Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Donate $1 to FFA and Receive a Scoop of Culver’s Fresh Frozen Custard

Support Agriculture with “Scoops of Thanks Day”
PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. – April 12, 2016 – Those interested in supporting local agricultural organizations should stop by Culver’s on Thursday, May 5, 2016, to participate in the second annual Scoops of Thanks Day. In exchange for a $1 donation, guests will receive a single scoop of Fresh Frozen Custard.
Last year, Scoops of Thanks Day raised more than $40,000 in donations for local or state FFA chapters or other agricultural organizations selected by each restaurant.
“Ag organizations, like FFA, do great work by inspiring young people to enter agricultural careers and support the farming industry,” says David Stidham, vice president of marketing for Culver’s. “Scoops of Thanks Day allows Culver’s and our guests to show our gratitude for farmers and the organizations that support them.”
Scoops of Thanks Day is part of Culver’s Thank You Farmers program, which recognizes the hard work and commitment of the farmers who produce wholesome food to feed our nation. To date, the Thank You Farmers initiative has raised nearly one million dollars in support of the National FFA Organization and Foundation, local FFA chapters and a variety of local agricultural organizations. To learn more about the program and how to get involved, visit http://www.culvers.com/farmers/from-gratitude-to-support/.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Battelle Launch Tool to Fight Food Fraud

Washington, D.C. (April 19, 2016) - Wood pulp in shredded Parmesan cheese. Melamine in baby formula and pet food. Asian catfish sold as grouper. Pomegranate juice cut with grape juice. Unfortunately, instances such as these, commonly called economically motivated adulteration (EMA) are but a few examples of frauds the industry must prevent each and every day.
To help combat this issue, GMA and Battelle have partnered to provide EMAlert™, a secure and intuitive web-based software tool that allows food manufacturers to rapidly analyze and understand their individual, company-specific EMA vulnerabilities in the manufacturing process.
In today’s globally distributed, dynamic food supply network there are inherent risks to the integrity of the supply chain. Some estimate that food fraud costs the world economy $49 billion annually and it has been estimated that about 10 percent of the food we buy is likely adulterated.
“The impact on any particular company can range from minor economic damage to the potential loss of economic viability of the organization”, said Shannon Cooksey, vice president of science policy & regulatory affairs for GMA.  “GMA joined with Battelle, the world’s largest non-profit R&D organization, to develop a better way of prioritizing the actual risks to specific commodity supply chains at any time, so that decision makers can best apply their resources to the vulnerabilities of greatest importance.”
Importantly, EMAlert also provides manufacturers with an effective resource to assist with meeting the requirements of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule. Compliance dates for some businesses begin in September 2016 and requires covered facilities to establish and implement a food safety system that includes an evaluation of hazards that may be introduced for economic gain.
“EMAlert works by providing quantitative estimates of an organization’s vulnerability to EMA for each commodity included in the analysis based on a combination of characteristic attributes and subject matter expert-based weightings”, said Ashley Kubatko, principal research scientist at Battelle. “The approach focuses on predicting fraudulent tendencies similar to approaches used by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to predict terrorist tendencies and preferences.”
By analyzing the attributes that contribute strongly to existing vulnerabilities, food safety and defense professionals may also identify alternative strategies, such as identifying suppliers from a more favorable region of the world or investing in research to develop identity tests for targeted commodities.
"Food manufacturers place great value on the consumer's trust in their brands," said Joseph Scimeca, PhD, Vice President, Global Regulatory & Scientific Affairs at Cargill.  "An issue that compromises the integrity of the food supply chain cannot only lose consumer trust and induce fear amongst the general public, it can represent a threat to public health. Being able to rapidly assess and understand EMA vulnerabilities so that mitigation actions can be prioritized and pursued is essential to protecting both public health and brand reputation."

Scientific Advisory Panel to review health standard to prevent harm to children’s brains

Washington, D.C. – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will convene an independent Scientific Advisory Panel today through Thursday to review health-based limits for the dangerous and widely-used pesticide chlorpyrifos. This decision comes after years of advocacy by farmworker, environmental health and conservation groups, urging EPA to ban chlorpyrifos because of the neurodevelopmental harm it causes to children.

The panel will assess EPA’s proposal to establish a limit that would prevent brain damage to children.

“This is an important step in the right direction,” said Virginia Ruiz of Farmworker Justice. “But it is only a step. Every month and every year, farmworkers and their families are exposed to illegal and dangerous levels of brain-damaging chlorpyrifos. EPA must protect farmworkers and their children—right away.”

“This is a long-awaited step by EPA to do what science and the law demand: outlaw chlorpyrifos to prevent further harms to children’s brains,” said Earthjustice Attorney Patti Goldman, on behalf of a coalition of groups. “It is time to stop the unconscionable brain damage to children, often rural and farmworker children. We applaud EPA for taking this step toward protecting children and farmworkers from this pesticide.”

