Tag Archives: agriculture

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Tofurky Co., which produces plant-based alternatives to meat, filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday claiming an Arkansas law that bans the use of “meat” in the labeling of its products violates free speech rights.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Oregon-based company against Arkansas’ Bureau of Standards. Tofurky produces tofu, quinoa and other plant-based “sausages,” deli slices and burgers.

The stated goal of the Arkansas law set to take effect Wednesday is to “require truth in labeling.” It would fine companies up to $1,000 for each violation. It also bans companies from labeling other vegetables, such as cauliflower, as “rice.” Arkansas is the nation’s top rice producer.

Broadly written, the law specifically prohibits labeling a product as meat, rice, beef, or pork, as well as any term “that has been used or defined historically in reference to a specific agricultural product.”

Tofurky CEO Jaime Athos said that consumers have been “successfully navigating” plant-based products for years, and that traditional meat producers are feeling threatened by the recent rise in demand for such foods.

State Representative David Hillman, a rice farmer and the law’s author, said companies labeling products as cauliflower rice or veggie burgers are trying to confuse consumers.

Producers “realize the only way they can get people to try their product is to confuse them,” Hillman said. Athos called this idea “absurd.”

Hillman, a Republican, said he’s tried cauliflower rice.

“I like it. There’s nothing wrong with it. Except that it’s not rice,” he said.

The Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that promotes plant-based alternatives to meat, joined the ACLU and the Animal Legal Defense Fund in filing the suit on Tofurky’s behalf. Jessica Almy, the group’s policy director, said the law’s true aim is to protect meat producers. The First Amendment protects the companies’ use of terms like “plant-based meat” or “veggie burger,” because it’s truthful labeling, Almy said.

Such companies want consumers to know the products are made from plants, she said.

“Producers have every incentive to make that meaning clear to consumers, and there’s absolutely no evidence of consumer confusion,” she said. “So while these laws are being put forward as ‘truth in labeling’ laws they’re really about censorship.”

Meat producers nationwide have been lobbying to protect labeling from plant-based and meat grown by culturing animal cells, arguing for terms like “synthetic meat,” ”meat byproduct” or even “fake meat.”

In addition to Arkansas, The Good Food Institute has said eleven other states — Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming — have enacted what it calls “meat label censorship” laws.

In the Arkansas lawsuit, Tofurky argues that in order to comply with the law, the company must now design specific, Arkansas-compliant packaging, change the packaging nationwide, stop selling in the state or knowingly break the law.

“Each of these options puts Tofurky Co. at a significant commercial disadvantage,” the company writes.

The state’s attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, is “reviewing” the lawsuit to determine her next steps, a spokeswoman said.

Tofurky filed a lawsuit in 2018 against a Missouri law, which makes it a misdemeanor to label plant-based products as meat. This month, Illinois-based Upton’s Naturals Co. challenged a Mississippi law.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Some Nebraska and Iowa businesses are still struggling to recover from flooding that damaged their properties or otherwise kept customers away from their doors.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated that in Nebraska alone, more than 1,000 businesses were affected by March’s severe weather.

Flooding continued into May and June in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, especially along the Missouri River. Central Nebraska got hit by flash floods earlier this month this month, hurting Kearney’s hotel and tourism industry.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that businesses and boosters have been taking extra steps to send a message: Our towns and businesses haven’t been wiped out, and we need customers now more than ever.

In northeast Nebraska’s Knox County, for example, officials have been handing out maps so visitors can navigate flood-damaged roads and bridge reconstruction. The community of Verdigre held an event called “Good As New” at the end of May.

A Harley-Davidson dealership in Iowa’s Pacific Junction threw a party at the end of June to celebrate the dealership’s return to its regular location after cleaning up and repairing soggy drywall. Loess Hills Harley-Davidson moved employees and motorcycles to a temporary building in nearby Glenwood for months after taking on 18 inches of water.

“We can either sit back and say we’re victims and we’re going to play the pity party or say, hey, were going to take the opportunity to make something good out of something bad,” general manager Dan Roland said.

Agricultural company Cargill has helped employees pay for hotels in Nebraska City to ensure operations at its plant there weren’t interrupted too much by road closures and detours. Interstate 29 across the river in Iowa was closed by flooding, and the Iowa Highway 2 link to the bridge over the Missouri to Nebraska City was underwater for weeks as well.

