The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization known for its critical positions of the produce industry, released a new food database yesterday that places organic and conventional produce at the top of its scale that promotes increased daily consumption. Rating over 80,000 foods on a scale of 1 to 10 -- with 1 being the best score -- organic and conventional fruits and vegetables received scores of 1 to 1.5, ranking them as one of the “best” foods for consumers. According to their own press release, only about 18% of the 80,000 foods being evaluated received the “best” ranking.
According to a press release issued by the EPA, a new active ingredient has been registered as an alternative to methyl bromide and other soil fumigants. Fluensulfone is a new class of chemistry to control nematodes and is being registered first for ground use on cucumbers, melons, squash, tomatoes, okra, eggplant and peppers (the Federal Register Notice is expected by September 19, 2014).
According to the EPA, litigation which made the agency defendants in a lawsuit brought by the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides and others has been settled. As the result of a stipulated injunction, the EPA is directed to reinstate a “no-spray” buffer zone to protect endangered or threatened Pacific salmon and steelhead. The buffer zones apply to waters that support salmon in California, Oregon and Washington and are imposed on the following pesticides: carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion and methomyl.
Members of the Western Growers Board of Directors convened this week in Orange County under the leadership of Chairman Bruce Taylor to deliberate the top issues affecting the industry. High on the list of issues discussed were the drought and regulatory restrictions on water supply, food safety, labor union activities and immigration reform. Several standing committees featured guest speakers. Dr. Jay Famiglietti, a senior water cycle scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and David Orth, general manager of the Kings River Conservation District, presented to the Water Committee; Amy Wolfe, president and CEO of AgSafe, presented to the Labor Committee; and Dr. Jerry Baron, executive director of IR-4 presented to the Food Safety, Science & Technology Committee.
The Pesticide Data Program’s (PDP) 22nd Annual Summary for 2012 was released Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The program collects data on pesticide residues in food. According to the report summary, “Over 99 percent of the products sampled through the PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances. Ultimately, if EPA determines a pesticide is not safe for our families, it is removed from the market. This system of checks and balances provides Americans with the safest food supply in the world.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE IRVINE, Calif. (February 7, 2014) -- Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif issued this statement following the signing of the Agriculture Act of 2014 by President Obama today in Michigan:
“On behalf of all the growers and members of Western Growers, I thank the President of the United States for signing into law the new five-year farm bill. On this occasion, I also want to express my deep thanks to Chairwoman Stabenow, Chairman Lucas, and Ranking Members Cochran and Peterson for the tremendous work they have done to complete this bill. Their hard work and the countless hours of work done by our industry champions in Congress -- especially our friends on the two Agriculture Committees -- has resulted in a good piece of legislation that will serve our industry well.
No bill, of course is perfect, but the hard work, fortitude and spirit of cooperation exhibited by all involved is a great example of what bipartisanship can accomplish. President Reagan used to talk about a shining city upon a hill and in a small way the farm bill serves as an important example of how legislation should and must be done in order to benefit us all. This farm bill is a product of tough negotiation, but it is also an example of what needs to be done more often in Congress -- all parties must work together and compromise for the greater good. I hope members of Congress point to the shining example of the farm bill as our nation grapples with other critical issues facing our industry, like immigration and the devastating drought we now face in California; all members of Congress need to focus on the greater good as they work cooperatively through problems.”
Today, the United States Senate voted 68 to 32 passing the long-awaited new Farm Bill (the Agricultural Act of 2014) which is a significant advance for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry. Of the 32 senators who voted against it, 23 were Republicans and nine were Democrats. The bill now goes to the White House. President Obama is expected to sign it into law this Friday in Michigan, the home state of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow.
Bayer Corp., the North American subsidiary of the international giant that serves the agricultural community through its Bayer CropScience sub-group, has restructured that group to take a more holistic approach toward product development.
There is a sense of urgency today at Western Growers as we begin to understand the scale of several attacks on proven and effective crop protection tools of the utmost importance to specialty crop agriculture. New legislation at the federal, state and even local levels, increased media coverage fueled by activists, and precautionary approaches at key regulatory junctures and decision points threaten both the short and long term viability of fumigants and neo-nicotinoids.