The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Navigation

Miss America takes up farm, food issues

American farmers are always complaining that urban America ignores them and does not appreciate them, so it was a bit of a surprise when Miss America, Teresa Scanlan, showed up on Fox News and wrote an article for its website extolling the virtues of America’s farmers and mentioning the threats to them. Read More...

NIFA director Roger Beachy resigns

National Institute of Food and Agriculture Director Roger Beachy has resigned, effective May 20, Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Cathie Woteki announced today in a message to her staff. Read More...

Obama's USDA: Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell

The national forests get more attention than privately owned lands, but private forests are under greater threat, and the U.S. Forest Service stands ready with programs to try to help owners of forest and ranch lands who want to keep them productive and in open space, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in an exclusive interview with The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Obama's USDA: NRCS Chief Dave White

The Obama administration’s efforts to save the sage grouse in the western states while possibly avoiding a listing as an endangered species and other large-scale conservation efforts are Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White's proudest achievements to date, White said in an interview with The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Obama's USDA: Undersecretary Harris Sherman

The size and importance of farm bill conservation programs were a surprise to Agriculture Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman when assumed his position in 2009. In an exclusive interview, Sherman has told The Hagstrom Report that these programs “must” be maintained in the 2012 farm bill. Read More...

EWG report on Iowa topsoil loss conflicts with USDA measure

The Environmental Working Group has issued a report concluding that Iowa farms are losing precious topsoil up to 12 times faster than government estimates, but the Agriculture Department Natural Resources Conservation Service says that, while USDA’s National Resources Inventory also found high erosion rates in Iowa, the EWG report and USDA studies cannot be compared because they use very different erosion models. Read More...

WTO releases report on ag talks in Doha round

The World Trade Organization today published a report on the status of the agriculture negotiations in the Doha round of multilateral trade talks. Read More...

U.S. has more than 100 food hubs, Merrigan says

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced Tuesday that more than 100 food hubs are in operation around the country, making it easier for small farmers to aggregate their production and find distribution. Read More...

Lincoln aide joins restaurant association

The National Restaurant Association announced today that Katie Laning Niebaum, a press secretary for former Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., has joined the association as director of advocacy communications. Read More...

Trade pact approval talks have begun

Obama administration officials have begun discussions with congressional leaders on how to gain approval of the three pending free trade agreements — Korea, Colombia and Panama — as well as achieve the administration’s other trade goals, senior officials told reporters in a conference call today. Read More...

Panama meets U.S. concerns; trade pact headed to Hill

In a move that may make it possible for Congress to consider all three pending free trade agreements soon, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that Panama has satisfied U.S. concerns for completion of a free trade pact, and that the Obama administration is preparing to send the Panama agreement to Capitol Hill for ratification. Read More...

SPECIAL REPORT | South Dakota team leads key rural development initiatives

When Dallas Tonsager is asked how he met Jonathan Adelstein, a fellow South Dakotan and Obama administration appointee, he smiles and says, “I knew his father first.” And therein lies a tale of how an improbable duo of South Dakotans rose to head two of Obama’s most important initiatives in rural America: encouraging renewable fuels and bringing high-speed Internet service to the most remote areas of the country. Read More...

Vilsack, Jackson plan Iowa trip

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced today that they will travel to Iowa together for a series of events on Tuesday. Read More...

Palmieri named USDA assistant secretary for congressional relations

President Obama has designated Suzanne Palmieri, the chief of staff to Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, as the acting assistant secretary for congressional relations starting May 2, USDA announced today. Read More...

Doha talks still getting nowhere

Negotiators on agriculture in the Doha round of trade talks made no progress in the last two weeks, according to a source close to the World Trade Organization in Geneva and U.S. farm leaders who recently visited there. Read More...

Discrimination cases continued pending details of USDA plans

A federal judge today continued the discrimination cases brought by Hispanic and female farmers against the Agriculture Department until June 23, when government lawyers expect to be able to present more details on USDA’s plans for an administrative claims process to resolve the issues. Read More...

