Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just in--

DOL Formally Withdraws Child Labor Proposal

Washington--The Labor Department has formally withdrawn its proposed child labor regulation and published a notice stating this in the Federal Register, as required by law. DOL officials have stated their intention to work with agricultural groups, including Farm Bureau, to promote farm safety.

AFBF participated in a meeting with DOL officials last week to discuss child safety programs currently available and explore what support role, if any, the Agriculture Department can have in furthering the success of those programs. Additional meetings are planned and will include representatives from FFA, 4-H, the Association of Ag Educators, National Farmers Union and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

University of Idaho Canola, Rapeseed & Mustard Field Day Planned July 10
MOSCOW – New canola, rapeseed and mustard varieties developed by the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences will be on display July 10 during a field day that will mark plant breeder Jack Brown’s 20th anniversary of leading the program.
The lineup of new cultivars will include two new spring canolas, a spring rapeseed, two yellow mustards, one oriental mustard and two winter canolas. Canola produces a high-quality, heart-healthy edible oil and rapeseed produces a high-quality industrial oil prized as a lubricant.
Brown also will talk about his work with USDA Agricultural Research Service collaborators on a new $10 million, five-year project to improve rapeseed crops for biofuel production.
The field day will display new varieties bred to be herbicide resistant. The new varieties give growers greater flexibility in planting Brassica oilseed crops in rotations with peas or wheat on which either Pursuit or Beyond herbicides respectively may have been applied. Conventional canola varieties cannot be planted following application of the herbicide for up to five years.
The field day also will mark the 10th time Brown has conducted an oilseed field day to allow growers to consider the advantages of adding oilseeds to their crop rotations. The field day will begin at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast and tours starting at 8:30 at the college’s Parker Research Farm about 2 miles east of Moscow on the Troy Highway. The public event is free and includes a sponsored lunch.
Brown’s research shows how the oilseeds can offer growers an alternate crop with multiple uses, ranging from condiment mustard to edible oils to biofuels to livestock feed
In addition to experimenting with canolage – silage made from canola plants – and protein-rich seed meals left over after oil processing, Brown believes canola-wheat and canola-wheat-pea hay can provide valuable livestock forage.
The field day will also showcase Brown’s most recent large-scale project focused on biofuels production. Earlier this year, Brown became part of a team that will assess the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s rapeseed and canola collection and the complete known germplasm pool phenotypically and genotypically.  This research will provide invaluable genetic information that will be utilized by future breeders to genetically improve Brassica oilseed crops.
“We already have the first part of the spring germplasm collection growing in the field and currently being genotyped by rapid-cycle, molecular marker techniques” Brown said.  “When we add an even larger collection of winter germplasm this fall we will have the largest Brassica oilseed germplasm collection in the world to be phenotyped and genotyped,” Brown said. The phenotype is the plant’s physical characteristics: whether it is short or tall or rapid flowering, for example. The genotype is the plant’s genetic catalog, its collection of genes that make it what it is.
“When you have the plants in a collection genotyped, and you know that phenotypically, say 10 percent are short,” Brown said, “You find what those 10 percent have in common genotypically that make them short. And if you can determine those genes, you never have to grow plants to know that it will be short.”
“This can also be achieved with more complex traits like seed yield, oil content and pest resistance,” Brown said. “Identifying genes responsible for good traits allows us to genetically manipulate plants to contain these genes and hence the good traits.”
“Effectively, you can build a genotype into the plant you want,” he said. Genes for more efficient fertilizer use, that govern the plant’s efficiency in capturing sunlight or enhance its ability to adapt to global climate change also await discovery.
Brown’s part of the grant will be growing and gathering accurate information about each of more than 2,000 oilseed plant lines to assess each and creating a detailed genetic profile. Brown’s five-year, $920,000 grant is part of a larger $10 million project.
A related biofuel project will task Brown with growing 100,000 pounds of oil from one of his new varieties, the winter rapeseed variety Durola. The oil will be tested for suitability as the base for a biofuel for U.S. Navy jets.
Durola was designed, Brown said, to produce high yields of non-food grade oil, which can be tailored for bio-jet fuel production and so reduce the processing cost compared to other oils, such as soy, cotton or others.
“It goes without saying that if the Navy starts using even a small amount of jet fuel made from rapeseed oil, that’s an enormous amount of rapeseed oil,” Brown said.
Last year the Navy’s Blue Angels, the elite demonstration flying team, used a mix of half biofuel and half conventional petroleum-based fuel in their high performance jets.
Brown’s collection of rapeseed, canola and mustard plant lines at the University of Idaho rivals the national collection from the ARS seed collection at Ames, Iowa, that he’s evaluating.
The overall goal of his research and the new national project is to create specific oilseed varieties tailored to the end use. In the case of biofuel, the work calls for creating varieties that yield oil with the right stuff – molecular structures that make processing into bio-jet fuel cheaper.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pew Talks Farmers and Antibiotics in SELF Magazine
Washington--An article on superbugs and farmers in SELF Magazine, authored by The Pew Charitable Trusts, has hit the Internet. The article takes aim at antibiotics used by farmers on livestock, which it says is making more people resistant to antibiotics when they become sick with food-borne superbugs.

