Clinton’s choices for Secretary of Agriculture; Hemp could boost economy for Native...

Clinton’s choices for Secretary of Agriculture; Hemp could boost economy for Native Americans

By Matt Sabas   
Hillary Clinton, Photo by Doug Christian
Hillary Clinton, Photo by Doug Christian

This week’s top five food and ag stories:

1. Clinton’s top choices to head the USDA. Secretary Clinton has revealed her top five choices to head the USDA,  POLITICO reported. “Five names sit atop an evolving list of candidates under consideration to lead USDA should Hillary Clinton become president, sources familiar with her transition team’s thinking tell Pro Agriculture. The top contenders are: Karen Ross, California’s agriculture secretary; Blanche Lincoln, a former Arkansas senator; Kathleen Merrigan, a former USDA deputy secretary; John Hickenlooper, Colorado’s governor; and Steve Beshear, Kentucky’s former governor.”

2. Investment in biotech hits $25 billion. Investment in agriculture technology reached $25 billion in 2015, according to Bloomberg. “Real-time data analytics, sensors and robots are raising the prospect of the “next green revolution” and are spurring start ups, according to the report released Tuesday by Boston Consulting Group and AgFunder, which connects investors with agricultural companies and proposals online. The investments include research and development, deals, partnerships, equity stakes and technology centers. Early-stage funding from venture capital firms reached $3 billion globally, up from $900 million in 2013 and $400 million in 2010, the groups said.”

3. UK may begin producing GM products. The UK could begin producing GMOs following the country’s exit from the EU, argued the opinion editors of the Wall Street Journal. “The promise of Britain’s exit from the European Union is to liberate the U.K. from the shackles of damaging EU regulations.

So congratulations to Theresa May’s government for scoring its first Brexit victory by getting away from one of Brussels’s worst food obsessions. “As part of the preparations for EU exit,” Agriculture Minister George Eustice wrote to Parliament last week, “the Government is considering possible future arrangements for the regulation of genetically modified organisms.”

He added: “The Government’s general view remains that policy and regulation in this area should be science-based and proportionate.”

This represents a significant shift from when London’s food policy was hostage to GMO-phobia across the EU. To allow GMOs to be regulated like other food products means that they will no longer be a taboo product in Britain.”

4. Hemp may provide an economic boost to Native Americans, reported Reuters. “Casinos on Native American land have poured billions into tribal economies since the late 1980s, lifting many people from poverty. Now, some hope, cultivating industrial hemp could do the same. Under U.S. law, hemp – which comes from the same family of plants that produce marijuana – can be grown only for research, with a permit from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. However, the Department of Justice opened the door for hemp cultivation by Native American tribes in 2014 when it agreed that tribes can set cannabis-related laws just as states can. Native American-owned CannaNative LLC said on Monday it was in final talks with the Navajo Nation, the largest federally recognized tribe, to grow industrial hemp.”

5. Beer distributors will soon be able to sell six-packs in Pennsylvania. On Thursday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that he will sign a bill allowing beer distributors to sell six packs in the state, reported the Post-Gazette. “In a statement this morning, the Democratic governor said he intends to sign a bill passed by the legislature this week to allow beer distributors to sell six-packs. The change is momentous—at least it is for Pennsylvania, where the system for selling wine, hard liquor and beer dates back to the end of Prohibition.”

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