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Obama vetoes Keystone pipeline bill


February 24, 2015 | In a matter of intense interest today, President Barack Obama vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act. ...

Vilsack monitors farm program signup on daily basis, mum on extension


February 24, 2015 | Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Senate Agriculture Committee today that he monitors the rate of sign-up for the new crop farm program on a daily basis. He said he will not make a decision at this time about whether to extend the deadlines because there is a “registry” system that should allow all participants to start the process. ...

Senate Ag holds confirmation hearing on FCA nominees


February 24, 2015 | The Senate Agriculture Committee today held a hearing on two nominees to the board of the Farm Credit Administration, Dallas Tonsager and Jeffery Hall. ...

Kass joins United Fresh to celebrate 4,000 salad bars


February 24, 2015 | The coming battle over whether to continue fruit and vegetable requirements in school meals programs was evident today when Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools — a coalition of Whole Foods Market, the United Fresh Start Foundation, the Chef Ann Foundation, and the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance — celebrated its 4,000th donation of a salad bar, to the Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary School in Baltimore. ...

Greenstein, Besharov to testify at SNAP hearing


February 24, 2015 | The House Agriculture Committee has announced that the witnesses for its hearing Wednesday on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will be Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Douglas Besharov, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. ...

Harden establishes women’s network


February 24, 2015 | Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden has established a Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network. ...

White House announces healthy plans for Easter Egg Roll, opens ticket lottery


February 24, 2015 | President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama announced Monday that the theme of this year’s Easter Egg Roll will be #GimmeFive, part of the first lady’s campaign to encourage people to do five things for healthier eating. ...

Farm, nutrition conservation groups oppose all cuts to farm bill programs


February 23, 2015 | In an extraordinary display of unity, 392 farm, nutrition and conservation groups have written congressional budget letters urging no cuts in any programs within the jurisdiction of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees. …

West Coast ports reopen amid longterm concerns


February 23, 2015 | West Coast ports are near normal activity, Bloomberg reported today, but there will be backlogs. There are also concerns that similar problems may occur again in five years. Meanwhile, farm groups called for longterm improvements at the ports. …

Obama joins first lady in video to celebrate Let's Move!


February 23, 2015 | The White House today released a video in which President Barack Obama joins First Lady Michelle Obama in a somewhat comedic video to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Let's Move!, her campaign against childhood obesity. …

First lady participates in Billy on the Street segment


February 23, 2015 | The White House last week released a link to a segment of Billy on the Street in which First Lady Michelle Obama champions eating “brighter.” The segment was filmed in a Washington, D.C., Safeway in January. …

Michelle Obama talks to two cooking publications


February 23, 2015 | Two magazines — ChopChop and Cooking Light — have released interviews with First Lady Michelle Obama. …

Kass to speak at MIT Media Lab today


February 23, 2015 | Sam Kass, former White House nutrition adviser and executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative against childhood obesity, will participate in a “conversation” today at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass. The event will be webcast. …

Report recommends end of food aid cargo preference


February 23, 2015 | A George Mason University report released Friday recommends that Congress eliminate food aid cargo preference. …

Corker, Coons reintroduce bill to change food aid


February 23, 2015 | Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., have reintroduced their bill to make changes to the food aid program. They propose to transfer the food aid programs from the farm bill to foreign assistance programs. …

National Grain and Feed urges limits on CRP


February 23, 2015 | The National Grain and Feed Association has urged the Agriculture Department to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program only land that addresses key environmental concerns, such as water quality and soil erosion. It seeks to avoid enrollment of large, productive tracts of land in the land-idling program. …

National Journal: Congress has no plan to fund DHS; TSA agents may go unpaid; GOP candidates vary on positions


February 23, 2015 | National Journal said today that even though funding for the Homeland Security Department expires Friday, Congress is returning with no plan to fund the agency. …

Merrigan to succeed Hirshberg at AGree


February 23, 2015 | Former Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will succeed Gary Hirshberg, an organic farmer, as one of the co-chairs of AGree, the foundation-founded initiative on longterm agricultural issues. …

USDA Food Market News celebrates centennial


February 23, 2015 | ARLINGTON, Va. — USDA Food Market News, the daily news service on the price of commodities, celebrated its 100th anniversary during the Agriculture Outlook Forum last week. …

AP: Deal reached on West Coast ports


February 20, 2015 | Negotiators reached a tentative contract covering West Coast dockworkers on Friday evening, likely ending a protracted labor dispute that snarled international trade at seaports handling about $1 trillion worth of cargo annually, the Associated Press reported. ...

