Friday, January 23, 2009

COOL under review and other top headlines for Jan. 23

This story from the NYT The Obama Administration may seek to tighten up labeling rules in the COOL rule, recently put under review by the new president.

President Obama has frozen an Agriculture Department rule set forth by the Bush administration requiring country-of-origin labeling on meat and other perishables. Opponents of the rule say that by allowing meat produced in domestic facilities that also process animals from abroad to carry a "multicountry" designation, it will blur the distinctions between U.S. and imported meats. It is expected that the new administration will seek to tighten the measure.

Here are some other headlines snatched from the Web today:

Citrus commission okays its own stimulus
The Florida Citrus Commission has agreed to spend nearly $7 million on advertising programs to increase sales of orange and grapefruit juices this year.

California stands to gain most from stimulus
In its current form, the plan would give California $4.46 billion for investment in water, roads, public transportation, highways and bridges, according to the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Fitch downgrades Dole
From the story:

The downgrade is due to growing uncertainty surrounding Dole's string of significant near-term maturities, the company's negative free cash flow and the absence of a concrete plan to repay or refinance its obligations.

California farmers slash acreage to deal with drought Some Central Valley growers have credit frozen until they can show banks they have water. Processing tomato acreage to be cut, plus lettuce and melons. From the San Jose Mercury News:

Computer models of the state's parched reservoirs and this year's patchy snowfall showed shortages so extreme that federal officials could slash supplies down to zero, managers at the Westlands Water District told their members in an emergency conference call.

Costa Rica backs Ecuador in battle against EU From the Tico Times:

Ecuador and Costa Rica, the world's second- and third-largest banana exporters respectively, after Philippines, have condemned the EU's preferential treatment toward former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific in allowing duty-free, quota-free access into the European market, while maintaining tariffs for Latin American countries.

Last year, countries in this region signed an agreement with the EU that says Europe would reduce its tax on bananas imported from Latin America from €176 ($229) to €114 ($148) a ton from 2009 to 2014.

The tariff was supposed to drop to €148 ($193) on Jan. 1, but the EU argued that the agreement was no longer binding as it was reached during a Doha round that broke down. Ruiz said the issue will be key during a meeting between Central American trade officials and the European Commission representative Catherine Ashton set for Monday in Brussels, Belgium.

Public yawns at climate change Just as I suspected. From The New Republic:
Andy Revkin passes along a new Pew report showing that very few people seem to care much about global warming—just 30 percent of respondents listed it as a "top priority," down from 38 percent two years ago.

Even good borrowers may face foreclosure soon From The Dallas Morning News

During the next couple of years, loans on billions of dollars in local commercial properties will expire, and the owners will have to find new financing.Unless the lenders change their approach, they can expect to foreclose on hundreds of local commercial properties.

A stimulus package for the world
Economic crisis has already pushed 100 million into poverty, NYT says.

Wal-Mart completes takeover of Chilean grocer its biggest acquisition in Latin America

Wal-Mart's green store prototypes

Massachusetts f/v snack program feature

"Our students were thrilled to learn about the fruit and vegetable grant. The student response was very positive," Butts said. "We hope by introducing fresh fruit and vegetable snacks, our students will develop healthier eating habits and an interest in trying healthy new foods. With concerns about obesity and junk food consumption, this program has the potential to be a very positive move toward better health."

Fresh & Easy lets patrons shop for schools

Japan launches greenhouse gas rocket

In praise of pesticides Truth about Trade and Technology

There is still time to reconsider the EU’s ill-thought out new pesticide rules. Unless more people learn not to pillory pesticides but to praise them - or at least to acknowledge the good they do - there will be a big price to pay. The currency of that price will be higher European food costs and soaring death rates in developing countries.

FDA crackdown cuts back availability of Asian food for new year celebration

Exporters face new Canadian requirements
Coverage from The Packer

Paying the price of obesity

Recent research by Adam Drewnowski, director of the Nutritional Science Program at the UW, has linked rising obesity rates in the United States with economic factors. The rise comes not from the amount of fats or sugars consumed, but is in conjunction with income level.

Drewnowski’s research found that obesity levels tend to increase as income levels and education decrease. Racial and ethnic minorities and areas of high poverty are also associated with higher obesity rates.

According to the study, the reason for the link between income and obesity is attributed to the fact that high-energy foods simply cost less to produce compared to healthier options such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Victory gardens to bloom again?
More on the unlikely popularity of vegetable gardening. From the story:

During World War II, "victory gardens" planted at the behest of the federal government helped Americans cope with food shortages. (In World War I, they were called "liberty gardens.") By 1943, Americans had planted more than 20 million victory gardens and reportedly produced 8 million tons of food that one old film called "America's hid den weapon."

Now, in a fractured economic climate, a new victory-garden movement has captured the attention of people who want to lessen their reliance on mass-produced or imported food, reduce their carbon footprint, foster a sense of community or save on grocery bills.

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