Tuesday, June 28, 2016

American Farm Bureau Supports National GMO Pre-emption Bill



WASHINGTON, D.C., June 28, 2016 – The American Farm Bureau Federation is supporting proposed Senate legislation that establishes federal pre-emption of what was expected to grow into an unruly patchwork of state-by-state mandatory GMO labeling laws.

“Our nation’s top scientists agree that crops enhanced through GMO technology are safe, and this bill will act to stop the expansion of state laws that threaten interstate marketing and effectively ignore science,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall, following a vote by the AFBF Board of Directors to support the bill.

“The bill is far from perfect, but it correctly puts the federal government in the driver’s seat in important areas such as protecting interstate commerce and new crop development techniques. There is no public health or scientific justification for the bill’s mandatory disclosure provisions, but the national uniformity established by this bill is paramount.”

Monday, June 27, 2016

All-American July 4th Cookout Ticks Up, Still Under $6 Per Person



WASHINGTON, D.C., June 27, 2016 – A cookout of Americans’ favorite foods for the Fourth of July, including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and chocolate milk, will cost slightly more this year but still comes in at less than $6 per person, says the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Farm Bureau’s informal survey reveals the average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $56.06, or $5.61 per person.

Although the cost for the cookout is up slightly (less than 1 percent), “Prices in the meat case are starting to look better from the consumers’ perspective,” said Veronica Nigh, an AFBF economist. “Retail ground round prices are trending lower,” she noted, pointing to the nation’s cattle inventory and commercial beef production, which continue to rebound from dramatically low levels in 2014 and 2015.

In addition, “On the pork side, commercial production also continues to grow and is at the highest level in 25 years,” Nigh said. Spare rib prices are about the same as a year ago, while the amount of product in cold storage is up 121 percent, Nigh pointed out. “This is helping mediate the normal seasonal upswing in spare rib prices we typically see around the July 4th festivities,” she said.

AFBF’s summer cookout menu for 10 people consists of hot dogs and buns, cheeseburgers and buns, pork spare ribs, deli potato salad, baked beans, corn chips, lemonade, chocolate milk, ketchup, mustard and watermelon for dessert.

Commenting on factors driving the slight increase in retail watermelon prices, Nigh said, “While watermelons are grown across the U.S., most come from four states – Texas, Florida, Georgia and California – which together produce approximately 44 percent of the U.S. crop. Shipments of watermelons are down nearly 8 percent compared to the same time period last year,” she said.
U.S. milk production is up 1 percent compared to the same period last year. During the first quarter of 2016 (January-March), U.S. milk production reached historic levels, putting significant downward pressure on the price farmers receive for their milk.

Nigh said the increase in the price of cheese slices highlights the spread in prices that often occurs between values at the farm, wholesale, and retail stages of the production and marketing chain.

A total of 79 Farm Bureau members (volunteer shoppers) in 26 states checked retail prices for summer cookout foods in mid-June at their local grocery stores for this informal survey.

The summer cookout survey is part of the Farm Bureau marketbasket series, which also includes the popular annual Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Survey and two additional surveys of common food staples Americans use to prepare meals at home.
The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 17 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Nigh said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $56.06 marketbasket would be $9.53.

AFBF is the nation’s largest general farm organization with member families in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Learn more at http://facebook.com/AmericanFarmBureau or follow @FarmBureau on Twitter.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Soda Tax in Philadelphia Passes Final Council Hurdle


Statement of CSPI President Michael F. Jacobson
The final vote on Mayor Jim Kenney’s soda tax proposal is a huge win for the city’s children and parents, who will now benefit from expanded pre-K and parks.  The mayor’s leadership and commitment made all the difference. And it’s a historic defeat for Big Soda, which set more than $4 million on fire in an attempt to kill the proposal.  We congratulate the city council for standing up to the soda industry, and especially for rejecting the industry’s ethically dubious attempt to induce the council to the scuttle the tax.
Soda and other sugar drinks cause diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other serious health problems, and contribute nothing of positive value to the diet.  Such drinks are the perfect candidate for a tax: Besides raising revenue for valuable programs, a tax of this size can nudge consumption downward and reduce the regressive toll of soda-related disease.  Philadelphia really provides a roadmap for other cities and states to adopt similar measures.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

DeLauro Statement on the First Zika Conference Committee Meeting



WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released the following statement regarding the first meeting of the Zika Conference Committee.

“Today’s Zika Conference Committee meeting was a sham, nothing more than an opportunity for Republicans to act as though they are addressing one of the most urgent public health crises of our time. More time was spent setting up the room than on the meeting itself, the meeting had no substance, there was no opportunity to offer amendments, and there was no timeline of when we will meet again.