Developers are speeding plans to build more housing on the Nebraska City side of the Missouri, in case Iowa residents hurt by flooding decide not to rebuild, said Dan Mauk, executive director of the Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corp.

On July 19, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the allocation of additional funding under USDA’s Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), a key component of the Trump administration’s trade mitigation package designed to address the adverse effects of retaliatory measures impacting exports of U.S. agricultural products.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) is one of 48 organizations that will receive additional ATP funding through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom issued the following statement:

While there has been progress in recent weeks in removing retaliatory measures imposed on U.S. red meat exports, the obstacles these products face in international markets are still significant. USMEF greatly appreciates the Trump administration’s authorization of additional ATP funding – an investment that will help USMEF and other organizations defend our existing market share and develop new markets for U.S. agricultural exports.

Governor Laura Kelly appointed Earl Lewis as Director of the Kansas Water Office.

“Earl has proven to be a skilled and knowledgeable leader when it comes to water conservation and other important issues related to this precious resource,” Kelly said.

Lewis joined the Kansas Water Office in 1999 working first with reservoir operations and analysis before serving as the agency’s chief technical staff and overseeing agency operations. Before joining the Kansas Water Office, he worked for seven years in the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Water Resources working on water use, water right compliance, water conservation, and interstate litigation.

“I’m honored the Governor has selected me for this position and am excited to join the Kelly administration,” Lewis said. “I look forward to working with the Governor and stakeholders across Kansas to improve our water resources.”

Lewis is a lifelong Kansan and was raised on a farm in Osage County. His family raised row crops, cattle, and ran a custom hay business. He attended both Emporia State University and the University of Kansas, graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1992.  He also holds a professional engineering license in Kansas.

Lewis’ appointment is pending confirmation by the Senate.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — More bankers surveyed in parts of 10 Plains and Western states say President Donald Trump’s trade skirmishes are having a negative effect on their local economies.

The Rural Mainstreet survey released Thursday shows the survey’s overall index falling from 53.2 in June to 50.2 this month. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says higher agriculture commodity prices and rebuilding from recent floods helped prop up the region’s economy last month. But he added that nearly 9 of 10 bankers surveyed noted the tariffs’ negative impact on the economy. That’s up from 8 in 10 who said the same thing in September.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

This is day 14 of the Kansas Wheat Harvest Reports, brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association.

About two weeks behind schedule, wheat harvest in Kansas is progressing quickly with high temperatures this week about 100°F in northwest Kansas.

According to Larry Glenn, of Frontier AG Inc. in Quinter in Gove County, harvest is 85-90% complete in the area. Glenn reported that yields are above average in the western third of the state. Harvest was delayed and started out slow, but then moved very quickly.

Glenn said they started paying protein premiums last year and added protein testers in all locations. Protein is averaging about 10.5%.

Storage is an issue in the area, with the bunker in Quinter full. They are getting some rail cars in to start moving grain as the elevator space gets tight.

“We’ve been blessed with rains in this area,” Glenn said, adding that the rains didn’t come too much at a time like other areas. While there was some hail, it was spotty and didn’t cause widespread damage.

“We are well above last year on bushels, which was a good year,” Glenn said.

Larry Snow of Heartland Mills in Marienthal in Wichita County, reports that yields are way above average, but proteins are way below, estimating high 10s for most of the organic wheat they buy. Fortunately for the mill, they have been able to source higher protein wheat from other areas in the high plains.

“There will be a lot of 8s and 9s that would take too much to blend up, so it will end up as organic feed wheat,” said Snow. He said that harvest has been about two weeks late and is nearing completion. He added, “Test weights are really good.”

Ken Wood, who farms near Chapman in Dickinson County, wrapped up wheat harvest this last Saturday. Wood said they had good yields that were on higher ground in the fields and some lower yields where water stood for a longer period of time. Wood says they don’t test proteins, but they had solid test weight numbers for the year.

“I was pleased with the outcome that we had this year. It turned out better than we expected,” Wood said.

The 2019 Harvest Report is brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. To follow along with harvest updates on Twitter, use #wheatharvest19.

A new online tool can help farmers and ranchers find information on U.S. Department of Agriculture farm loans that may best fit their operations. USDA has launched the new Farm Loan Discovery Tool as the newest feature on farmers.gov, the Department’s self-service website for farmers.

