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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Agriculture in the WTO: Limits on Domestic Support
Most provisions of the current “farm bill,” the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) of 2002 (P.L. 107-171), do not expire until 2007. However, hearings on a 2007 farm bill could begin in late 2005. At that time, Congress will begin to examine farm income and commodity price support proposals that might succeed the programs due to expire in 2007. A key question likely to be asked of virtually every new proposal is how it will affect U.S. commitments under the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AA), which commits the United States to spend no more than $19.1 billion annually on domestic farm support programs most likely to distort trade. The AA spells out the rules for countries to determine whether their policies are potentially trade distorting, and to calculate the costs. This report describes the steps for making these determinations. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs6947/
Implementing International Agreements on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs): Proposed Amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act
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African Famine: U.S. Response
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9050/
U.S. Agricultural Biotechnology in Global Markets: An Introduction
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The Virus-Serum-Toxin Act: A Brief History and Analysis
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The Pigford Case: USDA Settlement of a Discrimination Suit by Black Farmers
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U.S.-Canada Wheat and Corn Trade Disputes
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Payment Limits for Farm Commodity Programs: Issues and Proposals
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Price Determination in Agricultural Commodity Markets: A Primer
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Predator Control and Compound 1080
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Attorneys' Fees in the State Tobacco Litigation Cases
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs377/
Tobacco Advertising: Whether the FDA's Restrictions Violate Freedom of Speech
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The World Trade Organization: The Hong Kong Ministerial
The World Trade Organization (WTO) held its 6th Ministerial summit in Hong Kong from December 13-18, 2005. WTO Ministerials are held every two years to bring together trade ministers from member states, often to make political decisions for the body. Although an original goal of the Ministerial was to agree on a package of modalities (methods by which the round is negotiated) for the ongoing Doha Development Agenda (DDA) round of trade negotiations, this aim was dropped in order to avoid a high-profile failure similar to previous Ministerials at Cancun and Seattle. Rather, members agreed to some modest advancements in agriculture, industrial tariffs, and duty and quota-free access for least developed countries. The final outcome of these negotiations could provide a substantial boost to the world economy, but if the round itself is not completed, there may be repercussions for the WTO as an institution and for the architecture of the world trading system. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9970/
Farm Labor: The Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR)
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Agricultural Biotechnology: Background and Recent Issues
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9392/
Upper Mississippi River - Illinois Waterway Navigation Expansion: An Agricultural Transportation and Environmental Context
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The Private Testing of Mad Cow Disease: Legal Issues
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Upper Mississippi River - Illinois Waterway Navigation Expansion: An Agricultural Transportation and Environmental Context
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The Private Testing of Mad Cow Disease: Legal Issues
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U.S. Agricultural Biotechnology in Global Markets: An Introduction
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China's Most-Favored-Nation Status: U.S. Wheat Exports
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Hurricane Katrina: Fishing and Aquaculture Industries - Damage and Recovery
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Hurricane Katrina: Fishing and Aquaculture Industries - Damage and Recovery
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Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture: EPA's Air Compliance Agreement
In an effort to collect scientifically credible data regarding the effect of animal agriculture on water resources (specifically animal waste and emissons from animal feeding operations (AFO), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2005 announced the Air Compliance Agreement. The agreement is intended to produce air quality monitoring data on AFO emissions during a two-year study, while at the same time protecting participants through a “safe harbor” from liability under certain provisions of federal environmental laws. This report discusses the agreement and the perspectives of both its supporters and opponents. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs7791/
Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: Methyl Bromide Control Measures
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Federal Farm Promotion ("Check-off") Programs
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26082/
Climate Change: The Role of the U.S. Agriculture Sector and Congressional Action
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26255/
Agricultural Disaster Assistance
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26312/
The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29748/
U.S.-EU Poultry Dispute on the Use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs)
This report highlights the dispute between the U.S. and EU over the use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs) during the processing of poultry products. PRT's are antimicrobial rinses--including chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, and peroxyacids, among others--that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for use in poultry processing to reduce the amount of microbes on meat. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462213/
The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer
Numerous federal, state, and local agencies share responsibilities for regulating the safety of the U.S. food supply, which many experts say is among the safest in the world. This report discusses various food safety proposals in Congress, as well as agencies with food safety related responsibilities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491097/
Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490972/
Food Safety on the Farm: Federal Programs and Legislative Action
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490944/
Agriculture in the WTO: Limits on Domestic Support
This report provides a brief overview of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) commitments most relevant for U.S. domestic farm policy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462865/
Food and Agriculture Provisions in the FY1997 Supplemental Appropriations Act
Report providing an overview of provisions and funding related to food and agriculture program as a part of a supplemental appropriations bill (P.L. 105-18, H.R. 1871). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs442/
FY1997 USDA Budget: Food and Nutrition Programs
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FY1998 USDA Budget and Appropriations: Domestic Food Programs
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U.S.-EU Poultry Dispute on the Use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs)
This report highlights the dispute between the U.S. and EU over the use of Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs) during the processing of poultry products. PRT's are antimicrobial rinses--including chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, and peroxyacids, among others--that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for use in poultry processing to reduce the amount of microbes on meat. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501899/
Agricultural Disaster Assistance
This report has two sections. The first provides an overview of the current 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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501569/
Food Safety on the Farm: Federal Programs and Legislative Action
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29714/
Brazil's WTO Case Against the U.S. Cotton Program: A Brief Overview
On June 2, 2008, a World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body (AB) publicly released its final report upholding a December 2007 compliance panel ruling that the United States has not fully complied with a March 2005 WTO ruling against certain U.S. cotton support programs. This AB ruling was part of a prolonged dispute settlement case (DS267) originated by Brazil against certain aspects of the U.S. cotton program in September 2002. This report provides a brief overview of Brazil's case against the U.S. cotton program, the evolution and current status of the case, and the potential role for Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10643/
Tobacco Legislation in the 105th Congress: Side-by-Side Comparison of S. 1415, S. 1530, S. 1638, S. 1889, H.R. 3474, and H.R. 3868
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Genetically Engineered Soybeans: Acceptance and Intellectual Property Rights Issues in South America
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China's Most-Favored-Nation Status: U.S. Wheat, Corn, and Soybean Exports
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Agroterrorism: Threats and Preparedness
The potential of terrorist attacks against agricultural targets (agroterrorism) is increasingly recognized as a national security threat, especially after the events of September 11, 2001. This report focuses primarily on biological weapons (rather than chemical weapons) because biological weapons generally are considered the more potent agroterrorism threat. This report also focuses more on the threat of agroterrorism against agricultural production, rather than on food processing and distribution, although the latter is discussed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9549/
Fruits, Vegetables, and Other Specialty Crops: A Primer on Government Programs
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Farm Product "Check-Off" Programs: A Constitutional Analysis
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Background on the U.S.-Brazil WTO Cotton Subsidy Dispute
In late 2002, Brazil initiated a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement case (DS267) against specific provisions of the U.S. cotton program. This report provides background to the dispute, as well as details of the WTO dispute settlement case. It will not be updated. For information on the U.S. response to panel recommendations and their implications for the U.S. cotton sector, see CRS Report RS22187, U.S. Agricultural Policy Response to WTO Cotton Decision. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9103/
Estimates of Carbon Mitigation Potential from Agricultural and Forestry Activities
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26136/
Agriculture-Based Biofuels: Overview and Emerging Issues
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29593/