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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, February 21st
Senators Urge Trump to Rejoin TPP
A group of Republican Senators is urging President Donald Trump to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The 25 lawmakers, including many from western and farm states, encouraged Trump to “work aggressively to secure reforms that would allow the United States to join the agreement” according to Politico. In a statement, the group says: “An improved TPP would therefore bolster and sustain the economic growth America has experienced over the past year,” growth they say was facilitated by regulatory reductions and tax cuts enacted by the Trump Administration. The effort is led by Senator Steve Daines of Montana, who says the group “is committed” to expediting the trade nominees needed to rejoin TPP on the Senate floor. Trump sparked a glimmer of hope of the U.S. rejoining the trade pact when he said he would consider rejoining the deal if it was changed to be made beneficial to the United States.
Judge Dismisses Arkansas Dicamba Lawsuit
A judge in Arkansas has dismissed a lawsuit by Monsanto seeking to block the state’s ban of dicamba herbicides from April 16th through October 31st. Arkansas enacted the ban after receiving nearly 1,000 complaints last year about the weed killer drifting onto fields and damaging crops not resistant to the herbicide. In dismissing the case, the judge cited a state Supreme Court ruling last month that said the state Legislature can’t waive Arkansas’ immunity from lawsuits, saying the state Supreme Court ruling prevented the lower court from deciding on the case. Monsanto says the state can’t claim immunity since the company wasn’t seeking monetary damages. Attorneys for the Arkansas Plant Board argued the company hadn’t proven the state acted illegally or unconstitutionally, so the state was immune from the lawsuit. Arkansas Assistant Attorney General Gary Sullivan said during the hearing: “They just don’t like the decision the Plant Board made,” according to the Washington Post. Monsanto did not say whether it would appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.
USDA Seeking Dismissal of OTA Lawsuit
The Department of Agriculture wants a federal district court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the department’s delay of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule. USDA claims it’s challenger, the Organic Trade Association, “lacks standing because it pleads no facts” in showing the delay has resulted in the suffering of its members because of the USDA action, according to the Hagstrom Report. In response to the request, the Organic Trade Association says it believes USDA seeks the dismissal “to avoid explaining to America’s organic producers and consumers why it is blocking necessary rule clarifications and the strengthening of organic production practices.” The Organic Trade Association calls the delays of the final rule by USDA “unlawful,” and says the group “won’t accept unending delay and thin explanations,” adding “we expect a federal judge won’t either.”
Fertilizer Institute Issues Annual Industry Report
The Fertilizer Institute 2017 State of the Fertilizer Industry report shows a continued investment in nutrient management and stewardship, among other things. Organizers say the annual report, which is part of the organizations stewardship and sustainability programs, quantifies the industry’s performance record on environmental, economic and social indicators. The report also documents the fertilizer industry’s contribution to meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, industry innovation and infrastructure, along with climate action. The report shows the fertilizer industry invested nearly $1 million in 4R Nutrient Stewardship research to strengthen best management practices and seek solutions that reduce nutrient loss to the environment. The report also shows the industry captured and reused 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a savings equivalent to taking nearly two million cars off the road for an entire year, along with investing $4.3 billion to advance innovation, improve infrastructure, and enhance sustainable production of fertilizer. Finally, the report states the fertilizer industry is two times as safe as peer industries.
USDA Temporarily Expands Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance
As Puerto Rico continues to recover from the 2017 hurricane season, the Department of Agriculture will extend temporary nutrition assistance to the island. A grant from USDA is providing eligibility for increased nutrition assistance through the Puerto Rico Nutrition Assistance Program beginning March first. The grant comes from the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, and delivers an additional $1.27 billion. The funds allow Puerto Rico to expand assistance to additional households and increase the benefit amount for current and new participants on a temporary basis. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the grant “fulfills the Administration’s pledge to support the recovery” of Puerto Rico. The nutrition assistance program in Puerto Rico is different from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program operated in the United States and operated as a block grant. Through the grant, Puerto Rico has the flexibility to create a plan to provide temporary benefits for victims of the hurricanes in a way that best suits the needs on the island.
Plant-based Protein Eaters: It’s About Taste
New results from a research firm shows U.S. adults who eat plant-based proteins do so for taste above all other factors. Research firm Mintel reports 52 percent of adults surveyed say taste is the top reason for the choice, outranking diet concerns at ten percent, animal protection at 11 percent, the environment at 13 percent and even health at 39 percent. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports the research was based on responses from more than 1,800 U.S. internet users aged 18 or over that eat plant-based proteins. The study also indicated that 46 percent of Americans agree that plant-based proteins are better for you than animal-based options. However, Mintel senior analyst Billy Roberts notes that overall consumption of plant-based proteins remains low. The Mintel survey showed that 67 percent of Americans agree that meat is essential to a balanced diet and 51 percent believe a meal is not complete without meat.