The European Commission has announced the adoption of strategies to support biodiversity and “transition to a sustainable EU food system that safeguards food security and ensures access to healthy diets sourced from a healthy planet.” “The coronavirus crisis has underlined the importance of a robust and resilient food system that functions in all circumstances, and is capable of ensuring access to a sufficient supply of affordable food for citizens,” a question-and-answer resource on the program stated. “It has also made us acutely aware of the interrelations between our health, ecosystems, supply chains, consumption patterns and planetary boundaries.” The program’s goals include reduction of chemical pesticides, preservation of soil nutrients, reduction in sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and aquaculture, and an increase in organic farming by 2030. The program will also include the proposal of mandatory front-of-packaging nutrition labeling and efforts to reduce food waste.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a rule implementing the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which was allocated $9.5 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability Act. CFAP provides financial support for agricultural producers affected by COVID-19 to help offset sales losses. The Farm Service Agency and Agricultural Marketing Service will implement the program, which is generally available to producers that “suffered a 5-percent-or-greater price loss over a specified time resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak” or “face additional significant marketing costs for inventories.”
Multiple labor unions have reportedly filed a lawsuit alleging that Washington’s Departments of Health and Labor & Industries failed to provide guidance that would protect farmworkers from increased risks of COVID-19 infection. The unions seek an injunction that would require the agencies to expedite oversight through emergency rulemaking. “Lack of enforceable rules regarding social distancing, protective face masks, access to soap and water, and to environmental cleaning allows conditions to continue in which virus can spread easily and quickly,” the complaint states, according to Bloomberg.
The Center for Food Safety (CFS) and several agricultural firms have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) challenging the agency's denial of the group's petition seeking to ban organic certification of hydroponic food growers. Ctr. for Food Safety v. Perdue, No. 20-1537 (N.D. Cal., filed March 2, 2020). USDA denied CFS's January 2019 petition, and CFS argues that the denial was arbitrary and capricious and violates the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). The complaint asserts that USDA ignored the National Organic Standards Board's 2010 recommendation against certifying hydroponic operations as organic and "issued a blanket statement" allowing certification that contradicted the recommendation of the board and a hydroponics task force. "USDA offered no supporting rationale for its statement. USDA made the statement in a website announcement, without any opportunity for public input and without taking any rulemaking action," the plaintiffs argue. Further, "USDA failed to explain…
The Kansas City Star has detailed the story of Randy Constant, a Chillicothe, Missouri, man who fraudulently sold millions of dollars' worth of "organic" grains—as much as 7% of all the corn and 8% of all the soybeans sold nationally as organic in 2016. Federal investigators began looking into Constant when a competitor tipped off the government that it was impossible for him to have such high outputs legitimately. An FBI investigation revealed that he sold $140 million worth of "organic" grain from 2010-2017 that, if labeled correctly, would have likely been worth half of that total. The Star asserts that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had received a complaint in 2007 about Constant's soybeans, which tests showed were genetically modified in violation of organic regulations, but the agency failed to take any action. Attorneys for Constant argued that his fraud was a victimless crime, but the court disagreed, sentencing…
France's agriculture minister has reportedly announced that the country will prohibit the mass culling of male chicks shortly after they hatch and ban the castration of piglets without anesthesia in an effort to support animal welfare. The minister indicated his intention to have the regulations take effect by the end of 2021. Germany previously banned the practice, but a court invalidated the law until a method for determining the sex of an embryo in the egg can be developed.
The 2014 Farm Bill has expired without an updated bill or stopgap measure in place. The U.S. House of Representatives rejected the proposed Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, with detractors focused on changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Funding for some programs will reportedly continue beyond the expiration date of September 30, 2018.