On July 29, President Obama signed into law the Biotech Labeling Solutions Act (S. 764) - just two weeks after the bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and three weeks in the Senate. The legislation nullifies Vermont's mandatory biotech labeling law and preempts any other state-led efforts. The bill gives food manufacturers three options for the mandatory disclosure of genetically modified ingredients: on-package text, an on-package symbol or an on-package digital code that directs users online for more information. Under the online option, companies are not required to include the term "GMO" anywhere on the physical food label. All that is required is a QR code accompanied by text that reads "Scan here for more information." The President's signature now directs the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to establish this national biotech food labeling standard.
Risk Management Agency Administrator Brandon Willis hosted a discussion about crop insurance on July 21, with the U.S. Canola Association (USCA) and other farm and lending groups in attendance. Canola's 2015 insured liability totaled $322 million - much lower than the top crops of corn ($40.3 billion), soybeans ($24.3 billion) and wheat ($8.4 billion). Cotton, almonds, rice, nursery, grapes, orange trees, and apples round out the top ten. Total 2015 liabilities were $102.4 billion. Organic and specialty crop participation are growing rapidly; whole farm revenue protection now has policies in 42 states, with 50 percent of that liability in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Willis explained that the 20-year average loss ratio for the crop insurance program is 0.87 - well below the 1.00 loss ratio mandated by law.