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November 7, 2013
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Ag Notebook: Horse slaughter resumes, Vilsack in Nebraska, GMO labeling defeated

US judge clears way for domestic horse slaughter

The Associated Press reported that a federal judge this month cleared the way for horse slaughterhouses to resume operating in the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo in Albuquerque threw out a lawsuit by The Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection groups that alleged the Department of Agriculture failed to conduct proper environmental studies when it issued permits to Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, N.M., and an Iowa company to slaughter horses for human consumption, according to the report.

The decision ends, for now, a two-year battle by Valley Meat to open its slaughterhouse.

The Humane Society, joined by the state of New Mexico, filed an almost immediate appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Vilsack speaks in Nebraska, Center for Rural Affairs responds

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack laid out a vision for creating new opportunities for rural America and growing the rural economy in the long term while delivering the most recent installment of the Heuermann Lecture series at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and jointly sponsored with the University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute.

“The Center for Rural Affairs is excited that Secretary Vilsack came to Nebraska to participate in the Heuermann Lecture series,” said Traci Bruckner, senior associate for agriculture and conservation policy at the Center for Rural Affairs. “We agree that there is much unrealized and untapped potential in rural America. Many of America’s small towns and rural areas also face stern challenges, and we need effective federal policy to overcome those challenges and unleash that potential.”

“It is encouraging to hear the Secretary talk of the Administration’s support for innovative rural policies that can create real economic opportunity and help address depopulation in small town and rural America,” Bruckner continued. “We talk often at the Center about the innovation, entrepreneurship and work ethic that is a hallmark of our family farms, ranches and mainstreet businesses.”

According to Bruckner, real federal investment in helping small towns and rural entrepreneurs has fallen by half over the last decade, despite the fact that there is broad support for such investment. Nearly nine in ten rural Americans say the rural, small town way of life is worth fighting for, but seven in ten worry that it’s dying, according to a poll of rural voters in over 20 Midwestern, Great Plains and Southeastern states.

“Congress and the White House should start reversing that trend by providing direct farm bill funding for the Value-Added Producer Grant program at its historic level of $20 million per year and increase direct spending for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program to $10 million per year,” Bruckner added.

Colorado unveils regulations for hemp farming

Colorado has set new regulations for legal hemp growing.

The regulations adopted Wednesday call for farmers to register and pay a $200 annual fee. They also will pay $1 per acre planted. Farms will be subject to inspections to make sure that the hemp plants limit the amount of a chemical that makes users stoned.

Amendment 64, the 2012 Colorado ballot initiative that legalized marijuana, also provided for state licensing of hemp farming.

Wash. state measure on labeling GMO foods defeated

The Associated Press reported that voters in Washington state have rejected a ballot measure requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

The campaign over Initiative 522 drew millions of dollars from out of state and was one of the costliest initiative fights in state history.

The measure was failing 46 percent to 54 percent after more ballots were counted Wednesday evening, with the “yes” side trailing by almost 100,000 votes.

Had voters approved I-522, Washington would’ve been the first state to put in place labeling requirements for genetically modified foods. The opposition raised $22 million to defeat the measure.

Money came from Monsanto Co., DuPont Pioneer and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which collected millions in donations from the nation’s top food companies, including Nestle SA, General Mills Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. Many of those companies mounted a $46 million defense to defeat a similar food-labeling measure in California last year.

Supporters of I-522 have raised about $7.9 million, backed by Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, natural food companies and consumer groups.

Supporters say consumers have the right to know what’s in the food they buy, while opponents say the measure would lead to higher food costs.

NFU: Recent attempts to strip COOL law misleading consumers

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement recently regarding recent attempts to reverse the United States’ Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law:

“U.S. packer-producer organizations and their foreign counterparts have been working overtime to undercut or reverse COOL law through multiple channels aggressively in recent weeks.

“The opponents to COOL have already lost one battle in an ongoing lawsuit in the U.S. District of Columbia court. The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled earlier this year that the COOL law was compliant. It seems as though the opponents are confident, as we are, that WTO will also rule in our favor by finding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules to be compliant as well. They must be worried.

“Their attacks on COOL are misleading and do not have the interests of U.S. family farmers and ranchers in mind. More importantly, these attacks are attempting to deny consumers their desire to know more about the origins of their food.

“NFU will continue to defend the COOL law and urge Congress and other policymakers to allow the law to be implemented with the final rule issued by the USDA earlier this year.”

USDA grant aims to convert beetle-killed trees into biofuel

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced recently that it has awarded nearly $10 million to an academic, industry and government consortium led by Colorado State University to study the major challenges limiting the use of insect-killed trees in the Rockies as a sustainable feedstock for bioenergy.

The award was made by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“Infestations of pine and spruce bark beetles have impacted over 42 million acres of U.S. forests since 1996, and a changing climate threatens to expand the threat from bark beetle on our forest lands,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “As we take steps to fight the bark beetle, this innovative research will help take the biomass that results from bark beetle infestation and create clean, renewable energy that holds potential for job creation and promises a cleaner future for America. This is yet another reminder of the critical investments provided by the Farm Bill for agricultural research, and I urge Congress to achieve passage of a new, long term Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible.”

“Utilization of the beetle-kill wood and other waste biomass from forest thinning and fire hazard reduction has great potential for biofuel production,” said Keith Paustian, professor at CSU and BANR project director. “However, we need to carefully assess both the economics and environmental impacts to maximize the benefits to local communities and the country as a whole.”

Peru’s agricultural revolution touches US shores

Imagine turning acres of desert into farms that produce asparagus, mangoes, avocados and other specialties for export and employing thousands of people who never had jobs before.

That’s what Peru has done in the past decade, thanks to new government policies and Israeli drip-irrigation technology.

Now, the rewards of Peru’s agricultural revolution are spilling over to Florida.

So many of Peru’s crops are shipped to the United States through Florida ports that Peru’s largest agribusiness, Camposol, has opened its U.S. sales headquarters in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Camposol already ranks as the world’s largest exporter of asparagus and is poised to become No. 1 in avocado exports soon.

Started in 1997, the company now employs 14,000 people in Peru, making it Peru’s second-largest private employer. Camposol operates in some 70 countries. Sales are expected to top $200 million this year.

And that’s just the start.

Plans call for $350 million in sales within five years, as Camposol shifts to selling more products to supermarkets under its own brand. It’s also expanding production of avocados and blueberries on lands that can no longer efficiently grow asparagus after 10 to 15 years of cultivating that crop, executives said.

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The Fence Post Updated Nov 7, 2013 02:37PM Published Nov 19, 2013 09:52AM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.