READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, October 25th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, October 25th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Cell-based Meat Summit Leading to Joint Regulatory Action

The Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration is inching towards a joint regulatory approach for cell-cultured, or so-called lab-grown meats. Agri-Pulse reports Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb “drew no lines in the sand” throughout a two-day meeting on the subject. Gottlieb told reports that FDA and USDA have worked together in the past, adding “I think this is going to be another one of those cases.” Memphis Meats, a company producing lab-grown meats, along with the North American Meat Institute, filed a joint letter as the first to suggest a joint regulation between USDA and FDA. The letter suggested that FDA handle pre-market safety approval, and then oversight can be shifted to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. There is no timeline reported for the regulation, but Perdue said if it can be done in 2019, “that would be probably pretty fast for federal purposes.”

Trump Hints at Naming Wheeler Permanent EPA Administrator

President Donald Trump may be planning to permanently place Andrew Wheeler as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Pro Farmer reports that Trump this week said of Wheeler: “He is acting, but he is doing well, right? So maybe he won’t be so acting for so long.” President Trump made the comments during the White House’s State Leadership Day Conference. Acting roles are typically limited to 210 days in a post, with Wheeler having now a little more than 100 days under his belt as acting head of EPA. Wheeler, who has not been nominated for the post, took the acting role in July when then-administrator Scott Pruitt resigned. Wheeler inherited an agency in the midst of a large deregulation effort and a controversial biofuels agenda. However, Wheeler just last week said his agency can expand E15 sales to year-round without Congressional approval, a move ordered by President Trump and applauded by many agriculture groups earlier this month.

China Wants to Stop Buying U.S. Soybeans

The biggest move by China against the U.S. in the tit-for-tat trade war could be a movement towards abandoning U.S. soybeans. China, facing a potential shortage following its 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans, is already purchasing from other suppliers and proposing to cut the amount of protein used in livestock feeds. CNN reports that one of China’s top feed industry groups proposed animals could get by with less than needed protein “at the moment.” The proposal would be hard to carry out for China, as millions of farmers would need to reduce the amount of foreign soybeans eaten by their pigs. China is also encouraging its domestic agriculture to produce more soybeans, but analysts say China is a long way from being able to produce anywhere near enough. Still, any shift in the market away from the U.S. poses great harm to U.S. producers as the United States sold more than $12 billion worth of soybeans to China last year.

China Blames Food Scraps for ASF Outbreak

China says the outbreak of African swine fever likely stems from the feeding of food scraps to pigs. China’s agriculture ministry Wednesday moved to ban the feeding of kitchen waste to pigs after more than 40 outbreaks of the disease have been reported since early August. China has not said how the disease first entered the country, but officials found 62 percent of the first 21 outbreaks were related to the feeding of kitchen waste, according to Reuters. Kitchen waste is widely used in China to feed hogs, particularly by small farmers, as it is cheaper than feed. Regulations require the kitchen waste to be heated before being fed to pigs, but experts say that step is often skipped. China also said it will set up a registration system for vehicles transporting live hogs, poultry and other livestock to control the spread of the disease.

China-owned Smithfield Foods Eligible for U.S. Trade Relief

China-owned Smithfield Foods is eligible for payments under the $12 billion aid package for farmers. The Washington Post reports word of the eligibility has made smaller pork producers unhappy. The Virginia-based, but China-owned pork company can apply for federal money under a program created this summer. JBS of Brazil is also eligible to apply. The Department of Agriculture announced the trade mitigation plan in August, while also announcing $1.2 billion in purchases of surplus food to distribute through food banks across the country. The plan is an attempt to ease the market burdens stemming from Trump’s trade war with China. Smithfield Foods declined to say whether it has applied to participate in the program. However, the company did note that it met USDA’s eligibility standards, while pointing out the Smithfield is still a U.S.-based company employing thousands of Americans and that its U.S. meat products are made in its nearly 50 domestic facilities.

Trump to Speak at National FFA Convention

The president will attend the National FFA Convention and Expo Saturday to address FFA members. President Donald Trump will speak during the ninth general session at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The National FFA Organization traditionally invites the sitting president to make remarks during its annual national convention and expo. The first president to address FFA was Former President Harry S. Truman in 1957. Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter spoke in 1974 and 1978, respectively. As Vice President, George H.W. Bush spoke in 1987 followed by a pre-recorded message from President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Then, as president, H.W. Bush spoke in 1991. First Lady Michelle Obama also brought pre-recorded greetings in 2015, and Vice President Mike Pence did the same at last year’s convention. The event is private and closed for registered attendees.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service