Opinion: Bayer counting on the courts to save it from financial disaster

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. 

Well.

USDA Working with Private Sector in Response to COVID-19

(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."

Opinion: Proposed WOTUS replacement a win for farmers

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.

Informants, guns and travel: Seized funds free police to spend on wide range of items

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.

Secretary Perdue Directs USDA Fleet to Increase Biofuels Usage, Announces Notice of Funding for Biofuels Infrastructure Program

(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.

Seeking a Cure: Mental health access scarce in rural, farming communities

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.

Relocating USDA agencies delayed millions in grants. One was for a suicide prevention network for farmers.

Sky Chadde is the Midwest Center’s Gannett Agricultural Data Fellow. He can be reached at sky.chadde@investigatemidwest.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.