Friday, July 28, 2017

American Heart Association statement on Cook County's sweetened drink tax

“The American Heart Association applauds today’s ruling that will allow Cook County’s sweetened drink tax to finally take effect. The beverage industry’s support of a last-minute implementation delay led to layoffs of hundreds of critical public servants and significant budget uncertainty for Cook County’s leaders. We are pleased that Cook County’s more than five million residents are poised to now reap the tax’s many positive health and economic benefits. The evidence could not be clearer: sugary drink taxes work. From Philadelphia to Berkeley to Mexico, these taxes have produced a litany of positive outcomes—lower consumption of sugary drinks, higher consumption of water, additional revenue for a wide variety of health and education initiatives—without hurting local businesses or customer sales. The revenue generated by Cook County’s tax will fund critical public health and safety priorities, and the health impact will be substantial. Harvard University researchers project that Cook County’s tax will reduce diabetes rates by seven percent, result in $25.80 in health care cost savings for every $1 invested, and prevent 37,000 cases of obesity over a ten-year period. Sugary drinks are the top source of added sugars for millions of people, increasing the risk for serious chronic diseases and higher health care costs. With each sugary drink tax that takes effect, communities across America are helping their residents lead healthy lives and reach their full potential. We urge more communities to follow Cook County’s example.”

DeLauro Calls on FDA to Do Its Job and Halt Deadly Salmonella Outbreak

WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released the following statement regarding the Food and Drug Administration's active investigation into a multistate outbreak of Salmonella in papayas. Since the outbreak began in May, 46 people in 12 states have been sickened, 12 people have been hospitalized, and 1 person has died. “This deadly Salmonella outbreak linked to papayas is the latest example of deficiencies in our food safety system. It is outrageous that despite months of illnesses, and even the loss of life, we still do not know the direct source of the Salmonella outbreak. I strongly urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to do everything within its power to quickly identify the source, including issuing an import alert on suspected farms and halting the importation of papayas until the FDA and CDC can complete their investigations into the outbreak. American consumers need to trust that the food in their grocery stores are safe,” said DeLauro At this time, traceback investigations have identified Caribeña brand papayas from Mexico distributed by Grande Produce LLC as one brand linked to the outbreak. Grande Produce issued a limited voluntary recall for Caribeña brand Maradol papayas distributed between July 10 and July 19, 2017 on July 26, 2017. The FDA has not issued any “Import Alerts” for the suspected farms. DeLauro is a senior member on the subcommittee responsible for funding the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is overseeing the investigation of papayas.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Washington, DC seen as worst: NRDC mapping project shows how hotter climate and CO2 can have severe air quality impacts in AZ, CT, CO, DC, DE, IL, IN, MA, MI, MO, NH, NY, OH, PA, RI, UT, VA & WI.

Washington, DC seen as worst: NRDC mapping project shows how hotter climate and CO2 can have severe air quality impacts in AZ, CT, CO, DC, DE, IL, IN, MA, MI, MO, NH, NY, OH, PA, RI, UT, VA & WI. WASHINGTON (July 11, 2017) – Four out of 10 Americans live in “double whammy” counties where unhealthy smog and pollen-producing ragweed– both tied to the growing climate crisis – combine to threaten respiratory health, a Natural Resources Defense Council mapping project released today shows. NRDC’s analysis found air quality “hot spots” in states and areas with the greatest percentages of people living in areas with both ragweed and unhealthy ozone days. Ironically, Washington, D.C., -- where climate action is being rolled back — leads the rankings followed by Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illinois and Pennsylvania. 127 million Americans live in zones where increased carbon dioxide and ozone smog pollution largely from burning fossil fuels, combined with more ragweed pollen, can worsen respiratory allergies and asthma. That can lead to more sick days, higher medical costs, and a rise in the number of heart problems and premature deaths each year. “It’s alarming: Today 127 million Americans live where ragweed and ozone can threaten their next breath. And climate change can make matters worse,” said Kim Knowlton, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who oversaw the mapping project. “This double-whammy health threat will just get worse if we don’t curb climate change soon. It’s one reason why protecting our public health in the face of climate change is so important, not taking dangerous steps to unravel historic climate action.” Juanita Constible, special projects director in NRDC’s climate and clean air program, said, “It’s ironic and tragic that the nation’s key ‘hot spot’ is Washington, D.C., the very place where wrongheaded policy threatens to make climate and pollution problems worse by the day. We should instead continue on the path to strong ozone pollution limits, curbs on power plant carbon pollution and better vehicle fuel efficiency. That’s how we’ll ensure that Americans, today and tomorrow, have clean air to breathe.” NRDC unveiled the climate health maps in a telephone press conference today. In terms of the actual “double whammy” of smog and pollen, the 15 jurisdictions with the highest percentage of residents living in counties with both ragweed and unhealthy ozone days, in order, are (starting with the worst): the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Utah, Ohio, Arizona, Michigan, Massachusetts, Delaware, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Indiana and Kansas. Other states that have been at the forefront of climate and clean energy action and are impacted include Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, Virginia and Wisconsin. Because climate change is one of the most serious global health threats, NRDC undertook the mapping project to show—by state and county -- how climate change can affect air pollution and public health on the local level. The climate health mapping project also highlights how local solutions can make the air safer and what state governments can and should do to curb climate-change fueled dirtier air, while the Trump administration moves to unravel national leadership on addressing climate change. Climate change is the central environmental challenge of our time. Carbon pollution from power plants and vehicles, and other greenhouse gases are contributing to hotter global temperatures, sea level rise and more extreme weather. Sixteen of the 17 warmest years globally since record keeping began in the 1880s have occurred since 2001, according to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Rising temperatures and carbon pollution worsen smog and ragweed. Higher temperatures speed up the formation of smog. And rising carbon dioxide levels enhance the growth of ragweed and other pollen producing plants and as warm seasons get longer, higher pollen concentrations will be produced over a longer period each year. Climate change will increase the number of bad air days across much of the United States. This puts millions of Americans at risk for irritated eyes, noses, and lungs, but it’s particularly dangerous for young children, older adults, people who work or exercise outside, and our country’s more than 24 million asthma sufferers. NRDC recommends steps individuals and others can take to head off a climate-propelled public health crisis, including: * Calling on companies and decision makers at all levels of government to help reduce smog-forming pollution and carbon pollution from power plants, vehicles, and other sources. * Demanding that our federal, state, and local governments prepare for the health threats of climate change. Today, less than one-third of U.S. states have developed a plan to address the health impacts of climate change. * Calling for implementing climate policies such as the Clean Power Plan to clean up dirty power plants. NRDC’s climate health maps and data are here:

