Thursday, July 30, 2015

NCGA to Congress: Farmers Need Safe, Reliable Roads & Bridges

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2015) – The National Corn Growers Association today expressed disappointment that Congress failed to pass a long-term highway funding bill before its August recess. Congress voted to extend the United States Highway Trust Fund’s authorization through Oct. 29, the second such short-term extension this year.
“Once again, Congress kicked the can down the road – and that road is in bad shape,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland. “Farmers rely on our nation’s infrastructure system every day. We need safe, reliable roads and bridges to get our products to market quickly, safely and efficiently. Instead, our roads and bridges are at best, in disrepair, and at worst, unsafe or unusable – and that hurts every farmer in America.”
Eighty percent of the domestic corn crop is trucked to market, according to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. By one estimate, America’s transportation deficiencies will cost U.S. agriculture $1.3 billion in exports by 2020. Approximately 73% of America’s bridges are located in rural areas, which disproportionately rely on federal funding for repairs and maintenance.
“It’s time to get serious about passing a long-term highway funding bill. Every year we don’t act, the cost of repairs increase, and the burden on our economy grows. Senators and Representatives are returning to their home states for August recess. We’re asking them to take notice of their roads and bridges, to listen to their constituents, and to come back to Washington with solutions for our nation’s infrastructure problem.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

CSPI Urges Adoption of New York City Sodium Labeling Proposal

Statement of CSPI President Michael F. Jacobson
Excess sodium in the diet, much of which comes from restaurant food, promotes hypertension, stroke, and heart disease.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest strongly supports New York City’s ground-breaking proposal to require warning icons on chain restaurant menus next to items that have a teaspoon or more of salt.   
Few if any of us would choose to put an entire teaspoon of salt on a given meal.  If a restaurant does that for us—supplying an entire day’s worth of sodium on one plate—consumers have a right to know.  Besides giving consumers the freedom to choose healthier options, this measure should inspire restaurant chains to offer a wider variety of items lower in sodium.   Getting trans fat out of restaurant food and putting calories on menus were controversial ideas before New York showed the rest of the country it could be done.  The sodium warning proposal at issue today will save the lives of New Yorkers and prompt other jurisdictions to adopt similar life-saving measures.  

‘Thrive’ Sparkles on My American Farm Educational Site

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 29, 2015 – “Thrive,” the first soil and sustainability focused game offered on My American Farm, has been released by theAmerican Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. Thrive is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or “STEM”-based and is aligned to follow several Next Generation Science standards. The game targets third- to fifth-grade students.

Through interaction with Thrive, players will gain an understanding of how farmers and ranchers care for the environment, as well as the important tools they use to help soil and water thrive on a farm.

Thrive can be played both in the classroom and at home. Information on numerous activities to accompany the game, such as creating a butterfly habitat and caring for the soil, also are provided.

The My American Farm educational resource is a special project of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The site and resources are made possible through the generous support of title sponsor, DuPont Pioneer. To take advantage of the free My American Farm resources, games and activities, visit

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Groups demand rejection of anti-climate provision in Customs Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Congress prepares to go to conference to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2015, a coalition of environmental and fair trade organizations are protesting the inclusion of language in the House version of the “Customs bill” that would explicitly prevent the United States Trade Representative from seeking to address climate change in trade agreements.

The provision in the House version of the Customs Bill, introduced by Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would amend the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, or “Fast Track” “to ensure that trade agreements do not require changes to U.S. law or obligate the United States with respect to global warming or climate change.”, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for International Environmental Law, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Green America, Greenpeace USA, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club sent a letter to Senate Conferees and members from the House Ways and Means Committee asking them to reject the anti-climate provisions in the House version of the bill.

The organizations are concerned that the proposed provision poses significant risks to future progress on climate action. A policy brief by the Center for International Environmental Law explains these concerns in greater detail. The organizations write in their letter:

If accepted, it would limit the United States’ latitude to safeguard climate policies from trade attacks under existing and future trade agreements;  it would inject even greater uncertainty into ongoing negotiations in the UNFCCC and other arenas by raising news questions about the scope of US negotiating authority; and it would raise serious challenges to the fulfillment of formal agreements like the U.S.-China commitment to facilitate trade in clean-energy technologies, and global commitments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

The groups issued the following statements:

"The Customs Bill climate provision raises new and significant barriers to effective action on climate change even as the window for taking that action is closing rapidly.  Accordingly, it should be rejected." - Carroll Muffett, president, Center for International Environmental Law.