“It is astonishing that harm to a generation of our children has been ignored and allowed,” said Erik Nicholson of United Farm Workers. “But we are encouraged that EPA is moving toward protecting the next generation, to make sure they don’t suffer the same brain damaging effects of chlorpyrifos that no child and no parent should ever have to fear. We all have a right to a fair chance at a healthy life—this announcement brings that vision a step closer to reality.”
Background: Earthjustice and a broad coalition of partners have been fighting for years to convince the Environmental Protection Agency to ban chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate (OP), a group of pesticides that cause acute pesticide poisonings when people come into contact with them. Organophosphates suppress an enzyme that regulates nerve impulses through the body. When this enzyme – cholinesterase – is inhibited, people can experience a range of symptoms from nausea, vomiting, headaches, and dizziness to seizures, paralysis, and even death in some instances.  Not only do these pesticides put our nation’s farmworkers at risk of pesticide poisonings, but they also contaminate food and drinking water and expose children and other bystanders to toxic drift.

After years of persistent advocacy, EPA finally acknowledged the extensive scientific evidence documenting damage to children’s developing brains, including such alarming deficits as reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention disorders. EPA also found that these brain impacts occurred at far lower doses than EPA’s regulatory limit set to prevent acute pesticide poisonings.  We strongly criticized EPA for continuing to use acute pesticide poisoning as its regulatory endpoint in the face of brain damage occurring at far lower doses.  EPA has now developed an exposure limit based on the levels of chlorpyrifos in pregnant women associated with a 2 percent loss in working memory in their children.
Pregnant women are currently exposed to 1.5 to 300-plus times this limit from food, and formula-fed infants experience 200 to nearly 1,000 times this limit. EPA has submitted this analysis to its Scientific Advisory Panel for peer review, which will be conducted on April 19-21, 2016. Farmworker Justice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, Pesticide Action Network, United Farm Workers, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, and Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste are submitting comments supporting EPA’s assessment and urging EPA to act quickly to ban all uses of chlorpyrifos.

Grocers Ask Members of Congress to Consider Common Sense Solutions for Communicating with Shoppers

APRIL 19, 2016 – WASHINGTON, DC – More than 250 representatives of the nation’s food retailers and independent supermarket operators will rally on Capitol Hill this week at the supermarket industry’s annual meeting that affords grocers the opportunity to engage with their respective Members of Congress on priority business issues.  
Food retail members from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the National Grocers Association (NGA), and the Food Industry Association Executives (FIAE) scheduled more than 300 appointments with lawmakers as part of the “Day in Washington” fly-in, advocating for legislation that brings needed common sense clarification to the application of chain restaurant labeling requirements for supermarkets; urging for consideration of a national labeling standard for GMO ingredients; and seeking governmental support to mitigate fraudulent transactions resulting in unprecedented chargebacks on chip cards.
FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin said, “Our ‘Day in Washington’ is witnessing its highest attendance in recent years and the increased participation is testament to the mounting frustrations and challenges food retailers face as they strive to operate in a period of intense regulatory activity. We are asking Congress to put aside partisan politics and focus on workable, common sense solutions that allow grocery stores to do what they do best: serve the consumer by feeding families and enriching lives.”
NGA President and CEO Peter J. Larkin said, “Grocery stores are a fundamental part of any community, creating jobs and investing in the local economy. With a growing number of legislative and regulatory issues that directly impact the supermarket industry, the annual Day in Washington meeting provides a great opportunity for grocery executives to establish relationships with their policymakers and advocate on the issues that matter most to them, their businesses, and employees.”
The nation’s grocery stores will collectively focus their energies at Day in Washington on the following three priority issues:
Menu Labeling:
The supermarket industry supports enactment the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 (H.R. 2017/S. 2217) to make the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s chain restaurant menu labeling regulations more workable in a grocery store setting. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2017 in February with a 266-144 bipartisan vote and the industry will campaign for bipartisan momentum in the Senate.
The nation’s food retailers strongly support legislation that creates a uniform national standard for labeling products that contain or may contain GMO ingredients and that preempts differing state laws. The Biotechnology Labeling Solutions Act was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee on March 1 by a bipartisan vote of 14-6, but then failed on the Senate floor 48-49 on March 16.
EMV Transition to Chip-Enabled Cards
Grocers seek relief from the liability shift effective Oct. 2015, as well as assistance in dealing with the criminals that are targeting their stores. Food retailers are negatively impacted by unprecedented chargebacks on alleged fraudulent chip card transactions, often compounded by several large charges on one single card. Grocers need more information from the issuer and card-network-fraud-monitoring divisions allowing these transactions to occur. Grocers, like all merchants, do not have any ability to affect card rules and policies, so food retailers seek equal representation on the EMVCo voting board, the standard-setting body for EMV, so that their concerns are considered and addressed during the policy-making process.

