29 MAY

Ethanol ‘fix’ could break America’s chicken farmers

Memorial Day barbecues are about to become more expensive for Americans, thanks to a misguided federal policy that props up biofuel makers and corn farmers – at the expense of poultry producers and the customers who buy their chicken.

The price of corn feed is generally the most expensive part of raising chickens, making any policy that artificially inflates corn prices devastating to America’s poultry farmers and costly to consumers. The recent announcement by the Trump administration that it will permit the year-round sale of E15 (gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol) will create just that kind of price inflation.  Read more

29 MAY

GOP factions seek middle ground on immigration

Leaders of warring House Republican factions searched for an immigration compromise as some conservatives warned of consequences for Speaker Paul Ryan if he allowed party moderates to push a bipartisan bill through the chamber without strong GOP support.

The talks Monday occurred as centrist Republicans remained five GOP signatures away from being able to force party leaders to hold votes on a series of immigration bills. Should they succeed, it would launch a process in which the likely outcome seemed to be passage of a middle-ground measure backed by a handful of Republicans and all Democrats. Ryan has said he will avert that outcome, though it’s unclear how, and many conservatives consider it intolerable.  Read more

22 MAY

USDA confirms Virulent Newcastle Disease (VND) in backyard Exhibition birds in California, not a food safety concern

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of virulent Newcastle disease in a small flock of backyard exhibition chickens in Los Angeles County, California. It is important to note that the presence of the disease is not a food safety concern. This is the first case of virulent Newcastle disease, previously referred to as exotic Newcastle disease, in the U.S. since 2003.

No human cases of Newcastle disease have ever occurred from eating poultry products. Properly cooked poultry products are safe to eat.  In very rare instances people working directly with sick birds can become infected. Symptoms are usually very mild, and limited to conjunctivitis and/or influenza-like symptoms. Infection is easily prevented by using standard personal protective equipment.  Read more
22 MAY

Dems give members green light to sign immigration petition

House Democratic leaders are telling their members the time has come to sign on to a Republican discharge petition aimed at forcing votes in the House on immigration.
Democratic leaders had encouraged their-rank-and-file to hold off on signing the petition to see if it garnered the 25 GOP signatures that would be needed to reach a majority. But now, with 20 Republicans having endorsed the measure, Democratic leaders are changing their tune.  Read more
22 MAY

Farm bill fails on House floor as conservatives hold out

For the second time in five years, House Republicans failed to pass a farm bill, this time because of conservative demands for action on immigration and fierce Democratic opposition to the legislation’s food stamp reforms.
Thirty Republicans and every Democrat voted against the bill, which failed, 198-213, bringing cheers from the Democratic side of the chamber.
The GOP opponents included the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and members of the hard-line conservative group who decided to use their votes on the farm bill as leverage to get a vote on a sweeping immigration measure sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Some moderate Republicans also voted against the measure, as expected.  Read more
22 MAY

In an ironic twist, GOP farm bill proposal attacks states’ rights

Thought the House Agriculture Committee’s proposed 2018 farm bill couldn’t get any friendlier to Big Ag? Think again. House Republicans have approved new language that, if passed, could nullify thousands of state laws that promote public health, keep food and water safe, and protect animals.

Named for its Republican author, Iowa Representative Steve King, the King Amendment  (officially known as the “Protect Interstate Commerce Act”) would strip state and local governments of the ability to pass and enforce laws regulating the production or manufacture of agricultural products that cross state lines. “Agricultural products” is an extremely broad term that includes horticultural, viticultural, and dairy products; livestock and poultry; bees; fish; forest products; and pets. Under the King Amendment, no state would be able to pass food and agriculture laws that establish standards that are stricter than any other state’s or more stringent than federal rules.  Read more

22 MAY

A new NAFTA will probably not get done this year. Now what?

Divisions among NAFTA negotiators on complex and controversial issues are driving a stake through the heart of President Donald Trump’s goal of signing a new agreement into law this year.

After nine months of intense negotiating rounds in all three countries, officials remain as far apart as ever on some of the biggest changes the administration has put forward, including ones related to auto manufacturing and Canada and Mexico’s access to the U.S. government procurement market.  Read more

22 MAY

The U.S. Postal Service will mail you baby chickens in a cardboard box. Yes, live chickens.

“Good morning, this is the post office, just calling to let you know your baby chicks are here for pick up.” The woman who left this message early on a Tuesday morning has a sing-song voice, like someone calling to say you’ve won a prize. Or, in this case, that they can’t wait to present you with an opaque cardboard box, peppered with air holes, that’s making a cacophonous peeping noise. I show up at the post office to collect the birds, which I can hear coming from the back room long before I see them. I ask the clerk whether she gets chick shipments a lot. “Oh all the time,” she says. “I just love it.”  Read more

15 MAY

Most meat, poultry purchased by SF departments treated with antibiotics

City departments tasked for the first time with tracking antibiotics used in the production of the meat and poultry they purchased struggled to get accurate information from suppliers, according to a report.

San Francisco passed a law late last year requiring city departments to start disclosing data on meat purchases and antibiotic use to address the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Health organizations say the missue of antibiotics in livestock for disease prevention and growth promotion have contributed to the alarming health risk.  Read more