Growers Hope Administration Changes Water Rule

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YAKIMA, Wash. — Northwest growers should not make any changes to their water quality plans and testing while the Trump administration reviews agricultural water rules adopted by the Obama administration, says Kate Woods, vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima.

The Food and Drug Administration is also trying to clarify whether packing houses are farms or processors, Woods said.

The FDA announced Sept. 12 a 60-day review of a proposed rule to extend deadlines for compliance with agricultural water requirements of the Produce Safety Rule of the Food Safety Modernization Act by two to four years while the requirements are reviewed. The Produce Safety Rule was announced by the Obama administration on Nov. 27, 2015.

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Opinion: The Zero-Sum 2018 Farm Bill

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American Soybean Association (ASA) and other farm organizations have been urging Congressional leaders to provide additional funds to the Agriculture Committees so they can write a new farm bill in 2018 that responds to the difficult times farmers are facing. In the absence of outside assistance, however, the Committees and groups that support enactment of the farm bill are facing some tough decisions over the next few months. We will need the active support and participation of all farm bill sectors to get the best possible legislation during what can be described as highly uncertain times for production agriculture in the United States.

There are a lot of scenarios floating around Washington about how and when the 2018 Farm Bill will get done. Just last week, a proposal to cut spending in the farm bill was dropped during negotiations on a Budget Resolution for FY-2018. However, several bills have been introduced that would slash the crop insurance program by reducing the premium subsidy, capping indemnities, or means-testing participant income. With opponents of farm legislation on both the left and the right working together, it is essential for supporters – from farm organizations to conservation groups to the anti-hunger community – to have each other’s back.

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Wildfires Prompt Congressional Push For Better Disaster Prevention in California

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California Sens. Dianne Feinstein an Kamala Harris continue to press for a bill to help the state better prepare for wildfires.

The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would provide emergency funding for wildfires, much the same way the federal government handles other natural disasters like tornadoes and floods, without draining resources for forestry management and other long-term fire suppression work that seeks to help prevent the rapid spread of future fires.

The height of wildfire season in California is underway. Feinstein and Harris are urging Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement.

“With temperatures soaring into the triple digits and dry winds continuing to blow, this fire season is far from over,” Feinstein said in a statement. “We must take action now to help those who need it and to prepare for the future.”

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USDA Offers Help to California Agriculture

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set aside $4 million to help farmers and ranchers impacted by the California wildfires recover.

USDA also announced Monday that households impacted by recent wildfires in Northern California could be eligible for help buying food through USDA’s Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

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FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety

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The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety rule is now final, and the earliest compliance dates for some farms begin one year after the effective date of the final rule (see “Compliance Dates” below). The rule establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.

This rule was first proposed in January 2013. In response to input received during the comment period and during numerous public engagements that included public meetings, webinars, listening sessions, and visits to farms across the country, the FDA issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking in September 2014. The proposed revisions were designed to make the originally proposed rule more practical, flexible, and effective.

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