NSAC Press Statement on Passage of Harris Amendment

We are deeply disturbed by the passage of the Harris amendment to prohibit USDA from protecting farmers as provided by the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 against anticompetitive, deceptive, fraudulent, retaliatory and other abusive business practices by multi-national meat processing companies. The amendment squeaked by on a vote of 26-24.
USDA is poised this year to finalize rules that would protect farmers’ basic human rights – like the right to free speech, freedom of association, right to trial by jury, and transparency in contract terms – in their dealings with large meat processing companies. *
The scope of the Harris rider is truly stunning. If included in final FY 2017 funding legislation, it would prevent USDA from implementing even the most basic farmer protections. It prohibits USDA from enforcing provisions from the 2008 Farm Bill and the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, both of which direct USDA to ensure that livestock and poultry markets are open, transparent, and competitive, and to protect farmers and ranchers from fraudulent, deceptive and abusive practices in their dealings with the meat and poultry industry.
In addition to NSAC, both the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union opposed the anti-farmer Harris amendment.
By law, appropriations bills are supposed to have a narrow focus – providing discretionary funding for federal programs in a particular fiscal year. Instead, the FY 2017 House Agriculture Appropriations bill as amended overreaches, going beyond its jurisdiction to overturn multiple pieces of authorizing legislation. We will work with our partners to remove this anti-farmer provision from the annual agriculture spending bill as the process moves forward.
* The Harris rider undermines several core protections for farmers including:
(1) Protection Against Retaliation
Regulation to make it a prohibited practice under the Packers and Stockyards Act for meatpackers and poultry integrators to retaliate against farmers for exercising their rights to free speech and/or free association.
(2) Payment Transparency
Regulation to require meatpackers and poultry integrators to give farmers statistical information and data about how their pay is calculated, if the farmer requests such information.
(3) Farmers’ Legal Rights to Jury Trial
Regulation to prohibit meatpackers and poultry integrators from forcing farmers to give up their legal right to a jury trial to address future disputes with the company.
(4) Disclosure
Regulation to require meatpackers and poultry companies to submit to GIPSA sample contracts that they are using in their contract relationships with farmers.

DeLauro Statement on Agriculture Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released the following statement regarding the Agriculture Appropriations bill.

“Regrettably, I cannot support the Agriculture Appropriations bill because it contains partisan ideological riders that completely undermine our regulatory agencies’ abilities to do their jobs.

“While I offered two amendments today that would have stripped harmful provisions that exempt cigars from the tobacco deeming regulation and weaken compounding pharmacy regulations, special interests prevailed and my amendments were not adopted. Now is not the time to lower our standards for tobacco products or compounding pharmacies. We cannot put America’s children and consumers at risk.

“The Food and Drug Administration is one of our most critical lines of defense in ensuring the health and wellbeing of Americans. This bill restricts the FDA’s ability to finalize guidance on laboratory developed tests, which are currently unregulated. These tests are the precipice for people receiving treatment from life-threatening diseases, and having FDA regulate them would help ensure that they are more accurate and timely.

“Additionally, it is a shame that there is both bill and report language to prevent the FDA from finalizing their rule on generic drug labeling. Generic drugs should be allowed to update their labels with new safety information, just like name brand drugs have been able to for almost 30 years.

“This bill also further delays the FDA from finalizing menu labeling. Consumers have the right to know the nutritional content of their food and we should not continue to kick the can down the road when it comes to menu labeling.

“Further, the bill includes provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act that would expedite the approval process of medical devices and weaken the statistical standards for clinical trials—such substantial authorizing language has no place in an appropriations bill. This is not how Congress is meant to work.

“The issues with the bill are not just limited to provisions regarding the FDA. The bill includes a study to explore allowing the purchase of vitamins by WIC recipients. Vitamins are an unregulated industry with no guarantee of safety or effectiveness. If Republicans are concerned about nutritional deficiencies, then they should support increased access to healthy food such as fruits and vegetables.

“In 2010, the USDA proposed livestock and poultry farmer protection regulations and they received more than 60,000 public comments, most of them in support of the core set of proposals. However, this bill includes an amendment that would block USDA’s actions—delaying protections for farmers from unfair and abusive practices that are all too common.

“And finally, House Republicans once again failed to address the Zika virus. The Administration has provided additional details on their request—even noting that vaccine development is further along than anticipated—yet Republicans refuse to act. Americans across the country are starting to panic over what is yet to come, there is conflicting advice on whether an entire region should avoid pregnancy, and every day we learn more details about this disease. We must prepare ourselves with every tool possible to fight this virus before it becomes an all-out epidemic.

“The bill has too many provisions that would harm the health and safety of Americans by underfunding our food safety regulators and failing to adequately address nutrition and farm worker protections. As such, I do not support this bill.”