Sustainable Agriculture News from NSAC

FDA Responds to Farmer Concerns Regarding Intrusive Farm Visits
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is changing the way they do certain on-farm visits, according to a recent Q&A published to the agency’s website. FDA is authorized to do what’s called “surveillance sampling” of certain products to test for bacteria and assess whether the preventive approach to food safety is working. FDA routinely does this sampling in grocery stores and manufacturing facilities, and recently began carrying this practice out on farms, including farms that also do some processing activities, like cheese-makers.

Budget Resolutions Set Stage for Appropriations; Farm Bill Re-Opening Still a Possibility
This week the House and Senate both passed their respective budget resolutions for fiscal year 2016. The House passed its budget on Wednesday, March 25 while the Senate passed its budget in the wee hours of Friday morning. The House budget resolution, which passed 228-199, busts the strict cap that Congress set in 2011 for defense spending by adding $38 billion to the Oversees Contingency Operations account.

Bill to Thwart GMO Labeling Effort is Back
Rep. Mike Pompeo has reintroduced his bill that would block federal and state efforts to require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms. The 2015 Pompeo bill – dubbed the “Deny Americans’ Right to Know” or DARK Act by opponents and “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling” by supporters – continues the 2014 bill’s efforts to preempt state law requiring the labeling of GE food and regulating “natural” claims.

USDA Proposes to Continue Farm Subsidy Abuse
The US Department of Agriculture released its proposed “actively engaged in farming” rule defining eligibility for the receipt of farm commodity subsidies. The proposed rule fails to implement anything remotely resembling the real farm subsidy reform that bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate approved during debate on the 2014 Farm Bill.

Last Chance to Contribute to Organic Production Survey!
There are just two weeks left for organic farmers across the country to complete their  2014 Organic Production Survey! This important survey is a follow-on to the 2012 Census of Agriculture and focuses exclusively on issues and trends facing organic producers. NSAC encourages organic producers to participate by filling out the survey to ensure that farmers, policymakers, and other organic stakeholders have access to the most comprehensive and timely information on the current state of our country’s organic sector.

Digging Deeper into Continuous CRP Enrollments
The Continuous Conservation Reserve Program is a voluntary, non-competitive enrollment program that helps protect millions of acres of America’s most environmentally sensitive farmland. CCRP targets specific blocks of land that are most vulnerable to erosion, key for preventing polluted runoff, and prime acres for wildlife habitat. This post provides some background and statistical analysis of some special initiatives within the Conservation Reserve Program.

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