Leading 2018 Food and Agriculture News Stories


skyThe Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN) has published their Spotlight 2018: Stories to Watch in Food & Agriculture, an annual survey for top FERN writers, highlighting what food and environment issues they believe will drive food and agriculture coverage this year:

1. Farm Bill Heating Up – In 2013, Conservative House Republicans attempted to impose large cuts on food stamps, and they are likely to make the attempt again this year. Budget hawks and farm-policy reformers will try to shrink federal subsidies of crop insurance, the principal farm support, and farm groups. The 2018 farm bill, which determines five years’ worth of spending, would budget around 90 billion dollars annually on farm subsidies, public nutrition, land stewardship, agriculture research, international food aid, export promotion, and other agricultural programs.

2. The Battle against Antibiotics in Livestock – For the past year, U.S. farmers have had to comply with set limitation on their use of antibiotics in their livestock, as the country’s effort to prevent antibiotic-resistant bacteria from growing. For the past year, growth promoters that cause animals to put on weight have been banned, and veterinarians are required to supervise farmers and write any prescriptions. This upcoming year, these rules in place will be assessed to see if they are working, and it will be decided if more or less regulation is needed in the future.

 3. Nutritional Secrets – Recently, many stories have become known of companies in the food industry bribing the scientific community to lie about the results of their research, convincing the public for decades that certain foods or substances posed no health threats. For example, the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to cast doubt about the link between sugar and diabetes so the sugar industry would not decline. Investigations into bias in nutrition research have just started, but it is a good bet there will be more evidence that the food industry has been causing much of the confusion about the risks of its products.

4. The Deregulation of American Fisheries Laws – First passed in 1976, the Magnuson-Stevens act will come up for re-authorization this year. Alaskan Congressman Don Young is leading the charge to overhaul MSA. Young is proposing a new bill, HR 200, which will relax many of the conservation-minded restrictions set in commercial fishing. Conservation groups say allowing HR 200 to overrule MSA would increase the risk of over fishing, which could destabilize American fisheries and cause oceanic ecosystems to begin collapsing. The bill was previously stalled under the threat of a veto from President Obama, but with a Republican now in office, results could vary this time around.

5. Protecting Public Land from Private Threats – Twice in the last year, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy escaped federal prosecution on charges related to his occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Since 1993, the Bundy’s have allowed their cattle to graze on public lands, which have been closed for grazing for decades to protect the grasses. These lands in question were grazed to dust during the free-range years leading up to the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, and restored with public money, and they are now being grazed without regulation yet again.

2/13/2018 9:44:25 PM

uh... did anybody proof-read this... full of errors.

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