A diverse coalition of farm and food trade associations today filed a suit in federal court to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to allow gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (“E15”) to be sold for cars manufactured in the 2007 model year or later.

Farm and food petitioners in the suit, which was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, include the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the National Meat Association, the National Turkey Federation, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers Council, the Snack Food Association and the American Frozen Food Institute.

The Coalition objects to the EPA’s decision on the grounds that granting a “partial waiver” of the Clean Air Act allowing E15 to be used only in cars built after model year 2006 is not within the agency’s legal authority. The petitioners argue that under the Clean Air Act the EPA administrator may only grant a waiver for a new fuel additive if it “will not cause or contribute to a failure of any emission control device or system.”

The Coalition said: “In approving E15, which is compatible only with certain, later-model automobile and other types of engines, the EPA has clearly exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act. The EPA has unlawfully interpreted the statute to achieve a particular outcome. The agency has a legal obligation to adhere to the letter and spirit of the Clean Air Act and, in this case, has failed to do so. We are confident that the Court will agree and require the EPA to reverse course.”

American Meat Institute President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle said: “Corn prices have increased since USDA released estimates that corn production for this year was going to be 3.4 percent less than 2009. This will put pressure on the meat and poultry supply, which will lead to higher food prices for consumers. For those consumers worried about climbing food prices, this decision will increase the amount of corn being diverted to our gas tanks and away from meat and poultry production. It’s unfortunate that EPA acted hastily and approved the use of E15, and now the American consumer will pay for it at the grocery store.”

National Meat Association CEO Barry Carpenter said: “National Meat Association is joining this petition because EPA has overstepped its legal authority and taken action contrary to the interests of consumers and food producers. NMA believes the petition is necessary to defend against the cost increases and food insecurity that will result from EPA's action."

Source: NMA

Beef exporters want trade agreement with Korea settled quickly

U.S. beef exporters are saying that they would rather see a trade agreement with South Korea approved quickly rather than hold out for concessions on their behalf. The American Meat Institute, Bloomberg reports, noted that other countries like Australia and Canada are pushing their own trade agreements, and any delays may hurt U.S. producers.

“The market is coming back, and it would be a shame to lose this opportunity,” said William Westman, vice president for international trade at the Washington group. American exporters “don’t want to be put at a disadvantage to our competitors.”

U.S. beef exports to Korea are up 175 percent in the first eight months of the year to $331 million. Mass protests in Korea following the lifting of the BSE-induced ban on U.S. beef imports prompted the U.S. producers to supply beef from cattle younger than 30 months. The NCBA reports that more than 90 percent of U.S. beef exports come from cattle younger than 30 months, and a major issue in the trade agreement is the removal of that 30-month cap.

Beef producers are worried that pushing for such a pledge may mean a delay for the overall agreement, or a backlash among Korean consumers who will spurn U.S. beef, said Jeffrey Schott, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

“From the point of view of the U.S. beef exporters, it’s a no-brainer” to get the deal done, said Schott, who traveled to Seoul in recent weeks to meet Korean officials. “This doesn’t seem like it’s worth blowing up the deal over.”

President Barack Obama is to meet South Korea President Lee Myung Bak in Seoul tomorrow, and both sides are aiming to wrap up talks on the agreement before then. Beef is one of the two issues that U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said must be renegotiated before the agreement, which has languished since being signed in 2007, can be sent to Congress. Kirk hasn’t said what changes he is seeking.

Source: Bloomberg

Chesapeake Bay Foundation supports ban on arsenic in chicken feed

In response to a new report by Food & Water Watch on arsenic in chicken feed and a link to increased risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation says that it supports a ban on arsenic in feed. Kim Coble, Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says farmers have alternatives and the potential risk to the environment and human health warrants caution, reports the Associated Press.

Some growers, including Perdue, have stopped using arsenic. However, Delmarva Poultry Industry, a poultry trade association, successfully fought bills in the Maryland legislature this year that would have banned arsenic in poultry feed, noting it is approved by federal regulators.

Source: AP, Canadian Business Online

ConAgra, “supermarket guru� launch weekly news webcast

In conjunction with ConAgra Foods, leading consumer trend analyst and Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert is announcing the launch of Food News Today - a live, weekly webcast capturing the most relevant food and trend news of the week, from the perspective of a leading industry professional with more than 25 years of experience predicting and reporting on food industry trends. Food News Today will air on Wednesdays beginning November 10.

Taste, health, nutrition, convenience, sustainability and value are among the issues American shoppers are now faced with every time they go to a supermarket - and they're demanding to know more. Food News Today will cover these topics and more each week, and viewers will be able to directly interact with Lempert in a public question-and-answer forum after the webcast.

"The idea of this webcast is simple," says Lempert. "I have always hoped for a weekly breakfast with media leaders where we could spend a few hours discussing and dissecting the week's events. Technology now makes this possible with Food News Today, which cuts through the clutter to give both traditional and social media easy access to the stories and trends that their readers want to know - and in a short, succinct format they can easily use."

Food News Today will be made exclusively available to select media during a live broadcast each Wednesday beginning at 9:30 a.m. CST. Attendees will access the webcast and get a sneak peak of that week's stories through a unique link and password that they will receive via e-mail each Tuesday. Immediately following the broadcast, Lempert will host a live chat with the attendees where he will answer questions pertaining to the week's segment. On Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. CST, the content will be made available to the general public by visiting www.FoodNewsToday.com.

"We are thrilled to partner with Phil Lempert on this exciting initiative," says Stephanie Moritz, senior director of Public Relations and Social Media at ConAgra Foods. "Together, we share a desire to arm consumers and media with valuable information and insights to help them make informed choices about the ever changing food industry. Phil provides a unique and informed perspective that will help consumers cut through the clutter."

Source: ConAgra Foods

Feeling stressed out, men? Look at a steak

A study from McGill University are suggesting that the sight of cooked red meat has a calming effect on men and makes them significantly less aggressive. Frank Kachanoff of the college’s psychology department says he was surprised at the finding, which was presented at a recent science symposium at the university, reports the Canadian Press.

A total of 82 men were recruited and believed that they could punish an aide reading a script with various volumes of sound every time he made an error while they sorted photos — some with pictures of meat, and others with neutral images. The researchers initially believed the men would inflict more discomfort on the script reader while they sorted photos of cooked red meat, but that didn't turn out to be the case.

Kachanoff said the calming effect could be traced back to the earliest humans, because cooked meat reminded males of mealtimes.

“Our ancestors would be calm as they would be surrounded by friends and family at mealtime,” said Kachanoff.

Source: The Canadian Press