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Food and Ag Policy Briefing: Shutdown continues, Brexit ‘plan B’, crop protection, CAP

How is the partial US government shutdown impacting food safety? What could a 'no deal' Brexit mean for farmers in the UK and EU?

A review of the most significant talking points in the food and agriculture policy sphere for the past seven days.

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US government shutdown

USDA Food Safety inspectors may not be able to do their jobs for much longer without pay, as the partial US government shutdown enters its second month.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service was struggling with staff shortages even before the shutdown, but experts are warning that inspectors are now at breaking point.

A compromise proposal made by President Donald Trump was dismissed by Democrats over the weekend, meaning the impasse is set to continue, raising concerns over the safety of the US food supply chain.

The shutdown could also scupper the Trump administration’s plans to approve the year-round sale of gasoline with higher corn ethanol blends (E15), while gaining approval for the new US-Mexico-Canada trade deal and talks with the EU could also be delayed.

However, the confirmation hearing of Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler continued despite protests from Democrats.

Brexit

The UK parliament last week voted down the government’s proposed Withdrawal Agreement with the EU by a record margin, meaning that Prime Minister Theresa May must present a ‘Plan B’ today (January 21).

British agricultural organisations have warned of the ‘catastrophic’ consequences of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit for farmers, with the Farmers Union of Wales calling for Article 50 to be cancelled immediately, while the head of the Scottish NFU has warned of a shortage of farm labour after the UK leaves the EU.

Meanwhile, two new reports suggest that Denmark’s meat industry could lose out on billions in lost sales if there is a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Crop protection products and transparency

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly backed the reform of the EU’s pesticide authorisation process, with proposals aimed at boosting trust in the system by making it more transparent and accountable.

The vote came in the same week the German federal institute for risk assessment (BfR) had to defend itself against a Green Party claim that it plagiarised large sections of a safety assessment on the controversial herbicide glyphosate.

Also last week, the European Food Safety Authority has pledged to publish the scientific data it uses for EU-wide monitoring programmes, surveys and many of its risk assessments on its Knowledge Junction platform.

Common Agricultural Policy

The French Court of Auditors has delivered a damning evaluation on the EU’s farming subsidy system, labelling it “obsolete” and claiming it is “highly unequal”.

The report also criticised the lack of evaluation and impact assessments on the rural economy. It urged the European Commission to use the upcoming CAP reform to “improve the relevance and effectiveness” of the policy, and said they hope that their findings can help to move towards “a better use of European agricultural funds” in the EU.

Meanwhile, EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan has said the CAP delivery model will make it conditional for member states to roll out rural broadband as a prerequisite for approval of national strategic plans.

In case you missed it…

Other articles of note from IEG Policy in the past week:

EU auditors find European food safety system “overstretched”

Commission approves three-year tariffs on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar

Hogan tipped to stay on as EU Commissioner

US eyes agriculture, food safety in objectives for EU trade talks

EPA chief pumps up WOTUS proposal

Report calls for transformation of global diets to deliver sustainable food systems

USDA petitioned to ban hydroponics from using the organic seal

Missing your USDA reports?

IEG Policy subscribers can get free access to the latest grain and crop production forecasts produced by the team at our sister analyst IEG Vantage, while USDA reports are halted due to the US Government shutdown.

Get free access to IEG Vantage and a complimentary special report by following this link.

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