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Tuesday Morning February 19, 2008

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February 19, 2008

Table of Contents

USDA Announces Recall of Hallmark/Westland Beef Previously Placed on Hold
Lawmakers Want Investigation in Wake of Meat Safety Violations
Countdown: Eleven Days until LAC
Farm Bill Update
Iowa Legislators Hold Trans Fat Bill
As Food Prices Rise, School Nutrition Programs Feel the Pinch

In Every Issue

Legislative Action Center
Legislative Toolkit
PR Toolkit
State Policy Index
State and Federal Legislation

USDA Announces Recall of Hallmark/Westland Beef Previously Placed on Hold

On February 17, 2008, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a Class II recall by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. of Chino, Calif. of approximately 143,383,823 pounds of raw and frozen beef products that FSIS has determined to be unfit for human food because the product was produced in non-compliance with FSIS protocol: the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection. School nutrition programs that might have received the product had been holding it pending a decision from FSIS. The recall announcement means the product in question will now be destroyed.

Lawmakers Want Investigation in Wake of Meat Safety Violations

Representatives George Miller (D-Calif.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), with Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) called for an investigation into the safety of meat served in the National School Lunch Program this week.  The lawmakers signed a letter requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the safety of the meat supply. The GAO investigation comes following allegations of inhumane treatment of cattle at a California slaughterhouse.  The Humane Society of the United States released a video at the end of January showing employees of the Hallmark Meat Packing Company abusing “downers,” or cattle that had trouble standing.  The parent company of Hallmark Meat Packing is the Westland Meat Company, a major supplier to the USDA.  The USDA has suspended the Westland as a supplier.

Countdown: Eleven Days until LAC

From March 2 - 5, 2008, hundreds of school nutrition professionals are expected to converge on Washington, DC and Capitol Hill to bring several legislative priorities to Congress.  Among the highlights of LAC will be several Sunday morning breakout sessions designed to inform attendees on critical issues in preparation for Hill visits later in the conference. Among these are:

  • First Timers Session: A primer for LAC 2008.  Learn about the legislative process, lobbying and your role as an advocate for the federal child nutrition programs.
  • Maximizing Hill Visits: :  Learn the ropes from LAC veterans, particularly on how to ensure that Members of Congress and their staff understand your message. This session includes a memorable 'what not to do' skit.  
  • Legislative Victories and How to Achieve Them Part 1: Representatives from three states will share their innovative techniques for boosting school breakfast participation.
  • Legislative Victories and How to Achieve Them  Part 2: Representatives from three states will discuss how they lobbied their state legislatures to increase state funding.

Additionally the state agency and industry section meetings will be held concurrently.

Farm Bill Update

For the last few weeks, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), have been negotiating a compromise Farm Bill with the Bush Administration.  The legislators are trying to create a Farm Bill that would receive bi-partisan support and meet the President’s requirements.  Reportedly, their new version of the Farm Bill includes significant funding cuts to nutrition programs, including the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program.  The Fruit and Vegetable Program would also face significant cuts under this new proposal.

Representative Peterson has stated that he will work the Senate Agriculture Committee to create a Farm Bill that is acceptable to all lawmakers.  The Senate Agriculture Committee leadership has stated that they will be developing a counterproposal to the House bill.  It is uncertain when a new version of the Farm Bill will be cleared, but Representative Peterson stated that he is confident a new Farm Bill will be in place by March 15th.

Iowa Legislators Hold Trans Fat Bill

Members of the Iowa House have decided to hold debate on a bill that would ban the use of trans fats in school meals while they wait for the state Senate to act on a nutrition standards bill.  The nutrition standards bill being debated by the state Senate, SB 2080, would require a nutrition advisory committee to develop standards for school meals.  Additionally, the bill would require all students to participate in 30 minutes of physical activity per day.

Legislators decided to hold the trans fat bill because of the potential economic ramifications of the legislation.  Some state lawmakers felt that the bill would be a significant financial drain on school districts already meeting strict nutrition requirements.

As Food Prices Rise, School Nutrition Programs Feel the Pinch

At the end of January, the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report showing the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food is expected to rise approximately 3 to 4 percent in the next year.  In 2007, the CPI increased 4 percent, the biggest increase since 1990.  The CPI is one of the most reliable measurements for determining the cost of living – the average amount of money a person will spend to buy basic necessities such as food, clothing and housing.

Several causes are driving the price of food up, including the cost of corn and wheat, as well as record oil prices.  School nutrition programs are also feeling the pinch of rising food costs. Rising energy and grain prices are compounding financial pressures school nutrition programs already face.  Increasingly communities are calling for more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for school meals.  These items are resulting in higher costs for school districts.

The rising cost of labor also contributes to increased costs for school programs.  On average, labor contributes to a significant portion of the expenses school nutrition programs incur.  Increasing salaries and wages for full-time and part-time employees and rising health insurance premiums are stressing the finances of many school nutrition programs. For additional information, please visit Related Links.

SNA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Toolkit

PR Toolkit

State Policy Index

State and Federal Legislation

State legislation can now be accessed on the Internet through Netscan. Use Username: schoolnutrition and Password: sna

Click  State Legislation Instructions for steps to access state legislation through the service. Legislatures currently in session include:  Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and District of Columbia.

 


 
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