For the Week Ending November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009

Washington, D.C., November 13, 2009 

USDA TO PURCHASE MORE PORK

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week announced USDA’s decision to purchase up to $50 million of pork products, which will be used for various federal food programs. The purchase should help struggling pork producers, who have been mired in a 2-year-long economic crisis. Since September 2007, the U.S. pork industry has lost $5.4 billion, with producers losing an average of more than $23 on each hog marketed. The pork buy is the third supplemental purchase this year. In March, USDA agreed to buy $25 million of pork, and in early September it bought an additional $30 million. Annually, the agency buys pork for federal food programs, including the School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. Last year, for example, USDA purchased $62.6 million worth of pork.

USDA AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO HOLD JOINT NATIONAL WORKSHOPS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Justice today announced the dates and locations for public workshops they will hold to explore competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder in August announced the joint workshops – the first of their kind to be held. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in a statement released today, said the workshops should address the complexities of competition in agriculture markets, including monopsony and vertical integration. The statement goes on to mention the workshops will give farmers, consumers and agribusinesses the opportunity to provide examples of potentially anticompetitive conduct and to discuss any concerns about the application of the antitrust laws to the agricultural sector. The all-day workshops, which will begin in March 2010, will be held in Alabama, Colorado, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin, with the first one kicking off March 12, 2010, at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny, Iowa. For complete details on dates, times and topics, click the following link – USDA/DOJ Workshops.

 

FOOD SAFETY BILL INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Tuesday introduced S. 2758, the “Growing Safe Food Act,” which would create a training program to be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Integrated Food Safety Initiative. The bill will focus training in the areas of manufacturing, produce safety standards, handling practices, risk analysis, sanitation standards, storage, traceability, safe packaging, record-keeping and food-safety audits. Agriculture trade associations, universities and state agriculture departments are among those that would be eligible to apply for grants to promote these training programs. The House in July passed its version of food-safety legislation that would give the FDA new authorities to address food-borne-illness outbreaks and regulate processors’ record keeping in hopes of more easily identifying outbreaks. The House bill and the Senate’s S. 510, the “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act,” have since stalled with the current focus on health care reform and climate change.

NPPC PARTICIPATES IN FARM BROADCASTERS’ MEETING

NPPC President Don Butler, Vice President and Counsel for International Trade Policy Nick Giordano and Chief Environmental Counsel Michael Formica this week attended the annual National Association of Farm Broadcasters’ meeting held in Kansas City, Missouri. The three participated in the NAFB “Trade Talk” and conducted interviews with dozens of farm radio reporters.
WHAT’S AHEAD
CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAM HEARING

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee will hold a full committee hearing Nov. 17 on reauthorization of child nutrition programs, focusing on opportunities to fight hunger and improve child health.

FOOD SAFETY HEARING TO BE HELD

The House Science and Technology Committee’s Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Harnessing Science to Improve FDA’s Food Safety Mission” at a date yet to be determined. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a hearing on food safety Oct. 22.