“This is another head in the sand approach to global warming.  Putting aside the undisputed fact that this provision flies in the face of what is already happening in almost every other legal forum on climate and trade, including at the World Trade Organization itself, this Customs Bill directly harms Americans by taking away legal rights for citizens and businesses alike, all in the name of a far right ideological crusade. There is no rational justification for the trade/climate provision in this current legislation.” - William J. Snape, III, senior counsel, Center for Biological Diversity

“It is particularly disingenuous to say that climate change considerations shouldn’t fall under the purview of trade agreements when these trade deals are likely to explicitly set in place rules to liberalize the trade of fossil fuels. Conferees must reject this preposterous provision in the House Customs Bill.”  - Luísa Abbott Galvão, climate and energy campaigner, Friends of the Earth.

“This anti-climate sneak attack must be stopped. The same Republicans that are endangering our future by denying the reality of climate disruption are now sneaking anti-climate language into trade bills. Trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership already put our climate in peril, and this language would make already bad trade pacts even worse for our planet. Members of Congress who care about our air, water, and climate action must remove this damaging provision from the bill.” – Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program

“These provisions give new meaning to ‘climate denial,’ and they should be stripped.’’ - Scott Slesinger, legislative director, Natural Resources Defense Council.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Youth Convene for Healthier Schools Young People of Color to Congress: Keep Moving Forward on School Food

Los Angeles – While most teens are enjoying their summer vacation, members of the Youth for Healthy Schools advocacy network will be traveling from 12 states to meet at The California Endowment in Los Angeles, for three days starting July 30, to share strategies about how to make their schools healthier places to be. At the top of their agenda: school food.

“We support Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in demanding that Congress uphold strong school food standards in the upcoming reauthorization of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HFFK),” remarked Sandra García of the Southwest Workers Union in San Antonio. “This isn’t child’s play – we may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than our parents.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three U.S. children is overweight. The USDA counts thirty million youth that eat school lunch every day, and two-thirds of those do so out of need. For almost 20 million young people throughout our country, school meals are a primary source of nutrition.

These young people know firsthand what it’s like to live in communities where healthy options are scarce. “We traced the path of students walking to school and all they see is fast food chains with food high in fat and sodium,” shared Isaías Vásquez of Padres y Jóvenes Unidos in Denver. “When that is the alternative, it’s crucial that schools only serve healthy food.”

Implemented after the 2010 passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the enhanced National School Lunch Program’s nutritional guidelines, which include more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and limits on fat and salt, are now in their third year. The future of these standards is being debated in Congress.

Despite these common-sense measures that polls show most parents and voters agree with, other groups including corporate food and agriculture giants have hotly contested their implementation and reauthorization.

“It’s sad that some members of Congress seem to care more about the health of corporate profits than the next generation of youth,” reflected Jamal Jones of the Baltimore Algebra Project.

“Youth of today have way more power to change our society than what we’re taking advantage of. The health of our schools’ food directly affects us and it’s our duty to change it for the better!” said Andrea Boakye of Youth Empowered Solutions in Charlotte, N.C.

Innovative New Twist on French Toast Available in Lemon Strawberry or Cinnamon Sugar

(Glendale, CA, July 27, 2015) – The end of summer just got a little sweeter with new Double-Dipped French Toast from IHOP® Restaurants. This twist on the breakfast classic features soft brioche bread first dipped in vanilla batter, then dipped a second time in a coating of corn flakes and oatmeal and griddled perfectly to a crispy golden-brown. See this unique, delicious treat by visiting:

Guests can choose one of two flavor combinations to top off this hand-crafted treat:

·         Cinnamon Sugar Double-Dipped French Toast – Soft brioche bread is first dipped in vanilla batter, then dipped a second time in crispy corn flakes and oatmeal, griddled, and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and whipped topping.

·         Lemon Strawberry Double-Dipped French Toast – Soft brioche bread is first dipped in vanilla batter, then dipped a second time in crispy corn flakes and oatmeal, griddled, then topped with cool lemonade cream and glazed strawberries.

This newest take on the breakfast classic is backed by a long history of French Toast favorites from IHOP restaurants, including mouthwatering Stuffed French Toast and the popular Brioche French Toast.

“Our Double Dipped French Toast offers a variety of flavors and textures giving our guests a fresh, enjoyable and unique experience with each bite, “ said Marie Grimm, Vice President, Menu Development & Innovation, International House of Pancakes, LLC. “We’ve spent over a year dipping, grilling, and tasting new ways to improve and innovate this breakfast classic—and I know guests will agree after every bite of this crispy treat that it was time well spent.”

