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CSPI requests cancer warning labels on processed meat

‘Food police’ seek cancer warning labels on processed meats; Congress looks to wrap up 2016; farm income down third year in a row; biodiesel tax extenders idling; Pelosi holds off challenge.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to require packages of bacon, ham, hot dogs and other processed meat and poultry products to carry warning labels that these products may increase the risk of colon and colorectal cancer. CSPI is asking for labels of all meat and poultry products preserved by smoking, curing, salting and/or the addition of chemical preservatives to bear the following message: “USDA WARNING: Frequent consumption of processed meat products may increase your risk of developing cancer of the colon and rectum. To protect your health, limit consumption of such products.”

CSPI says, “Consumers deserve these warning labels to help them make informed choices about the foods they eat. Consumers who want to reduce their cancer risk may avoid processed meats or eat them much less often; other people may simply ignore the label. But without question, USDA should give people that choice.”

The North American Meat Institute in a statement says, “An alarmist, sensational petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest today seeking warning labels on safe, nutritious and USDA-inspected meat products is the most recent example of the scare tactics that have earned the group the nickname ‘the food police.’ The petition ignores numerous studies showing no correlation between meat and cancer and many more studies showing the many health benefits of balanced diets that include meat. Scientific evidence shows cancer is a complex disease not caused by single foods and that a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices are essential to good health.”

Congress trying to wrap up by Friday
Congressional leaders are working toward wrapping up the 114th Congress as early as this Friday. The major item is passing a continuing resolution that will keep the government running through April 30 of next year. This will give the Republican-controlled Congress and the Trump administration time to determine funding priorities for the remainder of Fiscal Year ’17.

Other items that Congress is trying to complete are defense reauthorization legislation and a water resources reauthorization bill. Various tax credits that expire on Dec. 31 will have to wait for the new Congress.

Farm income drops third year in a row
Net cash farm income for 2016 is forecast at $90.1 billion which is 14.6% lower than last year. Net farm income is expected to reach $66.9 billion, 17.2% below last year, and the lowest since 2009.

According to the latest projections of USDA’s Economic Research Service, this will be the third year in a row that farm income has declined. The largest sector drop in cash receipts is animal and animal products with a decline of $23.4 billion or a 12.3% drop.

Crop receipt forecasts are expected to remain unchanged. ERS predicts government payments will increase at the same time production expenses will decline. Government payments are estimated to increase by $2.1 billion to $12.9 billion, an increase of 19% over last year, to $12.9 billion. Production expenses are expected to drop $9.2 billion compared to 2015.

Biodiesel tax extenders will have to wait until new Congress
Congress will not be considering legislation that would extend the $1-a-gallon tax credit for biodiesel and tax extenders for cellulosic ethanol production and alternative fuel infrastructure before it adjourns this year. The House leadership plans to consider these items next year when a tax reform package is considered.

Pelosi prevails against challenge
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) prevailed in her efforts to remain Minority Leader for the 115th Congress by a vote of 134-63. The last time Pelosi faced a challenge, 43 Democratic members voted against her. This time she was challenged by Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) who ran in response to the Democrat’s disappointing November election results gaining only six House seats; the failure to deliver a compelling message to blue-collar workers; and it was time for a change in leadership after Democrats failed to regain the House.

Even though she won, the margin of victory signals a discontent with her leadership within the Democratic caucus. Things will need to improve for House Democrats or she will face an even stronger challenge in two years. 

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