Safety concerns include aflatoxins, chemical residues: As many U.S. States and Canadian provinces approach legalization of cannabis, the question of regulatory oversight has become a pressing issue. Should cannabis be treated as a drug or a food product when it comes to safety? As more people gain access to and ingest cannabis products, it’s only a matter of time before food safety becomes a primary concern for producers and regulators. Top safety concerns include aflatoxins on cannabis buds, chemical residues on cannabis plants, and pathogenic contamination from pest infestations and from improper human handling. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

Idaho dairy processor expand: Two separate dairy processors in Jerome, Idaho, are planning to expand their facilities in projects totaling $27 million. Magic Valley Quality Milk Producers, a farmer-owned dairy processing plant in Jerome is planning a $20 million expansion to their facilities. Earlier this year, Commercial Creamery Co. announced expansion of its powder processing facilities by 10,000 square feet in a project that will cost $7 million. READ MORE

Big beef carcasses pose problems: It’s a conundrum that has long plagued the beef business—what’s economically necessary for producers presents big challenges for wholesalers, retailers and most importantly, consumers. Over the past several decades, the genetic direction of the nation’s cowherd has been driving us to bigger and bigger cattle. That, in turn, drives bigger and bigger fed cattle carcasses. While that may be an economic reality for the production end of the marketing chain, it creates an alarming and difficult situation for beef marketers. READ MORE

Drones used to improve crop irrigation efficiency: A new research project funded by USDA and the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska is using drones in an effort to improve crop irrigation efficiency. Drones equipped with multispectral and thermal infrared imaging sensors will be sent up at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead, Neb., from planting to harvest to collect data. A new concept will also be tested in which a drone is used to communicate with in-field soil water content and canopy temperature sensors. READ MORE

Canada claims almost three-quarters of U.S. milk price is subsidized: For years the U.S. dairy industry has claimed that Canadian dairy producers are heavily subsidized through the country’s supply management program. This argument has been a key point in trade negotiations as the U.S. claims that the U.S. is competing on an unfair playing field. In a new report, however, Canadians have suggested that perhaps the U.S. dairy industry should examine its own subsidy programs before making accusations. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

Worst-ever listeriosis outbreak continues: Because of the biggest listeriosis outbreak to date in the world, South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is asking victims to list everything they can remember eating in the past month with the hopes of identifying a source. Of the 872 confirmed cases, 164 people have died, 43 percent babies less than a month old. A single, unique “homegrown” strain of the Listeria pathogen was identified in more than 90 percent of the confirmed cases, so the likely  source is a single food product or range of food products consumed often and by both rich and poor across South Africa. READ MORE

Empanadas recalled for misbranding: Saker ShopRites Inc., a grocery store chain based in Linden, N.J., is recalling nearly 20,000 pounds of pork and chicken empanadas because of misbranding  and an undeclared allergen, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced. The products contain egg, a known allergen, which is not listed in the ingredient statement on the label. READ MORE

WATER SAFETY

More legionnaires’ disease in Illinois: The Illinois Department of Public Health reports two new, laboratory-confirmed cases of legionnaires’ disease at an Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy. After learning of the two cases, staff removed faucets from the residents’ rooms right away and collected water samples. The veterans home just completed an extensive renovation of its plumbing systems in 2017 after a 2015 legionnaires’ disease outbreak. READ MORE

MISCELLANEOUS

Eat more rodent! California has a giant rodent problem. To clarify, it’s not that California has a huge problem with run-of-the-mill rats, it’s that the state has an emerging problem with jumbo-sized critters. Nutria, otherwise called Myocastor coypus, were thought to have been eradicated from the state’s wetlands and rivers as far back as 1965, but they have mysteriously reappeared in three counties over the past year, California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Peter Tira told NPR. READ MORE

Does China pose a ‘whole society’ threat? FBI Director Christopher Wray earlier this week reiterated a commonly held view among U.S. intelligence officials that China is seeking to become a global superpower through unconventional means. Speaking before the Senate Intelligence Committee alongside the heads of other U.S. intelligence agencies, Wray said that to undermine the U.S.’ military, economic, cultural, and informational power across the globe, China was using methods that rely on more than just its state institutions. In fact, he said China’s entire society could be viewed as posing a threat. READ MORE

Bill would exempt farms, ranches from CERCLA: Republicans and 10 Democrats in the U.S. Senate have introduced legislation that would exempt farms, ranches, and other agricultural operations from having to report livestock manure data under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the 1980 law that governs toxic Superfund sites. In this podcast, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s chief environmental counsel, Scott Yager, discusses the legislation and looks ahead to next steps, including what ranchers and farmers can do to push for passage.  LISTEN TO PODCAST