“Hundreds of pieces of research since the 1970s show that a routine farming practice—inappropriately giving antibiotics to animals—has helped encourage antibiotic-resistant bacteria to grow and spread,” states the article. “Now, in unpredictable ways, those germs have moved into our environment, including the environment of farms that harvest vegetables.”
The article does take into account agriculture’s position that farmers use antibiotics on their livestock only when absolutely necessary and that everyday “misuse of antibiotics by doctors and patients plays a much larger role.” But it then goes on to highlight the health community’s position that, “Industry wants to lay all the blame for the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria on the medical profession, but the epidemiologic evidence doesn't add up,” according to Robert Lawrence, M.D., at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Another article critical of agricultural antibiotic use also is featured in this month’s edition of Redbook.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stallman Responds to Mother Jones
Washington--In a blog post this week, Tom Philpott, food and ag blogger for Mother Jones commented on meeting American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman recently.

“As I pulled down my name tag and made my way into the dining hall, I quickly spied the bearded, stout figure of Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which calls itself the ‘voice of agriculture’ but is more accurately described as the ‘voice of industrial agriculture’,” wrote Philpott of his encounter with Stallman at a CropLife America dinner.

“He is a zealous evangelist of chemical-intensive farming, preaching the virtues of GMOs, biofuels, factory-scale animal farms and minimal regulation,” continued Philpott.

In the comment area of Philpott’s blog, Stallman responded that he regretted they were not seated together for dinner. “I think it important for all to be able to come to the table, so to speak, and have a civil and respectful discussion about subjects where there are differences of opinion,” wrote Stallman. “No doubt your belief system is different than my belief system, but I am sure we could have an interesting dialogue!”

“In my public speaking, I have emphasized that ALL forms...conventional, organic, local, biotech, etc....have a place in today's agriculture,” continued Stallman. “The one fact I do know is that farmers and ranchers will grow and raise food in whatever manner consumers desire and are willing to pay for!”

Stallman said “zealous evangelist” was a harsh description of himself and Farm Bureau and said farmers and ranchers are instead advocates for science and technology. “Farmers and ranchers continue to seek better ways to grow crops, care for their animals, sustain the environment and provide choices for American and foreign consumers,” wrote Stallman.

Friday, May 25, 2012

How Much Will Your Holiday Travel Cost?
Washington--Gas prices have generally dropped heading into the Memorial Day weekend, but experts say prices may start to rise again in some parts of the country before people hit the road for holiday travel.

On Tuesday, Ohio gas prices on average increased 6 cents during the day. Kentucky saw an average increase of 5 cents. According to AAA in its May 21 report, “Although the national average price has steadily fallen, this decline has been led by states east of the Rocky Mountains, while those West (including Alaska) have in fact seen prices rise during the last month.”
California (14.1 cents), Washington (12.6 cents) and Oregon (15.8 cents) have all seen more pronounced increases in AAA’s month-over-month analysis.

AAA estimates that more than 35 million Americans will take to the road this weekend. To see how expensive your Memorial Day travel could be, check out AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, which details state-by-state gas prices.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Newsline: Finally, Free Trade with Colombia

Washington--Better late than never, or so the saying goes, but the long wait for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to take effect was costly to U.S. agriculture, said Dave Salmonsen, American Farm Bureau Federation trade specialist, in Monday’s Newsline.

With the implementation of the trade pact, tariffs have been eliminated on more than half of the U.S. agricultural goods going into Colombia. Others will be phased out over the next few years. Salmonsen said trade analysts are projecting between $350 million and $370 million annually in new farm and ranch product sales.

