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Sustainability should be off the table in federal dietary guidelines

AFBF — While farmers and ranchers strongly support work on agricultural sustainability, there is no scientific basis for incorporating sustainability concepts in federal dietary guidelines, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

In comments regarding the scientific report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Farm Bureau noted that the government’s dietary guidelines strongly influence policy development, program administration and delivery and the educational message directed toward American consumers with respect to food and nutrition issues, which makes it imperative that the Health and Human Services Department and USDA base the guidelines on well-established, widely accepted scientific evidence.

“Unfortunately, the scientific report of the advisory committee goes well beyond its designated scope of work, delivering a report that strongly suggests the committee would base dietary guidelines on more than health and nutrition considerations. The report includes an extensive section on the topic of sustainability, citing a need ‘to have alignment and consistency in dietary guidance that promotes both health and sustainability,’” Farm Bureau said, quoting directly from the report.

Farmers to Congress: Fast Track American Agriculture with Trade Promotion Authority

WASHINGTON, D.C., – California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger addressed the urgent need for trade promotion authority at a press conference on Capitol Hill today. The American Farm Bureau Federation and state Farm Bureaus across the nation are calling on Congress to secure agriculture’s stake in the international marketplace by passing the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2015.

America’s farmers and ranchers exported more than $152 billion in farm goods last year alone. But that growth is at serious risk due to non-scientific standards and high tariffs around the world.

“For America’s farmers and ranchers to see continued export growth, we must pen deals that knock down trade barriers,” Wenger said.

Farm Bureau Applauds Senate Move to Stop EPA Overreach

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2015 – The American Farm Bureau Federation praised the bipartisan leadership of Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) today as they introduced the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which would put in check the Environmental Protection Agency and its attempt to broaden the definition of “waters of the U.S.”

“Tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and land owners have spoken out, but EPA has yet to fully acknowledge the proposal’s potential impact on everyday farming activities,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said.

Answering Tough Ag Questions

Through social media, America’s farmers and ranchers explain why they do certain things when raising animals for food. This communication is not just one way. Facebook posts from the farm, tweets from the tractor seat and blogs from the “back 40” allow members of the non-farming public to ask questions on everything from how today’s food is grown to how it is processed and eventually brought to market.

Although a growing number of farmers use social media to interact with consumers, trepidation about answering tough ag-related questions causes some to shy away from using this valuable communications tool. But it doesn’t have to be that way, according to a couple of social media experts who teamed up recently to share time-tested tips with Farm Bureau members.

“Be authentic in telling your story,” says Lyndsey Murphy, digital media specialist at the American Farm Bureau. “Speak for you and your farm, not the whole of agriculture,” she advises. If you’re not sure how to answer a question, it’s perfectly OK to say you don’t know but will find the answer.

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act Sets National Standards for Biotech Labeling

Within the food industry, there is no issue as challenging, divisive and confusing as food labeling. The issue has been further clouded by recent attempts to pass state and local laws calling for labels on foods with ingredients developed through biotechnology, regardless of the actual impact on the quality, safety or nature of the food product.

Farm Bureau supports the bipartisan Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which reinforces both the standards and authority of the Food and Drug Administration in regulating GMO labeling. The bill (H.R. 1599) would set forth national standards relating to labeling foods derived from biotechnology, and would preempt any state or local labeling requirements. H.R.1599 also charges the Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service with creating protocol and labeling standards, similar to those used for organics, to identify and market products as non-GMO.

The FDA’s food labeling guidelines are designed to provide information to help consumers make healthy and safe food choices. This proposed bill would reinforce the existing requirements applied to labeling food products derived from plants developed through biotechnology. FDA generally regulates the final product, not the process, of plant genetic modification. Contrary to activist claims, FDA already requires labels for any food product that has been materially changed, regardless of whether it comes from conventional or biotech plant breeding. For example, foods must be labeled if ingredients contain proteins from the most common allergens, or when there are genetic differences in nutritional content.

Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C., – “State-led mandatory food labeling initiatives mislead consumers about the safety of GM foods, even though there is no credible evidence linking a food-safety or health risk to the consumption of GM foods. These state labeling initiatives mask the benefits of biotechnology in food production and can lead to decreased food supplies. Creating a national labeling standard will give consumers the information they need while avoiding the unnecessary confusion and added cost of a patchwork of state laws.

Estate Taxes Can Kill Family Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18, 2015 – Farm Bureau member Brandon Whitt today urged Congress to repeal the estate tax to free up farmers and ranchers to build stronger businesses and benefit their local communities. Whitt, who farms in Tennessee, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, where he outlined the harmful impact the estate tax has on family-owned businesses.

“Agriculture looks different on farms from state to state but we all face the same reality that an uncertain tomorrow can bring,” Whitt said. While facing unpredictable weather and fluctuating markets, farmers and ranchers make decisions to expand their businesses and remain competitive. “Why should uncertainties over estate taxes be added to these others? Our job is hard enough as it is.”

Farm Bureau Supports New Twin Falls Visitor Center

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and the Twin Falls County Farm Bureau recently donated $20,000 to be used in an agricultural history display at a new visitor center.

The new center will be located on the canyon rim overlooking the Snake River in Twin Falls County. Construction is currently wrapping up on the modern, functional facility and when opened to the public it will serve as a regional welcome center, offering information and inspiration to thousands of visitors to Southern Idaho.

A grand opening is slated for April 30.

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