The proposed FY 2015 federal budget will assist beginning, small and disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as well as fund infrastructure projects throughout rural America, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on March 4. “The budget focuses on creating jobs and building a foundation for future economic growth, particularly in rural America, where 85 percent of our nation’s persistent poverty counties are located,” he explained. Also relevant to agriculture, the budget targets investments in bio-based product manufacturing, local and regional food systems, specialty crops and organic production. Vilsack applauded the 2015 budget proposal’s overarching goal to “create jobs and drive long-term, sustainable economic growth in rural America, while equipping our farmers and ranchers with the tools they need to survive and thrive.”
During its annual membership and board of directors meeting in Washington, D.C., March 19-21, the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) voted to join two food industry coalitions: the U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance and Coalition for Safe Affordable Food. The U.S. Biotech Crops Alliance, established in 2012, includes biotechnology providers; seed, grain and oilseed producers; grain handlers, feed manufacturers, grain processors and millers; exporters and other end-users. Its mission is to improve and establish the introduction, stewardship, domestic and international regulatory policy and distribution of biotech commodities and products that include them. The Coalition for Safe Affordable Food was created to promote federal legislation that establishes standards for the voluntary labeling of food and beverage products made with biotech or non-biotech ingredients. It would also require U.S. Food and Drug Administration consultations on the safety of all biotech traits. Finally, it would preempt any state-based biotech labeling laws in order to prevent a patchwork of inconsistent state laws that would be confusing and unworkable.