Guests can enjoy two slices of hand-crafted Double-Dipped French Toast as part of a combo with eggs, done the way they like them, their choice of crispy bacon, pork sausage links or a slice of grilled ham, and IHOP restaurants' signature golden hash browns, or stacked high as an entrée of three slices at participating restaurants.

Double Dipped French toast will be available at participating IHOP Restaurants between July 27 and September 20.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Roberts Introduces Bill To Repeal Meat Labeling; Canada, Mexico Reject Voluntary Approach

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 23, 2015 – Legislation introduced today by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., would repeal country of origin labeling requirements for beef, pork and poultry and stave off trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico, a move hailed by the National Pork Producers Council.

The U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and harvested. (It also applies to fish, shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and certain nuts.)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) in May rejected an appeal by the United States of the international trade body’s October 2014 ruling that the COOL provisions on beef and pork discriminate against Canadian and Mexican animals that are sent to the United States to be fed out and processed. The WTO decision will allow punitive tariffs to be put on U.S. goods going into Canada and Mexico, which are asking for a combined $3.1 billion in retaliation. A WTO arbitrator now is determining the level of retaliation.

“We’re grateful that Chairman Roberts recognizes that repeal of COOL meat labeling is the only move left, with retaliation from Canada and Mexico imminent,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “The United States had its day in court, and it lost. We’re in the sentencing phase now, and without repeal, a sentence of up to $3 billion soon will be imposed on our exports.”

According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the average U.S. pork producer is expected to lose $10 per hog beginning later this year and into next year. Based on Hayes’s estimates, Prestage said retaliation from Canada and Mexico against U.S. pork likely would double pork producer losses. “Retaliation would be devastating and undoubtedly would cause financial ruin for some pork producers,” he said.

A measure also introduced today by Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., would repeal mandatory meat labeling and replace it with a voluntary labeling program.

But because Stabenow’s bill – like the existing law – calls for labels to provide information on where animals are born, raised and slaughtered, it still would necessitate segregation of Canadian and Mexican livestock, leading to discrimination against them – a violation of international trade rules.

Canada issued a statement today rejecting Stabenow’s voluntary approach and said it would continue to pursue retaliation. “The only acceptable outcome remains for the United States to repeal COOL,” said Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Ed Fast.

“While we appreciate Sen. Stabenow’s efforts, we can’t support her bill because it would continue key features of a labeling regime that’s already been found to violate WTO rules,” NPPC’s Prestage said. “More importantly, it doesn’t satisfy Canada and Mexico, so it won’t stop retaliation, and we can’t afford to have our products restricted, through tariffs, to two of our top three markets.

“We don’t like it, Congress doesn’t like it, but the reality is that after four losses at the WTO, Canada and Mexico hold the cards.”

Although the United States could seek a WTO ruling on voluntary labeling or any other legislative proposal to which Canada and Mexico object, that process could take as long as two years, and Canada and Mexico likely would continue retaliating pending a decision. The current WTO arbitration panel will not review any new U.S. COOL proposal but only will determine the level of retaliation.

(When the European Union in a WTO case on beef hormones said it was in compliance and asked the United States to drop its retaliation, the United States refused to lift the retaliation. The EU’s only recourse was to file a WTO action to prove its compliance. The United States would find itself in a similar situation if it claimed a new COOL proposal brings it into WTO compliance.)

The House in June passed on a 300-131 vote legislation repealing the COOL meat labeling provisions.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Results for America Hosts Roundtable on Evidence-Based SNAP Innovations

The Event is Designed to Spotlight how Evidence-Based Policies can Improve Economic Mobility; Results for America Adds New Non-Profit Moneyball for Government All-Stars

WASHINGTON – To bring the lens of evidence to our nation’s nutrition policies, Results for America – in partnership with NYU-Washington, D.C. – yesterday hosted a forum on promoting economic mobility through bipartisan, data-driven, evidence-based innovations in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Moderated by Melody Barnes, Results for America Senior Fellow and former White House Domestic Policy Council Director under President Obama, and featuring Pamela Hess, executive director, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture; John Weidman, deputy executive director, The Food Trust; and Dr. Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, food systems and health analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists, the event highlighted the data being collected and evidence that supports these interventions and identified innovations designed to:
•   Increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers, particularly at local and regional retailers such as farmers’ markets; and
•      Support community economic development and local agriculture.