“The Committee must meet again immediately, come to an agreement, and fully fund the President’s $1.9 billion emergency supplemental request. Summer is here and the mosquitos are biting. We are only weeks out from the first locally acquired Zika cases and while we delay; we are leaving women and children at risk. The American people need us to act and they need us to act now.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Kansas State University joins 12 public, private universities calling for increased federal investment in agricultural research



WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kansas State University is one of 13 prominent research institutions in the United States that joined the SoAR Foundation today in calling for a surge in federal support of food and agricultural science. “Retaking the Field,” a report released by this coalition, highlights recent scientific innovations and illustrates how U.S. agricultural production is losing ground to China and other global competitors.

“The ‘Retaking the Field’ report highlights the impact of the publicly funded land grant university system in responding to grand challenges around food and agricultural production, now and into the future,” said Ernie Minton, Kansas State University associate dean of research and graduate programs. “In Kansas, agriculture drives the economy. It is the state’s largest industry and the state’s largest employer. As Kansas’ land grant university, K-State strives to serve that industry as an important provider of new technologies, not only in the area highlighted in this report, but many areas where we have unique strengths in water, crops, livestock and other mission-focused research. However, state and federal investments in food and agricultural research must expand to ensure that needed technologies emerge at a pace that meets future production challenges.”

“Retaking the Field” looks at the importance of agriculture and its related industries to the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this sector was responsible for nearly 1 in 10 jobs in 2014 and contributed $835 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product. Even though every public dollar invested in agricultural research provides $20 in economic returns, the federal budget for agricultural research has remained flat for decades. Today, the U.S. trails China in both agricultural production and public research funding.

“The first introduction of PEDv (Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus) into the U.S. swine industry in 2013 was devastating with approximately 60 percent of the sow herds becoming infected with many herds reporting 100 percent piglet mortality at the onset of the infection,” said Jason Woodworth, Kansas State University research associate professor. Woodworth and his team first confirmed pig feed as a path of transmission for the virus. Their efforts are highlighted in the report.

“At Kansas State, we quickly put together a team that combined our strengths in applied swine nutrition, feed science, and veterinary medicine and partnered with experts at the Iowa State University Vet Diagnostic Laboratory to conduct research studies that successfully generated information for pork producers and feed manufacturers to identify ways to mitigate PEDv risk,” Woodworth said. “Our work focused on ways to manufacture or treat feed that would reduce cross contamination with the ultimate goal to prevent the spread of the virus to new farms.  Our work was sponsored by the National Pork Board and it was their quick call to action that allowed the U.S. swine industry to become better educated about this virus and to ultimately find ways to minimize the spread of PEDv.”

The K-State team played a critical role in containing the outbreak. The cumulative incidence of PEDv infections dropped from 56 percent in 2013-14 to 6 percent in 2015-16.

“Researchers are discovering incredible breakthroughs, helping farmers produce more food using fewer resources, and keeping our meals safe and nutritious,” said Thomas Grumbly, president of the SoAR Foundation. “However, the science behind agriculture and food production is starved of federal support at a time of unprecedented challenges. A new surge in public funding is essential if our agricultural system is going to meet the needs of American families in an increasingly competitive global market.”

Farming has never been an easy endeavor and today’s challenges to agricultural production are daunting. The historic California drought continues and U.S. production is also threatened by new pests and pathogens, like the 2015 Avian Influenza outbreak that led to the culling of 48 million birds in 15 states and $2.6 billion in economic damages.

“Every year, the director of national intelligence testifies before Congress that our national security is threatened by hunger in unstable regions,” Grumbly said. “As the number of people on our planet continues to grow, we must produce more food. This cannot be done with yesterday’s science. We need a larger infusion of cutting-edge technologies.”

The “Retaking the Field” report can be downloaded at http://supportagresearch.org/retakingthefield/

# # #

The “Retaking the Field” report profiles 13 groundbreaking science teams at premier public and private universities across the US. Highlights include:

Cornell University: David Just, PhD, figured out how to use the marketing strategies used to sell candy in grocery stores to get kids to make healthier choices in school cafeterias.

Iowa State University: Lisa Schulte Moore, PhD and Matthew Helmers, PhD, found that interspersing strips of native prairie in corn and soy crops reduces nitrogen and phosphorous runoff, provides habitat for pollinators and improves water quality without significantly sacrificing production.

Kansas State University: Jason Woodworth, PhD, identified feed as a pathway for Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) transmission for pigs and developed processes for preventing its spread.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Colette L. Heald, PhD, examined the synergy between climate change and air pollution.  She calculated how crop adaptations to changing weather patterns are impacted by ground-level ozone.

North Carolina State University: Rodolphe Barrangou, PhD, uses the CRISPR gene editing technology to trace the precise routes that foodborne pathogens take from production facilities to consumers. He is also applying the CRISPR process to eliminate virulent strains of E. coli.

