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News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Donald Trump owes his election in no small part to the support of farm country. But since entering office, almost all his actions and pronouncements have betrayed an abysmal understanding of farm and rural concerns. No surprise, then, that food and farm advocates have looked eagerly to Sonny Perdue, who was sworn in as agriculture secretary on Tuesday, to educate and temper the president on their issues. The new secretary has his work cut out for him. The president unveiled a budget blueprint last month that slashed funding for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) by 21%. Will Perdue become the champion that the advocates hope for? He gave mixed messages about his vision during his confirmation hearing. Perdue wants to preserve the “broad tent” approach of his predecessor, such as supporting organic and locally grown and consumed food. Unfortunately, he also stated that “the jury is still out on whether humans are causing climate change”. He also indicated that he would be open to allowing school districts to formulate their own meal plans, a move that could undermine the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which requires schools to provide nutritious meals with more fruits and vegetables. Frozen- and junk-food companies have lobbied for loosening the regulation. Most worrisome is that it appears that, under Trump and Perdue, the USDA will double down on an industrialized, corporate food and agriculture model that is already failing most farmers and rural residents. Perdue’s Senate hearing centered on USDA programs that cater to large-scale companies producing commodity crops. The former governor said farmers and taxpayers are getting “good value” from these programs. Tell this to farmers, most of whom run small family-owned operations, who in 2017 will face a fourth consecutive year of diminished income in spite of record productivity. It shows an inconceivable lack of imagination if the nation’s top agricultural leadership is suggesting we tackle low prices by pushing production, new product development, new markets and exports. Plus, Perdue wants to establish a new undersecretary for trade. While a minority of large-scale farmers will benefit from this spent approach, we are not going to produce our way out of the current agricultural doldrums. The USDA would do better to invest in programs serving a wider swath of farmers and struggling rural communities, including those that encourage more farmers to enter rather than leave the business, help farmers produce a diverse mix of healthful foods for regional consumption, and create local jobs (the very same approach worked well for Perdue in his home state). Farmers also need programs that would curb the soil erosion and runoff that pollutes drinking water from Des Moines to Toledo and many rural communities in between. Does Perdue believe in the market economy? If so, farmers need markets to reward them for clean water and carbon sequestration. Farmers – who will be hit harder and more frequently by the catastrophic floods, droughts and pests that accompany a changing climate – need programs to help their farms become more resilient, a point reinforced by a recent bipartisan task force, that found these interrelated issues to be “among the most significant threats to food and nutrition security”. Yet the Trump administration has worked to systematically dismantle the government’s ability to tackle climate change, even suggesting it will back out of the Paris Agreement, a move opposed by the National Farmers Union. Other critical issues are also question marks. For example, when asked about his commitment to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Snap), more commonly known as the food stamp program and the largest single expenditure in the federal farm bill that will be renewed next year, Perdue said he hoped to do it “more efficiently and more effectively than we have”. That sounds like shrinking this safety net vital for low-income families, especially those in rural communities – research shows that a larger percentage of households in rural areas receive Snap benefits than in urban areas, contrary to the stereotype. During his first 100 days in office, Trump has shown little intention of investing in rural communities. Only today, three months into his administration and the first with a secretary of agriculture, has he met with a group of farmers in a rushed photo opportunity, and signed an executive order that essentially calls for a 180-day regulatory review. His new secretary of agriculture has given every indication of catering to the farmers and agribusinesses that least need public support while neglecting the majority of farmers and rural communities. Trump may not be personally affected by his broken campaign promises – so far he has failed to replace the Affordable Care Act with something better, or to deploy his secret plan to defeat Isis in 30 days – but the rural electorate that put its faith in him will suffer the consequences. They will continue to see more polluted drinking water, depressed farm incomes, failed businesses, farmland vulnerable to floods and droughts and loss of hope. Status quo is what the farm and rural constituencies voted against, and precisely what Trump and new secretary of agriculture will all but ensure.


News Article | April 12, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

The supermarket chain Asda has relaunched its value Smart Price food range as Farm Stores, reigniting the row about retailers’ controversial use of “fake farm” brands to sell products. Asda, which pledged to replace the Smart Price branded products completely by 2018, has recently reintroduced the Farm Stores label for both meat and fresh produce after dropping it in 2001. UK farming organisations – which last year criticised Tesco’s introduction of a budget range of own-label “farm” brands – dismissed the latest marketing drive as misleading for consumers and insulting for farmers. But an Asda spokeswoman said: “We know how important quality produce at a great price is to our customers. We’re reconnecting with our heritage by bringing back the Farm Stores brand to Asda – a name that our customers remember and trust for great value quality produce.” Ruth Mason, chief food chain adviser at the National Farmers Union, said: “Although such rebrands can drive an uplift in sales, in our view it is important that product names and descriptions are clear, accurate and do not mislead consumers. With Asda now using the term ‘farm’ within its branding, it is imperative that the origin of these products is clear to customers.” In March 2016 Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, sparked controversy after launching seven brands – including “Woodside Farms” and “Boswell Farms” – based on British-sounding but fictitious names as part of its commercial fightback against the discounters Aldi and Lidl. Some of the foods were imported from overseas and given British names to make them sound local. Tesco will on Wednesday reassure investors that its crisis years are over by reporting a larger-than-expected jump in annual profits. It has won back disillusioned shoppers by focusing on lower prices – with the new farm brands key to a significant sales uplift. Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, called the latest move “disgraceful” and said Asda and other retailers should instead focus on increasing the amount British food they stocked. ‘The use of fake farm names or branding is misleading for consumers and insulting to farmers,” he said. “Many hard-pressed customers, trying to do their shopping in a hurry, are likely to be misled into thinking they’re buying a product from a specific British farm when they are not.” In July the NFU referred Tesco’s “fake farm” branding to national trading standards for investigation, but the complicated regulatory structure meant it had to be dealt with by a local trading standards office in Hertfordshire because of Tesco’s head office being in Welwyn Garden City. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has since asked lead authorities – county trading standards offices – to draw to the attention of all food businesses the relevant legal provisions regarding origin labelling.


