Monday, January 29, 2018

80,000 Urge Trump Administration Not to Roll Back Progress on School Nutrition

Statement of CSPI Vice President for Nutrition Margo G. Wootan More than 80,000 Americans have filed comments with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to oppose its proposals to weaken school nutrition standards, including a proposed three-year delay of the next phase of sodium reduction in school meals and a possible elimination of any further decreases. We stand with them in urging the Trump administration to continue the progress to improve school food and support children’s health. This opposition is joined by over 50 health and child welfare organizations and more than 50 scientists and academics. Sixty percent of Americans oppose rolling back school nutrition, according to a new poll released by CSPI. Prior to the Trump proposal, the plan was for schools to gradually decrease the amount of salt in school meals to safer levels over ten years. That plan is well underway. A three-year delay would mean that school kids would eat 84 more teaspoons of salt—or more than three months’ worth of extra sodium—from school meals. Nine out of ten kids today eat too much salt, and high salt intake is linked to high blood pressure, even in kids, which can lead to heart disease and stroke later in life. CSPI, other health organizations, and the public also oppose maintaining a waiver for schools to provide fewer whole grains. Eighty-five percent of schools have shown that they can meet the requirements for whole grains in schools. All school children should have access to the health benefits of more whole grains and less white flour and refined grains. Thanks to the existing school nutrition standards, schools are already providing low-income children (through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs) with healthier school meals with less salt, more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and no trans fat, in addition to removing most soda and junk food from schools. The improvements to school food are an amazing success story and one of the most important policy achievements in a generation. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health estimates that the improvement to school food could prevent more than 2 million cases of childhood obesity and save up to $792 million in health-care related costs over ten years. With such tremendous progress, it makes no sense for the Trump administration to allow schools and companies to reverse course and to jeopardize kids’ health.

Census of Agriculture response deadline one week away

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reminds our nation’s farmers and ranchers that the deadline for the 2017 Census of Agriculture is one week away. Producers should respond online at www.agcounts.usda.gov or by mail by February 5. The online questionnaire offers new timesaving features. The Census of Agriculture is the only NASS questionnaire mailed to every producer across the country and is conducted just once every five years. The Census provides a complete account of the industry, its changes, and emerging trends. Census data are widely used, often relied on when developing the Farm Bill and other farm policy, and when making decisions about disaster relief, community planning, technology development, and more. “We are asking producers to help show our nation the value and importance of American agriculture,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We need to hear from all of our farmers and ranchers, no matter how big or how small their part of agriculture. The Census is their voice, their future, their opportunity. Please respond now.” Everyone who received the 2017 Census of Agriculture questionnaire is to return it, even if they are not currently farming. The first few qualifying questions on the form will determine whether completing the entire questionnaire is necessary. After the February 5 deadline, NASS will begin following-up with additional mailings, e-mails, phone calls, and personal appointments. To avoid these additional contacts, farmers and ranchers are asked to complete their Census as soon as possible. “It is important that every producer respond to the Census of Agriculture so that they are represented and reflected in the data,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “These statistics can directly impact producers for years. Without their input, our hardworking farmers and ranchers risk being underserved.” The Census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation. Producers are required by law to respond; NASS is required by the same federal law to keep all information confidential, use the data only for statistical purposes, and only publish in aggregate form to prevent disclosing the identity of any individual producer or farm operation. For more information about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov. For questions or assistance with the Census, call toll-free (888) 424-7828.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

CFS: A Government Shutdown Would Dangerously Hinder Food Safety

CFS call on the Trump Administration to make food safety an essential service WASHINGTON—Today is the deadline for government funding approval. As government agencies brace for a shutdown, Congress holds food safety in their hands. In response, Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst for Center for Food Safety issued the following statement: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees roughly 80 percent of the country’s food supply. In the last big government shutdown (2013), FDA told more than half of its inspectors to stay home. Already, FDA lacks enough inspectors to monitor all of the produce that the US produces and imports. Cutting inspectors would mean that they would not do plant inspections, which are already too infrequent, during this period, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) tracks foodborne illness. Cutting CDC staff means staff will miss early indications of the next E.coli, salmonella, or listeria outbreaks. People might actually die for lack of government action warning them of contaminated food. We call on the Trump Administration to make food safety an essential service and bring all food safety personnel to work in the case of a shutdown.