Purdue University: Phillip Owens, PhD, developed a process to integrate satellite data and landscape features with ground samples to create 3D maps of soil characteristics, which help farmers fine-tune their operations to maximize production while conserving resources.

Stanford University: Elizabeth Sattely, PhD, uses a tobacco plant variety to manufacture a chemotherapy agent, which enables a potential means for producing less expensive and life-saving pharmaceuticals.

Tuskegee University: Woubit Abdela, PhD, Temesgen Samuel, PhD, and Teshome Yehualaeshet, PhD, developed a test for 25 strains of salmonella that can be done onsite in less than an hour instead of a two-week offsite process. They are also designing nanoparticles to remove food pathogens.

University of California, Davis: Bart C. Weimer, PhD, is using DNA sequencing to build a library of foodborne pathogens to assist health authorities around the world in controlling outbreaks.

University of Florida: Carrie Lapaire Harmon, PhD, developed an early detection lab for Florida’s diversifying agricultural sector to identify emerging pathogens before they cause epidemics.

University of Illinois: Scott Irwin, PhD, produced a web portal that disseminates research and commodity analyses along with online tools that help farmers leverage new policies to improve their operations.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Suat Irmak, PhD, examines farm irrigation needs and determines which technologies are best suited for Nebraska crops.  He established a network that saved 1.8 million acre-feet of groundwater—enough to refill the state’s largest lake.

Washington University in St. Louis: Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, found that the impacts of malnutrition can be addressed by targeting the development of microbial communities in children’s digestive tracts.

Monday, June 13, 2016

CSPI: 43% of Products Marketed to Kids are Artificially Dyed, Study Finds


Red 40, Yellow 5, and Other Dyes Cause Hyperactivity and Other Behavioral Problems in Children
WASHINGTON—Of 810 products marketed to children, 350, or 43 percent of them, contained Red 40, Yellow 5, or other artificial food dyes, according to new research published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.  Candies marketed to kids had the highest proportion of products with artificial dyes (96 percent) followed by fruit-flavored snacks (95 percent), drink mixes and powders (90 percent), and frozen breakfast foods (86 percent).
Researchers at the University of North Carolina Asheville catalogued foods, as well as tooth pastes, mouthwashes, and vitamins, in one large supermarket in that state, looking for cartoons, licensed characters, kid-oriented prizes, and other cues that the products were marketed to children.  They identified 66 companies behind the products, with Kraft Foods producing the most.  66 percent of the 105 Kraft foods marketed to children had artificial food dyes, according to the study.  In some products, dyes were used in place of healthful ingredients, with dyes like Red 40 and Yellow 5 helping simulate the presence of carrots or orange juice.


Dyes are designed to make junk food more attractive to children, but this class of chemical is linked to behavioral problems in children.
Other research conducted over the past several decades has found that dyes are associated with hyperactivity and other behavioral problems in children.  That has spurred the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest to petition the Food and Drug Administration to ban Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, and Orange B (a dye permitted only on sausage casings).  The European Union requires a warning label on most dyed foods indicating that such products “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children,” encouraging manufacturers to switch to natural (or no) colorings.
“While some companies have sought favorable publicity by announcing moves away from dyes and other artificial ingredients, it is clear that manufacturers such as Kraft, General Mills, and PepsiCo have a long way to go,” said CSPI president Michael F. Jacobson, co-author of the study.  “These companies are all aware of the science surrounding dyes and children’s behavior, so there’s really no excuse for them to continue using these discredited, neurotoxic chemicals in food.  That’s especially true when the chemicals in question are performing an exclusively cosmetic, or in some cases deceptive, function.”
“When four in 10 child-oriented products in the grocery store contain at least one artificial food dye, it becomes difficult for parents who want to eliminate dyed foods from their kids’ diets,” said UNC Asheville assistant professor Ameena Batada, lead researcher on the paper.  “Companies should make faster progress replacing dyes, but the FDA could make parents’ jobs a lot easier by revoking its approval for this class of chemicals.”


About two-thirds of Kraft products marketed to kids, like Kool Aid above, are dyed.
In January, CSPI published Seeing Red, a report that takes a withering look at the FDA’s inaction on dyes in the face of what CSPI said is a growing consensus among researchers that avoiding food dyes benefits some children.  Since 2011, when the FDA last convened an advisory panel to consider dyes’ impact on children, eight detailed analyses, including two meta-analyses, concluded that excluding food dyes, or a diet that eliminates dyed foods and certain other foods and ingredients, reduces behavioral problems in some children.
A recent Change.org petition urging FDA to ban the dyes has already collected over 98,000 signatures.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Reducing the RFS, Bad for the Environment and Economy, Farmers Tell EPA



KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, June 9, 2016 – The Environmental Protection Agency must protect the Renewable Fuel Standard as Congress originally defined it nearly a decade ago, Iowa farmer Randy Caviness told the EPA at a public hearing today. He testified on behalf of Iowa Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“EPA’s decision not to follow the intent of Congress in the 2007 RFS is highly disappointing to all of agriculture,” said Caviness, who also serves as a member of AFBF Issue’s Advisory Committee on Energy. “This decision strikes a blow to conventional ethanol production and dampens the prospects for the further development of advanced biofuels.”

