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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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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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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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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Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Date: October 25, 2010
Creator: Shields, Dennis A.
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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Agriculture-Based Biofuels: Overview and Emerging Issues

Agriculture-Based Biofuels: Overview and Emerging Issues

Date: October 14, 2010
Creator: Schnepf, Randy
Description: This report reviews the evolution of the U.S. biofuels sector and the role that federal policy has played in shaping its development. In addition, it highlights emerging issues that are critical to the biofuels sector and of relevance to Congress.
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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: October 5, 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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The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

Date: September 22, 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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Date: June 29, 2009
Creator: Chite, Ralph M.
Description: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several permanently authorized programs to help farmers recover financially from a natural disaster, including federal crop insurance, the noninsured assistance program (NAP), and emergency disaster loans. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (otherwise known as the 2008 farm bill) includes authorization and funding for crop disaster programs, livestock assistance programs, and a tree assistance program. The new programs are designed to address the ad hoc nature of disaster assistance provided to producers during the last two decades.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Potential Farm Sector Effects of 2009 H1N1 "Swine Flu": Questions and Answers

Potential Farm Sector Effects of 2009 H1N1 "Swine Flu": Questions and Answers

Date: June 24, 2009
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: This report discusses how the outbreak of the strain of influenza A (H1N1), commonly referred to as "swine flu," affected the domestic and international pork markets.
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Climate Change: The Role of the U.S. Agriculture Sector and Congressional Action

Climate Change: The Role of the U.S. Agriculture Sector and Congressional Action

Date: June 19, 2009
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: The debate in Congress over whether and how to address possible future climate change is intensifying. Often, the role of the U.S. agriculture sector is invoked in this debate. Agriculture is a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which many scientists agree are contributing to observed climate change. Congress is considering a range of climate change policy options, including GHG emission reduction programs that would either mandate or authorize a cap-and-trade program to reduce GHG emissions. This report discusses this issue in detail, i.e., how the agricultural industry affects GHG emissions and efforts currently underway to combat these negative effects, but it does not address the potential effects of global climate change on U.S. agricultural production.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department