Government Decisions Met with Fierce CriticismBy Jan Hogewoning | Fri, 10/09/2020 - 10:28
The government’s decision to terminate the position of Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development was met with strong disapproval from the National Council of Agriculture (CNA). CNA President Bosco de La Vega was quoted last week saying “this move represents the resignation of this government to represent the interests of farmers who guarantee national food supply.” The government justified the decision citing austerity measures. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Victor Villalobos stated this decision would not impact the activities that were formerly assigned to the deputy minister.
In another shocking decision, MORENA senators voted this Tuesday to terminate 106 trust funds. FONDO, a fund managed by the National Finance for Agricultural, Rural and Fisheries Development (FND), was included in the decision. Critics have stated this may deal a ‘deadly blow’ to the only development bank with a legal mandate to provide credit to agricultural producers. Meanwhile, others have stated that FONDO technically does not classify as a trust and therefore does not belong in the list in the first place. The government has stated that it is going to assign a committee of eight individuals to review the funds, having supported this move because it alleged a lack of transparency and activities of corruption.
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Ministry Announcement and Actions
A few days after the removal of the position of the deputy minister of agriculture, Minister of Agriculture Villalobos stated that the support to producers with public resources would be strengthened. This, he said, includes areas of agricultural health, animal health, technical assistance and training, with the development of technologies, soil improvement and sustainable use of natural resources. The statements came after a meeting with representatives of producers of corn, sugar cane, coffee and aquaculture in the state of Chiapas, along with federal deputies. One of the activities, he indicated, would be the continuous revision of the progress of schemes to ensure transparency and prevent corruption. Another tool that will be considered is the elimination of intermediaries.
Mexico and the US renewed the Alliance for Food Safety this week in a meeting between the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Health with the US Food and Drug Administration. The new agreement replaces one signed in 2014. Both sides have agreed to identify more areas of collaboration to increase food safety.
Products and Consumption
Mexico maintains its position as the highest per capita consumer of eggs, with 23kg per person a year, which equates to approximately 345 eggs. The country is followed by Russia with 18.4kg and Colombia with 16.2kg.
Consumer watchdog PROFECO reported this week that several brands of yoghurt found in supermarket shelves were found to contain higher levels of sugar than Coca-Cola.
Agro-Companies in Mexico
On Oct. 6, Bayer announced that it started receiving applications for its Grants4Ag initiative. This program was first launched in 2015, and offers researchers the chance to receive financial support and scientific consulting for ideas that could be adopted by Bayer’s Crop Science division. The deadline for submitting projects is Oct. 31 of this year. Winners will receive a grant between US$5,000 to US$15,000 and have the chance to work together with Bayer scientists.
Despite a reduction of 9 percent in hospital bed use, Mayor of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum stated this week that the city was not yet going into yellow light in the contingency plan. However, it was starting to transition to such a phase, she stated. Color yellow would allow public spaces like parks and forests to open on a regular basis, closed public spaces like cinemas, theaters, restaurants and churches to open at reduced capacity and all essential and non-essential work activities to resume at limited capacity and limited hours.
Mexico-US Border Water Dispute
President López Obrador has blamed the opposition-run Chihuahua government for stirring up the conflict over water management with the US. This has, Reuters writes, allowed opposition parties to paint López Obrador off as opposing the will of his own nationals. Meanwhile, the president has stated that the governor of Chihuahua is staking a campaign to gain political points.