Pesticide rule comment period extended: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is extending the comment period for proposed revisions to the agricultural Worker Protection Standard for an additional 60 days, until Aug. 18, in response to requests from growers, the industry, farmworker advocates and states for additional time to provide input. The proposed changes to the 20-year-old regulation would provide significant improvements to worker training regarding the safe use of pesticides, including how to prevent and effectively treat pesticide exposure. Increasing the frequency of training from every five years to every year and requiring additional signage would help farmworkers protect themselves and their families from pesticide exposure. EPA also said workers and others near treated fields would be better protected from pesticide overspray and fumes. Furthermore, EPA proposed that children under 16 be legally barred from handling all pesticides. These revisions protect workers while ensuring agricultural productivity and preserving the traditions of and exemptions for family members working on family farms, the agency said.
U.S.-Canada animal disease zoning: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on a draft framework for implementing and maintaining a foreign animal disease (FAD) zoning arrangement between the U.S. and Canada. The intent of the arrangement is for APHIS and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to recognize each other's decisions to establish, maintain and release an area of control in the event of a highly contagious FAD outbreak. The draft "Framework for Implementing & Maintaining the Arrangement between the CFIA & the USDA for the Recognition of Foreign Animal Disease Control & Eradication Zones" details an operational plan for implementation. The framework also establishes processes for maintaining the arrangement over time and outlines an approach to engage government and non-government stakeholders in developing the strategy and resources to effectively implement the arrangement during an FAD outbreak. Interested stakeholders are encouraged to comment on the notice and draft framework, which were published in the May 13 Federal Register and are available at www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail degrees =APHIS_FRDOC_0001-1615. The comment period closes on July 14.
USDA rural development post nominee: President Barack Obama has nominated Lisa Mensah to serve as undersecretary for rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mensah is currently executive director of the Initiative on Financial Security at the Aspen Institute, a position she has held since December 2002. Prior to this position, Mensah worked at the Ford Foundation in a variety of roles, including deputy director of the Economic Development Unit from 1996 to 2002, deputy director of the Rural Poverty & Resources Program from 1991 to 1996 and program officer from 1989 to 1991. From 1986 to 1989, Mensah was a Citibank North America account officer in the Corporate Finance Analysis Division and assistant manager in the Europe/Middle East/Africa Banking Group. The USDA undersecretary post was previously held by Dallas Tonsager, who retired in May 2013.
Firm invests in ferrous sulfate company: Paine & Partners LLC, a global private equity investment firm focused on food and agribusiness, announced that it has made a strategic investment in QC Corp., a producer and supplier of granular and dry micronutrients and ferrous sulfate products. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. QC is one of the largest processors of moist and dried ferrous sulfate products in North America and the only domestic producer of all forms of technical and agricultural grade ferrous sulfate in North America. QC currently has two independent ferrous sulfate operations: one in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and one in North Lima, Ohio. Ferrous sulfate has applications in fertilizers and animal feed, soil remediation, land reclamation, hazardous waste and water treatment and chemical processing industries, to name a few.
Egg research: The Egg Industry Center (EIC) at Iowa State University announced that it is seeking pre-proposals for egg industry-oriented research to fund through its grant award program. The EIC research grant program is intended to focus research on top concerns for the egg industry while providing a platform to explore other opportunities for the industry's future. "The number of pre-proposals in response to the 2013 call created a highly competitive selection process," said Hongwei Xin, EIC director and Iowa State professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and animal science. "The 24 submissions highlighted even more the need for the research endowment the center has established to serve industry and those affected by it." The deadline for pre-proposals is June 16. Researchers can find submission information at www.eggindustrycenter.org. After a review of the pre-proposals, finalists will be notified to submit a full proposal for further consideration. Those will be reviewed for scientific merits by a committee of area-specific experts. The committee submits evaluations to the EIC board of directors, which determines the winning proposals.