There were so many stories, ranging from the trivial to the amusing to those things that really created a moment when we had to ask "WTF" (Where's the Farmer). I'm sure this year's top stories were no different in their impact on our lives than last year's biggies. We've been chasing a lot of the same issues for years.
The leaders of this infamous group are best described as alphabet soup issues: LFTB, GMO, MCOOL, ACA, HSUS. The rest need more descriptive terms. All of them can be called nothing new. They were hot issues in the past and most of them will stay with us through the new year and the next.
Here they are in no particular order:
ACA: How's your health, my friend? The feds want to know, at least the feds on the left side of the aisle. Those that sit on the other side? Not so much. No other program has created such a controversy since the 1960's war on poverty begat Medicare and Medicaid. The Republican party tried unsuccessfully over 40 times to roll it back, a huge waste of congressional time. The Supremes OK'd it by one vote. Obama's vaunted technical team dropped the ball on the web site when the program rolled out in October. No matter, it is the law of the land and the controversy will continue ad nauseum.
GMO: Are they the golden bullet that will save us from world starvation or an evil product of the villainous Monsantoian tribe of St. Louis that will ruin our genetics and eventually kill anyone who consumes anything made from them? Must products containing GMO's be labeled so consumers can make informed decisions as some special interest groups insist or is labeling a waste of time and money as other groups claim?
LFTB: BPI's lean, finely textured beef (LFTB), commonly known by the ill-informed as 'pink slime,' was repeatedly assailed by ABC News. The production crew that created the news report grabbed the sensationalism generated by some obscure British short order cook who poured a bottle of household ammonia into an ancient washing machine filled with meat to falsely demonstrate how the product was made. Bettina Elias Segal, a woman with no scientific background, jumped on the same washing machine band wagon and created a nation-wide incident. Science be damned. Plants shut down, hundreds of jobs were lost, and BPI filed a billion dollar law suit against ABC. The trial has just begun.
MCOOL: To label or not to label, that is the question that's driving a toxic wedge between two great trading partners. Should meat from Canada be labeled as such so American consumers will know that they are not 'buying American" thereby protecting them from heinous infections from foreign goods? Does the U.S. have to abide by WTO decisions even though we have gone to their 'court of appeals' asking for relief as often as others have taken us to task? One thing is certain; the WTO said no to our original labeling requirements and the USDA remedied the situation by issuing essentially the same regs. Will they say no again? Will the Canadian government make good on their threat to issue retaliatory tariffs? First answer might come from a possible farm bill.