As Dave Dickey writes: To put it in a nutshell, while performing a noble endeavor in pursuing a civil action case against Kraft Foods Group Inc. for market manipulation of wheat on the Chicago Board of Trade, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission may be shirking its responsibility to tell the public what in the blue blazes is going on.
The never ending debate over whether Bayer's herbicide Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate causes cancer has taken another twist with the Environmental Protection Agency filing a friends of the court brief in Bayer's federal appeal to overturn a $25 million award to Edwin Hardeman, a groundskeeper who claimed spraying Roundup on poison oak and weeds for decades caused his non-Hodgkin's' lymphoma. Much is at stake for Bayer. Thus far three glyphosate cancer cases have gone to federal trial with the German based company losing every time. Given that Bayer faces at least another 42,700 lawsuits (with more likely being filed every day) you can imagine just how badly Bayer is in need of a win. In its court filing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit Bayer wrote the Hardeman appeal has the potential to shape how every subsequent Roundup case is litigated.
Not to the future of Roundup sales and the value of the company. Bayer acquired Roundup in its purchase of Monsanto in 2018 for $63 million. Since then Bayer stock has plummeted about 23 %. Now we get the EPA – a noted glyphosate cheerleader – backing Bayer. In its amicus brief with the appeals court Justice Department and EPA attorneys maintain:
“EPA approved the label for the pesticide/herbicide at issue here, Roundup, through a registration process that did not require a cancer warning. In fact, EPA has never required a labeling warning of a cancer risk posed by Roundup, and such a warning would be inconsistent with the agency's scientific assessments of the carcinogenic potential of the product.
(Washington, D.C., March 17, 2020) - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced new contacts to encourage communication with USDA to help feed kids and ensure the United States food supply chain remains strong in response to the COVID-19 outbreak:
"Food is essential all year round, but in the face of a pandemic it is critical the shelves remain stocked and supplies remain plentiful. America's farmers and ranchers, and those on the front lines in the food service industry are doing their part," said Secretary Perdue. "President Trump is encouraging a whole of America approach to the challenges we currently face. At USDA we know when we work together to solve the problems facing us, we can overcome this time of uncertainty and fear. If you have ideas or solutions for USDA, I urge you to reach out - we want to hear from the experts in the field."
Taken to a legal extreme, Obama's WOTUS would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to define navigable waters as including farmland drainage ditches, seasonal streams, tributaries and even puddle-like depressions.
This story is part of a collaborative reporting initiative supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. See all the stories at taken.pulitzercenter.org. A sniper rifle, night vision goggles, confidential source payments, dog food and out of state conferences - these are some of the items that law enforcement agencies in Illinois have spent from money and property seized from citizens who may never have been charged with a crime. Under state and federal laws known as civil asset forfeiture, police departments may seize property - such as cars and cash - they believe is used in criminal activity. The owners of the property may never themselves be charged with a crime, and getting property back could take years and involve costly attorney fees.
(Washington, D.C., February 28, 2020) - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a memo (PDF, 1.2 MB) today directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to acquire alternative fueled vehicles (AFV) when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles. USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the Federal Government and this move to a fleet that can use E85 or biodiesel will increase efficiencies and performance. Additionally, as part of the President Donald J. Trump's October agreement to seek opportunities to facilitate the availability of higher biofuel blends across the country, USDA will make $100 million in grants available this year for the newly created Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). Through this program, transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities will be able to apply for grants to help install, retrofit, and/or upgrade fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment and infrastructure to be able to sell ethanol and biodiesel. The Department plans to publish application deadlines and other program information in the Federal Register this spring.
It was all smiles in Washington D.C. January 15 when the President Trumped inked a Phase 1 trade deal with China. Looking on were dozens of Wall Street chief executive types from familiar companies like AGI, JP Morgan Chase, Honeywell, Boeing, and Citibank. As for Big Ag types … not so much.
The POTUS trade war with China took a huge toll on U.S. farmers. U.S. agricultural sales to China were down nearly $16 billion over the past two years requiring the White House to provide $28 billion in government bailouts to U.S. producers, notably soybean farmers. So on the face of it you would think producers would be jumping for joy over Phase 1 trade deal provisions including:
“For the category of agricultural goods identified in Annex 6.1, no less than $12.5 billion above the corresponding 2017 baseline amount is purchased and imported into China from the United States in calendar year 2020, and no less than $19.5 billion above the corresponding 2017 baseline amount is purchased and imported into China from the United States in calendar year 2021;
The Parties project that the trajectory of increases in the amounts of manufactured goods, agricultural goods, energy products, and services purchased and imported into China from the United States will continue in calendar years 2022 through 2025.”
So do the math. That's $32 billion in new agricultural purchases over 2017 baseline levels during the next two years. U.S. agricultural exports to China in 2017 were $19.6 billion. Bottom line: China will import $32.1 billion this year and $39.1 billion in 2021 from U.S. farmers. Those are heart pumping, fist bumping, joy jumping POTUS trumping numbers, right? But the ink had not even dried on the President's John Henry when reality reared its ugly head. The South China Morning Post reported the day before the signing that China had zero intention of increasing its annual low-tariff import quotas for corn, wheat and rice to meet demands from the United States.
ByClaire Hettinger and Pam Dempsey/Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting |
With farmers facing increasing stress and depression, Midwestern states and national farm groups are making more efforts to better provide services to alleviate the high rate of suicide among the agriculture industry.
Yet in rural areas, this care is more of a challenge.
Sky Chadde is the Midwest Center’s Gannett Agricultural Data Fellow. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This story is embargoed for republication until Feb 22, 2020. The Trump administration’s decision to relocate two US Department of Agriculture agencies delayed millions in grant funding. One stalled project was a suicide prevention network for farmers. Last year, the USDA announced the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture or NIFA, which funds the network, would relocate to Kansas City.
You probably haven't thought much about honey bees. It's not a subject likely to come up at a dinner party (with the possible exception of how the heck do you get them to stop building a hive inside your mailbox).
But bees – better known as pollinators in agricultural circles – are critical to crop production. USDA estimates that bees pollinate roughly 90 odd U.S. crops including apples, peaches, plums, strawberries avocados, green beans, cotton, tomatoes grapes and a host of other nuts and flowering veggies.
It is no exaggeration to say that if bees were to go extinct Starbucks would be out of business. So it was a real slap in the face when the latest annual nationwide survey from the University of Maryland found bees dying at an alarming rate.
The UM survey showed U.S. beekeepers lost 40.7 percent of their bee colonies from April 2018 to April 2019. Even more concerning is that winter losses for the same period were 37.7 percent – the highest since the survey began 13 years ago. Yikes. So to state the obvious: the sky is blue, water is wet, and bees are responsible for much of the food we eat. On the face of it keeping bees healthy should be job one for multinational agricultural companies. But it hasn't worked that way.