Salmonsen said putting the deal into action is important because the United States lost big time market share in the years it took to finalize the agreement. Negotiations started in 2004.

“Over the last four or five years Argentina and then Canada last year also negotiated free trade agreements with Colombia, got rid of the tariffs on their products,” Salmonsen explained. “For wheat, corn and soybeans, at one point in the mid-2000s we had about 75 percent of the Colombian market for those products. Right now we have less than 25 percent of that market because the tariffs were so important. So getting rid of the tariffs will put us in a much better competitive position to try to win back that market share.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Renewable energy

Gas Would be 29 Cents Higher Per Gallon Without Ethanol
Des Moines--Ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by 29 cents per gallon between 2000 and 2011, according to an updated study conducted by Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. A similar study done a few years ago showed ethanol reduced the wholesale price of gasoline by just under 28 cents per gallon between 2000 and 2010.

The original study wasn’t funded, it was conducted because Professor Dermot Hayes, who authored the study with then-graduate student Xiaodong Du, was interested in the subject. The results of the study were published in Energy Policy, a peer-reviewed journal.

The Renewable Fuels Association funded an update of the study to include 2011 data.

“Last year, we were careening toward $5 gasoline,” said Bob Dineen, RFA president and CEO in aDelta Farm Press article. “Because of ethanol, because of theRenewable Fuel Standardrequiring refiners to use renewable fuels, consumers were given some measure of relief,” he added.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Photo Caption:  Meridian Mom Jessi Huizinga and Kraig Spille of KIVI TV Productions set up the next shot of a canal safety commercial videotaped on the bank of the Ridenbaugh Canal.  (NMID Photo)

 Nampa--Drowning is the leading accident cause of death for children up to four years old in our country and the second leading cause of accidental death for all kids up to age 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And Idaho has had the second highest unintentional drowning rate in the nation for the 1 to 5 year-old age group.
Those grim statistics are at the heart of the Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District’s summer canal safety campaign that launches across the Treasure Valley on Monday (May 28).  It marks the 12th consecutive year NMID has conducted the canal safety campaign.  The Nampa & Meridian canal safety efforts of the past 12 years also have been given official recognition.  Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter formally recognized the District’s safety efforts by issuing a special proclamation declaring May 27-June 2 as “Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District Canal Safety Recognition Week” in Idaho.
 “People just don’t seem to realize how dangerous canals are for children. Statistics show that the majority of Idaho’s child drownings are directly tied to a lapse of adult supervision for less than five minutes. The message we want parents to get is just how deadly that five-minute lack of supervision can be for children and young people,” said Daren Coon, NMID Secretary Treasurer.

The TV commercial was videotaped on the bank of NMID’s  Ridenbaugh canal and is specifically designed to illustrate just how quickly a child can be swept away if they should fall into a canal. At the beginning of the commercial, Jessi Huizinga, a Meridian mother of three, asks parents if they believe they could save their child if it fell into the canal.
The Ridenbaugh Canal flows at about 3 miles per hour – 4.5 feet per second – at the point the commercial was videotaped.  Using a small child’s shoe as a prop, the commercial demonstrates that in just two minutes, a child would be swept 540 feet away by the cold river water. In five minutes the child would be 1,350 feet, a full quarter mile, down the canal from where they fell in.
“Do you still think you can save your child?” Huizinga asks.
The Nampa & Meridian canal safety efforts of the past 12 years also have been given official recognition.  Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter formally recognized the District’s safety efforts by issuing a special proclamation declaring May 27-June 2 as “Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District Canal Safety Recognition Week” in Idaho.
The safety campaign will air five full weeks of television commercials and Spanish language radio spots to warn area residents about the drowning dangers for children posed by the District’s 80 canals and drains snaking for 500 miles across Ada and Canyon County. The ads will run every other week until August.
The potential for canal drownings goes up sharply when school ends and the weather heats up.  The District’s ditchriders are constantly checking their areas, alert for people who may be near or even playing in the canals.

