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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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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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 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): Budget and Operations for FY2011

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): Budget and Operations for FY2011

Date: January 6, 2011
Creator: Krouse, William J.
Description: This report provides an overview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) budget and operations. This report chronicles congressional action on the FY2011 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS), and Related Agencies Appropriations bills, as well as any FY2010 supplemental appropriations bills, that provide funding for ATF.
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Japan's 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami: Food and Agriculture Implications

Japan's 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami: Food and Agriculture Implications

Date: May 18, 2011
Creator: Johnson, Renée.
Description: The March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused widespread devastation that affected many of the country's agricultural and fishery areas. The nuclear crisis that followed at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, and the subsequent detection of radioactive contamination of food produced near the disabled facility, further raised fears about the safety of Japan's food production systems and its future food exports. Most reports acknowledge that Japan's current production and supply shortages, along with rising food safety concerns and possible longer-term radiation threats to its food production, could limit Japan's food exports while possibly increasing its need for food imports in the future. It is still not clear what effect, if any, Japan's current food supply and demand situation will have on world farm commodity markets and food prices.
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Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP): Status and Issues

Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP): Status and Issues

Date: April 19, 2011
Creator: Stubbs, Megan
Description: The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, 2008 farm bill) created the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). This report discusses the two main purposes of BCAP, which are (1) to support the establishment and production of eligible crops for conversion to bioenergy in selected areas, and (2) to assist agricultural and forest land owners and operators with collection, harvest, storage, and transportation of eligible material for use in a biomass conversion facility.
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Farm Safety Net Proposals for the 2012 Farm Bill

Farm Safety Net Proposals for the 2012 Farm Bill

Date: October 6, 2011
Creator: Shields, Dennis A. & Schnepf, Randy
Description: This report discusses three proposals-one by the National Cotton Council, one by Representative Neugebauer, and another by a private crop insurance company-focus on modifications to crop insurance programs. The National Farmers Union proposes to replace existing farm programs with a combination of farmer-owned-reserves, increased loan rates, and set asides. A proposed new dairy program-the Dairy Security Act-would provide a voluntary margin insurance program and market stabilization activities in place of current dairy programs. Finally, the proposed REFRESH Act (Senator Lugar) would eliminate most commodity programs (including the sugar program), and incorporate ARRM, the Dairy Security Act, and expanded whole-farm revenue insurance in their place.
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The Dominican Republic-Central America- United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTADR): Developments in Trade and Investment

The Dominican Republic-Central America- United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTADR): Developments in Trade and Investment

Date: April 9, 2012
Creator: Hornbeck, J. F.
Description: On August 5, 2004, the United States entered into the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). This permanent, comprehensive, and reciprocal trade agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff barriers to two-way trade, building on unilateral trade preferences begun under the 1983 Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). CAFTA-DR reinforces the idea that growth in trade correlates closely with policies that promote economic stability, private investment in production, public investment in education, infrastructure, logistics, and good governance in general.
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The Dominican Republic-Central America- United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA DR): Developments in Trade and Investment

The Dominican Republic-Central America- United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA DR): Developments in Trade and Investment

Date: April 23, 2012
Creator: Hornbeck, J. F.
Description: On August 5, 2004, the United States entered into the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). This permanent, comprehensive, and reciprocal trade agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff barriers to two-way trade, building on unilateral trade preferences begun under the 1983 Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). CAFTA-DR reinforces the idea that growth in trade correlates closely with policies that promote economic stability, private investment in production, public investment in education, infrastructure, logistics, and good governance in general.
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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: March 7, 2012
Creator: Bracmort, Kelsi & Gorte, Ross W.
Description: The use of biomass as an energy feedstock 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, crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. Most legislation involving biomass has focused on encouraging the production of liquid fuels from corn. For over 30 years, the term biomass has been a part of legislation enacted by Congress for various programs, indicating some interest by the general public and policymakers in expanding its use. To aid understanding of why U.S. consumers, utility groups, refinery managers, and others have not fully adopted biomass as an energy resource, this report investigates the characterization of biomass in legislation.
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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. & Cowan, Tadlock
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.
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Previewing the Next Farm Bill

Previewing the Next Farm Bill

Date: February 15, 2012
Creator: Chite, Ralph M.
Description: Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 112th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill because many of its provisions expire in 2012. The 2008 farm bill contained 15 titles covering farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, international food aid, trade, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry, among others. Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees anticipate having a new farm bill completed before the end of this session. If the current farm bill expires without a new authorization or a temporary extension, it automatically would be replaced with permanent statutes for farm commodity support, which are not fully compatible with current national economic objectives, global trading rules, and federal budgetary or regulatory policies.
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Climate Change: The Role of the U.S. Agriculture Sector

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

Date: June 20, 2008
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: This report is organized in three parts. First, it discusses the extent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the U.S. agriculture sector, and cites current and potential estimates for U.S. agricultural soils to sequester carbon and partly offset national GHG emissions. Second, the report describes the types of land management and farm conservation practices that can reduce GHG emissions and/or sequester carbon in agricultural soils, highlighting those practices that are currently promoted under existing voluntary federal agricultural programs. The Appendix provides a summary primer of the key background information presented in these first two sections. Finally, the report describes ongoing legislative action within both the climate change and farm bill debates, and discusses the types of questions that may be raised regarding the role of the U.S. agriculture sector in the broader climate change debate.
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The FY2009 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture

The FY2009 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Date: March 17, 2008
Creator: Monke, Jim
Description: The report discusses the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget request for FY2009. The request includes a $76 billion in mandatory funds for food stamps, child nutrition, and farm subsidies.
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The National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility: Issues for Congress

The National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility: Issues for Congress

Date: September 26, 2008
Creator: Shea, Dana A.; Monke, Jim & Gottron, Frank
Description: This report outlines current progress towards establishment of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), presents current and projected funding levels and timelines, and describes policy issues of potential interest to Congress, such as agency coordination, possession of viruses, construction timelines, disposition of PIADC, and community safety concerns.
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Dairy Policy and the 2008 Farm Bill

Dairy Policy and the 2008 Farm Bill

Date: June 13, 2008
Creator: Chite, Ralph M.
Description: This report discusses the impact of the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-234, The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act) on the U.S. dairy industry. It includes an overview of provisions and issues that result from the bill and looks specifically at the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program, the dairy price support program, federal milk marketing orders, and dairy import assessment. There is also some analysis of the implications regarding World Trade Organization (WTO) limitations. An appendix provides a comparison of the 2008 provisions and those from previous legislation.
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Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues

Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues

Date: September 23, 2008
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S. & Cowan, Tadlock
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.
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Comparison of the 2008 Farm Bill Conference Agreement with the House and Senate Farm Bills

Comparison of the 2008 Farm Bill Conference Agreement with the House and Senate Farm Bills

Date: June 19, 2008
Creator: Johnson, Renée; Becker, Geoffrey S.; Richardson, Joe; Marples, Donald J. & Jickling, Mark
Description: This report compares the major provisions in the House- and Senate-passed bills and the conference agreement with each other and with the 2002 law, and provides a brief description of all individual sections or subsections within each title.
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Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education: Farm Bill Issues

Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education: Farm Bill Issues

Date: June 12, 2008
Creator: Rawson, Jean M.
Description: This report discusses the farm bill (P.L. 110-234) that will authorize and direct the implementation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) major programs across the spectrum of its mission areas through FY2012. The enacted bill reorganizes the Department's research, extension, and economics mission area, which currently comprises four agencies that separately administer intramural and extramural programs supporting agricultural research and development (R&D).
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Agriculture in Pending U.S. Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama

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

Date: October 6, 2011
Creator: Jurenas, Remy
Description: This report discusses pending U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. The bills to implement these agreements will now be debated under trade promotion authority, or fast-track rules, designed to expedite congressional consideration. The report includes an overview of agricultural issues regarding FTAs and pending FTA partners, as well as a closer breakdown of the specific issues for each of the countries.
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Agriculture Conservation Programs: A Scorecard

Agriculture Conservation Programs: A Scorecard

Date: May 9, 2008
Creator: Cowan, Tadlock & Johnson, Renée
Description: This report provides basic information on several agriculture conservation programs, primarily drawn from agency budget presentations and websites, about each program using a consistent format. This information should help respond to basic questions and resolve many common sources of confusion about the purposes of the program, program participation and policy topics.
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Animal Agriculture: 2008 Farm Bill Issues

Animal Agriculture: 2008 Farm Bill Issues

Date: July 1, 2008
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S. & Johnson, Renée
Description: This report discusses a number of animal-related provisions related to the 2008 farm bill. It includes background and specific provisions from the bill for each of the issues and options analyzed in the report: market competition and packer concentration, livestock mandatory price reporting, meat and poultry safety, country-of-origin labeling, animal identification for health protection, animal welfare, feed prices, disaster assistance, and environmental issues. The report also provides a summary comparison of previous farm bills with the 2008 provisions for selected issues.
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Agriculture and Forestry Provisions in Climate Change Legislation (S. 3036)

Agriculture and Forestry Provisions in Climate Change Legislation (S. 3036)

Date: June 3, 2008
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: This report summarizes some of the domestic agriculture and forestry provisions in the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 (S. 3036, formerly S. 2191), as ordered reported out of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in December 2007.
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Specialty Crops: 2008 Farm Bill Issues

Specialty Crops: 2008 Farm Bill Issues

Date: June 19, 2008
Creator: Rawson, Jean M.
Description: This report discusses the provisions for specialty crops (fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and nursery crops) in the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246, Food, Conservation, and Energy Act). Specialty crops are not eligible for direct support under USDA's farm commodity price and income support programs. Federal policies on trade, conservation, credit, marketing programs, domestic food assistance, and research also all affect the specialty crop sector.
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Livestock Feed Costs: Concerns and Options

Livestock Feed Costs: Concerns and Options

Date: September 17, 2008
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S.
Description: This report discusses higher livestock feed costs. The authors argue the current public policies, including financial incentives that divert corn from feed uses into ethanol production.
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