Digest – News: Farm Bill deals, Utah milk labeling, dairy-cow Crohn’s connection
If you only read one Farm Bill status report…: It should this one by Caroline Lochhead. The lede says it all: "As Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton toured the land denouncing special interests, giveaways to the rich, home foreclosures, job losses and a middle-class squeeze, back in Washington House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats met behind closed doors on a plan to raise taxes and cut food stamp money to protect billions of dollars for agribusiness, a sector of the economy that is booming." (San Francisco Chronicle) Hungry for more? Read Tom Philpott's take on the mess. (Grist)
Your check is in the mail, guys: Utah joins Missouri as the latest state legislatures to fall for Monsanto's greenback-fueled astroturf campaign to ban "hormone free" milk labels. (Salt Lake Tribune)
India to cancel small farmers' debt: In a pre-election effort to control inflation (and stem the tide of farmer suicides) the Indian government has announced it will spend 600 billion rupees (US$15 billion) paying off the debts of farmers owning less than 2 hectares of land. (BBC; hat tip to Jenny Huston/Comfood list-serv) But now there's a legal challenge.
Revenge of the dairy cows: Downergate has has focused new light on the use in beef production of spent dairy cows. Turns out they carry some common maladies, including mastitis, foot rot, and Johne’s (pronounced yo-neez) disease. Interestingly, health and animal scientists are debating whether the traits of Johne’s are responsible for Crohn’s disease in humans. (Chicago Tribune)
Not so secret stash?: The ultra-secure, Fort Knox-ian Global Seed Vault received its first millions of seeds this week. The photos beg for a James Bond film. (New York Times)
Quesa-illin': A late 2006 case of food poisoning from lettuce served at Taco John's in the Midwest has finally been solved. After just over a year, investigators have concluded that nearby dairies were the source of the E. coli. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Makes you wonder about homeland security: California passed a new law last year that was meant to improve communication between industry and public health officials after recalls, but it doesn't seem to be working very well — officials have no idea how long it will take for trace the beef from the Hallmark recall. One problem is that the meat was resold to brokers, wholesalers, and other distributors. Another is a lack of staff to track down the meat. Perhaps producers should start paying into a recall fund, with the higher fees for larger producers. (Sacramento Bee)
Menu minders: San Francisco is expected to pass an ordinance requiring chain restaurants to post nutritional information. (San Francisco Chronicle)
What will they figure out next?: Farmed fish fed cheap food may be less nutritious for humans (Science Daily)
Quick! Call Dick Cheney!: The USDA abruptly ordered Government Accountability Office auditors to leave its headquarters and told its employees not to cooperate with them. GAO is scrutinizing the USDA's office of civil rights and its handling of discrimination complaints. (Associated Press; thanks CookieJill)
Make my spray: Berkeley may sue California agriculture department over its plans to start aerial spraying for an invasive moth. (Oakland Tribune)
Good luck with that: With green claims appearing on seemingly every product in the store, the Federal Trade Commission is holding a workshop on April 30 in Washington, D.C. to discuss updates to regulations governing advertising. (Sustainable is Good)
Farmers upbeat about genetically modified crops (Economic and Social Research Council press release)
Soaring food prices putting U.S. emergency aid in peril (Washington Post)
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