Caviness is a firm believer in clean energy, and his farm is proof of it. He has farmed for 28 years without energy-intensive tilling and leads initiatives to install wind turbines in his home county of Adair and neighboring Cass County.

Caviness told EPA that renewable fuels are an American success story and critical to keeping our nation moving forward in reducing dependence on foreign oil and providing well-paying jobs in rural America. EPA’s proposal to reduce the RFS would hurt agriculture and rural economies at a time when farmers are already struggling with a down-turned economy.

“Our nation’s farmers can grow more bushels of corn and soybeans on fewer acres to feed and fuel the world,” Caviness said. “But if these reduced volumes are finalized, this decision will stall growth and progress in renewable fuels as well as the broader agricultural economy.”

Philadelphia City Council Adopts Historic Tax on Soda


CSPI Urges Other Cities and States to Raise Revenue, Protect Public Health with Soda Taxes
WASHINGTON—A proposed 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on soda and diet soda cleared a key committee hurdle in Philadelphia’s City Council today in a major victory for Mayor Jim Kenney, who proposed such a tax to pay for a major expansion of pre-K education and other programs.  The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest today congratulated Mayor Kenney and the Council and called on other jurisdictions to tax soda both to raise revenue, but also to improve public health by reducing consumption of non-diet drinks, which are associated with increased risks of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other health problems.
“When voters in Berkeley enacted a tax on soda in 2014, the soda industry claimed that that city didn’t ‘look like mainstream America,’” said CSPI president Michael F. Jacobson.  “That insult wasn’t true in the case of Berkeley and it certainly isn’t true in the case of Philadelphia.  The vote today in Philadelphia is perhaps the most important defeat for Big Soda since the adoption of a nationwide soda tax in Mexico.  We expect that Philadelphia’s action will embolden mayors, city council members, governors, and state legislators from around the country to make these sensible taxes on soda the rule, and not the exception.”
In a compromise, the Council reduced the proposed tax from three-cents-per-ounce to 1.5-cents per ounce, and applied the tax to diet as well as full-calorie soda.  Today’s vote in the Committee of the Whole paves the way for another vote before the Council next week.
Voters in Oakland will consider one-cent-per-ounce taxes on soda at the ballot box in November.  An earlier attempt in San Francisco won majority support but failed to achieve the two-thirds it then needed.  This November, a simple majority would do since the revenue will not be specifically earmarked.  Organizers in San Francisco are seeking to put a one-cent-per-ounce soda tax on that city’s November ballot, while advocates in Boulder are seeking to put a two-cent-per-ounce tax on its ballot.  The United Kingdom will implement a tax on soda in 2018.  The Conservative government there proposed the new tax in March

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

BIG SLICK CELEBRITY WEEKEND RETURNS FOR THE 7TH YEAR


Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, David Koechner and Eric Stonestreet to host Big Slick Celebrity Weekend – June 17 & 18, 2016 – benefitting the Cancer Center at Children’s Mercy


Kansas City, Mo. – June 8, 2016 – Heartland-bred, blue-blooded, hand-shaking, baby-kissing comedians Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, David Koechner and Eric Stonestreet are coming home the weekend of June 17, 2016 to campaign for kids in the biggest and most patriotic Big Slick Celebrity Weekend yet. The Kansas and Missouri natives will bring with them a gathering of funny celebrity friends, as well as one-of-a-kind items for public auction, all to help Big Slick’s charity beneficiary, the Cancer Center at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.

Just like the rest of the country, Big Slick 2016 is getting into the election spirit. Since April, residents around the Kansas City metro area have seen yard signs and billboards promising “Comedy We Can Believe In” and showcasing five already beloved Big Slick candidates all with the same platform: supporting the kids at Children’s Mercy. As in real politics, Big Slick 2016 includes catchy taglines - “With Liberty and Riggle for All,” “”E Pluribus Stonestreet,” “In Rudd We Trust,” “Yankee Doodle Koechner,” and “We Pledge Allegiance to Sudeikis” – and voting!

People can vote for their favorite candidate (host) online via Big Slick’s Crowdrise campaign at BIGSLICKKC.ORG. Voting is tied to donating, and donations earn contributors exclusive Big Slick merchandise like bumper stickers, campaign buttons, t-shirts, posters and yard signs.