Chisamba, Zambia, April 21, 2017 --( In the run-up to the fourth edition of the massive open air farming exhibition in the heart of Zambia’s farming hub, Mr Zimba says the main challenge facing farmers today is the cost of production that is becoming higher while returns are becoming lower. “The farmers have no control over the prices and therefore their returns are always diminishing,” Mr Zimba explains, “and we are engaging with Government how to reduce the cost of production. And we have always told Government, if you want agriculture to be the mainstay of the economy, then instead of introducing this tax and that tax, they need to zero rate agriculture completely. If there is a zero rate for a couple of years we will see investments coming through. We are hoping that in the next budget perhaps, they can lend us an ear. The only way we can achieve the status of being a breadbasket is to zero rate agriculture.” Slight surpluses The ZNFU President says the region has struggled for the past two seasons because of the drought, adding “but this year we seem to have a good season and therefore I think in terms of maize, which is our staple crop, we should be able to have some surpluses for exports. Of course, generally, the outlook for the region seems to be good as all the countries might post slight surpluses or reduced imports from markets that we have been importing before.” Passion and patience for agri Mr Zimba, who has been a fulltime farmer since 1992, says he inherited his love of farming from his parents, who were also teachers. “Agriculture is purely a passion,” he adds, “if you have no passion for agriculture, and patience, you can never, never like it.” The ZNFU President encourages farmers of all scales to visit Agritech Expo at GART next week, to which entry is free: “We as ZNFU are pushing the agenda of diversification. Most of our farmers are small scale, and they want to grow maize, cotton and soybeans. But now we are seeing that our farmers are trying to diversify to other crops. And we are looking at the issue of mechanisation, getting away from the old traditional way of doing our work.” The full interview with Mr Zimba is available on the event website. In the heart of Zambia’s agri-hub Agritech Expo at GART in Chisamba will once again offer free, interactive workshops offering practical advice as well as live demonstrations to help farmers combat challenges such as the armyworm, explore new technologies such as aquaculture as well as learn from experts on improving efficiency of operations and yields on their farms. Last year, the event drew a record-breaking attendance of 17 605 visitors. This year even more small-scale, emerging and commercial farmers are expected to descend on the GART research centre where the latest farming products and services will be showcased. The three-day expo will furthermore feature an even greater international presence with international pavilions from Germany, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK and France already confirmed. As in previous years, Agritech Expo enjoys extensive support from the agri industry with well-known suppliers AFGRI and John Deere returning as platinum sponsors again. Confirmed gold sponsors are Action Auto, Agricon, BHBW, Case Construction, Case Agriculture, Gourock and SARO. Multi-award winning Agritech Expo Agritech Expo Zambia recently won two coveted awards at the AAXO ROAR Organiser and Exhibitor Awards in Johannesburg which honour excellence in the exhibition and events industry on the continent. Agritech Expo won for Best Trade & Consumer Exhibition +12000 sqm and for Distinction in Social Responsibility. The expo has an outreach programme at the local Golden Valley Basic School, where, with the assistance of numerous event sponsors, it is assisting the school with much needed infrastructure upgrades, equipment supplies and management of the school’s farm. Agritech Expo Zambia is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. Other well-known agri events by Spintelligent include Agritech Expo Tanzania and Agribusiness Congress East Africa. Agritech Expo Zambia 2017: Dates: 27-29 April 2017 Location: Gart Research Centre, Chisamba, Zambia Chisamba, Zambia, April 21, 2017 --( PR.com )-- "The only way we can achieve the status of being a breadbasket is to zero rate agriculture,” says Mr Jervis Zimba, President of the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU), the owners of the upcoming Agritech Expo Zambia, in Chisamba from 27-29 April.In the run-up to the fourth edition of the massive open air farming exhibition in the heart of Zambia’s farming hub, Mr Zimba says the main challenge facing farmers today is the cost of production that is becoming higher while returns are becoming lower.