'Let’s Move' not about not eating, Kass says

First Lady Michelle Obama will not mount an “anti-eating” campaign to fight obesity like anti-smoking campaigns of the past, said Sam Kass, the White House deputy chef and senior adviser for healthy food initiatives. Read More...

Presidential vegetables

President Obama really eats baby carrots, according to a recently released photo of a March 10 lunch. Read More...

Jackson reaching out to fight EPA myths

After months of criticism from rural Republican House members and senators, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson has decided to reach out to rural America to explain the agency’s initiatives and respond to what she calls the “myths” about the agency. Read More...

Civil rights group still seeks settlement changes

On the eve of court hearings on the status of Hispanic and female farmers’ discrimination cases against the Agriculture Department, a key civil rights coalition and the Obama administration are sparring over the settlement the government has offered. Read More...

USDA launches new website design

The Agriculture Department debuted a new look and design of its website this week at USDA.gov. Read More...

Mather leaves USDA for Rahm Emanuel

Chris Mather, the communications director for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, is scheduled to leave USDA Friday to become the communications director for Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel in Chicago. Read More...

Korea, other pacts may wait for other trade goals

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said today that the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement is “ready to go,” but also made it clear that the Obama administration wants to advance it in the context of other trade goals. Read More...

Ag committees plan to write farm bill in 2012

The leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees plan to write the 2012 farm bill on an expedited schedule next year, and to send it to President Obama for his signature before the fall election, but the writing processes in the two chambers will be very different, they said in a series of interviews on Tuesday. Read More...

Vilsack: Nation needs to talk agriculture restructuring

Reacting to concerns about grain supplies and to further cuts in farm programs in the continuing resolution to fund the government through September 30, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that the nation needs to talk about whether American agriculture needs to be restructured to increase production and what will happen to the roles the government has been playing as budgets are cut. Read More...

EPA’s Jackson: Milk exempt from spill regulation

The Environmental Protection Agency will exempt milk from a regulation that requires industries that store petroleum products in large quantities to prevent supplies, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said today. Read More...

IDFA votes to oppose Milk Producers policy plan

In a setback for proposals to rewrite the dairy program this year, the International Dairy Foods Association announced today that its three constituent organizations had voted to support their own dairy policy reform recommendations and to oppose the National Milk Producers Federation's dairy policy package. Read More...

Peterson: Ag cuts for fiscal year 2011 total $1.502 billion

As members of Congress and lobbyists today tried to figure out exactly what agriculture programs cuts have been made in the continuing resolution to fund the government through the fiscal year that ends on September 30, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., presented the North American Agricultural Journalists with a list of cuts he considers especially significant because they affect mandatory programs supposedly under the control of the authorizing committees rather than the appropriators. Read More...

Earmarks or no, members still backing ag projects

Members of Congress may have ended the practice of earmarking specific agricultural research and construction projects in their districts, but they are still writing to Agriculture Department officials to urge funding, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said Sunday. Read More...

USDA releases shutdown plans

Although Congress reached agreement late Friday to avert a shutdown, the Agriculture Department Saturday released a contingency plan on what would happen if USDA had shut down. Read More...

Vilsack announces blender pump aid

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a program to provide funding for installation of blender pumps at gas stations around the country, winning praise from ethanol pumps. Read More...

USDA reveals shutdown plan

If the government shuts down at midnight Friday, meat, poultry, egg, grain and other commodity inspections would continue, but most other agriculture-related USDA activities would be shut down, an Agriculture Department official has told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Colombian agreement reached; some conditions remain

The Obama administration announced today that U.S. negotiators have reached agreement with the Colombian government on a free trade agreement that should boost farm exports, but there are still questions about the conditions under which the administration will send it to Congress for approval. Read More...

