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Counties in Georgia included in drought disaster declaration increased to 52:

On Dec. 11 the USDA issued a disaster declaration for a total of 52 Georgia counties to help farmers mitigate their losses due to ongoing drought conditions.  You can read the list of counties affected in this report from the Georgia Farm Bureau.

U.S. Releases Fact Sheet on First Phase of China Trade Deal:

        Agriculture:  The Agriculture Chapter addresses structural barriers to trade and will support a dramatic expansion of U.S. food, agriculture and seafood product exports, increasing American farm and fishery income, generating more rural economic activity, and promoting job growth.  A multitude of non-tariff barriers to U.S. agriculture and seafood products are addressed, including for meat, poultry, seafood, rice, dairy, infant formula, horticultural products, animal feed and feed additives, pet food, and products of agriculture biotechnology.

        Expanding Trade:  The Expanding Trade chapter includes commitments from China to import various U.S. goods and services over the next two years in a total amount that exceeds China’s annual level of imports for those goods and services in 2017 by no less than $200 billion.  China’s commitments cover a variety of U.S. manufactured goods, food, agricultural and seafood products, energy products, and services.  China’s increased imports of U.S. goods and services are expected to continue on this same trajectory for several years after 2021 and should contribute significantly to the rebalancing of the U.S.-China trade relationship.

USDA Secretary Purdue's statement on USMCA agreement released 10 December 2019.  Read the statement here.  The agriculture industry has commented extensively on the apparent agreement to finally pass the USMCA.  You can read statements from various agriculture industry groups in this document.

Hog Producers:  Studies find emissions from hog facilities have dropped 18% since 2010 as described by the National Pork Board in an article released on December 3, 2019.  You can read more about the findings in this document.

Corn Producers:  Corn trade is a huge driver of the U.S. economy according to the National Corn Growers Association in a press release from 3 December 2019.  They are sponsoring a “Did You Know” campaign to raise awareness of the importance of trade agreements to farmers on their social channels during December.

Soybean Producers:  Researchers at Iowa State University develop a cost-effective biobased asphalt that should begin to see commercial use early in 2020 starting in Iowa and spreading nation-wide on the 2.6 million miles of paved roads in the U.S.  You can read more in this report from Iowa State University

Forestry News:  Georgia's Forest Industry continues to strongly support the Georgia economy.  Read more from the Georgia Forestry Commission in this document.

USDA Releases Annual Pesticides in Food Report, 99% Are in Compliance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary, detailing results from 2018 tests of residues on produce and other items.  The report shows that more than 99% of the samples tested had "pesticide residues well below the benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency," according to a USDA news release.  Almost 48% had no detectable levels.  The Alliance for Food and Farming, which promotes science-based information on the safety of produce at, said the report confirms what has been reported in past years.  "Year after year, the USDA report shows the exceptional level of compliance among fruit and vegetable farmers with the stringent laws and regulations governing pesticide use," according to an alliance news release.  "Specific to residues, this report shows consumers can enjoy organic and conventional fruits and vegetables with confidence."

        2018 results:  Fresh and processed fruit and vegetables accounted for 87.8% of the total 10,545 samples collected in 2018, according to the report.  Two-thirds of the samples were from domestic items and the rest were imported.  Fresh fruit and vegetables tested in 2018 were:  asparagus, cabbage, cilantro, green onions, kale, kiwifruit, mangoes, snap peas, and sweet potatoes.  Processed fruits and vegetables in the program were canned and frozen cranberries, canned garbanzo beans, olives and peaches; frozen spinach, strawberries and sweet peas; and prunes and raisins.

    Of the 10,545 samples tested (also includes rice, wheat flour and heavy cream), 82 samples (0.78%) exceeded the set tolerance levels according to the report.  Just over half of those tests came from domestic crops.  Samples with pesticides exceeding established tolerance, and the number of samples that exceeded limits included:  asparagus (7), cabbage (1), cilantro (8), heavy cream (9), kale (19), kiwifruit (1), mangoes (3), raisins (3), rice (1), frozen spinach (4), snap peas (23), sweet potatoes (1, frozen strawberries (2).

Gylphosate News:  On 30 Jan 2020 EPA completed its regulatory review of glyphosate and has concluded that there are no risks of concern to human health when glyphosate is used according to the label and that it is not a carcinogen.  For more information, read the EPA Finalizes Glyphosate Mitigation news release.

EPA is issuing guidance to registrants of glyphosate to ensure clarity on labeling of the chemical on their products.  EPA will no longer approve product labels claiming glyphosate is known to cause cancer – a false claim that does not meet the labeling requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

‘Children killer’ glyphosate found in Cheerios?  Experts dismantle Environmental Working Group’s glyphosate study in this article by Cameron English from the Genetic Literacy Project published on 17 August 2018.