“The farmers have no control over the prices and therefore their returns are always diminishing,” Mr Zimba explains, “and we are engaging with Government how to reduce the cost of production. And we have always told Government, if you want agriculture to be the mainstay of the economy, then instead of introducing this tax and that tax, they need to zero rate agriculture completely. If there is a zero rate for a couple of years we will see investments coming through. We are hoping that in the next budget perhaps, they can lend us an ear. The only way we can achieve the status of being a breadbasket is to zero rate agriculture.”Slight surplusesThe ZNFU President says the region has struggled for the past two seasons because of the drought, adding “but this year we seem to have a good season and therefore I think in terms of maize, which is our staple crop, we should be able to have some surpluses for exports. Of course, generally, the outlook for the region seems to be good as all the countries might post slight surpluses or reduced imports from markets that we have been importing before.”Passion and patience for agriMr Zimba, who has been a fulltime farmer since 1992, says he inherited his love of farming from his parents, who were also teachers. “Agriculture is purely a passion,” he adds, “if you have no passion for agriculture, and patience, you can never, never like it.”The ZNFU President encourages farmers of all scales to visit Agritech Expo at GART next week, to which entry is free: “We as ZNFU are pushing the agenda of diversification. Most of our farmers are small scale, and they want to grow maize, cotton and soybeans. But now we are seeing that our farmers are trying to diversify to other crops. And we are looking at the issue of mechanisation, getting away from the old traditional way of doing our work.”The full interview with Mr Zimba is available on the event website.In the heart of Zambia’s agri-hubAgritech Expo at GART in Chisamba will once again offer free, interactive workshops offering practical advice as well as live demonstrations to help farmers combat challenges such as the armyworm, explore new technologies such as aquaculture as well as learn from experts on improving efficiency of operations and yields on their farms.Last year, the event drew a record-breaking attendance of 17 605 visitors. This year even more small-scale, emerging and commercial farmers are expected to descend on the GART research centre where the latest farming products and services will be showcased. The three-day expo will furthermore feature an even greater international presence with international pavilions from Germany, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK and France already confirmed.As in previous years, Agritech Expo enjoys extensive support from the agri industry with well-known suppliers AFGRI and John Deere returning as platinum sponsors again. Confirmed gold sponsors are Action Auto, Agricon, BHBW, Case Construction, Case Agriculture, Gourock and SARO.Multi-award winning Agritech ExpoAgritech Expo Zambia recently won two coveted awards at the AAXO ROAR Organiser and Exhibitor Awards in Johannesburg which honour excellence in the exhibition and events industry on the continent. Agritech Expo won for Best Trade & Consumer Exhibition +12000 sqm and for Distinction in Social Responsibility.The expo has an outreach programme at the local Golden Valley Basic School, where, with the assistance of numerous event sponsors, it is assisting the school with much needed infrastructure upgrades, equipment supplies and management of the school’s farm.Agritech Expo Zambia is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. Other well-known agri events by Spintelligent include Agritech Expo Tanzania and Agribusiness Congress East Africa.Agritech Expo Zambia 2017:Dates: 27-29 April 2017Location: Gart Research Centre, Chisamba, Zambia Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from Agritech Expo Zambia


News Article | June 20, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Lidl has become only the second grocer to sign up to a 12-month-old scheme to back British farmers by promising to buy more of their produce and offer long-term supply deals. The German discounter joins its close rival Aldi, which almost a year ago became the first retailer to sign up to the National Farmers Union-backed “fruit and veg pledge”, which aims to boost the profitability of British farmers and suppliers. The code includes a commitment to paying on time and in full, offering more certainty on price and production requirements and aiming to reduce waste by buying the whole crop and adopting realistic product specifications. The farmers’ union has called on all retailers to sign up publicly to the pledge, which took three years to draw up after the publication of its Catalyst for Change report. The union has previously said it has been involved in negotiations with other major UK retailers including Tesco, but only the relatively small-scale discounters that together account for about 10% of the UK market have signed up. Catalyst for Change found millions of pounds had been stripped out of the fresh produce sector through poor supply chain practices and a short-term approach to relationships with growers and intermediaries, damaging farmers’ ability to produce fruit and vegetables. Although there is a code of conduct covering major grocers’ relationships with their suppliers, many farmers are not covered because they go through wholesalers rather than dealing with supermarkets directly. Ali Capper, NFU horticulture and potatoes board chair, said: “We are delighted that Lidl has publicly committed to our pledge, highlighting its commitment to long-term supply relationships, equitable distribution of reward along the supply chain, and fair and respectful trading relationships. “Our goal is to generate integrity, honesty and openness across the market and that can only come from the key asks within our pledge – which include price certainty, transparent working and strong, long-term relationships that are fair for everyone involved.” Ryan McDonnell, commercial director for Lidl UK, said: “We’re very keen to ensure that our sourcing process supports the growth and development of UK growers, which is vital in encouraging more and more people, particularly our shoppers, to regularly eat more fruit and veg.”