“The evidence shows that when families don’t have access to healthy foods, children often go to school hungry, and hungry children often fall behind in their studies,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America. “That’s why evidence-based innovations in food nutrition programs like SNAP Incentives will be vitally important to helping our nation’s kids succeed in school and have bright futures. If we can make better funding decisions based on the best evidence and data available we can help families – especially those in underserved areas – end the cycle of poverty and achieve greater economic mobility.”

A newly released report from the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture’s non-profit Mobile Markets saw sales of healthy, locally grown foods increase by 120 percent in low-food access neighborhoods in 2014. The increase in sales demonstrates a strong demand for healthy, fresh, affordable foods in predominantly low-income communities where access to traditional grocery stores is limited. Moreover, the report underscores the need for continued investment in SNAP and other food nutrition programs to be implemented based on the best evidence and data about what works.

“SNAP Incentives are an economic mobility trifecta – access to healthy food for families, economic development in low-income communities and support for local food producers," said Melody Barnes. "These evidence-based solutions deserve local, state and federal investment as they prove we can tackle multiple challenges while improving economic mobility.”

Results for America also announced the addition of two new Non-Profit Moneyball for Government All-Stars. Pamela Hess, executive director, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, and Yael Lehmann, executive director, The Food Trust were named to the bipartisan Moneyball for Government All-Star team for the their leadership in supporting efforts to invest in what works. As Non-Profit All-Stars, Hess and Lehmann agree that government at all levels, including local governments, should:

Build evidence about the practices, policies and programs that will achieve the most effective and efficient results so that policymakers can make better decisions;
Invest limited taxpayer dollars in practices, policies and programs that use data, evidence and evaluation to demonstrate they work; and
Direct funds away from practices, policies, and programs that consistently fail to achieve measurable outcomes.

The full list of Moneyball for Government All-Stars can be found here.

For more on yesterday’s event or to watch a video replay, click here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Senate Finance Committee Introduces Tax Bill to Help Agriculture, Other Small Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 21, 2015 – The Senate Finance Committee responded to the concerns of farmers and ranchers across America as it put forward a bill today to extend important tax provisions through 2016.

The legislation includes two provisions that let small businesses deduct major capital expenditures over just a few years, rather than the full life of the equipment they buy. Known as Section 179 small-business expensing and bonus depreciation, these measures have already boosted the economy and increased cash flow for farmers and ranchers. Extending the provisions now is critical and an important step toward making them a permanent part of tax law. In a business marked by uncertainty, farmers and ranchers need a tax code that allows them to plan ahead and invest in the future of their businesses. The bill also includes language to promote the production and use of renewable energy, as well as incentives for charitable donations and higher education.

“Section 179 and bonus depreciation lend stability and help minimize risk in an unpredictable industry,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “Farmers and ranchers rely on tax provisions that allow them to manage their cash flow and put their money back to work for their businesses and local economies.”

Since farming requires large investments in machinery, equipment and other depreciable capital, farmers and ranchers depend on tax provisions that allow them to write off these business expenses in the year purchases are made. This kind of flexibility in the tax code boosts small farm and ranch businesses especially, helping to increase cash flow and reduce borrowing.

“These tax provisions are an important tool for farmers and ranchers to keep their businesses moving forward,” Stallman said. “It’s time for Congress to make these provisions permanent. Farmers need more than a temporary patch on the tax code: They need the certainty that they can count on these provisions every year as they plan for the future of their businesses.”

Friday, July 17, 2015

PHHI Welcomes New Researcher Focused on Berry and Vegetable Genomics and Breeding

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. –Dr. Massimo Iorizzo recently joined N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute (PHHI) at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. An assistant professor in the Department of Horticultural Science, Iorizzo’s research will focus on genetics, genomics, germplasm improvement and breeding of small fruits (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.) and vegetable crops.

He will research the health-promoting phytoactive compounds inherent in fruits and vegetables, while also investigating strategies for selecting, concentrating and preserving these phytochemicals. Iorizzo will begin his research effort at PHHI by working to identify molecular mechanisms regulating anthocyanin accumulation and diversification in carrot, in collaboration with Dr. Philipp Simon’s team at University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he worked as a postdoctoral assistant and an assistant scientist for the past five years. Ultimately he will be developing an integrated genetic and genomic approach to identify genes regulating the accumulation of health-promoting phytochemicals in berries and vegetables.

