President Offers Health Care Proposal
President Obama has, for the first time, proposed specific legislation to overhaul the U.S. health system. According to officials at the White House, Mr. Obama’s bill represents a blending of legislation passed by the House and Senate last year which is, in effect the conference report that Democratic Senate leaders have been unable to pass since losing its 60th vote.
Supreme Court Decision Tightens Pesticide Regulation
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to re-open the case of the National Cotton Council VS the the Environmental Protection Agency. Now, barring legislative relief, farmers can be held liable for drift of pesticides and other chemicals that may find their way into waters and streams.
American Farm Bureau Federation, along with CropLife America asked the Supreme Court to review a January 2009 ruling by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the National Cotton Council versus EPA case.
AFBF President Bob Stallman calls the Court’s refusal to overturn the ruling bad news for crop producers, explaining that if you have a spray nozzle putting out a chemical of some sort, because that’s a point source under the Clean Water Act, you’ll have to get a NPDES Permit….a Federal Permit. It’s not good news for us, I don’t know what it’s going to take to get that permit.
He says the nation’s largest farm group will try to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to make the permitting process the least damaging to agriculture as possible.
Farmers and pesticide applicators will be required to obtain the new permits starting in April of 2011.
The EPA is already developing the new permit rule and Farm Bureau Regulatory Specialist Don Parrish says the Supreme Court’s decision deals a blow to the ability of farmers to protect the food supply from pests...
Farmers have to make decisions very quickly, unfortunately this decision really does call into question the ability to spray as necessary under the terms we’ve been doing so in the past.
Parrish says the EPA permit process could be especially hard - depending on how broadly the agency interprets the law saying, that as it stands right now, EPA isn’t’ in the process of developing permits for crop protection tools, they’re only developing permits for products that are going to be used over water.
Making it harder to get a permit - Parrish argues - until there’s a problem...possibly subjecting farmers to lawsuits for using chemicals before they can get a permit.
Parrish says EPA is expected to propose a permit rule in April or May - and then finalize it by December - since under the lower court order - the program must take effect by April 11th of 2011.
Warning Label Sought for Hot Dogs
In 2006 there were 61 food-related choking deaths in children…all directly related to that American staple, the hot dog. Calling it a choking risk for children, the official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics has a new policy calling for the federal Food and Drug Administration to require warning labels on foods - including hot dogs - or for manufacturers to redesign the food items to minimize the risk.