USDA threatens to abandon rule

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Nov. 15 it will abandon portions of a sweeping antitrust rule proposed for meat companies if Congress does not provide money for enforcement.

A Congressional committee voted late Nov. 14 to strip funding for the measures in a spending bill the full Congress is expected to approve by the end of this week.

The reforms would have changed how poultry companies pay chicken farmers and made it easier for ranchers to sue meat packers over antitrust violations. The USDA proposed the reforms in response to an order in the 2008 Farm Bill that it beef up its antitrust rules. But the agency went much further than Congress had asked.

USDA spokeswoman Courtney Rowe said that if the bill passes, the USDA will be forced to abandon the reforms.

The antitrust overhaul has been a cornerstone of the Obama administration's efforts to curb the power of the nation's biggest meat companies. It was welcomed by many small farmers who say the changes would give them more bargaining power when selling their animals.

The meat industry has lobbied heavily against the changes, claiming they would hinder their operations and raise prices.

S.D. farmer falls in grain silo, dies

MOUND CITY, S.D. (AP) -- A man died on a northern South Dakota farm when he fell about 100 feet to the ground inside a grain silo.

Campbell County Sheriff's Deputy Chuck Davidson tells The American News that 48-year-old Courtney Livingston Jr. was found by his wife Nov. 13 on the family farm southeast of Mound City.

Davidson says Livingston died while being flown to a hospital in Bismarck, N.D.

Maine may see raw milk sales

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- It may soon be OK to sell farm-fresh raw milk at Portland, Maine, farmers' markets.

The City Council's Health and Recreation Commission on Nov. 15 recommended approval of an ordinance authorizing the sale of unpasteurized milk as long as consumers are warned of the health risks of drinking raw milk.

The warning list was developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The commission members also endorsed an ordinance amendment that would allow the sale of hard cider at the city's two outdoor markets.

Both changes must be approved by the full council. A vote is likely next month.

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