PHHI’s interdisciplinary structure and the connection with the Department of Horticultural Science were attractive aspects of this position. Iorizzo says, “I can help to link a plant genome to my colleagues’ research on plant phytochemical characterization, conservation and benefit to human health. This link will lay the groundwork for an effective strategy to breed for new varieties of berries and vegetables with increased nutritional value.”

Dr. Mary Ann Lila, director of the Plants for Human Health Institute, says, “In addition to the contributions Dr. Iorizzo will make benefiting the berry industry in North Carolina through his research, he will be an enormous asset to our campus-wide Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP). He will interface with NC State and UNC Charlotte faculty as well as Dole Foods and General Mills scientists in this expanding program, and will mentor and guide the P2EP graduate students and interns.”

Iorizzo earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Naples, Italy, in 2009. He most recently held an assistant scientist position at the University of Wisconsin Madison and has published more than 20 research articles.
The Plants for Human Health Institute now includes six lead research faculty, with three more expected to be hired this fall in the areas of regenerative medicine, translational nutrition and food allergies/ immunology. The institute employs 52 faculty and staff, including postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and Cooperative Extension associates.


Neapolitan-style pizzeria in partnership with Chipotle Mexican Grill opens first location outside Denver in Kansas City’s Waldo neighborhood

DENVER, July 9, 2015 – Pizzeria Locale, a partnership between restaurateurs Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG), will officially open its third restaurant, the first outside of Denver, at 505 West 75th Street in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Pizzeria Locale’s fast-casual restaurants are based on Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson’s full-service pizzeria in Boulder, Colo., and incorporate the original’s commitment to the finest ingredients and service with a fast-casual service model inspired by Chipotle.

“Opening Pizzeria Locale in Kansas City is an exciting milestone for us and we are thrilled that we’re able to be a part of such a dynamic and inspiring dining scene,” said Mackinnon-Patterson. “The community of restaurateurs, purveyors and diners has welcomed us with open arms.”

Pizzeria Locale offers a menu that includes classic pizzas as well as the option for guests to create their own combinations from a selection of high-quality ingredients presented in an interactive service line. Pizzas are then fired in a custom-designed, high-temperature pizza oven. The restaurant also serves hand-tossed salads and sides, including meatballs and freshly sliced prosciutto. Red or white Italian wine, custom-blended by Stuckey, is available on tap. Additionally, the Kansas City location offers a special selection of local beers from Mother’s Brewing, Boulevard, Martin City, Urban Chestnut, Public House, Free State and Schlafly. The menu also features a variety of non-alcoholic beverages, including Alchemy Coffee from Lawrence, Kan., which created 8 oz. cold brew coffee bottles specially for Pizzeria Locale.

Pizzeria Locale’s contemporary interiors, produced in collaboration with Denver-based firm Semple Brown Design, features dark woods, white tiled floors and walls and marble accents on tables and the pizza-making station.  Additional design highlights include photographs of Naples street scenes and markets by Dave Woody, a Colorado-based photographer and longtime friend of Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson’s. Pizzeria Locale’s Kansas City location has indoor seating for 32 and seasonal outdoor seating for 18.

The original Pizzeria Locale in Boulder opened in 2011 and was created by Frasca Food and Wine founders Stuckey, a Master Sommelier, and executive chef Mackinnon-Patterson.  The full-service restaurant is a contemporary pizzeria inspired by the traditional pizzerias of Naples, Italy.  The fast-casual restaurants also draw from the same inspiration, as well as a commitment to premium ingredients and an interactive service format similar to Chipotle.

Pizzeria Locale joins ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen as an additional concept that provides future growth opportunities for Chipotle.  Chipotle currently operates 10 ShopHouse restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with additional restaurants opening in the coming months.

Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson’s other ventures, Frasca Food and Wine and the original Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, Colo., are not part of this partnership and are not affiliated in any way with Chipotle.

Does marriage predict home sales?

