• 18Jan

    Press Release; Contact: Patrick Delaney pdelaney@unitedfresh.org 202-303-3400 ext. 417

    Proposed Rule Will Double Fresh Produce Served to 32 Million Students

    The United Fresh Produce Association is cheering a new proposed rule from the Department of Agriculture that would significantly increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables served to the 32 million students served by the National School Lunch Program. The proposed rule, announced today, seeks to align the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and Institute of Medicine’s recommendations, both of which call for increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Read more »

  • 31Aug

    From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

    In June, the USDA’s Office of Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards (GIPSA) issued a proposed rule that promises to finally rein in some of the worst anti-competitive abuses of meat packers and impose a measure of contract fairness for poultry producers.  Lauded by NSAC and many major farm organizations the rules have the potential to begin to restore fair competition and contracts in livestock and poultry markets.

    Hundreds of livestock producers and poultry growers have already sent in comments to the USDA in support of these rules.

    A comment submitted by six neighboring beef producing families from Iowa said, “We hope that the proposed changes will help bring back competition in the cattle business and reduce the stranglehold of the meat packers. Vertical integration is killing independent producers financially… By entering into contracts with some cattle producers — or by actually owning cattle — they can process the cattle they control if and when cattle prices rise past survival mode for us producers. The result is that both consumers and independent cattlemen lose big-time.” Read more »

  • 16Aug

    From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

    On Friday, August 13, twenty-one Senators joined on a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack in support of a proposed rule to clarify and strengthen the protections for farmers and ranchers provided in the Packers and Stockyards Act.

    The letter was sponsored by Senators Tom Harkin (IA) and Tim Johnson (SD).  A copy of the letter can be found here.

    USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) issued the proposed rule on June 22 to carry out the 2008 Farm Bill’s amendment of the Act and rulemaking directives.  Some Representatives, aligned with meat and poultry packers and processors, criticized the proposed rule at a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing on July 20.  They opined that the proposed rule went beyond USDA’s authority.  The Senators’ letter makes clear that the proposed rule is well within the authority granted to USDA by the letter and intent of the Act. Read more »

  • 05Feb

    USDA Press Release No. 0046.10; Contact: Kent Politsch 202-720-7163

    Biomass Crop Assistance Program to Spur Production of Renewable Energy, Job Creation

    USDA Farm Service Agency Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule

    WASHINGTON, February 3, 2010 – As President Obama announced earlier today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture today issued a proposed rule for the new Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) that intends to spur the expansion of dedicated non-food crops for renewable energy and biofuel production. A public comment period will continue for 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.

    “Advancing biomass and biofuel production holds the potential to create green jobs, which is one of the many ways the Obama Administration is working to rebuild and revitalize rural America,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Facilities that produce renewable fuel from biomass have to be designed, built and operated. Additionally, BCAP will stimulate biomass production and that will benefit producers and provide the materials necessary to generate clean energy and reduce carbon pollution.”

    Authorized in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, BCAP is designed to ensure that a sufficiently large base of new, non-food, non-feed biomass crops is established in anticipation of future demand for renewable energy consumption. BCAP is intended to reduce the financial risk for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners by providing incentive payments to those who invest in the production, harvest, storage and transportation of new first-generation energy crops that displace hydrocarbon-based materials now used for heat, power and vehicle fuel.

    On May 5, 2009, President Obama issued a Presidential Directive to accelerate the investment in and production of biofuels. On June 11, 2009, a notice of funds availability (NOFA) was published for certain portions of BCAP, and the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) issued the first payment in August 2009. Early program beneficiaries to date include a Vermont school that will replace 100 percent of its fossil fuel consumption with biomass, a start-up pellet company that uses locally-grown agriculture residues from Iowa farms and a rural electric cooperative that displaces fossil fuels with woodchips to generate low-cost electricity in northeastern Georgia.

    BCAP is authorized to fund two main types of activities. First, it provides funding for agriculture and forest land owners and operators to receive matching payments for eligible biomass materials sold to qualified biomass conversion facilities for the production of heat, power, bio-based products or advanced biofuels. The payment rate is intended to assist producers with the cost of collection, harvest, storage and transportation of the biomass to the facility, for up to two years. This is the part of the program covered by President Obama’s Presidential Directive.

    Additionally, BCAP will provide funding for producers of eligible renewable crops within a select geographical area to receive payments up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing the crop and annual payments for up to 15 years for crop production.

    Other proposed notable goals of BCAP include improvements in forest health by removing uneconomical forest thinning, reducing the risk of disease, invasive species and forest fires and providing new options for improving air quality by avoiding open-air burning of scrap biomass.

    A copy of the proposed rule is available online at www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap. Comments on the proposed rule are invited and may be submitted to: Email: cepdmail@wdc.usda.gov; Fax: 202-720-4619; Mail: Director, CEPD, USDA/FSA/CEPD/Stop 0513, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-0513

    Comments are also accepted through the Federal e-rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

    To learn more about the BCAP program, please contact your local county Farm Service Agency office or www.fsa.usda.gov . To read more about the President’s announcement go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-and-vice-president-meeting-with-governors-energy-policy. A press release is available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/obama-announces-steps-boost-biofuels-clean-coal.

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