The US EPA Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure rule was developed because of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. This new ruling applies facilities that have a total capacity to contain over 1320 gallons of oil, including gasoline, crop oil, vegetable oil, or animal fat. Fat can be an element for many feed mills, even fat in 55 gallon drums, and many farm operations can have gasoline or diesel fuel in sufficient quantity to apply. Facilities must have a plan in place to prevent the spill entering waterways. The plan does not have to be submitted to the EPA, but must be in place upon inspection.
This comprehensive report from the National Academy of Sciences aims to provide an in-depth analysis, a report of its findings, and offer recommendations on the issues and opportunities.
In general, the committee finds that genetic-engineering technology has produced substantial net environmental and economic benefits to U.S. farmers compared with non-GE crops in conventional agriculture. However, the benefits have not been universal; some may decline over time; and the potential benefits and risks associated with the future development of the technology are likely to become more numerous as it is applied to a greater variety of crops. The social effects of agricultural biotechnology have largely been unexplored, in part because of an absence of support for research on them.
From the report (p. 213), there are five key challenges facing genetically engineered crops:
The success of genetic-engineering technology in the United States has altered the seed industry by spurring consolidation of firms and integration with the chemical industry.
How the intensive use of current and prospective GE organisms will directly affect the natural environment differently from other agricultural production systems is incompletely understood.
Progress in developing GE varieties for most “minor” crops (e.g., fruits and vegetables) and for other “public goods” purposes not served well by private markets has been slow.
The presence of transgenic material in non-GE products should be addressed.
U.S. farmers who grow GE crops may face market restrictions from some countries or retail firms on the importation or sale of the crops or products made from the crops.
Whole Foods highlights through a 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system how animals are raised before being purchased by consumers. Global Animal Partnership (GAP), developers of Whole Foods' rating system, seeks to achieve higher welfare for farm animals by building partnerships, working in collaboration with farmers, ranchers, food retail, and animal science experts.
Whole Foods Market harbors the same hopes for its chickens that many parents do for their kids: That they'll get plenty of fresh air, live at home until they reach maturity and avoid gaining weight so fast that they can't walk.
While Whole Foods Market was the driving force behind developing the standards, GAP Executive Director Miyun Park believes they will move well beyond the chain, spurring "massive improvements in the way animals are raised in this country."
There are 58 cost reduction points offered by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The recommendations touch all areas of government with words like trim, cut, reduce, merge, eliminate, etc. Several recommendations would impact agriculture.
Of note is recommendation 33, "Require food processing facilities to finance food safety and inspection services."
Under current law, one inspector must be present at all times to sample and test products when a meat or poultry slaughtering plant is in operation. These inspectors are responsible for monitoring the processing plants daily adherence to sanitary, ingredient, and packaging regulations.
Federal inspections benefit producers and consumers alike by preventing diseased animals and other unsafe products from being sold, but producers get the extra benefit of being able to advertise that their products passed USDA inspection.
This option finances all federal inspections of meat and poultry products with fees paid by the processing facilities, thereby making the service paid for by those who use it. Implementation of this policy increases federal revenues by over $900 million each year.
Note these are recommendations that require new legislation and / or action by both the president and congress to make happen.
Are You Prepared? What emergencies are you worried about or have you faced on your farm or ranch? What lessons can we learn from past disasters in order to better prepare for impending ones? Learn some of the issues and thoughts of bio-security and disaster preparedness. Also, discover links and resources to help your operations. Are you ready?
Family Farm, Family Business Running a business with family members can be tough. But if you take time to plan, educate, listen, and lead, the rough edges that can come from running an operation with relatives can be smoothed over. This resource page contains information and helpful discussion on family and business.