USDA: Shutdown details coming soon

An Agriculture Department spokesman said late today that the agency would soon release details of how it would handle a government shutdown. Read More...

Vilsack idea: Insurance to compensate organic producers for GMO seed drift

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today it might be possible to create an insurance fund to compensate organic growers who believe they have been hurt by the drift of genetically modified seed into their fields. Read More...

Conrad, Baucus argue against farm program cuts

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., wrote President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., today to urge them to avoid making cuts in the farm program as part of the negotiations over the 2011 budget, and to leave those decisions to the agriculture committees. Read More...

U.S. top donor to Central African Republic food relief effort

The United States has donated 4,000 metric tons of food to help alleviate food insecurity and malnutrition in the Central African Republic, the U.N. World Food Programme announced today. Read More...

USDA report: Farm subsidy measuring systems differ

The USDA Economics Research Service has released a report on the differences between the systems to measure farm subsidies used by the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Read More...

Doha talks resume; reaction mixed to import plan

Food security, price volatility and export restrictions are receiving a higher profile in the World Trade Organization Doha round agriculture negotiation that opened today in Geneva, a source close to the WTO said. Read More...

CSPI launching new Food Day observance in the fall

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is launching a Food Day on October 24 that will be modeled after Earth Day, it announced today. Read More...

Sexual harassment of food workers target of campaign

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a national civil rights group based in Montgomery, Ala., today launched a national campaign to raise awareness about the sexual violence and harassment faced by immigrant women employed in the U.S. food industry. The campaign will also educate immigrant women about their workplace rights against sexual violence. Read More...

Farm, food leaders not enthusiastic about Ryan plan

Farm and nutrition leaders expressed caution about today’s proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. to cut $30 billion from the direct payments and crop insurance program over 10 years and to turn the food stamp program into a capped block grant to the states. Read More...

Ryan: Cut direct payments, crop subsidies; convert food stamps to block grants

The budget proposal put forward today by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would cut the size of direct payments and crop insurance subsidies in the next farm bill and convert the food stamp program into a block grant to the states that seems similar to the one proposed by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., when the Republicans took over the House in 1995. Read More...

International food aid conference scheduled

The U.S. Agency for International Development and the Agriculture Department have announced that this year’s International Food Aid & Development Conference will be held June 27 to 29 in Kansas City. Read More...

Ag committee hearings set for this week

The House Agriculture Committee is holding two hearings this week while Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is preparing to hold her first hearing on the next farm bill in Michigan on Saturday. Read More...

Big budget developments Tuesday

Tuesday is turning into a big budget day in Washington, with implications for agriculture and beyond. Read More...

Sen. Roberts introduces pesticide permit bill

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and a group of other Republican senators today introduced a bill to exempt farms from duplicative pesticide permit application requirements. Read More...

Senate urged to pass Reducing Regulatory Burdens bill

After the House passed a bill to make sure farmers do not have to file duplicate applications for pesticide permits, House farm leaders and farm groups are urging the Senate to take up the measure. Read More...

Sustainable Ag Coalition weighs in on budget deal

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said today that it believes a budget deal for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year may be reached as soon as Monday, and urged its members to call or write Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., not to accept any deal that “ties your hands going in to the 2012 farm bill debate.” Read More...

NFU joins new World Farmers Organization

The National Farmers Union has joined more than 50 agricultural groups and cooperative organizations from across the world to create the World Farmers Organization (WFO), NFU President Roger Johnson announced today. Read More...

International Feed names new executive director

Alexandra de Athayde, a former Monsanto executive and adviser in the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry, has been named executive director of the International Feed Industry Federation, the Brussels-based group announced today. Read More...

World Food Programme distributing food in Libya

The U.N. World Food Programme announced today that is delivering food inside Libya at six different locations in the Beidan area, between Ajdabiya and Benghazai in the east of the country and providing logistical and telecommunications support to other humanitarian groups. Read More...