Does marriage predict home sales?
By Robert Romano
"[M]illennials' current aversion to marriage and children affects when — or if — they purchase homes. As long as they delay or forego these choices, they are much less likely to want to buy a home, even if they can afford it. Homeownership simply does not fit their current lifestyle."
That was Mark Fleming, chief economist of First American Financial Corp., writing for Investor's Business Daily an eye-opening piece behind the continued decline of homeownership in the U.S.
In it, Fleming notes that the homeownership rate has declined from 69 percent in the mid-2000s to just 64 percent today. He discounts factors such as student loan debt or lack of finances as the primary culprit.
In fact, as in past generations, a college degree still predicts a higher rate of employment, and higher levels of income.
Instead, writes Fleming, "My research has led me to an unconventional, yet surprisingly obvious, answer. Lack of finances is not the primary reason millennials are shunning homeownership — in fact, it's not a significant problem at all. The real reason they're delaying or avoiding homeownership is their lifestyle choices, especially in the realm of marriage and children."
Indeed, considering a combination of data compiled by the National Association of Realtors, the Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Census Bureau, surges in the marriage rate appear to precede jumps in home sales, which in turn, precede increases in the birth rate.
Fleming notes over the past generation, as the baby boom abated, the percentage of families with children has declined from 50 percent to 42 percent, and the percentage of married couple households has also dropped from 58 percent to 48 percent.
Fleming sums up the problem, "For a variety of reasons, millennials are getting married later and having children later — if they do either at all."
This, in turn, is suppressing demand to own a home. All of which does not bode well for the real estate market.
After all, why buy a 3-bedroom, single-family home if you're still single? Regardless of income, the additional expense and risk of taking on a mortgage is apparently not compelled except by the necessity of more space that comes with raising children.
However, since economic growth, job creation, and a lot of other vital indicators tend to rely on a robust housing market, the decision of younger Americans not to get married and have children in as great of numbers as they once did is a troubling one.
Declining birth rates will also drag down growth over the long term, with fewer working-age adults producing less and also spending less. Indeed, what is the point of increasing production if demand will be falling?
Something to consider.
In the meantime, don't be surprised if the collapse of American families continues to drag down everything from home sales to growth, sorry to say.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government. 

Four School Nutrition Professionals Recognized for Extraordinary Achievements

Salt Lake City, UT (July 12, 2015) – The School Nutrition Association (SNA) recognized four of its own today at the 69th Annual National Conference, in Salt Lake City, UT.  In addition to state and regional award winners, four SNA members received national recognition for their superior accomplishments in the school nutrition arena:

Ann Roberson’s upbeat attitude and inspiring work ethic has earned her the Employee of the Year Award and a place in the hearts of students and staff at Pierce County High School in Georgia. Ann has excellent rapport with her students, connecting with each of them as they come through the cafeteria and making an extra effort to engage any students sitting alone. She’s known as a team player, quick to take on new responsibilities, support her coworkers and promote a positive work environment. Ann goes above and beyond, developing new, healthy recipes and volunteering to spearhead the expansion of the district’s summer meal program into local churches, successfully increasing the program’s reach by 7,000 meals.

Lizabeth Randall, SNS of Wayzata Public Schools in Minnesota has earned the Manager of the Year Award for her constant focus on improving the cafeteria experience for students and staff. With student wellness in mind, Lizabeth redesigned the serving lines and developed a visual labeling system to encourage students to select more fresh fruits and vegetables. To help young students navigate the cafeteria, she produced informative videos and hosts Parent Forums throughout the school year, showcasing serving lines and foodservice operations. Wayzata’s Culinary Express team also appreciates Lizbeth’s efforts to improve staff training and professional development.

Leah Schmidt, SNS, of Hickman Mills C-1 School District in Missouri has earned the Director of the Year Award. As nutrition services director, Leah has focused on expanding access to healthy meals for students, implementing Grab and Go and Universal breakfast programs, starting the first supper program in the state and helping establish a weekend BackSnacks program to benefit families in need. She revitalized the menu with offerings like Roasted Chicken Curry, Sweet Potato Crusted Fish and fresh Chef Salads. With the support of her devoted staff, the district has increased the number of healthy meals served by 82%. Leah has also hired a registered dietitian to conduct nutrition education in the classroom, partnered with local farmers on student events and coordinated a wellness mentoring program among teens and elementary students.  Leah served as 2013-2014 School Nutrition Association President.

The Industry Member of the Year Award goes to Tracey Tinder, ConAgra Foods, Inc.’s Western Regional Sales Manager K-12 School Specialist. Once a beneficiary of the National School Lunch Program, Tracey has dedicated the last 18 years to strengthening the program for students. She hosts taste tests and nutrition fairs, volunteers to teach staff development and training sessions and even launched an “Adopt a School Program” to better support the districts she has served. Among her many critical roles at California SNA, Tracey has devoted countless hours to the affiliate’s Public Policy and Legislation Committee, collaborated with operators to develop impactful legislative resources, and raised funds allowing 140 SNA members to participate in legislative conferences. Tracey currently serves as a member of the SNA Industry Advisory Board.

