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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Agricultural Research, Education, and Extension Issues in the 105th Congress

Agricultural Research, Education, and Extension Issues in the 105th Congress

Date: January 15, 1998
Creator: Rawson, Jean M.
Description: The public agricultural research, education, and extension system is comprised of a nationwide network of federal and state agricultural research laboratories and departments, land grant Colleges of Agriculture, colleges of forestry and veterinary medicine, and the nationwide Cooperative Extension System. Although the basic authority to conduct agricultural research and extension programs is permanent, Congress since 1977 has provided funding authority and policy guidance for USDA's in-house research programs, and for federal support for cooperative research, higher education, and extension programs in the states, through a title contained in omnibus farm legislation. This report discusses specific pieces of such legislation and details certain agricultural and food-related appropriations.
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African Famine: U.S. Response

African Famine: U.S. Response

Date: June 27, 1985
Creator: Hanrahan, Charles E.
Description: This report discusses the 1985 African famine situation, especially regarding U.S. emergency assistance at a time of U.S. domestic budgetary restraints, the adequacy of U.S. measures for monitoring and anticipating food emergencies, and the scale and nature of U.S. agricultural development programs intended to prevent future famines.
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Agricultural Biotechnology: Background and Recent Issues

Agricultural Biotechnology: Background and Recent Issues

Date: September 5, 2006
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S.
Description: Since the first genetically engineered (GE) crops (also called GM [genetically modified] crops, or GMOs, genetically modified organisms) became commercially available in the mid-1990s, U.S. soybean, cotton, and corn farmers have rapidly adopted them. As adoption has spread, there have been policy debates over the costs and benefits of GE products. Issues include the impacts of GE crops on the environment and food safety, and whether GE foods should be specially labeled. Congress generally has been supportive of GE agricultural products, although some Members have expressed wariness about their adoption and regulation. The 109th Congress will likely continue to follow trade developments, particularly the U.S.-EU dispute, as well as U.S. regulatory mechanisms for approving biotech foods.
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Attorneys' Fees in the State Tobacco Litigation Cases

Attorneys' Fees in the State Tobacco Litigation Cases

Date: September 23, 1997
Creator: Contrubis, John
Description: In the past few years, many states have filed complaints against the tobacco industry in state court to recover Medicaid costs paid by the states to treat their citizens for tobacco related illnesses. The states are also attempting to recover other damages, such as punitive damages, against the tobacco industry. For various reasons, the states have hired private attorneys to assist the state Attorneys General in prosecuting these cases. In most cases, the retention of private counsel has included a fee agreement specifying the amount of compensation that these attorneys will receive for their services. These agreements are not uniform among the states, but most tend to provide some form of contingency fee arrangement. Some of these states have developed a sliding scale contingency fee schedule which varies with the amount of time spent on the litigation and whether a trial has begun. This report briefly summarizes the different fee agreements that the states have with private counsel.
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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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Pesticide Legislation: Food Quality Protection Act of 1996

Pesticide Legislation: Food Quality Protection Act of 1996

Date: September 11, 1996
Creator: Schierow, Linda-Jo
Description: None
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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.
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Food Safety Provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill

Food Safety Provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill

Date: May 27, 2008
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S.
Description: Food safety has re-emerged as an issue in the 110th Congress following a series of widely publicized incidents -- including adulterated Chinese seafood and pet food ingredient imports, findings of bacteria-tainted spinach, meat, and poultry produced domestically, and several large food recalls. In May 2008, Congress approved a new omnibus farm law (P.L. 110-234; H.R. 2419) that includes, among other provisions, several changes affecting U.S. food safety programs. Changes in the livestock title (Title XI) include subjecting catfish to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) mandatory inspections similar to those for red meat and poultry; creating an option for state-inspected meat and poultry plants to ship their products across state lines; and requiring meat and poultry establishments to notify USDA about potentially adulterated or misbranded products.
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U.S.-Russia Meat and Poultry Trade Issues

U.S.-Russia Meat and Poultry Trade Issues

Date: September 11, 2008
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S.
Description: Russia announced on August 29, 2008, that it was banning poultry imports from 19 U.S. establishments due to safety concerns, and that 29 others could lose approval if they do not improve their standards. Russian officials also signaled that they might reduce U.S. permits to import poultry and pork under that country's quota system. The economic stakes of Russian import actions are high for U.S. poultry producers - 29% of their exports went to that market in 2007 - and red meat producers, who also are experiencing strong growth in the Russian market. In Congress, any potential options likely would be reviewed within the context of the broader geopolitical situation.
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International Food Aid Provisions

International Food Aid Provisions

Date: June 20, 2008
Creator: Hanrahan, Charles E.
Description: Provision of U.S. agricultural commodities for emergency relief and economic development is the United States' major response to food security problems in developing countries. Title III in the omnibus farm bill enacted in June 2008, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, reauthorizes and makes a number of changes in U.S. international food aid programs. Farm bill debate over U.S. food aid programs focused generally on how to make delivery of food aid more efficient and more effective. This report explores this and related legislation, as well as the areas of this ongoing and international issue that are continually debated.
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