Agriculture

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) announced that it will reduce releases from Lake Powell into Lake Mead to its lowest level since filling Lake Powell in the 1960s. 

Stateline Midwest ~ July/August 2013 

The farm bill, the major legislation for agriculture, rural development and food aid, expires every five years. If it is not extended or rewritten, U.S. agriculture policy reverts to laws passed in 1938 and 1949. The 2007 bill took until 2008 to get passed, and parts of it were extended to September 2013 when it was evident that there would be no 2012 farm bill.

The impact of going back in time on milk prices— to 1949 policy — finally led to a last-minute extension of some parts of the 2008 bill. That congressional agreement occurred in late 2012, thus averting the doubling of consumer milk prices that would have occurred.

The U.S. Congress is once again running up against another deadline — this time the end of the extension that runs through September.

New York City is famous – and infamous – for its policy attempts to curb obesity. News comes this week that the city is unveiling the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) at two hospitals. Doctors will prescribe a menu of fresh fruits and vegetables and give patients coupons from the city to assist with the purchase of the healthy food.

On June 3rd of this year, Connecticut became the first state to pass a law that requires special labeling for foods containing genetically modified organisms, also known as GMOs. Maine followed suit a little over a week later, when the state’s senate voted unanimously to require GMO labeling. Both of these laws contain clauses that require other states to pass similar laws before the labeling requirement actually goes into effect. For example, in Connecticut, four other northeastern states need to enact labeling laws, and one of those states needs to border Connecticut before the requirement goes live.  In addition, the combined population of these states needs to be at least 20 million. In Maine, the law won’t go into effect until five other states—one of which must be New Hampshire—pass the same requirements.

Stateline Midwest ~ June 2013

Does your state’s recreational-liability statute protect landowners? Picture a group of schoolchildren visiting a farm. They ride horses, play games, climb tractors. A chaperone or parent gets hurt — as a result of no negligence on the landowner’s part. Is the landowner liable? That is both a real story and a question that recently faced the Iowa courts and the state legislature.

Before adjourning this year, Iowa lawmakers revamped the state’s recreational-liability statute to provide more clarity and protections for landowners.

Connecticut is the first state to pass a bill to mandate labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The United States is one of the few industrialized nations that does not require labeling of genetically engineered foods.  Countries that have restrictions or bans on genetically engineered foods include China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and the European Union.

Stateline Midwest ~ May 2013

For former Rep. Annette Sweeney, a third-generation farmer from Iowa, the goal of a contentious measure she introduced and helped pass last year was plain — protect agriculture producers from the unfair practices of outsiders.

As the result of passage of HF 589, it is now a crime in Iowa to seek work in agricultural facilities under false pretenses. The law seeks to crack down on those who have sought such employment in order to investigate conditions and uncover cases of animal abuse.

“Farmers try very hard to raise animals using the very best of science and husbandry,” Sweeney says, “and then people with a vegan agenda come in and destroy generations of hard work.”

That is one perspective.

Others have dubbed Iowa’s measure, as well as proposals introduced this year in states such as Indiana and Nebraska, “ag gag” legislation, unfair and potentially unconstitutional attempts to target whistleblowers and shield animal abuse at large production facilities

The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 made sweeping changes to how America ensures its food supply is safe. What remains to be seen is just how the Food and Drug Administration will enact those changes.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011, represents the most significant revision of food safety laws in the United States in more than 70 years. The legislation carried with it new mandates for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including comprehensive, prevention-based approaches across all aspects of the food supply system.  Such a prevention-based approach will require food facilities to evaluate hazards in their operations and establish procedures to prevent contamination. The law also requires the FDA to establish safety standards for production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables based on science. In addition to enhanced prevention and surveillance tools, the FDA will also have mandatory recall authority for all food products.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law on Jan. 4, 2011, represents the most significant revision of food safety laws in the United States in more than 70 years. The legislation carried with it new mandates for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including comprehensive, prevention-based approaches across all aspects of the food supply system.  Such a prevention-based approach will require food facilities to evaluate hazards in their operations and establish procedures to prevent contamination. The law also requires the FDA to establish safety standards for production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables based on science. In addition to enhanced prevention and surveillance tools, the FDA will also have mandatory recall authority for all food products.

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