News Article | February 13, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

UK employers are increasingly struggling to fill jobs in shops, factories and hospitals according to a new report that suggests the shortfall may be down to fewer EU migrants seeking work in the UK in the wake of the Brexit vote. Company bosses are reporting labour and skills shortages throughout the food supply chain as well as in sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality, according to the latest Labour Market Outlook from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and The Adecco Group, which polls more than 1,000 employers. One in four also had evidence that the EU nationals they employed were considering either leaving their organisation or the UK in 2017. Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser at CIPD, which represents human resources professionals, pointed to official data which showed that the growth in the number of non-UK EU nationals in employment had slowed in recent months. “This is creating significant recruitment challenges in sectors that have historically relied on non-UK labour to fill roles,” he said. “With skills and labour shortages set to continue, there’s a risk that many vacancies will be left unfilled which could act as a brake on output growth in the UK in the years ahead.” The most recent labour market data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that while EU nationals were still arriving in the UK, they were doing so in smaller numbers than in the past. Growth in the number of non-UK nationals from the European Union working in the UK had almost halved from an average of more than 60,000 per quarter in the nine months to June 2016 to just 30,000 in the three months to September 2016. The figures needed to be treated with caution though, warned Davies as they had not been seasonally adjusted. At the end of last year industry groups representing the major supermarkets and food manufacturers warned that EU workers provided “an essential reservoir of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour” and without them food prices would rise. The open letter to the government was signed by 30 food and drink industry bodies, including the Food and Drink Federation, which represents major suppliers, including Marmite maker Unilever and Mr Kipling owner Premier Foods; the British Retail Consortium, which counts Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons among its members, and the National Farmers Union. Employment agencies have warned that the UK’s food industry is facing the worst labour shortage for at least 12 years. The public sector is expected to be severely impacted by the risk of a drop in EU labour, with 43% of education and 49% of healthcare sector employers surveyed in the Labour Market Outlook saying they believed EU migrants among their workforce were considering leaving. The survey found that despite the acuteness of the issue, more than a quarter of employers did not actually know how many EU nationals they had in their workforce. “Employers need to start collecting data about their workforce and review their approach to workforce development and training to avoid a squeeze on skills and the workforce,” continued Davies. “Employers in sectors like retail, hospitality and care, will need to work much harder to attract candidates and combat labour shortages by improving the attractiveness of their jobs … and improving pay and employment conditions where possible.” Another new survey, the London Employment Monitor, also highlights a 29% drop in professionals job hunting in the City last month, as high fliers look for jobs in other financial centres. “Many of our non-British clients are choosing to return home, or seeking opportunities elsewhere in Europe”, said Hakan Enver,operations director, at Morgan McKinley Financial Services. “People wanting to get ahead of the threat of having their right to work revoked is understandable, but is a huge loss for the City”. January is a key month for job hunting with vacancies surging 81% in January from the previous month. But that compared with a surge of 115% a year ago. “Until the terms of Brexit are known and put in motion, the jobs market will remain cautious,” added Enver.


News Article | February 25, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Compared to most industries subject to the ups and downs of global markets, farming is a cottage industry. Where mining has a few operators dominating the scene, agriculture involves thousands of producers in each country. That simple fact works against the high levels of investment agriculture minister Andrea Leadsom would like to see in the run-up to a hard Brexit. Leadsom wants farmers to embrace productivity-enhancing technology to offset the loss of migrant workers. As the latest figures reveal, money is tight, so that won’t be easy. In 2015, total income from farming was 24% lower than 2014, a fall of £1.25bn to £4bn. The finger of blame was not pointed at the weather, but a crash in commodity prices and a steep rise in the value of the pound. The two factors combined to cut the value of wheat, barley and all other crops priced on global exchanges. But those factors aside, if Britain is to solve its productivity problem, then industries such as agriculture will have to do their bit. According to the chancellor, Britain’s productivity gap with its neighbours – the fact that European rivals produce more economic output per hour worked – has a real impact on living standards. “In the real world, it takes a German worker four days to produce what we make in five; which means, in turn, that too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts,” Hammond said. So farmers need to make their contribution to the conundrum. But Guy Poskitt, vice-chairman of the National Farmers Union’s horticultural board, asks why banks would lend on, or farmers invest in, technology when margins are so thin, a piece of kit might be useful for only three weeks at harvest time and global prices for agricultural produce are volatile. “The banks are not keen to lend against a business case based on new equipment when supermarket contracts can be cancelled at short notice and the equipment is experimental or can quickly become out of date,” he says. That’s not to say volatile incomes and a squeeze on profits mean investment is zero. The agricultural workforce has shrunk dramatically in the postwar period following intense mechanisation. The industry’s productivity has risen in the last couple of years in line with the snail’s pace registered by rest of the British business community. To make faster progress, Poskitt says the current Common Agricultural Policy payments to farmers – soon to become a victim of Brexit – should be replaced by British government investment grants. “Post-Brexit there could be a pot of money that supersedes the single payment to farmers to reward investment,” he says. “That is what Andrea Leadsom should be thinking about.”


News Article | January 29, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Those of us who want to eat safe, healthy food awoke to a nightmare on Tuesday, a chilling interview on Radio 4’s Today programme. Bob Young, chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, made it crystal clear that any US trade deal struck by Theresa May would be contingent on the UK public stomaching imports of US foods that it has previously rejected: beef from cattle implanted with growth hormones, chlorine-washed chicken, and unlabelled genetically modified (GM) foods. Wiping the sleep from our eyes, we hoped it was just a bad dream, but the grim reality worsened. Martin Haworth, director of strategy at the National Farmers Union (NFU), was up next. Surely our own farmers, who have worked for decades to stricter EU standards shaped by consumers’ demand for safe, natural food, would reiterate their commitment to keeping them? Not a bit of it. Haworth’s only concern was that if such controversial American products were allowed into the country, British farmers should be able to use the same production techniques to ensure “an even playing field”. Do you find it credible that British farmers could beat the US’s vast industrial feedlots, hi-tech poultry plants and vast GM prairies at their own game? No matter, the NFU does. Later, at prime minister’s questions, the Scottish National party MP Angus Robertson pressed May for the reassurance that everyone who cares about food quality and safety badly wants to hear. Would she tell Trump she wasn’t prepared to lower our food safety standards? Judging from May’s evasive reply – she would improve trade through prosperity, growth, jobs, putting UK interests and values first – it seems entirely possible that she would bin existing food rules in order to clinch a deal. For decades, the food on our plates has been protected – albeit inadequately – by virtue of our EU membership. Food on British shelves differs in critical ways from the US equivalent. Citizens in Europe loudly opposed the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that sought to impose on us the US “Big Food” model. But now it looks as if Trump and May could usher in a bilateral version of TTIP with bells on. So the nightmare is real, although there is a ray of hope. Post-Brexit, we can’t continue to sell British food to mainland Europe unless it meets EU standards. And losing concrete business with the EU in the vain hope of gaining some notional trade advantage with the US sounds like a deal-breaker. Eighty-two pesticides are banned in the EU on health and environmental grounds – but not in the US. Among these 82 pesticides are permethrin, the broad spectrum insecticide that is classed as a likely carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor, and atrazine, a herbicide thought to affect the immune system, which has also been linked to birth defects. A US-UK trade deal opens the door to imports of American foods grown using these pesticides. The US would probably also lean on the UK government to relax our EU-set “maximum residue levels” for pesticides in food. Even people who boycotted US imported food would probably end up eating more residues in food because British growers would no longer have to control their spraying regimes to keep residues within EU limits. Derivatives of GM maize and soya are in thousands of processed foods in the US. American consumers’ demands to see them labelled have been quashed by lobbying from big biotech companies, notably Monsanto. In the US, the only way to avoid eating GM ingredients is to buy organic food to cook at home and never eat out. In the EU, foods made using GM ingredients must be clearly labelled as such, and consumers have shown repeatedly that they don’t want to buy them. The only GM foods currently on British shelves are sweet imported American junk foods, and cheap cooking oils aimed at the catering trade. No GM crops are grown commercially in the UK. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have all effectively banned their cultivation. Currently, EU states have the right to ban the import of GM food. In the event of a US-UK trade deal, farmers on both sides of the Atlantic might argue that GM labelling, and cultivation and import bans, are discriminatory barriers to trade. Processed foods in the United States typically contain many more additives and hi-tech ingredients than their equivalents in Europe. Several food additives banned in Europe are permitted in the US. These include petroleum-derived food colourings, azodicarbonamide, the chemical used to bleach flour that has been linked to asthma, and potassium bromate, a chemical that reduces the time needed to bake industrial bread. It has been associated with kidney, nervous system and gastrointestinal disorders. British companies could argue that if they are to compete with US imports on price, they must be allowed to use these problematic additives. In the US it’s perfectly legal to “wash” butchered chicken in strongly chlorinated water and to spray pig carcasses with lactic acid. Abattoir companies present these as belt-and-braces methods of reducing the spread of microbial contamination from the animal’s digestive tract to the meat. These practices aren’t allowed in the EU, and the dominant European view has been that, far from reducing contamination, they could increase it because dirty abattoirs with sloppy standards would rely on it as a decontaminant rather than making sure their basic hygiene protocols were up to scratch. There are also concerns that such “washes” would be used by less scrupulous meat processing plants to increase the shelf-life of meat, making it appear fresher than it really is. If the UK were obliged to accept chlorine chicken and acid-washed meat from the US, this would not need to be flagged up on product packaging because these washes and sprays would count as “processing aids”, which don’t need to be labelled. The EU has a general ban on the use of synthetic hormones to promote growth in farm animals because the European Food Safety Authority says that there isn’t enough data to fully assess potential human health risks, such as increased cancer, and early puberty. In the US, synthetic hormones are considered safe, and intensively reared beef cattle and dairy cows are often implanted with them. Pigs are also treated with the beta-agonist drug Ractopamine, which has hormone-like bodybuilding effects. Globally, there is heightened awareness that the overuse of antibiotics in farming is encouraging the emergence of bacterial infections in animals and humans that are resistant to key groups of these vital drugs. The latest data shows that 75% of medically important antibiotics in the US were given to farm animals. In the UK, the equivalent amount is lower (40%), largely because EU farmers have not been allowed to use antibiotics to make their animals grow bigger more quickly – or produce more milk. Once a UK-US trade deal was signed, US meat processors would be likely to see big opportunities to get their pork – and to a lesser extent, their beef – into the UK. These imports would probably be purchased by processed food manufacturers. And as their multi-ingredient products don’t have to list the country of origin of individual ingredients, there would be no sure way of avoiding eating milk or meat produced to less exacting US standards, unless you never ate processed food. Powerful US meat and grain corporations want the EU to drop restrictions on animal byproducts (abattoir offcuts and waste) in animal feedstuffs, arguing that it is a barrier to trade aimed at protecting our internal market. The American Feed Industry Association has already challenged this EU rule on the grounds that its industry experienced a 62% drop in exports over the past decade because of it. The practice of feeding slaughterhouse byproducts, such as brains and spinal cord, back to animals in their rations can result in outbreaks of livestock diseases: swine fever, foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease. It is thought to be the most likely cause of in humans. The UK’s willingness to accept imports of animal feed manufactured with animal byproducts (and GM soya) could be a prerequisite of any US trade deal.


