Issue Update: Senator Roberts Releases GMO Labeling Language

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R – KS) recently released a discussion draft of legislation that includes a federal preemption of the Vermont GMO labeling legislation set to go into effect July 1, 2016.

The draft language would also establish national standards for voluntarily labeling bioengineered ingredients and would define bioengineering relatively narrowly as involving recombinant DNA techniques that make modifications that “could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.”

In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be required to survey consumer knowledge about agricultural biotechnology to determine whether consumers have access to information about genetically engineered products. The results of the study would be due in four years.

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, provides a brief update via the Linder Farm Network as to the status of GMO labeling legislation in the United States Senate, as well as the potential impact of a study recently released by the Corn Refiners Association.

Part 1 of the interview can be accessed here:

Part 2 of the interview can be accessed here:

Part 3 of the interview can be accessed here:

For additional information, please contact RDL & Associates at

Roberts proposes GMO bill in bid to speed Senate action (via Agri-Pulse Communications)

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts proposed legislation to block state GMO labeling laws, warning that time is running out to protect farmers and food companies from requirements set to take effect in Vermont this July.

The Kansas Republican also announced plans for his committee to debate and vote on the legislation next Thursday. 

He said he was open to changes in the seven-page bill but couldn’t wait any longer to start moving legislation, given the growing industry anxiety about the looming Vermont law. Roberts has been discussing a compromise bill with the committee’s ranking Democrat, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, but they don’t have a deal yet. 

Late Friday, Stabenow issued a statement saying she supported  Roberts in his “urgency to address this critical issue and remains committed to working with him to find a solution that provides consumers with access to information they desire and certainty for our food industry.  

“There is still a lot of work to do to get to a bill that can get the broad bipartisan support needed to pass the U.S. Senate.”

Roberts said his draft bill “serves as a framework to find a solution for a patchwork of laws, and I will continue to work with members of the Agriculture Committee on potential amendments. However, we are out of time. The time to act is now. Negotiations will continue in an effort to reach Committee agreement.”

In addition to preempting state labeling laws, his bill also would require the Agriculture Department to set national standards for voluntarily labeling bioengineered ingredients. The bill would define bioengineering relatively narrowly as involving recombinant DNA techniques that make modifications that “could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.”

In addition, USDA and the Health and Human Services Department would be required to survey consumer knowledge about agricultural biotechnology to determine whether consumers have access to information about genetically engineered products. The results of the study would be due in four years.

The bill stops short of mandating that companies disclose genetically engineered ingredients, either on labels or through a smartphone and web-based system, called SmartLabel, that the industry has recently launched as an alternative to listing information on packages. 

Stabenow has insisted that the bill would have to provide for mandatory disclosure of GMOs in order to get enough Democratic support to pass the Senate. 

Roberts said that he didn’t believe the House would accept mandatory disclosure. In interviews with Agri-Pulse, House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, has said he is opposed to mandatory disclosure but didn’t rule out negotiations on that point.

The House last summer passed a preemption bill, 275-150, but negotiations bogged down in the Senate last fall when key Democratic senators balked at allowing a preemption measure to be included in the fiscal 2016 spending bill that was enacted in December.

The House bill, called the Safe and Affordable Food Labeling Act (HR 1599), also would set standards for labeling foods as non-GMO. Roberts didn’t include those provisions in his legislation. 

The Campbell Soup Co. announced last month that it would start labeling its products for the presence of biotech ingredients and dropped out of the industry effort to get Congress to pass a preemption bill. 

But other companies, led by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, continue to press for legislation that would allow the SmartLabel system to be the primary, if not the sole, means of disclosing GMOs. 

GMA last week sent a letter to six Democratic senators, seeking to assure them that the SmartLabel could be easily accessed by low-income shoppers while also protecting consumer privacy. 

The bill would likely need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster on the Senate floor and Roberts says he isn’t sure all 54 Republicans would support his legislation. 

“This isn’t really a partisan issue. This really falls out  geographically, so there may be some Republicans who have concerns for this.  But we won’t know until we have a bill,” Roberts said in an interview this week with Agri-Pulse.

“We can sit across the table and talk about this clear past July, and have the wrecking ball come through the whole damn agriculture production industry.” 

The key points of the Roberts bill appeared to line up with what industry representatives were pushing for during two days of unsuccessful negotiations led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

Vilsack told a House subcommittee that the talks broke down over whether GMOs had to be disclosed on food labels or whether it would be enough to ensure that electronic disclosure would be adequate to serve consumer needs.

The Roberts bill wouldn’t provide any additional funding to USDA and HHS to carry out the study or the consumer education campaign for which USDA would be responsible. 

Food industry and farm groups aapplauded Roberts for moving ahead with the bill. 

“This common-sense solution will provide consumers with more information about ingredients in their food and beverage products and prevent a patchwork of confusing and costly state labeling mandates,” said Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

But Gary Hirshberg, chairmen of the pro-labeling group Just Label It, urged the committee to reject the legislation. “Allowing food companies to make voluntary disclosures will simply perpetuate the status quo that has left consumers in the dark.”

For a link to the Chairman’s Mark:

Radio Interview: Randy Doyal, Chairman of the Renewable Fuels Association (via ZimmComm New Media)

The interview can be accessed here:

Renewable Fuels Association Releases Ethanol Publications (via Renewable Fuels Association)

During the National Ethanol Conference (NEC), the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) released updated editions for two of its most popular publications: the Ethanol Industry Outlook and the Pocket Guide to Ethanol.

