NAMA submitted comments to the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) in response to the agency’s proposal to make two changes in the official grading standards for wheat. NAMA supported the proposed change to classify hard red winter and hard red spring present in hard white wheat as “Wheat of Other Classes” and recommended GIPSA consider a larger reduction in the grading limits for shrunken and broken kernels to more accurately state the value of the wheat. Go to https://www.namamillers.org/pdf/NAMA_Wheat_Stds_Comments_06072012.pdf to read the comments.
NAMA and more than 70 agricultural research organizations sent a letter to House Agriculture Committee leaders asking for the House Farm Bill to authorize an agricultural research foundation to collect private sector donations to enhance, not replace, federal funding. The Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill called for establishing a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research modeled on similar foundations that have successfully aided medical research.
Go to http://www.namamillers.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/FFAR_Group_Support_Letter_House-Ag_060412.pdf to read the letter.
The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved $19.4 billion in funding for federal food and agriculture discretionary programs, a $365 million cut from last year’s level. The bill provides $2.5 billion for agricultural research programs. While $20 million was cut from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service budget, a $12 million increase was added to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grants program. The Food for Peace program for international food aid was funded at $1.15 billion, down 21 percent from FY012. SNAP, formerly the food stamp program, received $80 billion in mandatory funding, down $408 million from FY2012. On average, 46 million people received SNAP benefits in 2011, compared with 26 million in 2007. The bill now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee.
Debate on the Farm Bill started on the Senate floor this week as consideration of over 250 amendments began. The bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, is designed to save more than $23 billion over the next ten years, in part, by eliminating direct payments to farmers. Senate leaders are still crafting the final amendment package and are allowing several controversial amendments to start things off. This week the Senate rejected an amendment backed by food and beverage companies that would have phased out government subsidies to U.S. sugar growers, including marketing quotas and import restrictions. The Senate also rejected a plan to reduce spending on domestic food assistance programs.
A group of consumer and food activists has garnered more than 971,000 signatures, almost twice as many as needed, to place a biotechnology food labeling initiative on the California ballot this November. If passed by the voters, foods would be required by July 1, 2014 to bear “clear and conspicuous” labels if the biotech content exceeds 0.5 percent. Such foods would also be prevented from being labeled “natural.”