Carmel Middle School Student Petitions for Healthy, Vegetarian Lunches


An eighth grade student’s Care2 petition has gathered over 17,000 signatures

CHARLOTTE  — A student going into eighth grade at Carmel Middle School says the school doesn’t provide enough vegetarian lunch options for students like her. Her Care2 petition asking the school to provide healthy vegetarian options has gathered over 17,000 signatures from supporters all over the world.


Elly Kirk, 13, says she started her Care2 petition because her vegetarian friends have limited options when choosing what to eat. She says she plans to present her petition to the school board.

“At my school, healthy options for vegetarians are rare. I don't buy my lunch, but my friends that don't eat meat and DO buy the cafeteria food come back with barely anything to eat at all,” Kirk writes on her petition. “Not even the salads are meat-free. It's close minded and disrespectful.”

Kirk says the vegetarian options at the school are mainly snack items.

“When they aren't snacks they are either nachos, mac and cheese, or cheese sticks, and that's pretty much it,” Kirk told Care2.

She says her vegetarian friends have seen the petition and fully support her efforts.

“Just because we're kids doesn't mean we should eat whatever someone puts on our plates,” Kirk writes. “We have minds of our own, and we should be able to make the decision for ourselves.”

School officials were unable to be reached for comment.


24,000 VOTES

Los Angeles, CA – July 13, 2015 – Every fast food restaurant has their own style of fries, and people can be very opinionated about their favorites.

In honor of National French Fries Day (July 13th),, the #1 online destination for crowdsourced rankings of everything, today released the results of its public poll asking voters to rank The Best Fast Food French Fries to determine which ones are a cut above the rest.

The poll, which closed voting on July 11th, included 32 varieties for consumers to rank. The Top 10 as determined by more than 24,000 votes are as follows:

1. McDonald’s French Fries
2. Wendy’s Natural Cut Fries
3. Arby’s Curly Fries
4. Chick-fil-A Waffle Fries
5. KFC Potato Wedges
6. Burger King French Fries
7. Five Guys’ Cajun Fries
8. Popeyes Cajun Fries
9. Rally’s/Checker’s Seasoned Fries
10. In-n-Out French Fries

Full Poll Results

While McDonalds dominated the #1 Spot ranking first across virtually all demographics, Ranker’s poll also reveals:
•         Millennials prefer Dairy Queen French Fries and Chick-fil-A Waffle Fries
•         Baby Boomers like Arby’s Curly Fries and White Castle Fries
•         Women favor Rally’s/Checker’s Seasoned Fries and Culver’s Fries
•         Men’s top picks included KFC Potato Wedges and Dairy Queen French Fries


Los Angeles, CA (July 13, 2015)—In September 2015, Havenbrook Media is releasing The Contender, a documentary that takes place in the winter of 2012, where Certified Master Chef Rich Rosendale and Corey Siegel earn the opportunity to represent the United States in the prestigious cooking competition known as the Bocuse d'Or. The documentary is directed by Josh Baldwin who also serves as producer along with Mark E. Trent.

Held every two years in Lyon, France, the Bocuse d'Or represents the pinnacle of competition cooking. With the United States determined to make the podium for the first time ever, Rich and Corey embark on an intense one-year training regimen that includes the construction of a secret test kitchen inside of a decommissioned cold war bunker. Together with some of America’s greatest chefs, they vied for culinary glory at the Bocuse d'Or in Lyon, France.

“This film will give you the perspective of what it is like to compete at the very top of culinary competition,” said Rosendale.  “The dizzying workload and the attention to detail is unlike anything you have ever seen before. And in the end, you will see if the United States will finally make history.”

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Stallman Announces Departure in January

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 14, 2015 – American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman announced today that he will not seek reelection in January 2016 following 16 years at the helm of the nation’s largest, most influential general farm organization. Stallman, a cattle and rice producer from Columbus, Texas, is the 11th president during AFBF’s almost 97-year history.

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the nation’s Farm Bureau members and represent agriculture and rural America,” Stallman said. “After 16 years as AFBF president, six as Texas Farm Bureau president and several more in other Farm Bureau roles, it is time to hand over the reins of leadership—a decision that is made easier by knowing the great leadership and foundation that exist to continue moving Farm Bureau forward. I am as optimistic as ever about the future of American agriculture and Farm Bureau.

“On the wall of the AFBF office is a quote by President Thomas Jefferson: ‘Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness.’ I couldn’t agree more, and I would add that a most rewarding pursuit is working for the men and women who make up American agriculture. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to do so.”

