FROM NSAC10/22/10 Vilsack Responds to Letter from Representatives on GIPSA Rule: On October 1, 115 House members submitted a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting additional economic analysis of the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule. Earlier this week, Vilsack responded to the representatives, assuring them that the regular process of rulemaking would take place and all the rulemaking requirements are being met, but telling them not to expect anything beyond that. To read Vilsack’s response letter to the Representatives, click here. 10/22/10 USDA Reaffirms Biofuels Pledge, Announces Subsidies for Advanced Biofuels: Yesterday, October 21, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a series of measures to expand and develop infrastructure and incentives for the production of advanced biofuels, which include non-corn kernel cellulosic feedstocks including switchgrass, corn stalks, and woody perennials, biofuels derived from waste materials, and other non-food biofuel sources. The new Renewable Fuel Standard rules finalized by the EPA earlier this year call for increasing biofuels production substantially over the next 12 years, with a target of 36 billion gallons of biofuels produced annually by 2022, including 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels. In his speech, Vilsack announced the resumption of financial assistance payments to biofuel producers through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), the creation of five new regional Biomass Research Centers, and the construction of infrastructure to support the increasing supply of biofuels, including new biorefineries, blender pumps, and storage systems. 10/19/10 New Publication on Farm Bill Programs and Habitat Conservation: NSAC is pleased to announce the release of a new publication - Conserving Habitat through the Federal Farm Bill: A Guide for Land Trusts and Landowners. A group of six organizations came together to contribute to this comprehensive and practical guide for farmers, ranchers, land trusts and other landowners who want to increase wildlife habitat on their land. The guide is available as a pdf document which can be accessed and downloaded from the NSAC website by clicking here. If you are interested in bulk printed copies, please contact the NSAC office. 10/20/10 Consumer Groups Get it Wrong on Tester: Today, October 20, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition responded critically to a letter and analysis sent to the United States Senate by a coalition of 9 national consumer organizations opposing an amendment to be offered by Senators Jon Tester and Kay Hagan to S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act. “On the basis of a surprisingly inaccurate analysis of what the Tester-Hagan amendment proposes to do, the organizations behind the letter to Senators reach a conclusion in opposition to the amendment,” said Ferd Hoefner, NSAC’s policy director. “Our strong hope is once they look at the actual details of the amendment they will change their position. The sooner they remove this damaging new roadblock to passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act in the short time left in this session of Congress the better.” 10/20/10 "Why Pollinators Matter" Conference Bee-gins: Today, October 20, the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) kicked off its three-day 10th Annual International Conference, “Pollinators and North American Priorities: Why Pollinators Matter: Benefits, Challenges, and Outcomes,” at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. NAPPC, which is administered by the Pollinator Partnership (P2), is a collaborative group of over 120 organizations and individuals that work to promote and implement a continent-wide action plan to protect the numbers and health of all pollinating animals. The conference program highlighted the economic and environmental value of pollinating animals as well as the many challenges they face, from the much-publicized colony collapse disorder in honeybees to broader threats including habitat loss and competition from non-native species.