The Outlook and Pocket Guide provide readers with up-to-date statistics, insights and analysis on the critical issues facing the U.S. ethanol industry today. Readers are provided a comprehensive guide to key policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), background information on market activity, and the latest facts and figures regarding energy security, the environment, the economy, agriculture, and trade. For the first time, RFA is also releasing the Outlook divided into series of downloadable two-page “issue briefs.”

The Ethanol Industry Outlook offers a complete overview of each topic, along with detailed charts and graphs. The Pocket Guide to Ethanol contains the same information as the Outlook, but in a simpler, portable format that includes many myth-busting factoids about ethanol.

“As the information contained in these editions show, 2015 proved to be a banner year for the ethanol industry,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “These publications are meant to give readers the best overview possible of the industry so that they get a true sense of how far this industry has come and where it is expected to head next. With so much misinformation clouding the reality about ethanol, it is important for consumers, investors, and policymakers to be armed with the facts contained in these publications.”

View the 2016 Ethanol Industry Outlook

View the 2016 Pocket Guide to Ethanol

Two-page issue briefs:

Copies of the 2016 Ethanol Industry Outlook and Pocket Guide to Ethanol are available in print and online. To order a hard copy, contact Luke Lawal at (202) 289-3835 or at The online version is available at

Issue Update: Federal Crop Insurance

With the elimination of direct payments during the last farm bill, one of the largest “pots of money” on the table remains the federal crop insurance program.  As such, it continues to drawn attention from all quarters – in much the same way bees are drawn to honey.

The Obama Administration’s budget proposal for the United States Department of Agriculture includes $1.26 billion in crop insurance reductions for fiscal year (fy) 2017 and an estimated $18 billion over 10 years.

The Administration proposal would reduce premium subsidies for revenue policies that have a harvest price option (HPO). It would also eliminate buy-up coverage for prevented planting insurance.

The current producer premium subsidy, on average, is 62 percent. The Administration believes the average should be closer to 50 percent.

The president’s budget outline, of course, is simply that — an outline.  The Administration has laid out its priorities but this is just the first step of the dance.  Members of Congress will heavily scrutinize and revise the proposal and will adopt their own budget blueprint prior to beginning work on individual appropriations bills.

Although the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R – KS) and his counterpart, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R – TX) have pronounced the Administration’s crop insurance provisions “dead on arrival” the current crop insurance debate is an indicator of battles yet to come.

The proposal comes at a time when farm income for this year.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), producer income will have gone down 56 percent since 2013.  As producers face lower farm income, risk management tools such as crop insurance continue to be a critical component of their marketing plan.

Crop insurance protects a producer’s yield and price, as well as providing collateral and a repayment source for operating loans, term loans for machinery, livestock, facilities and real estate loans.  As producers have shifted to protecting income rather than yield, the greater coverage provided by higher levels of revenue policy coverage means significantly greater protection for the producer’s revenue stream.

In a larger sense, it is unclear as to what the national impact of reductions to producer premium subsidies would be on producers and those entities that currently serve the crop insurance marketplace.  It is likely, however, that lower producer premium subsidies would stifle producer utilization of crop insurance as a risk-management tool. Likewise, lower reimbursement rates would most likely be passed along to producers in the form of higher premiums or diminished service.

Most producers cannot afford not to have some type of protection. Therefore, their profit margins would be further reduced if premiums are raised. Many young and beginning producers, who traditionally have less collateral and equity, would face additional challenges in obtaining financing.

A wide range of strong risk-management tools for producers and the proposed reductions in the crop insurance program could adversely impact producers and hinder their ability to manage risk.  Without a viable program, it is likely that lending standards would need to be much more stringent in order to maintain sound credit quality.

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, recently provided a brief update via the Linder Farm Network regarding the landscape for federal crop insurance.

Part 1 of the update can be accessed here:

Part 2 of the update can be accessed here:

Issue Update: GMO Labeling

Although Congress failed to address the issue of GMO labeling during final consideration of the fiscal year (fy) 2016 Omnibus spending package, both Republican and Democratic Senators (including Senators Roberts, Stabenow and Senate leadership) have stated the need to address the GMO labeling issue immediately in the early months of 2016.

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, provides a brief update via the Linder Farm Network as to the status of GMO labeling legislation in the United States Senate.

The GMO labeling segment can be accessed here:

Introducing “DROP”; The Newest Way to Enhance Digital Marketing


Traditional media and digital media are always interconnected, with mainstream media relying on digital media for fact checking, identifying sources for their own stories and extending the reach of their news coverage. Digital media has a “Ripple Effect” and allows for persuasion and recruiting outreach to be coupled with sustained contact and mobilization.

The rise of digital media has fundamentally changed the way companies and organizations connect with new and existing stakeholders. Outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have altered the landscape of communications – and have created unprecedented ways to target a message to a desired membership or customer base.

What is DROP?

Millions of people now receive their news online. DROP is a new and exciting way to market, since your market will come to you. This innovative network marketing method changes how digital marketing is done. RDL & Associates, in conjunction with our strategic partners, will  utilize your company’s marketing materials and couple them with internet stories that are related to your industry. In doing so, we make your piece the top comment on that story’s comment board.

Hundreds of thousands of people can see the story, thousands will “LIKE” the story and all those who like the comment will see your message. This will help you find new clients, build a grass-roots marketing campaign and helps with brand awareness.

We also employee a team of internet gate-keepers, which will protect you from individuals or organizations on the internet who choose to harm your brand by posting negative comments and articles that could harm the reputation of your company or organization.

Should you choose to do so, your company or organization will also have the ability to go on the offensive. Our team will monitor your competitors marketing messages and counter them with relevant stories and posts.

For a free trial, please contact Dave Ladd with RDL & Associates at (651) 247-5458 or via e-mail at

To learn more about the strategic communications services offered by RDL & Associates, please visit

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