AFBF has thrived under Stallman’s presidency. Farm Bureau membership nationwide has grown by more than 1 million member families. Programming has grown to include more efforts to build rural communities and economies and more leadership development programs to help farmers and ranchers become advocates for agriculture and citizen leaders in their communities. AFBF has grown organizationally, particularly with the acquisition of the IDEAg farm events and publications business in 2013. And AFBF has grown in its effectiveness as an advocate in the courts for farmers’ and ranchers’ freedom to operate, and it remains the most visible, influential voice in the nation’s capital for farmers and ranchers of all types, sizes and regions.

“While the presidential gavel will change hands, what defines Farm Bureau will remain the same: our grassroots strength and our commitment to strengthening America’s agricultural and rural communities,” Stallman added.

In addition to his Farm Bureau roles, Stallman has served on numerous boards and federal and state committees, including the White House Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, the Farm Foundation board of trustees, the board and founding leadership of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, the board of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology and the House Agriculture Committee’s Commission on 21st Century Production Agriculture.

A new AFBF president will be elected to a two-year term at the 97th annual meeting of voting delegates, Jan. 12, 2016, as part of the AFBF Annual Convention and IDEAg Tradeshow, Jan. 10-13, 2016, in Orlando, Florida.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

FDA Should Help Americans Trying to Lower their Sodium Intake

Statement of CSPI Health Promotion Policy Director Jim O’Hara
Millions of Americans are trying to cut back salt in their diets and lower their risk of heart attacks and strokes, and it’s time the Food and Drug Administration helped them.
That’s the real bottom line from data just published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This week CDC reported that in 26 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico from 39 percent to 73 percent of adults said they take action to reduce sodium in their diet.
FDA is working on voluntary targets for the food industry to reduce sodium in processed and restaurant foods. It’s long past time for FDA to release these targets and help the millions of Americans seeking to protect their health and well-being.

American Farm Bureau, Agriculture and Industry Groups Ask Court to Ditch EPA’s Unlawful Water Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 2, 2015 – The American Farm Bureau Federation, Texas Farm Bureau, Matagorda County Farm Bureau, and 11 other agricultural and industry groups today asked a federal court to vacate the controversial new rule redefining the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The complaint, filed in federal district court in Texas, claims the new rule grants EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broad control over land use far beyond what Congress authorized in the Clean Water Act. The lawsuit also claims vagueness and over-breadth of the rule violate the U.S. Constitution. The groups also challenged EPA’s aggressive grassroots advocacy campaign during the comment period, which reflected a closed mind to concerns expressed by farmers and others.
EPA and the Corps first proposed the rule in March 2014, promising clarity and certainty to farmers, ranchers, builders and other affected businesses and landowners. “Instead we have a final rule that exceeds the agencies’ legal authority and fails to provide the clarity that was promised,” AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen said. “AFBF filed this lawsuit to do everything we can to protect the interests of farmers and ranchers, but litigation is not a quick or perfect fix. It is long, cumbersome and expensive, and it leaves farmers and others facing immediate harm and uncertainty under this rule.”
While AFBF and others turn to the courts, a bill currently before the Senate, if passed, would require EPA and the Corps to abandon the rule and conduct a new rulemaking. “Lawsuit or no lawsuit, we need Congress to act,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “We need legislation that requires an honest rulemaking from EPA. EPA water regulations must protect water quality without bulldozing the rights of farmers and others whose livelihoods depend on their ability to work the land.”
According to the AFBF complaint, “the Agencies are determined to exert jurisdiction over a staggering range of dry land and water features—whether large or small, permanent, intermittent or ephemeral, flowing or stagnant, natural or manmade, interstate or intrastate.”  The “opaque and unwieldy” rule “leaves the identification of jurisdictional waters so vague and uncertain that Plaintiffs and their members cannot determine whether and when the most basic activities undertaken on their land will subject them to drastic criminal and civil penalties under the (Clean Water Act).”
The AFBF lawsuit follows four similar suits filed by officials representing 27 states, all within two days of the rule’s publication on June 29. A group of nine states—West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin—has  asked a federal district court in Georgia for a preliminary injunction to stop implementation of the rule while the lawsuit is resolved. Ohio and Michigan have a separate suit in Ohio also seeking preliminary relief. “We appreciate the leadership and dedication of all the states that have challenged the rule, and we fully support their efforts,” Steen said.  
AFBF’s co-plaintiffs are the American Petroleum Institute, American Road and Transportation Builders, Leading Builders of America, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Manufacturers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Mining Association, National Pork Producers Council and Public Lands Council.
A copy of the complaint can be found here: