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Archive for the ‘food and agriculture’ Category

Safeguarding biological diversity: EU policy and international agreements

April 24, 2015 Comments off

Safeguarding biological diversity: EU policy and international agreements
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Biodiversity, the diversity of life on earth at all levels, is declining, mainly as a result of human-induced pressures such as over-exploitation of natural resources, loss of viable habitats, pollution, climate change or invasive alien species. EU biodiversity policy is based on the Birds and Habitats Directives, which served as the basis for the development of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites now covering 1 million square kilometres on land (or 18% of EU land area) and 250 000 square kilometres of marine sites. The policy is driven by the biodiversity strategy setting ambitious aims for 2020 (halting the loss of biodiversity) and 2050 (protecting and valuing biodiversity and ecosystem services), with the addition of a strategy on green infrastructure. The European Commission estimates that the Natura 2000 network delivers benefits worth between €200 and €300 billion per year, against management costs estimated at €5.8 billion per year. The LIFE Programme co-finances some measures related to biodiversity, especially as regards Natura 2000. Funding aimed at protecting biodiversity is also available under the agricultural, regional, fisheries, and research policies. The European Parliament has long been supportive of EU biodiversity protection policy. Developments in EU biodiversity policy include a process of ‘biodiversity proofing’ of the EU budget, improved monitoring, definition of priorities for the restoration of degraded ecosystems, ‘biodiversity offsetting’ of unavoidable residual impacts, and a ‘fitness check’ of EU nature legislation.

CRS — Major Agricultural Trade Issues in the 114th Congress (February 10, 2015)

April 22, 2015 Comments off

Major Agricultural Trade Issues in the 114th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Trade, including agricultural trade, is clearly on the national agenda in the 114th Congress. The United States is engaged in negotiating two large regional trade agreements—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) among 12 Pacific-facing nations, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with the European Union. These agreements hold the potential to expand foreign markets for U.S. farmers and food processors by eliminating, or substantially lowering, tariffs and restrictive quotas around certain commodities, such as rice and pork in Japan, or by dismantling supply management programs that protect poultry, eggs, and dairy in Canada. Also on the negotiating agenda are non-tariff trade barriers, including certain sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures that governments employ to safeguard human, animal, and plant health, but which may also be used to deter imports. Geographic Indications (GI) that restrict the use of common names for certain agricultural products and can thereby impede trade in U.S. farm products are on the agenda of U.S. negotiators in both TPP and T-TIP. At the global level, further liberalization of agricultural trade is an objective of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO), but those talks have effectively stalled.

CRS — Domestic Food Assistance: Summary of Programs (February 4, 2015)

April 22, 2015 Comments off

Domestic Food Assistance: Summary of Programs (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Over the years, Congress has authorized and the federal government has administered programs to provide food to the hungry and to other vulnerable populations in this country. This report offers a brief overview of hunger and food insecurity along with the related network of programs. The report is structured around three main tables that contain information about each program, including its authorizing language, administering agency, eligibility, services provided, participation data, and funding information. In between the tables, contextual information about this policy area and program administration is provided that may assist Congress in tracking developments in domestic food assistance. This report provides a bird’s-eye view of domestic food assistance and can be used both to learn about the details of individual programs as well as compare and contrast features across programs.

CRS — Farm Credit System (February 3, 2015)

April 22, 2015 Comments off

Farm Credit System (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The Farm Credit System (FCS) was created to provide a permanent, reliable source of credit to U.S. agriculture. When Congress enacted the Federal Farm Loan Act in 1916, credit often was unavailable or unaffordable in rural areas. Many lenders avoided farm loans due to the inherent risks of agriculture. Statutory authority is in the Farm Credit Act of 1971, as amended (12 U.S.C. 2001 et seq.). Comprehensive changes were enacted in the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987.

The FCS is authorized by statute to lend to farmers, ranchers, and harvesters of aquatic products. Loans may also be made to finance the processing and marketing activities of these borrowers, for home ownership in rural areas, certain farm- or ranch-related businesses, and agricultural, aquatic, and public utility cooperatives.

