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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Date: October 25, 2010
Creator: Shields, Dennis A. & Chite, Ralph M.
Description: This report has two sections. The first provides an overview of the current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs: federal crop insurance, NAP payments, emergency disaster loans, the new Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE), and four other smaller disaster programs authorized in the 2008 farm bill. The second section reviews the recent history of emergency supplemental farm disaster assistance.
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Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress

Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress

Date: October 28, 2010
Creator: Bracmort, Kelsi & Gorte, Ross W.
Description: This report discusses the use of biomass as an energy feedstock, which is emerging as a potentially viable alternative to address U.S. energy security concerns, foreign oil dependence, rural economic development, and diminishing sources of conventional energy. Biomass (organic matter that can be converted into energy) may include food crops, crops for energy (e.g., switchgrass or prairie perennials), crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. This report discusses legislation regarding biomass, the evolving definition of biomass, and the positions of supporters and detractors of biomass as an alternative energy source.
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Animal Identification and Traceability: Overview and Issues

Animal Identification and Traceability: Overview and Issues

Date: November 29, 2010
Creator: Greene, Joel L.
Description: This report provides a summary of current developments in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) effort to establish a national animal traceability capacity with the intended goal of being able to rapidly identify and respond to an animal disease outbreak. National animal identification and traceability appear to have substantial economic value, yet federal proposals have proven controversial among certain segments of the U.S. cattle industry. This report provides background on animal ID and traceability in general, and the development of the current U.S. system of animal ID and traceability in particular. In addition, it reviews the claims and counter-claims of proponents and opponents of a national animal ID system, and describes many of the unresolved issues related to program development. Finally, two appendixes offer a brief chronology of the development of the U.S. National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and its successor program, and a brief description of the major international organizations involved in setting standards and rules for animal health and trade in animal products, along with summary descriptions of animal ID and traceability programs found in other major livestock producer and consumer countries.
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A Whole-Farm Crop Disaster Program: Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE)

A Whole-Farm Crop Disaster Program: Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE)

Date: December 3, 2010
Creator: Shields, Dennis A.
Description: This report discusses the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, 2008 farm bill), which created a set of disaster programs called "Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance." The programs supplement crop insurance coverage and provide disaster assistance for livestock (including aquaculture and honey bees), forage, and tree and nursery crops.
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Potential Trade Implications of Restrictions on Antimicrobial Use in Animal Production

Potential Trade Implications of Restrictions on Antimicrobial Use in Animal Production

Date: December 8, 2010
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: This report is organized into three parts. First, it provides an overview of U.S. export markets for livestock and poultry products, and highlights key U.S. foreign trading partners. Second, it discusses policies in selected foreign markets that may restrict or limit the use of antimicrobial drugs in food animal production, including imports of animal products grown with these drugs. Third, it discusses some implications of these policies for U.S. livestock and poultry exports to selected foreign markets.
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The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

Date: December 15, 2010
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: The combined efforts of the food industry and the regulatory agencies often are credited with making the U.S. food supply among the safest in the world. Nonetheless, many food-related health issues persist. At issue is whether the current U.S. regulatory system has the resources and structural organization to protect consumers from these dangers. Also at issue is whether the federal food safety laws themselves, first enacted in the early 1900s, have kept pace with the significant changes that have occurred in the food production, processing, and marketing sectors since then.
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Food Safety on the Farm: Federal Programs and Legislative Action

Food Safety on the Farm: Federal Programs and Legislative Action

Date: December 15, 2010
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: In recent years, major outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, product recalls, and reports about unsafe food imports have caused some to question the adequacy of the U.S. food safety system. Stakeholders appear to agree that an optimal system should encompass a comprehensive, preventive approach to food safety, focusing on those foods and points in the food system that pose the greatest public health risks, starting at the point of production - that is, on farms and ranches. This report discusses differing opinions on this topic, as well as related legislation.
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Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports

Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports

Date: January 3, 2011
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provides duty-free tariff treatment for certain products from designated developing countries. Some in Congress have continued to call for changes to the program that could limit GSP benefits to certain countries, among other changes. Opinion within the U.S. agriculture industry is mixed, reflecting both support for and opposition to the current program. In the past few years, Congress has extended GSP through a series of short-term extensions. However, the 111th Congress did not extend the GSP in 2010, and it was set to expire December 31, 2010. The expiration of the GSP will likely become a legislative issues in the 112th Congress.
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Brazil's WTO Case Against the U.S. Cotton Program

Brazil's WTO Case Against the U.S. Cotton Program

Date: January 5, 2011
Creator: Schnepf, Randy
Description: This report provides a description and status report on Brazil's challenge to certain aspects of the U.S. cotton program under the rules of the World Trade Organization's (WTO's) dispute settlement process in case DS267.1 The "Brazil cotton case" had its WTO origins in 2002 and has since evolved into a sprawling legal enterprise that is still ongoing as of early 2011.
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Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress

Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress

Date: January 6, 2011
Creator: Bracmort, Kelsi & Gorte, Ross W.
Description: This report discusses the use of biomass as an energy feedstock, which is emerging as a potentially viable alternative to address U.S. energy security concerns, foreign oil dependence, rural economic development, and diminishing sources of conventional energy. Biomass (organic matter that can be converted into energy) may include food crops, crops for energy (e.g., switchgrass or prairie perennials), crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. This report discusses legislation regarding biomass, the evolving definition of biomass, and the positions of supporters and detractors of biomass as an alternative energy source.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department