Big Slick 2016 will take place in Kansas City on Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18, and feature three core events. Celebrity attendees will participate in the Big Slick “Star Spangled Softball” game at Kauffman Stadium, the Big Slick “Red, White and Bowl” bowling tournament  at Pinstripes and the Big Slick “Victory Party and Auction” at The Midland.

The Big Slick “Star Spangled Softball” game will take place on the main field at Kauffman Stadium (1 Royal Way, Kansas City, MO) at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, June 17, prior to the Kansas City Royals playing the Detroit Tigers at 7:15 p.m. Access to the Big Slick “Star Spangled Softball” game is included for everyone who purchases a regular game ticket. With each ticket purchased at ROYALS.COM/BIGSLICK a $5 donation is made to Royals Charities to assist Big Slick with its fundraising efforts.

The Big Slick “Red, White and Bowl” bowling tournament will be held at Pinstripes | Bistro | Bowling | Bocce, a distinctive dining and entertainment venue, located at Prairiefire (13500 Nall Avenue, Overland Park, KS) at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 18; doors open at 10 a.m. The public is invited to come watch celebrity red carpet arrivals outside Pinstripes beginning at 9:45 a.m. Space is limited.

The Big Slick “Victory Party & Auction” is the main event of the weekend and will be hosted at the Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland (1228 Main St, Kansas City, MO) at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 18. The party will feature games, laughs, election puns and one-of-a-kind auction items (previous years’ items have included set visits to “Modern Family” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” the premieres of “Ant-Man” and “Horrible Bosses 2,” as well as unique autographed merchandise).

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

DeLauro Statement on Speaker Ryan’s Poverty Task Force Recommendations


Policy recommendations would drive hardworking Americans deeper into poverty

WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released the following statement regarding Speaker Paul Ryan’s recommendations to address poverty. The recommendations were developed by a Republican task force on poverty and will be released tomorrow, June 7.

“Speaker Ryan and Republicans continue to mislead and distort the truth by stating that the poverty rate has remained flat, despite spending trillions of dollars on social safety net programs. This claim is simply not true. The poverty rate has fallen substantially since we began the war on poverty, and as of 2014, we have cut the overall poverty rate by 40 percent, and the child poverty rate by 35 percent. This week, Speaker Ryan and the GOP will once again use this distortion to eviscerate social safety net programs that lift millions of people out of poverty.

“The results of our social safety net programs are clear. In 2014, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program lifted 4.7 million people out of poverty across the country, including 2.1 million children, with the average family utilizing the program for just 8 to 10 months. Further, the Child Tax Credit lifted 3.1 million people out of poverty—including 1.7 million children. And Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, along with Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing, lifted 2.8 million people out of poverty. This is the true story of federal efforts to address poverty and it is a story of government working.

“The reason why we have cut the poverty rate in half is America’s social safety net. However, the GOP misrepresents the truth by not using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which accounts for programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and SNAP. Using this distortion, Speaker Ryan attacks programs like SNAP and the school lunch program with ideas like block grants that would return power to the states. This action would effectively decimate these programs, driving millions of Americans deeper into poverty and leaving them hungry.

“Congress should pursue policies that continue to lift people out of poverty, rather than instituting cuts. Democrats know how to prevent increased poverty. We should strengthen the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, raise the minimum wage, guarantee equal pay for equal work, and ensure that all working families have access to affordable childcare. The poorest people in the country by age are our youngest children and by investing additional resources in families, we can give them a solid foundation for success. We need to pursue progressive solutions that make it easier for families to put food on the table, gas in the car, and money in the college fund.

“While Speaker Ryan rolls out a swanky new policy agenda in an attempt to offer an alternative vision to that of Donald Trump, Americans across the country are struggling. The only “better way” that Speaker Ryan’s recommendations will offer is a better way to fall into poverty. Speaker Ryan should immediately drop his recommendations, welcome Democrats and everyday Americans—including those in poverty—to the conversation, and offer real solutions to address this issue.”

Agriculture and Education Secretaries, Virginia Leadership Kick off Summer Meals Programs



PETERSBURG, June 7, 2016 – TODAY, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Education Secretary John King, and Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe will visit a Petersburg elementary school participating in USDA’s Summer Food Service Program to kick off the start of the summer meals season. They will also be joined by U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, and Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton. While there Vilsack, King, McAuliffe, Scott, and Holton will create summer meal flyers with young students, serve breakfast, and hold a press availability to raise awareness of the importance and availability of nutritious summer meals for children and teens.