FCS is a commercial for-profit lender and is not a lender of last resort. Borrowers must meet creditworthiness requirements similar to those of a commercial lender. FCS has “young, beginning, and small” (YBS) farmer lending programs, but without targets or mandates.

The FCS holds nearly 41% of the farm sector’s total debt (slightly higher than the nearly 40% share of commercial banks) and has the largest share of farm real estate loans (46%).

Where Do Americans Usually Shop for Food and How Do They Travel To Get There? Initial Findings from the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey

April 21, 2015 Comments off

Where Do Americans Usually Shop for Food and How Do They Travel To Get There? Initial Findings from the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This report compares food shopping patterns of (1) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households to nonparticipant households, (2) participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) to nonparticipants, and (3) food-insecure to food-secure households.

Antibiotics on the Farm: Agriculture’s Role in Drug Resistance

April 10, 2015 Comments off

Antibiotics on the Farm: Agriculture’s Role in Drug Resistance
Source: Center for Global Development

The discovery of antibiotics in the early 20th Century was a major breakthrough for human health, markedly reducing the infection threat from minor cuts, surgery, and cancer treatment. The more antibiotics are used, however, the faster bacteria adapt and become resistant to them. Antibiotic resistance is now spreading so rapidly, and the development of new antibiotics has slowed so much, that there is talk of a nightmarish post-antibiotic future where even minor injuries could once again become deadly if infection sets in. The threat is growing worldwide, but it is a particular problem in poor countries where respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases remain leading causes of death, especially among children.

While the misuse of antibiotics in human health is a key factor in accelerating the emergence of drug resistance, farmers also use large amounts of antibiotics in livestock. Moreover, many administer these drugs in feed and water at low doses for extended periods to promote growth and prevent disease in their animals. Those are ideal conditions allowing drug resistant bacteria to thrive. Many industrialized countries are taking steps to address this risk, but there are often loopholes. And livestock production is growing rapidly in developing countries where antibiotic use is lightly regulated. Policymakers desperately need more information about antibiotic use and resistance in humans and animals so they can assess the risks of this behavior for human health, and determine how aggressive they need to be with policies to change it. At the same time, there is growing evidence that the economic benefit to livestock producers of using antibiotics may be less than thought. Given what is at stake in keeping antibiotics effective, it is prudent to couple improved data collection with steps to reduce the use of medically important antibiotics in farm animals.

Critical Role of Animal Science Research in Food Security and Sustainability (2015)

April 9, 2015 Comments off

Critical Role of Animal Science Research in Food Security and Sustainability (2015)
Source: National Research Council

By 2050 the world’s population is projected to grow by one-third, reaching between 9 and 10 billion. With globalization and expected growth in global affluence, a substantial increase in per capita meat, dairy, and fish consumption is also anticipated. The demand for calories from animal products will nearly double, highlighting the critical importance of the world’s animal agriculture system. Meeting the nutritional needs of this population and its demand for animal products will require a significant investment of resources as well as policy changes that are supportive of agricultural production. Ensuring sustainable agricultural growth will be essential to addressing this global challenge to food security.

Critical Role of Animal Science Research in Food Security and Sustainability identifies areas of research and development, technology, and resource needs for research in the field of animal agriculture, both nationally and internationally. This report assesses the global demand for products of animal origin in 2050 within the framework of ensuring global food security; evaluates how climate change and natural resource constraints may impact the ability to meet future global demand for animal products in sustainable production systems; and identifies factors that may impact the ability of the United States to meet demand for animal products, including the need for trained human capital, product safety and quality, and effective communication and adoption of new knowledge, information, and technologies.

The agricultural sector worldwide faces numerous daunting challenges that will require innovations, new technologies, and new ways of approaching agriculture if the food, feed, and fiber needs of the global population are to be met. The recommendations of Critical Role of Animal Science Research in Food Security and Sustainability will inform a new roadmap for animal science research to meet the challenges of sustainable animal production in the 21st century.

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