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Ag News Roundup: Food Safety, Dr. Oz, Obesity & More

AgNewsRoundupMilken Institute: Weighing Down America: The Health and Economic Impact of Obesity: “Obesity and excess weight is an expanding health problem for more than 60 percent of Americans, and a new study by Hugh Waters and Ross DeVol finds that it’s a tremendous drain on the U.S. economy as well. The total cost to treat health conditions related to obesity—ranging from diabetes to Alzheimer’s—plus obesity’s drag on attendance and productivity at work exceeds $1.4 trillion annually. That’s more than twice what the U.S. spends on national defense. The total, from 2014 data, was equivalent to 8.2 percent of U.S. GDP, and it exceeds the economies of all but three U.S. states and all but 10 countries. The report also highlights how this public health challenge can best be addressed.”

Food Safety News:Bull calves likely source of drug resistant Salmonella outbreak: “Twenty-one people infected with an outbreak strain of multi-drug resistant Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from eight states, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Monday. The illnesses may be associated with dairy bull calves or other cattle.

CDC is investigating along with Wisconsin health, agriculture, and laboratory agencies, several other states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).”

US News & World ReportMoo! Cows Targeted in Global Warming Battle California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm. “California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm. The nation’s leading agricultural state is now targeting greenhouse gases produced by dairy cows and other livestock.

Despite strong opposition from farmers, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in September that for the first time regulates heat-trapping gases from livestock operations and landfills.

Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure.

“If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming,” said Ryan McCarthy, a science advisor for the California Air Resources Board, which is drawing up rules to implement the new law.”

ReutersTrade group sues TV’s Dr. Oz over his claims of fake olive oil: “A trade group representing olive oil importers sued television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz on Tuesday under a largely untested Georgia food libel law, objecting to his claims that much of the imported extra virgin olive oil sold in U.S. supermarkets may be fake.

The New Jersey-based North American Olive Oil Association filed the lawsuit in state court in Fulton County, Georgia, seeking an unspecified amount in damages and payment for the group’s legal fees. Some members of the trade group conduct business in Georgia.

The suit said Oz, host of a popular daytime TV talk show devoted to health issues, violated the Georgia law when he stated that 80 percent of the extra virgin oil sold in supermarkets “isn’t the real deal” and “may even be fake,” claims the organization called untrue.

Georgia is among 13 U.S. states that have food libel laws that generally have a lower legal burden than traditional libel laws. These laws make it easier for food companies to sue people who make disparaging remarks about their products.”

NPRFarmers Are Courting Trump, But They Don’t Speak For All Of Rural America: “The day after Donald Trump swept to victory, the head of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Zippy Duvall, released a videotaped statement aimed at the President-elect and other political leaders in Washington.

“Rural America turned out and made their voice heard in this election,” he said. “Now it’s time for our elected leaders to support rural America.”

In his statement, Duvall referred interchangeably to “rural Americans” and “America’s farmers and ranchers,” suggesting that those are the same people.

In reality, they’re not. Farmers make up a small minority in the rural population, with different priorities and agendas than their non-farming neighbors.

I explored these differences recently during a trip across parts of northern Indiana. It’s a landscape dominated by wide fields of corn and soybeans and giant grain silos.

In Kosciusko County, near the tiny town of Leesburg, I met Kip Tom, a farmer who joined the Trump campaign as an adviser on agricultural policy. Tom’s farm is one of the biggest in the region. It covers almost 20,000 acres, scattered across seven counties. In those counties, about 70 percent of the votes went for Donald Trump. And Kip Tom thinks Trump will indeed listen to what farmers have to say. “I see Trump being good for agriculture, absolutely,” he told me.”

BloombergFor U.S. Agriculture, Trump Questions Overshadow Castro Death: “For U.S. agriculture companies seeking to help boost Cuba’s production of sugar-cane and other crops, questions over President-elect Donald Trump’s policies loom larger than any fallout from the death of its former leader Fidel Castro.

The demise of the communist ex-president last week at the age of 90 came two years into a gradual thawing of diplomatic and economic ties between the U.S. and Cuba. Trump said Monday in a post on Twitter he will end that rapprochement if Cuba is “unwilling to make a better deal” for citizens in both countries.

With relations easing between the U.S. and the Caribbean country that’s just 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Florida, there’s been speculation that Cuban farmers could mean fiercer competition for American growers. Cuba was once a major supplier of sugar, fruits and vegetables, and with land untouched by modern chemicals or genetically modified seed, it’s also drawn the attention of organic food producers.

Trump’s team has yet to clarify its position. But while the new administration may not reverse any of the steps taken on Cuba by President Barack Obama, it will probably increase the enforcement of existing regulations, such as border protection and the monitoring of travel, said John Kavulich, president of the New York-based U.S. Trade & Economic Council.”



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