USDA undersecretary Bill Northey says the tool can “help farmers find information on USDA farm loans within minutes.” The changes are part of customer service improvements effort by USDA, and was identified through suggestions from farmers. USDA’s Farm Service Agency offers a variety of loan options to help farmers finance their operations, from buying land to financing the purchase of equipment.

Compared to this time last year, FSA has seen an 18 percent increase in the amount it has obligated for direct farm ownership loans. Through the 2018 Farm Bill, FSA has increased the limits for several loan products. USDA conducted field research in eight states, gathering input from farmers and FSA farm loan staff to better understand their needs and challenges.

ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Milk Producers Federation today marked the one-year anniversary of then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s famous observation that “almonds don’t lactate” by reminding the agency it still has not resolved the issue and that citizens who heeded its call for comments with thoughtful responses deserve answers.

“An almond doesn’t lactate, I must confess,” Gottlieb said last July 17, admitting that FDA has been lax in enforcing its own rules on the use of dairy terms on products containing no dairy ingredients. “Have we been enforcing our standard of identity? The answer is, probably not,” he said, while pledging agency action in “something close to a year.”

“FDA’s longstanding inaction on enforcing its own standards of identity is perpetuating the marketing of products using milk and dairy terms when those products don’t match the nutritional content of the dairy products they are imitating,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Dairy farmers have never called for bans on fake-food competitors, nor have they called for market censorship. They do want the FDA to enforce its own rules defining what a product is and what it isn’t, in keeping with similar standards enforced in other countries around the globe. The clock is still ticking. We are not going away.”

The FDA in January concluded a comment period exploring the issue of consumer confusion regarding the nutritional content of dairy products versus plant-based imitators, with organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics offering evidence of nutritional deficiencies caused by confusion over the contents of plant-based versus dairy beverages while dairy’s detractors submitted thousands of off-topic creeds. After carefully considering comments and noting consumer survey data that clearly demonstrates confusion over nutrition, NMPF in Februaryreleased its own road map offering solutions to how public health, product integrity and free speech could be protected through updated regulations. That Citizen Petition is currently open for comment.

NMPF also supports the DAIRY PRIDE Act, a potential legislative prod for FDA action.

Delegates attending the National Corn Growers Association’s Corn Congress in Washington this morning elected four farmers to serve on the organization’s Corn Board.  Taking office on Oct. 1, the start of NCGA’s 2020 fiscal year, are new board members Mike Lefever of Colorado and Dennis McNinch of Kansas. Current board members Chris Edgington of Iowa and Tom Haag of Minnesota were re-elected. All were elected to three-year terms

 

“During these challenging times, it serves as testament to the importance of NCGA’s work that so many talented, well-qualified candidates stepped forward,” said NCGA Nominating Committee Chairman Kevin Skunes. “These remarkable candidates already have impressive histories of service to American agriculture. I look forward to seeing the work they will do for the benefit of corn farmers across the country in coming years as they share their valuable perspectives and insights with the Corn Board.”

(Video) Corn Congress Gets Underway. Comments from NCGA First Vice President Kevin Ross

The NCGA Corn Board represents the organization on all matters while directing both policy and supervising day-to-day operations. Board members represent the federation of state organizations, supervise the affairs and activities of NCGA in partnership with the chief executive officer and implement NCGA policy established by the Corn Congress. Members also act as spokesmen for the NCGA and enhance the organization’s public standing on all organizational and policy issues.

 

(Video) Interview with Jeff Wilkerson, Director of Market Development with the Nebraska Corn Board, about his role and ethanol export opportunities

 

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Soybean Commission (KSC) will conduct its Annual Meeting Monday, Aug. 26, at the Kansas Soybean Building in Topeka. It is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.

During that meeting, the commissioners will elect officers for the coming year and approve their request for proposals (RFP) for fiscal year 2021 research and education projects.

Other discussion topics will be current and future research projects, market-development activities, educational programs, and administrative items. To obtain a complete agenda or to suggest additional matters for deliberation, contact KSC Administrator Kenlon Johannes at johannes@kansassoybeans.org or call the Kansas Soybean office at 877-KS-SOYBEAN (877-577-6923).