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Mark Your Calendars for the 96th PSA Annual Convention


EPA Takes Action on Pesticide-Coated Seeds

Feedstuffs reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denied a legal petition by Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network of North America, and others, which requested that the agency address how it regulates pesticide-coated seeds.

Ahead of the decision, 30 leading agricultural groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association and others urged EPA to reject the petition, citing the harm that will occur to U.S. agricultural production, the environment and EPA's regulatory workload should the agency grant this petition and remove seed treatments from the treated article exemption.

The exemption prevents EPA from having to regulate an item to which a pesticide is applied if the pesticide is intended to protect that underlying article. For example, just as EPA would not regulate a barn because its paint included a pesticide intended to protect the wood, neither would EPA regulate a seed coated with a pesticide since the pesticide itself is already regulated, the groups explain.

Crops grown from pesticide-coated seeds, such as corn, soybean, and sunflower seeds cover over 150 million acres of U.S. farmland each year.


Nomination for USTR’s Chief Ag Negotiator on Hold

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is blocking the movement of Doug McKalip’s nomination to be the chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, reports Agri-Pulse.
According to a spokesperson, Menendez employed the hold to call attention to his hopes to receive assurances from the Office of the USTR to “establish greater oversight and transparency of U.S. trade policy led by the agency.

“As he awaits commitments and specific actions to this end, he opposes confirmation of this nominee as a way to send the clearest signal that he firmly believes Americans deserve honest and transparent trade policy that prioritizes the economic interests of the country and cracks down on waste, fraud, and abuse,” the spokesperson added.

Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was among the Senate Finance Committee members who unanimously advanced McKalip’s nomination on Sept. 7.


USDA to Spend $20 Million for Storage Facilities in Disaster Areas

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will make available $20 million in cost-share assistance to help agricultural producers in Kentucky, Minnesota, South Dakota and surrounding areas to rebuild storage facilities damaged by devastating natural disasters in 2021 and 2022.

This assistance will give producers who were hard-hit by disasters and are struggling with a lack of available grain storage the resources they need as they head into the 2022 crop harvest, USDA said.
“Over the past two years, weather events in several states caused catastrophic losses to grain storage facilities on family farms as well as a large, commercial grain elevator, leaving stored grain exposed to the elements and affecting commodity marketing options for many producers,” Vilsack said.

“USDA heard from congressional leaders, including [Senate] Minority Leader [Mitch] McConnell, [R-Ky.] who identified a gap in our disaster assistance toolkit, and we went to work designing a new program to deliver direct assistance to producers who are struggling to meet their on-farm storage capacity needs in the wake of disasters,” Vilsack said.

USDA Invests Nearly $2 Billion to Procure American-Grown Foods for Federal Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday that it will provide close to $2 billion in additional funding to food banks and school meal programs for purchasing American-grown foods.

The funds, provided through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation, or CCC, will be used in three ways: nearly $1 billion to purchase food for emergency food providers like food banks; nearly $500 million to expand the Local Food Purchase Assistance, or LFPA, cooperative agreement program, through which 49 states, 33 tribes, and four territories are already working to purchase local foods for their emergency food systems; and nearly $500 million for schools across the country to purchase food for their lunch and breakfast programs, bringing the total CCC investment in school food since December 2021 to close to $2.5 billion, benefiting the roughly 30 million students who participate in school lunch and 15 million who participate in school breakfast each day.

USDA Clears Biotech Tomato

In a potential new milestone in agricultural biotechnology, Agri-Pulse reports that a gene-edited tomato that’s high in antioxidants believed to fight cancer and heart disease, has cleared a key hurdle. USDA has formally decided that the tomato doesn’t warrant regulation because it isn’t a plant pest risk.

The tomato is the result of research at the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory in England.  The developers say the deep purple tomato contains high levels of anthocyanins, which are found in berries and other fruit.

A company that’s a spinoff of the research has been working on breeding varieties suitable for production in the U.S.

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