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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Friday, January 18th

California Lawmakers Propose New Ag Labor Bill

A new ag labor bill by California Senator Dianna Feinstein and Repetitive Zoe Lofgren would allow certain foreign agricultural workers to receive permanent U.S. residency. The California Democrats introduced the bill Thursday. Under the Agricultural Worker Program Act, farmworkers who have worked in agriculture for at least 100 days in the past two years may earn “blue card” status that allows them to continue to work in the United States legally. Farmworkers who maintain blue card status for the next three years or five years, depending on hours worked in agriculture, would be eligible to adjust to lawful permanent residence, or a green card. In a statement, Senator Feinstein said the bill “would ensure that hardworking immigrants don’t live in fear and that California’s agriculture industry has the workforce it needs to succeed.” The bill has numerous Democrats listed as co-signers in both the House and Senate.

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Wheeler Intends to Rollout E15 Rules by Summer, Pending Shutdown

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to complete a rule that allows year-round E15 sales by June. However, the government shutdown may delay the action. EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week that the agency can finish the rule on-time, if the government shutdown doesn’t delay the work. Wheeler told the committee that he intended to issue the E15 proposal next month, but the shutdown has complicated the timeline. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper said the association was “encouraged” by the comments, but added, “we remain concerned that the partial shutdown is compressing a timeline that was already very tight.” Cooper says he believes the EPA could improve the chances of finishing the rule on time if it was separated from RIN reform provisions also being considered in the rulemaking package.

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Food Industry Disputes New Dietary Study

Food industry leaders say a new study on dietary suggestions “lacks any kind of scientific rigor and only serves to misguide Americans on their nutritional health.” The Nutrition Coalition says the study should be read with “great caution.” The 50-page report by the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health, advises consumers to drastically reduce their meat and dairy consumption for their health and for the good of the planet. It plans to promote the report vigorously over the next month. Meat industry publication Meatingplace says the report proposes a “universal healthy reference diet” based on conclusions a group of 19 commissioners and 18 coauthors in various fields of human health, agriculture, political science and environmental sustainability drew from a review of “extensive literature on foods, dietary patterns and health outcomes.” The diet largely consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and unsaturated oils, along with no to low amounts of seafood, poultry and other meats. The North American Meat Institute called the recommendations a “fad diet solution to complex global issues” that ignores the nutritional benefits of meat.

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Louis Dreyfus to Exit Dairy Business

Louis Dreyfus Company this week announced it would exit its small dairy business as part of an overhaul to revive growth at the agriculture commodity company. The dairy unit represents for roughly one percent of the company’s revenue in 2018, and was previously earmarked as a unit to be sold. The company says the exit will have “practically no impact” on global sales and is expected to have a slight positive effect on its working capital moving forward. Reuters reports the firm has been trying to revive profits after they slipped to a decade low in 2015. The group first entered the dairy trade in 1925, and operates across the value chain in key dairy supply regions, which span across Argentina, Oceania, Europe and the U.S., as well as some of the world’s main dairy consuming countries, including China, Russia and Mexico, according to the company.

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King’s Ag Committee Removal Hurts Iowa Farmers

Representative Steve King’s departure from the House Agriculture Committee eliminates a voice for Iowa farmers, according to the Des Moines Register. King was removed from the committee over controversial comments, leading to the first time in 120 years that an Iowan hasn’t been a member of the House committee. With agriculture wading through a tough economic time, Iowa Farmers Union President Aaron Lehman told the newspaper “It’s a terrible time to not be at the table.” Kirk Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association, says the state “no longer has a representative on a committee that’s critically important” to farmers, adding the lack of a voice is causing “a lot of concern.” King is under fire for his comments last week questioning how white supremacy and white nationalism became offensive terms. On Monday, Republican leaders removed King from his committee assignments. Republican and Democratic leaders have called for his resignation.

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Study: GMO Opposition Highest from Those Who Know the Least

A new study published by the science journal Nature Human Behavior states opposition to GMOs is highest among those who know the least about genetics but have convinced themselves they’re experts. Participants of the surveys were asked their attitude towards GMO’s and their knowledge. The study points out that genetically modified foods are judged by the majority of scientists to be as safe for human consumption as conventionally grown foods and have the potential to provide substantial benefits to humankind, yet there is substantial public opposition to their use around the world. Authors of the study say, “We hypothesize that extremists will display low objective knowledge but high subjective knowledge, and that the gap between the two will grow with extremity.” Further, the study suggests that public opposition to science is often attributed to a lack of knowledge. However, findings on the association between knowledge and attitudes about GM foods are mixed, and there is little evidence that educational interventions can meaningfully change public attitudes.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.