In this file:

 

·         Farm bill likely to address organic program problems

In a sign that the next farm bill is likely to address problems in the government's organic programs, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said July 13 the National Organic Standards Board and the National Organic Program have been overtaken by "uncertainty and dysfunction"…

 

·         Approved ag appropriations above Trump’s proposed budget

Legislative Watch: House Appropriations Committee approves ag funding; GMO label input sought; pork exports up; Censky tabbed for No. 2 USDA post.

 

 

Farm bill likely to address organic program problems

 

The Hagstrom Report

via The Fence Post - July 13, 2017

 

In a sign that the next farm bill is likely to address problems in the government's organic programs, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said July 13 the National Organic Standards Board and the National Organic Program have been overtaken by "uncertainty and dysfunction."

 

At a hearing devoted to organics, specialty crops and local markets, Roberts noted a recent Washington Post article highlighted the issue of fraudulent organic imports.

 

"My constituents in Kansas brought this issue to my attention a year ago," Roberts said. "We pushed the Department of Agriculture to do something then, and it is clear that if it takes this long to get action, something needs to change."

 

"Farmers in rural America can choose organics, not necessarily because they believe there is anything wrong with conventional production, but because they recognize organics as a value-added opportunity," he added. "They are responding to a market signal and increasing their margins.

 

"However, it seems that uncertainty and dysfunction have overtaken the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the regulations associated with the National Organic Program (NOP)."

 

Roberts did not go into the specifics of overregulation himself, but he was undoubtedly referring to controversies over how much time animals producing organic meat need to spend outdoors and whether crops grown hydroponically should be considered organic.

 

Two witnesses testified about problems in the organic industry and called for changes in the NOSB, the appointed Agriculture Department advisory group on organics, and the NOP, which regulates the industry.

 

Theojary Crisantes Jr., vice president of operations for Wholesum Harvest, an Arizona company, noted his grandfather emigrated from Greece to Mexico in the 1930s and started a company that has sold produce to the United States since 1940s.

 

Wholesum started operations in Arizona in 2012 and now grows tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers and squash on 600 acres in both the United States and Mexico. Wholesum has revenue of $55 million and is the largest producer of organic tomatoes on the vine in North America.

 

Crisantes testified on behalf of the Coalition for Sustainable Organics, which maintains organic producers should be able to continue using containers and hydroponics and still be eligible for the USDA Organic Seal. He said growing in "shade houses" minimizes the impact of production on the environment, increases the efficiency of the beneficial insect program, reduces water use by 80 percent, and provides year-round employment in regions characterized by seasonal jobs.

 

Crisantes noted containerized and hydroponic growing methods have been certified by USDA since the inception of the organic program, and the NOSB drafted and considered proposals to eliminate containerized and hydroponic growing methods for organic certification.

 

Opponents of hydroponically grown food being labeled as organic maintain organic food should be grown in soil.

 

While USDA has not made any decision about whether to decertify these methods...

 

more

http://www.thefencepost.com/news/farm-bill-likely-to-address-organic-program-problems/

 

 

Approved ag appropriations above Trump’s proposed budget

Legislative Watch: House Appropriations Committee approves ag funding; GMO label input sought; pork exports up; Censky tabbed for No. 2 USDA post.

 

P. Scott Shearer, National Hog Farmer

Jul 14, 2017

 

The House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2018 agricultural appropriations bill which provides a total of $144.9 billion in both mandatory and discretionary funding for USDA and the Food and Drug Administration. This is $4.6 billion above President Trump’s proposed budget request.

 

The bill does not include many of the administration’s requests to eliminate various USDA programs. The bill provides $20 billion in discretionary funding, which is $876 million below FY ’17 or approximately a 5% reduction.

 

The committee addressed a number of issues including:

 

• Animal welfare inspection reports: The committee calls on USDA to “promptly finish” reviewing inspection information on its website and to restore all legally permissible records that were previously removed. This is response to the administration’s earlier decision to limit access to animal welfare inspection records.

 

• Brazilian beef: With USDA suspending the importation of Brazilian beef do to a high level of rejection of imports by the Food Safety and Inspection Service, the committee directs USDA to conduct a full review of Brazil’s food safety equivalency determination for all products that are eligible to be exported to the United States, including raw beef and report to the committee.

 

• Chinese chicken: The FSIS is to bar the imports of Chinese chicken until it reports that China can provide the same carcass-by-carcass inspection that USDA does through FSIS and that China will report all poultry recalls and disease outbreaks in a timely fashion.

 

• Vaccine bank...

 

• Undersecretary of Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs …

 

• Biotech education …

 

USDA requests public input on GMO labeling …

 

Pork and beef exports up …

 

Censky nominated to be deputy secretary of agriculture …  

 

more, including links

http://www.nationalhogfarmer.com/regulatory/approved-ag-appropriations-above-trump-s-proposed-budget