted on September 20, 2018

As the Trump administration readies major trade actions this month, including a potential $200 billion in new tariffs on imported Chinese goods, America's biggest trade associations -- representing a wide swath of industries -- have formed what they say will be a sweeping campaign against tariffs. Americans for Free Trade, a group of more than 80 associations, said it represents thousands of businesses and workers. It's joining with the already-formed Farmers for Free Trade in a campaign the groups are calling "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland." They plan events in Chicago, Nashville, Pennsylvania and Ohio starting next week, according to a statement posted on a new website."Every sector of the U.S. economy stands to lose in a trade war," Matthew Shay, who heads the National Retail Federation, said in the statement. "The stakes couldn't be higher for American families, businesses, farmers and workers threatened by job losses and higher prices as a result of tit-for-tat tariffs."The coalition posted a searchable map linking users to stories from farmers and businesses saying they're harmed by tariffs. The move comes just as Bloomberg reports the White House is proposing a new round of trade talks with China, after the previous four attempts faltered.


Fed survey finds concerns about rising trade tensions

AP | Posted on September 20, 2018

The Federal Reserve reported  that its latest survey of business conditions nationwide found rising concerns over the impact Trump administration trade policies could have on the economy. The Fed’s 12 regional banks said the economy is growing at a moderate pace although three districts — Philadelphia, St. Louis and Kansas City — depicted activity as somewhat below average.While businesses remained optimistic about near-term prospects, the Fed found worries about trade had prompted some businesses to scale back or postpone their capital investment plans. Higher tariffs stemming from President Donald Trump’s get-tough trade policies were reported to be pushing up input costs for some manufactured goods.The Fed survey reported that labor markets were tight throughout the country with construction workers, truck drivers, engineers and other high-skilled workers remaining in short-supply. But the report also found that a number of Fed districts were also seeing shortages of lower-skilled workers at restaurants, retail stores and other places as the country’s unemployment rate has fallen to 3.9 percent, its lowest point in nearly two decades.


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