Friday, July 7, 2017

Drovers, Farm Journal Foundation Strive to Meet Million Dollar Challenge

Philadelphia (July 6, 2017)—Farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses across the country have donated more than $640,000 to the Drovers/Farm Journal Foundation Million Dollar Wildfire Relief Challenge to benefit ranchers, pushing the partnership with the Howard G. Buffett Foundation more than half way to its goal. In May, the Buffett Foundation generously agreed to match, dollar-for-dollar, all monetary donations made by July 31 up to $1 million. The goal of the Challenge is to raise at least $2 million, including the match by the Buffett Foundation, to help ranchers affected by the devastating March wildfires rebuild what they lost, particularly fencing. The fires burned 1.6 million acres in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado, leaving thousands of miles of fence burned or damaged, among other things. By June 29, donations had been made online and by mail, from 46 states. Many donations were accompanied by handwritten notes of support, well-wishes and gratitude, reflecting the generous spirit of American farming country. “We are grateful for the outpouring of support to date and we’re working hard to meet the full challenge. This is a rare opportunity to double the magnitude of assistance to ranchers—and we’re hopeful that all of agriculture will pull together to meet the challenge by the July 31 deadline,” said Charlene Finck, Chief Content Officer of Farm Journal Media and President of the Farm Journal Foundation. Rebuilding efforts are underway, but the road ahead is long and arduous. More than 1.6 million acres of pasture will require special attention to forage type, grazing pressure and rainfall; an estimated 18,000 miles of fencing needs to be replaced at a cost of up to $10,000 a mile; and thousands of cows will need to be added back to herds across the High Plains. “It is great to see that our matching contribution pledge is helping inspire others to show their support for ranchers who are working hard to rebuild what the wildfires destroyed,” said Howard G. Buffett, Chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and part of the ranching community in southeast Arizona. “We look forward to matching these funds and bringing additional aid to the ongoing recovery efforts.” All donations will be administered through the Working Ranch Cowboys Association Foundation, a respected national nonprofit dedicated to assisting working ranch cowboys and their families in times of need. To learn more and to track wildfire relief efforts and keep up to date on the ranchers’ continuing story, visit About the Howard G. Buffett Foundation The Howard G. Buffett Foundation has committed over $1 billion since its inception in 1999 to catalyze transformational change to improve the world and the lives of the most impoverished and marginalized populations. We see the Foundation’s resources as the rare risk capital that can be deployed to create change in even the most difficult of circumstances. We invest our funding in three main areas: global food security; conflict mitigation; and public safety. About Drovers Drovers, the trusted information partner to farmers and ranchers since 1873, has unprecedented reach across the industry delivered through the multi-media platforms of Farm Journal Media. Our print magazine reaches 250,000 cattlemen, the largest coverage of any national cattle magazine, while the Drovers brand delivers daily news and market information on, newsletters, CattleExchange, AgriTalk radio and AgDay TV. About Farm Journal Foundation The Farm Journal Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that works with U.S. farmers, ranchers and next generation populations to inform and engage national level policymakers on the important role that the United States can and should play in addressing global food security. About the Working Ranch Cowboys Association Foundation The Working Ranch Cowboys Association is headquartered in Amarillo, TX. The mission of WRCA is to promote ranching and to preserve the lifestyle of the working rancher and the working ranch cowboy. In 2001, WRCA formed a 501c3 foundation with the mission of providing financial assistance to working ranch cowboys and their families through scholarship funding and crisis assistance. The WRCA Foundation has provided over $3.5 million in financial support to ranching families since its inception. The 2017 school year will see 38 youth on scholarship which is the largest number in the history of the foundation. Crisis can happen anywhere at any time and the foundation is here all year long to provide support to the ranching community.