“The hot weather of summer time is generally when we encounter the most number of young people in and around our 500 miles of canals," Coon said.  He added it is not unusual for the District's ditchriders to find people tubing or swimming in the District’s canals, especially the larger Ridenbaugh Canal.    
Governor Otter cited NMID in his proclamation for efforts that have “benefited and served the interests of all citizens of Southwestern Idaho, including more than 30 other irrigation districts, by promoting a canal safety program that extends far outside the Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District boundaries to wherever canals are found.”
“The fundamental aim of this outstanding individual organizational effort has been and continues to be the prevention of drowning deaths of children and young people and therefore reflects the highest values of Idaho and its people,” the Governor noted.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just in from Washington

Farm Bureau Urges Senate to Support Tax Extenders
Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation and 25 other business groups wrote Senate leaders today in support of a bill to extend several small business tax provisions.

The Small Business Tax Extenders Act (S. 2050), sponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), would extend increased deductions and longer depreciation times for small businesses’ equipment purchases and other business expenses. The bill also would provide tax equity to self-employed businesses by expanding the deductibility of health insurance to apply to employment taxes.

“Health care costs remain the top concern for small business, and this provision helps the self-employed save money on their health care costs, thus freeing up their ability to invest in other expenses and investments,” the groups wrote.
By reducing the gains-holding period for S corporations, the groups wrote, the bill would grant relief to those corporations by increasing their access to capital. When businesses convert from C corporations to S corporations, they have been required to hold their appreciated assets for up to a decade to avoid tax penalties.

The bill also would allow new businesses to deduct up to $10,000 of their start-up costs and extend Alternative Minimum Tax relief.

“As you look for opportunities to help small businesses create jobs and invest in their businesses and communities, we encourage you to pass S. 2050 as soon as possible,” the groups wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Friday, May 18, 2012

NASS Publishes Farm Labor Report
Washington--The National Agricultural Statistics Service published its biannual Farm Labor report on Thursday. NASS interviewed nearly 12,000 farmers and ranchers across the U.S. to obtain information on the number of agricultural workers, hours worked and wage rates at the national and regional levels.

According to the report, the number of hired workers decreased nearly 5 percent, while wage rates increased almost 2 percent from last year. In the report’s reference period—the week of Jan. 8-14, 2012—there were 575,000 workers hired directly by farm operators. In that same time frame, hired workers were paid an average wage of $11.52 per hour.

The biggest increases came in the Corn Belt, which had the highest percentage of farm labor hires. According to the report, this was primarily driven by the need for livestock workers because of increased inventories.
The next NASS Labor Report will be published Nov. 15.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Just in

Boise--Local races and closed primaries impacted voter turnout across Idaho on Tuesday, with a few counties seeing huge percentages and others record low numbers.
Tim Hurst, chief deputy secretary of state, said official counts aren’t in yet, but he estimated a statewide turnout of about 24 percent. 
But some counties like Clark County in Central Idaho, had a turnout of 303 of 435 registered voters show up to vote.
The Magic Valley saw record turnouts mainly due to newcomers trying to win new District seats.
Franklin and Bear Lake counties also had about 50 percent participation, Hurst said.
“The ones that we saw big turnouts in, there were local issues involved in those,” he said.
But that wasn’t the case everywhere.
 Ada County, which had multiple contested legislative, county commission and sheriff’s races, had 16.7 percent turnout.
Those low numbers might be due to disenfranchised voters unhappy with the newly closed Republican primary, which required voters to affiliate with the party before voting on their ballot. The Democratic primary remained open to all voters, regardless of affiliation.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

AFBF Backs Proposed BSE Risk Standards for Trade
Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation supports the Agriculture Department’s proposal to align U.S. risk standards for bovine spongiform encephalopathy with the system used by the World Organization for Animal Health, the organization said in comments submitted Monday to the department.

Under the proposed rule USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would adopt the same criteria and categories OIE uses to identify a country’s BSE risk status. The OIE risk categories are negligible, controlled and undetermined risk. APHIS would base its import policy of bovines and bovine products from a particular country on that country’s risk classification, as determined by OIE’s risk evaluation, as long as certain conditions are met, such as the removal of specified risk materials.

The rule allows the importation of boneless beef from any country meeting food safety equivalency standards, and places the tightest restrictions on countries with the highest risk of BSE. “The proposed rule will allow the U.S. to trade base decisions on beef imports on the actual risk of BSE,” Farm Bureau wrote.

The rule would also allow APHIS to conduct its own assessment when deemed necessary, such as when a country is not yet classified by the OIE for BSE risk and requests that APHIS conduct a risk evaluation using criteria equivalent to that used by OIE.

