Report Released advocating the benefits of food aid monetization
Timing its release for the possible endgame of the 1012 Farm Bill , the Alliance for Global Food Security, the Private Voluntary Organizations who support monetization issued a press release announcing the study they have commissioned from Informa Economics entitled: ‘Value of Food Aid Monetization: Benefits, Risks and Best Practices’. The release also was highlighted by presentations from the PVO community and wheat grower trade associations in favor of monetization of food aid products.
The study uses data from several case examples of monetization to make the case that monetization can be done- With benefits to the food security in the country of destination Without impacting farmers in the destination country Increasing the nutrition, food availability and market development opportunities in the destination country. Links to the key findings and the full report are:
Final report issued on GM/conventional/organic coexistence; Miller concerns about grain functionality highlighted
In 2003 USDA created the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) and charged the committee with examining the long-term impacts of biotechnology on the U.S. food and agriculture system. In August 2011 Secretary Vilsack reconstituted AC21 with the charge to address compensation mechanisms for economic loss incurred by farmers when the value of their crop is reduced by the unintended presence of GM materials.
The final report of the committee was recently published. Much of the committee’s roster and resulting dialogue represented organic interests.
In October 2011 a coalition of processing groups including NAMA wrote to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack pointing out that the AC21 group was focused on only one of three important coexistence relationships – that between commodity and organic agriculture. However, the coalition pointed out, “significant dialogue is ongoing between agricultural stakeholders on coexistence between 1) domestic and export supply chains (as it relates to major market approvals for GM crops) and 2) between commodity and specialty supply chains (as it relates to commercialization of products with unique functional characteristics).”
Functional trait issues important to NAMA are mentioned in the final report in eight different places. Since this report was requested by, and has the imprimatur of, the Agriculture Secretary, it may prove useful should the milling industry again be confronted with a GM trait that impacts the functionality of dry milled products.
Canada passes new food safety law
On November 20, Canada’s House of Commons unanimously approved the Safe Food for Canadians Act to modernize, consolidate and add consistency to Canada’s food inspection system. The bill was passed by Canada’s Senate last June. It became law on November 22 when Canada’s Governor General approved it through Royal Assent.
The law includes traceability and record-keeping requirements, registration for importers and tougher penalties. Regretfully, the Act does not include language to align the US and Canadian laws with respect to natural, unavoidable contaminants such as mycotoxins. US law provides important flexibility in addressing such contaminants whereas Canada’s law does not. NAMA will continue to work with the Canadian National Millers Association to advocate for further amendments to achieve alignment between US and Canadian food safety laws.
Wheat Belly Author on publicity tour for new cookbook that includes appearance on The Dr. Oz Show
Dr. William Davis, author of the Wheat Belly, appeared Monday on The Dr. Oz Show and tried again to make the case that wheat is addictive and the cause of numerous health conditions. This appearance is in advance of the December 24 release date of the Wheat Belly Cookbook.
Dr. Glenn Gaesser, Chair of the Grain Foods Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee appeared on the Dr. Oz show last year on November 28, 2011. Here is a link to that episode.
Will producers get a Farm Bill before Christmas?
The Chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees met with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week in a continuing effort to approve farm legislation before the end of the year. At this point, even passing a new farm bill would require a short-term extension of the current one to provide time to get regulations in place. The Food Stamp program (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program – SNAP) comprises about 80% of the total cost of the farm bill and is the major budget item in disagreement. The Senate proposed cutting it by $4.5 billion. The House Agriculture Committee bill has proposed $16.5 billion in cuts but some members believe that number is too low. This budget number is not the only remaining conflict. The House Agriculture committee bill and the Senate passed farm bill have two different proposals on how to implement a farm income safety net program.
There may be a change in committee leadership next year. The House Republicans have approved Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) to continue heading the Agriculture Committee for another term and the Democrats have approved Collin Peterson (D-MN) to be the Ranking member. In the Senate, the Democrats have approved Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to continue to lead the committee. Republicans will approve their committee leadership in January and due to changes in other committees, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) could try to regain the ranking slot from Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS).
Edging closer to the Fiscal Cliff
The White House and House Republican Leadership have each released offers to avert automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to begin in January. Leaders of both political parties have begun talking about a two-step legislative process. This would include a small deficit reduction package approved in the next month, with a broader effort on taxes and entitlements to follow next year. Discussions will continue in the coming weeks.