french yellow vests

They could eventually impact world economy: The situation in France bears close attention. Fuel tax rises which have led to weeks of violent protests in France have now been postponed for six months, but new data just in shows that in 2017 France became the most heavily taxed of the world’s rich countries. The figures were published the day after President Emmanuel Macron backed off the fuel-tax increase that enraged much of the nation and sparked a grass-roots protest movement against his government. The protests have hit major cities, causing damage and disruption over the past three weekends. The Macron government is in significant peril and could fall if the protests continue to escalate. This could have an eventual impact on the world economy if investors start to get nervous about the protests. France does export food and wine to the U.S. Disruption, however, would have minimal impact as France is not a major source of food products to the U.S. Problems with wine imports to the United States would cause consternation with some consumers, but the disruption (if any) would not be a major concern.

The riots’ impact for now is more focused on France and the larger EU. Interesting times ahead are possible, the repercussions of which cannot be predicted. France has suffered from largely unacknowledged riots and car burnings over the last several years, but what is happening in France today, particularly in Paris, is something more widespread and much large in scale. The impetus of the riots was gasoline policies announced by the Macron-led government; Macron grossly underestimated the impact these gas taxes would have on the average citizen and businesses that rely on transportation. His deaf ear to this potential suffering and economic impact has caused his popularity to crater. The violence is not dissipating and confluence with other French citizen’s concerns is rapidly taking hold, including concerns about immigration, food prices, etc. The “Yellow Vest” riots do not appear to be widely manufactured by outside forces, but instead appear to be mostly organic and organized through social media.

Europe as a whole is in a significant state of societal flux, exacerbated in part by immigration policies that have led to a large influx of people from other parts in the world. Citizens in several EU member states are increasingly growing tired of the imposed rules and regulations. The EU will be severely tested in the coming months, and Brexit may be just the first of many nations’ exits from the EU.  Read more HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

ANIMAL HEALTH

Activists take on Kansas ‘ag-gag’ law: A coalition of public interest groups this week filed a lawsuit in Kansas challenging the constitutionality of the state’s so-called “ag-gag” law, which protects the property rights of livestock owners. Activists led by the Animal Legal Defense Fund say the Kansas law, which has been on the books since 1990, is the oldest such law in the nation. READ MORE

FOOD & ENVIRONMENT

NE Oklahomans push back against onslaught of poultry farms: Oklahoma’s board of agriculture will consider adopting setbacks and other emergency rules to address a proliferation of poultry feeding operations in the northeast part of the state. More than 200 new poultry operations have been approved in the last 12 months to supply a processing plant being constructed just across the state line in Arkansas. Neighbors say the poultry facilities will make old rural neighborhoods unlivable, ruin roads, contaminate water, depress property values, kill tourism and chase residents away. Read more HERE and HERE.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

Warning calls didn’t reach Paradise residents: Emergency phone calls telling Paradise residents to run from the massive Camp fire failed to reach more than a third of even the minority who signed up for the warnings, according to a data review by the Los Angeles Times. Many of the town’s residents said they relied on calls from alarmed relatives and the sight of approaching flames to flee from California’s worst fire on Nov. 8. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY

Managing a hack: It’s not a question of if a company will be hacked, but when they will find the hack. The realities of the cyberspace make it too difficult to reliably keep hackers out of corporate networks, so security teams need to focus on stopping hackers from leaving with stolen data. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

USDA provides GAP Assistance funding: The USDA will provide $3.7 million of assistance to fruit and vegetable growers in 16 states through a GAP Assistance Program to enhance market access by defraying costs of undergoing voluntary USDA Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audits in 2019. READ MORE

FOOD DEFENSE

FSPCA offers food defense vulnerability assessment training: The Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance is offering an online training course for food professionals using FDA’s Key Activity Type (KAT) method to conduct their facility’s food defense vulnerability assessment (VA). The Food Safety Modernization Act’s Final Rule on Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration regulation is intended to protect food from intentional acts of adulteration where there is an intent to cause wide scale public health harm. MORE INFORMATION