News Article | July 28, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Scottish farmers face losing hundreds of millions of pounds in subsidy after Brexit unless the UK government increases funding for Holyrood, a Scottish parliament committee has been told. A senior economist and the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) said the EU referendum vote raised significant doubts over the future of £452m in common agriculture programme spending in Scotland, because of the current Treasury deal to fund Holyrood. Pro-Brexit campaigners insisted during the referendum campaign that all agricultural funding would be protected, as Westminster would equally redistribute the £350m a week it would allegedly save from no longer funding the EU. Prof Graeme Roy, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, an economics thinktank at Strathclyde University, told Holyrood’s European and external relations committee, which was recalled from summer recess to investigate the ramifications of the Brexit vote, that this was not currently possible. Under the latest fiscal framework deal for financing Scottish spending, signed off by the then chancellor George Osborne in February, Holyrood would continue to be funded largely by the UK Treasury on a rough per capita basis, through the so-called Barnett formula, and by Scottish taxation. Scotland’s population is about 8% of the UK total, but Scottish farmers receive 18% of the UK’s overall common agricultural policy (CAP) funding under the EU system, including 85% of less-favoured area payments. The industry has slumped in the last few years due to falling prices, increasing its heavy reliance on subsidies. UK ministers, Roy said, would have to find a way of changing the current fiscal support system or protecting Scottish agriculture funding through another route. “I think that’s quite a significant thing which needs to be resolved relatively quickly,” he told MSPs. The NFUS said it is pressing the UK government to guarantee funding at the same levels set out by the CAP for the next four years. But Clare Slipper, the union’s Scottish parliamentary officer, said UK ministers had yet to make any concrete commitments. Slipper added that there was also a “massive question mark” over what the Scottish government was planning to do on farm funding post-Brexit. Leaving the EU meant ministers in Edinburgh would need to introduce their own agricultural policies, which could be far more beneficial to farmers than the CAP. Slipper said: “Our concern is we don’t know whether there will be agricultural funding through the block grant or whether it will be ringfenced or topped up by the Scottish government.” James Withers, of Scotland Food and Drink, said protecting agricultural funding was crucial to the success of many industries that relied on farm produce. His group’s members converted £3bn in agricultural raw materials into products worth £11bn to the Scottish economy. Shortly before the evidence session began, the Fraser of Allander Institute warned that Scotland’s already struggling economy was likely to be hit by a further slowing in the next two years as a direct result of Brexit, potentially going into a technical recession. MSPs were told, however, that the UK’s decision to leave the EU could be very rewarding for Scotland, allowing its major industries such as financial services and fisheries to grow but in different ways. Hugh Chater, director of banking for Virgin Money, which has a large base in Edinburgh, said the city could see a boom in financial services if Scotland won special concessions giving it much better access to the single market than the rest of the UK. He said Scotland could offer “safe harbour” for some other UK banks or financial services firms which were worried about losing their so-called passporting rights to operate in the single market. “I think that’s a very credible view,” he said. The loudest welcome for the UK leaving the EU came from Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation. He said leaving the common fisheries policy (CFP) was an extraordinary chance for Scotland to control fishing in a huge area of the continental shelf. The UK’s exclusive economic zone in the North Sea and Atlantic “was a really, really big patch of prime maritime real estate,” he said. Control over that area had to be defended by UK and Scottish ministers during the Brexit negotiations; it would allow Scotland to overtake Norway and Iceland as major global fish producers. “We have the opportunity, if there’s the political backbone not to trade it away again, to become managing partner in the best piece of the north-east Atlantic for harvesting seafood,” he said. • This article was amended on 29 July 2016. An earlier version said incorrectly that James Withers was from the Scottish Food and Drink Federation.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.altenergystocks.com

“Trump Reiterates Support for Ethanol, RFS” is the major headline to come out of the National Ethanol Conference in San Diego, which is the Renewable Fuels Association’s annual conflab and as usual produced a flurry of studies, keynotes and statements on the viability and importance of US ethanol to everything from American jobs to advanced American manufacturing. The Trump headline came out of a letter sent to the delegates to the event by President Trump — which itself is a hopeful sign of support. But did the President really offer support for the Renewable Fuel Standard? Let’s look at the letter behind the headlines. “Rest assured that your president and this administration values the importance of renewable fuels to America’s economy and to our energy independence. As I emphasized throughout my campaign, renewable fuels are essential to America’s energy strategy,” Trump wrote. “As important as ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard are to rural economies, I also know that your industry has suffered from overzealous, job-killing regulation. I am committed to reducing the regulatory burden on all businesses, and my team is looking forward to working with the Renewable Fuels Association, and many others, to identify and reform those regulations that impede growth, increase consumer costs, and eliminate good-paying jobs without providing sufficient environmental or public health benefit,” Trump added. Hmm. There’s support for renewable fuels in there. President Trump reiterates that “renewable fuels are essential to America’s energy strategy,” but when it comes to the RFS itself, the President notes the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard to rural communities — and then quickly pivots to a theme of identifying and reforming “those regulations that impede growth, increase consumer costs, and eliminate good-paying jobs without providing sufficient environmental or public health benefit.” Now, the President could have written a letter to the Affordable Healthcare Society attending at the National Conference to Save Obamacare with the following: “As important as Obamacare is to low-income people, I also know that your industry has suffered from overzealous, job-killing