Farm Bureau “supports this proposed rule as an international harmonization of veterinary health rules that will improve and expand trade in animal products,” the group said.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rick Stevenson, Eric Ness and Sam Knipp at the Farm Bureau PR Conference, San Diego, 2006

Former N.M. Farm & Livestock Bureau Staffer Ness Passes
Sante Fe--Erik Leroy Ness, director of communications for New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau for more than 30 years, passed away on Saturday, May 12. Erik was a talented, complex and compassionate communicator on behalf of agriculture, Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau members.

He was a perennial winner of multiple public relations awards from the American Farm Bureau Federation. He also served as a member of the board of directors for the Agricultural Relations Council. Erik’s work for New Mexico farmers and ranchers was appreciated throughout the state and admired by his fellow public relations colleagues from across the country. Erik had been a contributor to AFBF’s weekly Focus on Agriculture commentary series. Details about services for Erik have not been announced.

Farmer Shares Labor Woes with Washington Post
Washington--A post to the Washington Post’s On Small Business blog on Sunday calls for a more streamlined process to certify immigrants to work in the United States, “particularly for farmers who risk losing their investment waiting for paperwork to go through when time is of the essence.”

Blog post author Charlene Turczyn, a Central Illinois farmer, explains farmers’ very specific and time-sensitive labor needs.

“A farmer needs migrant, temporary workers when the crops mature.  A farmer cannot wait for paperwork to move slowly through the process.  The work is temporary often lasting only one to three weeks,” she writes.  

Farmer employers need experienced workers with speed, stamina and endurance. And they need workers who are willing to move around frequently, following the crops that are in season. Few Americans possess the skill, experience or desire to do this kind of work.

“Currently billions of dollars of crops rot because of a shortage of available labor,” Turczyn said. “Tightened immigration laws will only make this problem worse.  The problem hits all of America by raising the costs of our food, including our meats.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

Just in

Advocacy Must Engage the Congregation

Washington--AFBF President Bob Stallman is a guest blogger this week on the popular agriculture blog Just Farmers. In his post, titled “Advocacy Must Engage the Congregation,” Stallman discusses how he became involved in agriculture advocacy and why it’s important for farmers and ranchers to play an active role in policy decisions.

“As Farm Bureau members, it is ingrained in us to be actively involved and to fight for what we believe in and for what we think will better our profession and our country. We are not ones to rest on our laurels while others do the work,” wrote Stallman. “But, it doesn’t stop there. The future of upholding agriculture lies in farmers and ranchers being able to communicate in an even deeper and more meaningful way with consumers.”

Stallman goes on to say, “Unfortunately, without the cultivation of deeper connections with consumers, many are apt to view farmers as the unfortunate puppets of Big Ag, because that is pretty much the scope of the emotionally charged messages they read and hear from those planting seeds of doubt about today’s agriculture. It truly is time for a consumer intervention, but one that makes significant and meaningful connections through the qualities of shared values, mutual respect and common ground. The two-way conversation needs to become a connection built on a foundation of understanding and ideals.”

To read more of Stallman’s blog post and see what others are saying, visit Just Farmers.

