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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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.
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Estimates of Carbon Mitigation Potential from Agricultural and Forestry Activities

Estimates of Carbon Mitigation Potential from Agricultural and Forestry Activities

Date: June 19, 2009
Creator: Johnson, Renée; Gorte, Ross W.; Yacobucci, Brent D. & Schnepf, Randy
Description: Numerous theoretical and empirical studies estimate the greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential of farm and forestry activities, and suggest that the potential for carbon uptake in agricultural soils and forest lands is much greater than current rates. Following a discussion of the estimated current emissions and carbon sequestration by the agricultural and forestry sectors, this report presents a brief overview of the available estimates from USDA and EPA carbon mitigation studies, and then discusses some of the limitations of the available data and modeling results. This report is organized into four parts, including a brief overview of the agriculture and forestry sectors within the broader climate change debate, as well as various data and information on potential for carbon storage and mitigation from farming and forestry activities.
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Agriculture in Pending U.S. Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea

Agriculture in Pending U.S. Free Trade Agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea

Date: June 3, 2009
Creator: Jurenas, Remy
Description: The 111th Congress in coming months might take up free trade agreements (FTAs) signed by the Bush Administration with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea under trade promotion authority, or fast-track rules, designed to expedite congressional consideration of these agreements. Accordingly, agriculture as covered in each pending trade agreement is examined in this report in the order that Congress likely will take up these agreements, based upon statements made to date by Obama Administration officials and Members of Congress.
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Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues

Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues

Date: February 11, 2009
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S.
Description: This report describes several scientifically emerging animal biotechnologies that are raising a variety of questions concerning risks to humans, animals, and the environment, as well as ethical concerns. The report examines applications of the technologies and discusses major issues that may arise.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Federal Farm Promotion ("Check-off") Programs

Federal Farm Promotion ("Check-off") Programs

Date: October 20, 2008
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S.
Description: The U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 affirmed the constitutionality of the so-called beef check-off program, one of the 18 generic promotion programs for agricultural products that are now active nationally. Supporters view check-offs as economically beneficial self-help activities that need minimal government involvement or taxpayer funding. Producers, handlers, and/or importers are required to pay an assessment, usually deducted from revenue at time of sale - thus the name check-off. However, some farmers contend they are being "taxed" for advertising and related activities they would not underwrite voluntarily. The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the beef check-off is considered significant for the future of the other programs, although the Court left open the possibility of additional challenges.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department