regulation. I am committed to reducing the regulatory burden on all businesses, and my team is looking forward to working with the Affordable Healthcare Society, and many others, to identify and reform those regulations that impede growth, increase consumer costs, and eliminate good-paying jobs without providing sufficient environmental or public health benefit.” It sounds very supportive, but it’s a long way from a pledge to defend Obamacare. And we’ve changed nothing in the structure, just the names. Nevertheless, the Renewable Fuels Association was grateful. “We thank President Trump for reaffirming his support for the domestic biofuels industry and the RFS,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “The RFS has cleaned the air, reduced our dependence on foreign oil and boosted local economies. Donald Trump understands all this. Consumers benefit from this national policy and our industry looks forward to continuing to be the lowest cost, highest octane fuel in the world.” The RFA debuted a new study by ABF Economics. which found that the U.S. ethanol industry added $42.1 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and supported nearly 340,000 jobs in 2016. According to the analysis, the production and use of 15.25 billion gallons of ethanol last year also: •contributed nearly $14.4 billion to the U.S. economy from manufacturing; •added more than $22.5 billion in income for American households; •generated an estimated $4.9 billion in tax revenue to the Federal Treasury and $3.6 billion in revenue to state and local governments; •displaced 510 million barrels of imported oil, keeping $20.1 billion in the U.S. economy; In all, it’s been a strong year for ethanol. Dinneen said in his keynote that 2016 was “a record year for production, a record year for net exports, a record year for domestic demand, and a record year for E15 sales and infrastructure build-out. It was, in short, a pretty darn good year,” said Dinneen. Overall, he noted that the industry produced a record 15.3 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016, while supporting 74,420 direct jobs and 264,756 indirect and induced jobs across the country. Dinneen also predicted that the Trump Administration would “stand up for American trade, and fight back against any trade distorting tariffs, such as those recently imposed by the Chinese on U.S. ethanol and dried distillers grain exports.” How much U.S. ethanol was produced last year? What were the top U.S. ethanol export markets? What are ethanol’s environmental and octane benefits? How many states offer E15 (15 percent ethanol) blends and how many automakers warranty their vehicles for higher ethanol blends? The answer to these questions and many more is simple, says the RFA — it’s in the 2017 Ethanol Industry Outlook, and that’s here. One of the issues in the mix for the ethanol industry right now is a fight over “the point of obligation” in the Renewable Fuel Standard. Right now, that’s oil refineries. Carl Icahn and others have been urging the White House to shift the point of obligation to retailers and fuel distributors— and a coalition of independent oil marketers, convenience store chains, travel plazas and truckstops, and ethanol producers has assembled to fight the change. NATSO, representing more than 1,500 travel plazas and truckstops nationwide, opined: “changing the point of obligation would hinder the program’s objective of displacing traditional fuel and replacing it with renewable substitutes to promote stable supply and prices, and inject such massive disruption and uncertainty into fuels markets that retail fuel prices will inevitably skyrocket and the incentive for fuel marketers to integrate renewable fuels into their product lines will dissipate. This will crush the very constituencies whose interests President Trump promised protect in order to benefit a narrow segment of the refining industry.” Growth Energy delivered an economic analysis commissioned from Edgeworth Economics that identifies numerous problems associated with changing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) point of obligation. Growth Energy strongly supports EPA’s proposed denial to move the point of obligation. “Changing the point of obligation would have a disastrous impact on the industry, retailers, and consumers,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said. Also appearing this week from the The Urban Air Initiative and several partners were filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that disrupts the agency’s current rationale for controlling ethanol blends under the Clean Air Act, in response to the proposed Renewables Enhancement Growth Support Rule (REGS Rule). The proposed rule would codify EPA’s position that fuel blends with more than 15% ethanol (E16-E83) may only be used in Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). UAI argues that the Clean Air Act does not forbid the use of midlevel gasoline-ethanol blends in conventional vehicles. UAI points out that under the Clean Air Act, EPA bears the burden of showing that ethanol contributes to harmful emissions before it may limit the concentration of ethanol in fuel. The proposed rule reverses this burden of proof and subverts the intent of Congress by requiring fuel manufacturers to show that higher levels of ethanol would not harm emissions control systems. In its comments, UAI takes on EPA’s longstanding assumption that the Clean Air Act’s “substantially similar” (sub-sim) law allows the agency to control the concentration of ethanol in gasoline. UAI argues that EPA’s interpretation of the sub-sim law is inconsistent with the clear language of the law and must change. “We believe these comments can be potentially game changing in the way the EPA regulates clean burning ethanol,” said UAI President Dave Vander Griend. Several other organizations joined UAI’s comments. They include the Energy Future Coalition, Clean Fuels Development Coalition, Glacial Lakes Energy, Siouxland Ethanol, ICM Inc., Nebraska Ethanol Board, National Farmers Union, South Dakota Farmers Union, Minnesota Farmers Union, Montana Farmers Union, North Dakota Farmers Union, and Wisconsin Farmers Union. One thing you’ll note in the ethanol industry’s line of discussion — it remains the ethanol industry, only loosely allied with the renewable fuels industry as a whole. Further, we see a shift from RFA — and almost everyone else promoting renewable fuels on Capitol Hill – from discussing the greenhouse gas benefits of renewable fuels to the domestic jobs and energy security that flows from US-based fuel production. But, that said, times are good and we’ll see about 2018. Focal point ahead? For RFA, the focus is clearly on E15. There’s quite a bit of work to be done with engine manufacturers who might incorporate E30 blends in a new generation of engines designed to reach the 52MPG CAFE standards that are proposed for the 2020s and 2030s. Those worthy goals are far more in the background as the ethanol industry continues to focus on a E15 tolerance that would boost the potential for ethanol blending well above 20 billion gallons.