The Summer Food Service Program ensures that low-income children continue to receive access to nutritious meals throughout the summer. Each year, millions of meals are served to children and teens at over 50,000 sites through the duration of the summer. With many kids relying on over half of their calories from school meals, hunger doesn’t end when school’s out.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Local Flower Farmer Dramm & Echter Donates and Places 12,000 Flowers at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day


ENCINITAS, Calif., June 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- On Sunday, May 29th, in advance of Memorial Day, more than 300 volunteers from across the country placed 130,000 flowers at the headstones of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Encinitas' own Dramm & Echter, donated 12,000 gerbera daisy flowers and sent Sales Manager Mike Mooney and his family to help place the flowers, continuing its strong community involvement and commitment to honoring those who serve and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160603/375398
Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160603/375399
"This event really hit home and was very emotional," said Mike Mooney after returning from Washington, D.C. "We at Dramm & Echter have always recognized our responsibility to the community and give back through donations of time, money and flowers for many great causes. Nothing compares to seeing Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, seeing the families left behind and the intense sadness and pride."
"The Memorial Day Flowers Foundation is a great organization and we look forward to continue supporting their efforts," said Bob Echter, Dramm & Echter's President. "It is truly an honor to expand our giving and support for great causes outside of our local community, especially one that every American deeply appreciates."
The event, organized by Memorial Day Flowers Foundation, a 501c3, is in its fifth year. More information and how to volunteer for next year's event can be found at www.memorialdayflowers.org

Thursday, June 2, 2016

DeLauro Statement on FDA’s New Sodium Guidelines



WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released the following statement regarding  the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s draft, voluntary guidance to industry that will help food manufacturers and restaurants meet short- and long-term sodium targets for a number of foods.

“Excess salt in our foods is leading to tens of thousands of preventable deaths each year and is costing Americans billions of dollars in healthcare costs. We must do everything we can to save lives and the FDA’s new guidance to industry on reducing sodium in processed and restaurant foods is a public health measure that will help us do just that,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. “While the FDA’s action is a step forward to ensure the health of American families, I will continue to push the FDA to implement mandatory reductions. We cannot rely on voluntary actions by food manufacturers when one-in-three American adults suffers from high blood pressure and is at risk for heart disease.”

Americans consume on average nearly 3,500 mg of sodium (a teaspoon and a half) each day, with 75 percent of it coming from processed and restaurant foods. According to the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Americans should consume just 2,300 mg of sodium (one teaspoon) each day, while the American Heart Association recommends even less, just 1,500 mg of sodium each day.

High sodium intake increases the risk of high blood pressure, which is directly linked to heart disease, the leading cause of death for Americans. FDA’s draft guidance could prevent tens of thousands of deaths each year and save billions of healthcare dollars. Research finds that if Americans reduced sodium intake by half a teaspoon a day, it could save between $10 billion and $24 billion annually.

$20,000 ag safety grants offered by National Children’s Center



Proposals are now being accepted for mini-grants up to $20,000 to support small-scale projects and pilot studies that address prevention of childhood agricultural disease and injury. The National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety plans to award three grants. Application deadline is August 17, 2016.

Since 2002, 52 projects have been funded though the National Children’s Center. This year’s funding priorities will be given to projects that:

Identify and/or address emerging trends in agriculture that may pose risks to children, such as drones, robotics, community-based agriculture, urban agriculture and agritourism.
Address issues pertaining to barriers, motivators and interventions for keeping young children out of the farm worksite.
Address vulnerable populations, such as immigrant workers’ children, Anabaptists, African Americans and Native Americans.

For information on eligibility, how to improve your chances of being funded, submitting a proposal and other frequently asked questions, go to www.marshfieldresearch.org/nccrahs/mini-grants. Or contact Marsha Salzwedel, M.S., salzwedel.marsha@mcrf.mfldclin.edu; 715-389-5226 or 1-800-662-6900 option 8.

Country Pure Foods Acquires Assets of The Ridgefield’s Brand Corporation


AKRON, OHIO (June 2, 2016) – Country Pure Foods, the nation’s premier portion juice processor, recently announced the purchase of the assets of The Ridgefield’s Brand Corporation, which includes Smooth-Frozen Ridgefield’s SideKicks and Cup Slushies products. Ridgefield’s 100% fruit juice products, will allow Country Pure Foods to provide their school nutrition customers with more meal choices for students.

“This line is a natural extension of our 100% vegetable and fruit juices that are served in schools today,” said Raymond Lee, President and Co-CEO of Country Pure Foods. “Ridgefield’s product line has shown steady growth, and we believe this will be accelerated by our extensive sales force that will provide rapid expansion into new markets.  In addition, we plan to launch a new line extension that will credit as a vegetable.  We hope to have this new product available to sample at the upcoming School Nutrition Association show in San Antonio this coming July, along with the existing Ridgefield’s SideKicks fruit juice line,” said Lee.