Friday, May 11, 2012

President Frank Priestley's Editorial

Can Food Production Keep Up With Population Growth?
An article by Reuters News Service recently posed the question; “Can we feed 9 billion people?”
It’s an important question to consider and there are major differences among academic experts on the best methods of increasing production of food to meet global demand.
By 2050, 70 percent of the earth’s civilization will live in cities and global population will reach 9 billion from the current 7 billion. The discussion about how we will feed that many people is diverse and important, but also misunderstood, which the Reuters article makes clear.
Academics from around the world suggest that up to 30 percent of the current world food supply is either thrown away, eaten by pests or spoils on its way to market. Lack of infrastructure to transport food to market is a serious problem in many parts of the world. Rising energy costs add to the problem and in order to transport food to people who need it, efficient systems are critical.
In the food processing sector, some methods that create efficiency are being taken away. For example the recent controversy over lean finely textured beef (LFTB) or Pink Slime as it has been referred to by the media, has reduced the amount of ground beef available and increased the price. In this instance we had a proven, safe, regulated process in use since 2004, that no longer exists due to hype created by the media and others who either don’t understand, or perhaps don’t care that increasing grocery bills means going without to some families.
The experts quoted in the article suggested that people who live in apartment buildings could grow vegetables in pots on their porches, that people should eat less meat and dairy products, and that governments should spend less on farm subsidies. They also suggested a global ban on bio fuel subsidies.
The main problem we see with all of these arguments is that while we all can and should work to end hunger, one country can’t force its sovereignty onto another. During and after World War II a lot of Europeans went hungry. Since then those governments have enacted subsidies and other farm supports to ensure a steady food supply. Countries that don’t do the same leave their farms vulnerable, not competitive in the global market, and in competition with foreign governments. This is one of the reasons we see such little to progress in World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations.
One of the biggest misunderstandings in this discussion lies behind the assertion that if we eat less meat and dairy products it reduces demand for grain and somehow keeps people from going hungry. This incredibly flawed argument assumes that if demand for grain drops farmers will convert that acreage to vegetables. What doesn’t make sense is that in the U.S. at least, we don’t have a shortage of vegetables and growing less grain will have no impact on that fact. For instance, consider the potato industry, which is considered a “mature” industry similar to almost every other perishable fruit or vegetable. When demand levels are constant or inelastic, changes in price have little impact on the quantity in demand. So if the quantity of potatoes produced exceeds the quantity of potatoes the market wants (demand) the price will drop.  If the quantity of potatoes produced drastically exceeds demand, and there are no other external factors, such as a diversion program, the market will implode and the price will fall well below cost of production – all the way to zero in some instances.
Many people don’t understand that overproduction of perishable crops often leads to falling prices and in some cases bankrupt farms. Arguably the most critical factor in fighting hunger is the ability to maintain profitable farms. Our nation is blessed with an abundance of good farm land and skilled producers, but many countries are not. As long as we can protect our farms from overzealous regulations, burdensome taxes and dubious attempts to frighten consumers, those farms can and will be passed along to the next generation and the production of food will keep up with the demands of a growing population. Finding creative and innovative methods of purchasing and transporting U.S. produced farm commodities around the globe to meet the demand of less fortunate people will remain a challenge. As will helping people in those countries produce their own food.

O Magazine Article Slants Pro-GMO Labeling

Washington--The May issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, contains a series of articles about biotechnology and genetically modified foods. The main article attempts to make a case for mandatory labeling of foods derived from biotechnology and comes as a petition for a “Right to Know” initiative in California is reported to have more than enough signatures to get the initiative on this November’s ballot.

The article poses the question, “What impact do GM foods have on our health?” and follows with “no one really knows.”

Actually, we do. After biotech crops go through the typical six to 12 years of testing before they go to market, we know a great deal about them, according to the Council for Biotechnology Information. The group says that food made from biotech crops has been determined to be as safe as non-biotech foods by no less than the Food and Drug Administration, American Dietetic Association, World Health Organization, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, more than 3,000 scientists worldwide have signed a declaration in support of agricultural biotechnology and its safety for humans, animals and the environment, according to AgBioWorld.

The American Farm Bureau Federation opposes mandatory labeling of biotech foods that aren’t significantly different from conventional foods, because the proposed labels would incorrectly imply that biotech food products are inferior or unsafe. Also, food makers most likely would pass on the increased cost of mandatory labeling to shoppers.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Just in...

New Wheat Harvest Movie Title Revealed

Washington--The official title of a documentaryfilm previously known by its working title(“The Wheat Harvest Movie”) has just been revealed. “Great American Wheat Harvest is the title of the movie, whichis scheduled for release in spring 2014. The movie will tell the story of where our nation’s food comes from and how it’s produced. Maryland-based independent film company ConjoStudios will produce the movie,which is expected to encompass a 10-state region and showcase the lives of hard-working American families, who spend as many as 100 days each year traveling from state to state harvesting the wheat that feeds the world.

The film’s coordinators are working to secure national, regional and state sponsorship opportunities, as the 2012 wheat harvest commences across the country. A promotional trailer for the film may be viewed online. Follow @wheat_harvest on Twitter for updates.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Farm Bill Summary Released
The Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday released a 17-page summary of the farm bill reported out of committee two weeks ago. Read the summary online here.

Farm Bureau continues to urge that the bill be brought to the Senate floor prior to the Memorial Day recess.

USDA Extends Application Deadline for Dairy Margin Protection Program

Re-enrollment Continues Through June 22, Dairy producers urged to act now WASHINGTON– U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announ...