Award-Winning Agritech Expo Zambia Returns to Chisamba in April as Agri Sector Continues to Move with the Times The award-winning Agritech Expo Zambia returns to Chisamba for the fourth time this year from 27-29 April. Chisamba, Zambia, February 19, 2017 --( Mr Hamusimbi adds: “Agritech Expo has blossomed into an umbilical cord bonding together national, regional and global farmers, agribusinesses, policy makers and development agents as they search for solutions to ever increasing pestilences, adverse weather effects, wasting soil health/fertility, dwindling productivity, inadequate irrigation and mechanization, and increasing stock diseases. Without a doubt Agritech Expo 2017 has been designed to specifically give farmers the innovations and business connections they need to move their farming and agribusiness to the next level.” More international pavilions Last year the event drew a record-breaking attendance of 17 605 visitors. This year even more small-scale, emerging and commercial farmers are expected to descend on the GART research farm in the heart of Zambia’s agri-hub, where the latest farming products and services will be showcased. The three-day expo will furthermore feature an even greater international presence with international pavilions from Germany, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK and France already confirmed. Agritech Expo will also offer free workshops again, live machinery and product demonstrations and crop trials. New for this year will be specialised agri-sector industry zones and mowing and baling demonstrations. Multi-award winning Agritech Expo Agritech Expo Zambia recently won two coveted awards at the ROAR Organiser and Exhibitor Awards in Johannesburg which honour excellence in the exhibition and events industry on the continent. The awards were organised jointly by the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO) and the Exhibition & Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA). Agritech Expo won for Best Trade & Consumer Exhibition +12000 sqm and for Distinction in Social Responsibility. “The Agritech Expo Zambia team is honoured and thankful for the recognition of what they have achieved over the last three years with our partners, the Zambia National Farmers Union,” says Emmanuelle Nicholls, Natural Resources Group Director, Spintelligent, organisers of the event, “building the event from scratch in a field in the middle of Zambia.” She adds, “Their commitment, blood, sweat and tears bear testimony to the uniqueness of this event.” The expo also has an outreach programme at the local Golden Valley Basic School, where, with the assistance of numerous event sponsors, it is assisting the school with much needed infrastructure upgrades, equipment supplies and management of the school’s farm. As in previous years, Agritech Expo enjoys extensive support from the agri industry with well-known suppliers AFGRI and John Deere returning as platinum sponsors again. Confirmed gold sponsors are Action Auto, Agricon, BHBW, Case Construction, Case Agriculture, Gourock and SARO. Agritech Expo Zambia is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. The event is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union. Other well-known events by Spintelligent include Agritech Expo Tanzania and Agribusiness Congress East Africa. Agritech Expo Zambia 2017: Dates: 27-29 April 2017 Location: Gart Research Centre, Chisamba, Zambia Chisamba, Zambia, February 19, 2017 --( PR.com )-- “As Zambian agriculture continues moving with changing times and environment, so does our Agritech Expo. Farmers should brace themselves for yet another awe-inspiring agribusiness and agricultural technology and B2B platform,” says an excited Mr Coillard Hamusimbi, the Head of Services and Agribusiness for the Zambia National Farmers Union, the owners of the upcoming Agritech Expo Zambia. The award-winning event returns to Chisamba for the fourth time this year from 27-29 April.Mr Hamusimbi adds: “Agritech Expo has blossomed into an umbilical cord bonding together national, regional and global farmers, agribusinesses, policy makers and development agents as they search for solutions to ever increasing pestilences, adverse weather effects, wasting soil health/fertility, dwindling productivity, inadequate irrigation and mechanization, and increasing stock diseases. Without a doubt Agritech Expo 2017 has been designed to specifically give farmers the innovations and business connections they need to move their farming and agribusiness to the next level.”More international pavilionsLast year the event drew a record-breaking attendance of 17 605 visitors. This year even more small-scale, emerging and commercial farmers are expected to descend on the GART research farm in the heart of Zambia’s agri-hub, where the latest farming products and services will be showcased. The three-day expo will furthermore feature an even greater international presence with international pavilions from Germany, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK and France already confirmed.Agritech Expo will also offer free workshops again, live machinery and product demonstrations and crop trials. New for this year will be specialised agri-sector industry zones and mowing and baling demonstrations.Multi-award winning Agritech ExpoAgritech Expo Zambia recently won two coveted awards at the ROAR Organiser and Exhibitor Awards in Johannesburg which honour excellence in the exhibition and events industry on the continent. The awards were organised jointly by the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO) and the Exhibition & Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA). Agritech Expo won for Best Trade & Consumer Exhibition +12000 sqm and for Distinction in Social Responsibility.“The Agritech Expo Zambia team is honoured and thankful for the recognition of what they have achieved over the last three years with our partners, the Zambia National Farmers Union,” says Emmanuelle Nicholls, Natural Resources Group Director, Spintelligent, organisers of the event, “building the event from scratch in a field in the middle of Zambia.” She adds, “Their commitment, blood, sweat and tears bear testimony to the uniqueness of this event.”The expo also has an outreach programme at the local Golden Valley Basic School, where, with the assistance of numerous event sponsors, it is assisting the school with much needed infrastructure upgrades, equipment supplies and management of the school’s farm.As in previous years, Agritech Expo enjoys extensive support from the agri industry with well-known suppliers AFGRI and John Deere returning as platinum sponsors again. Confirmed gold sponsors are Action Auto, Agricon, BHBW, Case Construction, Case Agriculture, Gourock and SARO.Agritech Expo Zambia is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. The event is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union. Other well-known events by Spintelligent include Agritech Expo Tanzania and Agribusiness Congress East Africa.Agritech Expo Zambia 2017:Dates: 27-29 April 2017Location: Gart Research Centre, Chisamba, Zambia

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