Lindsey Graham becomes 11th candidate to accept Iowa Ag Summit invite


February 20, 2015 | Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has become the 11th potential presidential candidate to accept an invitation to speak at the March 7 Iowa Agriculture Summit, the summit organizers said today. ...

Scientific Report of 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee


February 20, 2015 | Egg, dairy industries laud report, CSPI gives mixed review, red meat groups criticize it
The United Egg Producers and dairy groups have praised the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report released Thursday, while the Center for Science in the Public Interest praised it with some caveats and the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association criticized it. ...

Vilsack, Vetter promote trade promotion authority


February 20, 2015 | ARLINGTON, Va. — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday that congressional votes on granting President Barack Obama trade promotion authority are still “a close call,” although he and Darci Vetter, the chief agriculture negotiator, both said they are working hard to convince Congress to vote for it. ...

Haass makes light comments at Ag Outlook Forum


February 20, 2015 | ARLINGTON, Va. — Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass told the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum here Thursday that his presence signaled the importance of agriculture in international security, but he also provided a few lights moments at the event. ...

Vilsack, Harden, Vetter to travel to Phoenix


February 20, 2015 | Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will speak at the Growth Energy Executive Leadership Conference in Phoenix on Thursday and at the Commodity Classic on Friday, the Agriculture Department said today. ...

Senate Finance to hold trade hearing, but Wyden says it is premature


February 20, 2015 | Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said today he will convene a hearing on “Congress and U.S. tariff policy” next Thursday. ...

Roberts intends to propose school meal flexibility, hold hearing on Cuba


February 20, 2015 | Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told the Kansas Ag Network this week that he intends to propose “flexibility” in school meals as part of the reauthorization of child nutrition programs, and to hold a hearing on U.S. relations with Cuba but not reopen the farm programs in the farm bill. ...

Conservation groups oppose Obama’s proposed cuts


February 20, 2015 | A coalition of conservation groups and the National Farmers Union on Thursday sent a letter to congressional budget leaders opposing the cuts to conservation programs that President Barack Obama proposed in his fiscal year 2016 budget. ...

Fish and Wildlife Service reinstates gray wolf protections


February 20, 2015 | The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday officially reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and surrounding states. ...

Stewart, Bell analyze role of WTO in food security


February 20, 2015 | Washington lawyer Terence Stewart and Stephanie Bell, his associate, analyze the role of the World Trade Organization in international food security in an article published this month in the Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs. ...

Vilsack on dietary guidelines: Officials have less latitude than committee


February 19, 2015 | Reacting to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s release of its report, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that he had spent a “lot of time” reviewing the law that sets up the guidelines and the charter of the committee and concluded that he and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell will have a narrower mandate to write the dietary guidelines than the committee had in analyzing nutrition and providing advice. ...

Hogan attempts to downplay geographic indicators, but Vilsack pushes back on importance


February 19, 2015 | ARLINGTON, Va. — European Union Commissioner of Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan attempted to downplay the importance of the issue of geographic indicators in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations today, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters that the issue is significant. ...

Vilsack says he participates in daily West Coast port calls


February 19, 2015 | ARLINGTON, Va. — As employers appealed directly to dockworkers at West Coast ports today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he has been participating in daily calls organized by the White House for the last two weeks in the attempt to settle the labor dispute. ...

Senate Ag to hear from farmers, Vilsack, nominees


February 19, 2015 | Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., announced today that the committee's first hearing of the 114th Congress, scheduled for Tuesday, will feature testimony from farmers, from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and from nominees for the Farm Credit Administration. ...

Vilsack to appear before House Ag Approps


February 19, 2015 | Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee has announced. ...

House Ag to hold two hearings on SNAP


February 19, 2015 | The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps. The hearing will “launch the top-to-bottom review of the SNAP program,” a committee announcement said. ...

Conaway: Prayer will open House Ag hearings, meetings


February 19, 2015 | House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, plans to open every committee hearing and meeting with a prayer, Roll Call reported today. ...

Shah leaves USAID, deputy to be interim administrator


February 19, 2015 | U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, who announced in December that he would resign, left the job Wednesday, and Alfonso Lenhardt, his deputy, is serving as the acting administrator. ...

2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Report: Sodium, saturated fats, added sugars, alcohol, caffeine and sustainability featured


February 19, 2015 | Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell today released the long-awaited report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). ...