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AG NEWS ON THE GO

California's PROP 12 on Hold until July 1st.

A California state judge has extended his ban on enforcement of voter-approved Proposition 12 until July 1, to allow time for the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the animal welfare law. Justices heard arguments on the farm-group challenge of Prop 12 in October and a decision is expected by the end of June. The Sacramento County Superior Court injunction was to expire on Feb. 28. “The court finds it reasonable to extend the existing injunction to July 1, 2023, so as to allow adequate time for the adjudication of the federal constitutional issues relating to Proposition 12 that are pending before the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Judge James Arguelles in an order issued last week. Arguelles enjoined enforcement of Prop 12 in January because the state was years late in writing regulations to implement it.

Mexico and US at odds over GM Corn

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico and the United States appear to be headed for another commercial dispute Tuesday, this time over a Mexican ban on imports of genetically modified yellow corn. In a strongly worded message, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote that “time is running short” to resolve the issue. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday that Mexico won’t back down on a ban on imports of GM corn for human consumption. But López Obrador said Mexico would study whether to eventually ban it for animal feed, as well. “What is being proposed is that we also set a date for studying the contents of yellow corn to see whether it is damaging to human health, even if it is used for animal feed,” López Obrador said. “Because that takes time, we are offering a space of two years (for imports) in the case of yellow feed corn.” The Mexican leader cited the need to protect human health and native strains of corn from genetic contamination. Mexico is where corn was first domesticated, and is consider the plant’s center of origin. Vilsack met with López Obrador and said he had expressed “deep concerns” over the issue to the U.S. “The president’s phase-out decree has the potential to significantly disrupt trade, harm famers on both sides of the border and significantly increase costs for Mexican consumers,” Vilsack wrote. “This is a critically important issue for U.S. farmers who are rightfully and deeply concerned about the decree.” “I emphasized in no uncertain terms that — absent acceptable resolution of the issue — the U.S. government would be forced to consider all options, including taking formal steps to enforce our legal rights” under the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. Mexico is the single biggest export market for U.S. corn, and buys about $3 billion annually. Mexico doesn’t produce enough feed corn to supply domestic livestock, pork and poultry producers, and it relies on the United States for about 40% of its animal feed. Mexico relies mainly on domestically produced white corn for human consumption, but yellow corn — some of it GM — is sometimes used in flours or prepared snacks like chips. Under a decree published in late 2021, the ban on GM corn imports for human consumption would take effect in January 2024. Mexico already has another trade and investment dispute going with the United States. In July, the United States asked for dispute resolution talks with Mexico over energy policies that Washington says unfairly favor Mexico’s state-owned electricity and oil companies over American competitors and clean-energy suppliers. The talks have so far not led to any solution; the United States could press the complaint, and it could end in trade sanctions against Mexico.

AG NEWS ON THE GO

Farmers of Color, sue the USDA

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The federal government has illegally broken a promise to pay off the debts of a group of Black farmers, according to a class-action lawsuit. The group hopes to put pressure on officials to keep their word and to restore funding that was dropped after a group of white farmers filed legal challenges arguing their exclusion was a violation of their constitutional rights. The lawsuit filed in October remains active even as the U.S. Department of Agriculture moves forward with another effort to help farmers in financial distress in addition to paying farmers who the agency discriminated against. John Boyd Jr., president of the National Black Farmers Association and one of four plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said that the new programs don’t match the USDA’s earlier offer to pay off 120% of the debt of farmers who are socially disadvantaged. According to the lawsuit, this definition applies to more than 6,500 farmers who have “traditionally suffered racial or ethnic prejudice,” and are saddled with federal loan obligations. The lawsuit says this includes Native Americans or Alaska Natives; Asian Americans; Black Americans or African Americans; Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders; and Hispanic Americans or Latino Americans. The proposed payments and lawsuits follow a long history of the USDA refusing to process loans from farmers of color, and in some cases foreclosing more quickly than usual when such farmers who obtained loans ran into problems. The federal government settled a lawsuit in 1999 filed by Black farmers and paid more than $2.4 billion, but court filings later acknowledged there were persistent problems in the USDA farm loan programs.

EU vows to stop imports that support deforrestation

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union lawmakers and governments reached a deal Tuesday that would ban the import of products which contribute to deforestation around the world. The preliminary agreement, which still needs to be formally adopted by the EU parliament, requires companies to verify that the goods they sell in the EU have not led to deforestation and forest degradation anywhere in the world as of 2021. Companies need to show that goods they import comply with rules in the country of origin, including on human rights and the protection of indigenous people. Forests around the world are increasingly under threat from clearance for timber and agriculture, including soybean and palm oil. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 420 million hectares (1.6 million square miles) of forest - an area larger than the EU - were destroyed between 1990 and 2020. Pascal Canfin, who chairs the European Parliament’s environment committee, said the agreement by the 27-nation bloc marks a “world first.” “Europe will close its doors to the everyday products that have the highest impact on deforestation in the world if their importers are not able to demonstrate, with supporting documents, that they do not come from deforested areas,” he said. “It’s the coffee we drink in the morning, the chocolate we eat, the charcoal we use in our barbecues, the paper in our books. It’s radical, and that’s what we’re going to do.” More than 100 countries pledged last year to halt and reverse global deforestation by 2030, as part of efforts to combat climate change. Forests are an important natural means of removing greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, since plants absorb carbon dioxide when they grow.

HEMP Growers schedule meeting in Mitchell

The  meeting will be at Blarney's Sports Bar on December 15th from 10 am until noon. 

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