Ridgefield’s SideKicks qualify for National School Lunch Program (NSLP) federal reimbursement by crediting as a ½ cup fruit serving toward weekly USDA required totals. In addition, Ridgefield’s SideKicks are compliant with the new “Smart Snack” rule, which sets standards for items that can be sold in a school’s à la carte program, providing an added revenue stream for school nutrition departments.

As guidelines for school nutrition programs become more rigid, it is important to offer healthy solutions that drive students to the cafeteria. Lunch participation rates determine federal reimbursements and are key to the financial health of school nutrition departments. Ridgefield’s SideKicks option increases the rate of fruit consumption by students at meal time because of its vibrantly colored ice cream-like texture and rich flavors.

More information about Country Pure Foods and its products can be found online at juice4u.com, call 1-877-99JUICE (58423) or email info@juice4u.com.

Seven Cities to Make Final Pitch for U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Smart City Challenge”


Mayors of Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco Will Speak at Live Event in Washington, DC to Champion their City Bids
WASHINGTON— On Thursday, June 9, mayors of the seven finalist cities in the Smart City Challenge will join U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in Washington, DC to make their final pitches for why each city should be selected as the winner. The event will take place at Long View Gallery at 2:00 PM EDT, and will also be webcast live online.
The seven finalists – Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco – were chosen from 78 total applications submitted by cities across the country. Each of the finalist cities was awarded a $100,000 grant to further develop their proposals. Last month, Secretary Foxx visited each of the finalists to meet with mayors and other local leaders as they worked to complete their final proposals.
The winner of the Smart City Challenge will receive up to $40 million from USDOT to help create a fully integrated, first-of-its-kind city that uses data, technology and creativity to shape how people and goods move in the future.
The Department anticipates announcing the winning city later this month. To learn more about the Smart City Challenge, visit www.transportation.gov/smartcity.

JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED: CHIPOTLE CELEBRATES NURSES WITH SPECIAL BOGO PROMOTION




Nurses with valid ID can receive BOGO Chipotle on June 8, 2016

DENVER, June 2, 2016 – In celebration of nurses, all nurses who show a valid ID at any Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, can take advantage of a special buy-one-get- one (BOGO) promotion.

All eligible nurses can receive a free burrito, burrito bowl, salad or order of tacos with the purchase  of another menu item. The promotion is valid at any Chipotle location in the U.S. and Canada on June 8 from 3:00 p.m. to close, local time.

“Nurses are selfless individuals who go above and beyond every day to take care of their patients, working tireless hours and long shifts,” said Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle. “Nurses go the extra mile to ensure the best care for their patients, and we are thrilled to be able to recognize and celebrate their dedication by providing them with a delicious meal on us.”

The promotion is valid for all types of nurses (RN, NP, CRNA, CNS, CNM, LVN, CAN), and the ID can be a nursing license or hospital/medical office nurse ID. This promotion may not be combined with other coupons, promotions or special offers. Promotion is valid in-store only and excludes online, mobile, fax, Burritos by the Box or catering orders. Limit one free menu item per nurse ID.

For more information, please visit Chipotle.com/nurseappreciation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Salt Institute: Government’s war on salt is malpractice


Naples, FL- The issuance today of new “voluntary” sodium reduction mandates by the FDA is tantamount to malpractice and inexcusable in the face of years of scientific evidence showing that population-wide sodium reduction strategies are unnecessary and could be harmful. This effort will limit the food choices of Americans, not increase them as the FDA claims. It will make our food less safe and endanger public health.

The FDA’s Dietary Guidelines Committee has repeatedly ignored a loud chorus of researchers who advise that population-wide sodium reduction is unnecessary and/or potentially harmful. Three Cochrane Collaboration reviews conclude that there is insufficient evidence to warrant population-wide salt reduction. The FDA is also completely ignoring their own CDC-sponsored 2013 Institute of Medicine report that specifically did not support sodium reduction.

Contrary to the government’s recommendations, evidence indicates people on low sodium diets place themselves at risk. The government disregarded peer-reviewed research showing that low-salt diets can lead to insulin resistance, congestive heart failure, cardiovascular events, iodine deficiency, loss of cognition, low birth weights, and higher rates of death. Studies show dangerous side effects from lowering sodium below 3,000 mg/day.

It is unacceptable that federal government officials chose to ignore strong evidence from multiple researchers that indicates people on low sodium diets have an increased risk of cardiovascular death. Dr. Michael Alderman, editor of the American Journal of Hypertension and former President of the American Society of Hypertension, has repeatedly cited his concern that a population-wide sodium reduction campaign could have unintended consequences. “They want to do an experiment on a whole population without a good control,” Alderman says.

The government’s recommendations are so unnaturally low those consumption levels are unheard of in any country in the world. The Guidelines of 2,300 mg/day of sodium are drastically lower than the world average of 3,600 mg/day. A study of almost 20,000 people in 33 countries shows the normal range of consumption is 2,800 to 4,800 mg/day. This is constant regardless of where people get their food, either from home cooked meals or prepackaged meals and restaurants.

The latest evidence demonstrates that there is a safe “range” of salt consumption that results in a lower risk to the overall population. According to this research, the lower end of this safe range begins around 3,000 mg and extends upwards of 5,000 mg sodium per day. Americans consume about 3,400 mg sodium on average – at the lower end of this safe range.

Most recently researchers from McMaster University’s School of Medicine, found that people on low sodium diets have an increased risk of cardiovascular death. This study, which analyzed over 100,000 participants in dozens of countries, was no fluke but part of a growing body of research warning against sodium reduction efforts.

The history of government issued “voluntary” sodium reduction targets in other countries shows that they are an abject failure. Food producers are placed under intense pressure to abide by the arbitrary limits despite the use of the term “voluntary” and even when food producers do manage to safely lower the sodium in their foods they almost never meet the targets. Even when they do this does not in fact reduce population wide sodium consumption as the body naturally craves a certain amount of sodium to maintain optimum health. Consumers simply add in more of their own table salt or consume more food to make up the sodium deficiency, worsening the obesity epidemic.

Most disturbing however is the statement made by Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, denying that there is any evidence to the contrary of the FDA’s position. This is an attack on science itself as well as common sense.

Americans should be extremely skeptical. It is difficult to imagine a more flawed process and outcome than the Dietary Guidelines on sodium. The medical world, media and public are increasingly questioning the faulty recommendations. Hopefully the growing outcry will force the government to right this wrong before more people are harmed. Meanwhile, regulations and actions based on the faulty guidelines should be dismissed for what they are—malpractice.

Salt Institute letter to USDA/HHS with references
http://www.saltinstitute.org/press_releases/2322/

The IOM report that the government wants to pretend doesn’t exist
http://www.saltinstitute.org/press_releases/salt-institute-iom-admits-sodium-reduction-may-cause-harm-more-studies-needed/
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Operation Peanut Butter Game Promotes Math, Social Science Skills



WASHINGTON, D.C., June 1, 2016 – The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and the National Peanut Board, along with state peanut producer and industry organizations, have launched a new My American Farm game geared for students in grades 3-5. Playing the Operation Peanut Butter game online allows students to follow peanuts from the field to the peanut butter on their sandwiches.

“While playing Operation Peanut Butter, students will have the chance to not only learn about the production of peanut butter, but also the value that peanut butter has as an ideal food to feed the hungry because of its protein content and long shelf life,” said Julie Tesch, executive director of the Foundation. “Along with the game, we’ve also created a lesson plan that will allow students to dive deeper into the role peanuts play in the nitrogen cycle,” she added.
In addition to science, math and social science skills, students will also have the opportunity to enhance their English Language Arts skills by reading about peanuts while playing the game.
“We are proud to debut this educational online resource as an enjoyable way for children to learn where their food comes from. Discovering how peanuts are grown, harvested and processed connects us all to the nutritious and delicious qualities of peanuts and peanut butter,” said Cathy Johnson, marketing and communications associate at the National Peanut Board.

The Operation Peanut Butter game, lesson plan and activity sheet, along with other agricultural-based learning resources, are available at www.myamericanfarm.org.
The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture was founded in 1967 and works to educate the public about the importance of agriculture and reconnect them with the people who grow their food through educational outreach and learning resources.
The National Peanut Board was founded in 2001 and is funded by America’s 7,000 peanut farming families. The board funds production research, stimulates new uses for U.S.-grown peanuts and drives demand for the commodity.
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 http://myamericanfarm.org.

FDA Issues Draft Guidance to Industry for Voluntarily Reducing Sodium


June 1, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued draft guidance for public comment that provides voluntary sodium reduction targets for the food industry. The draft short-term (2-year) targets seek to decrease sodium intake to about 3,000 mg per day. The long-term (10-year) targets seek to reduce sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. The targets, which cover nearly 150 food categories, are intended to complement many existing efforts by food manufacturers, restaurants and food service operations to reduce sodium in foods.
Americans consume almost 50 percent more sodium than what most experts recommend. One in three individuals has high blood pressure, which has been linked to diets high in sodium and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The majority of sodium intake comes from processed and prepared foods.
The comment period on this draft guidance opens June 2, 2016. Although comments are accepted at any time, to ensure that the agency considers comments on this draft guidance before it begins work on the final version of the guidance, submit comments within 90 days (by August 31, 2016) on Issues 1 through 4 listed in section IV of the notice announcing the availability of the draft guidance and within 150 days (by October 31, 2016) on Issues 5 through 8 listed in section IV of this notice. Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. All comments should be identified with the docket number FDA-2014-D-0055, as listed in the notice of availability that publishes in the Federal Register