The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Navigation

Stabenow: Farm bill hearings will resume in winter

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told reporters today that hearings on the farm bill will resume in late January or early February. Read More...

Summers speaks on critical state of global finance

World finance is in its most perilous state since World War II, former National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers said late Tuesday at an event at the French Embassy in Washington. Read More...

Vilsack: USDA still interested in blender pump construction

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that the decision of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., to exclude construction of blender pumps from USDA renewable fuel activities in the draft of the proposed farm bill means that he has to work harder to convince Congress to allow it. Read More...

House Ag schedules MF Global hearing

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on December 8 on the bankruptcy of MF Global, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., announced today. Read More...

Food-scanning nutrition app hits 10 million uses

Fooducate, a San Francisco-based mobile app that allows supermarket shoppers to see an analysis of what their proposed purchasers are composed of, has been used more than 10 million times to scan food products since it was launched in January, Hemi Weingarten, the founder and CEO of the company said Tuesday on the fringes of the Partnership for a Healthier America summit in Washington. Read More...

Michelle Obama focusing 'Let's Move' on 'move'

First Lady Michelle Obama has always said that her “Let’s Move” campaign to reduce childhood obesity is based on a combination of healthier eating and more exercise, but today she signaled that she is beginning a period of emphasis on physical activity. Read More...

Bohman promoted to ERS administrator

Mary Bohman, a longtime official at the Economic Research Service and current acting administrator, has been promoted to administrator on a permanent basis, Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Cathie Woteki announced Monday. Read More...

Food & Environment Reporting Network launches

The Food & Environment Reporting Network, Inc., an independent, non-profit news organization founded to produce investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health, launched operations today. Read More...

CFTC sets public meeting on investment proposals, rules

As congressional committees prepare to hold hearings on the bankruptcy of MF Global and the issue of whether the international financial derivatives broker mixed client and company funds, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that it will hold a public meeting on Monday to consider two proposals and two final rules, including investment of customer funds and funds held in an account for foreign futures and options transactions. Read More...

Reaction mixed to crop insurance premium news

Is someone besides the Risk Management Agency and its administrator, Bill Murphy, responsible for the announcement Monday that RMA will update its methodology to set crop insurance premiums, leading to lower premiums for many corn and soybean producers in the 2012 crop year? Read More...

RMA reducing corn, soybean crop insurance rates

In a move that could affect the 2012 farm bill debate and presidential election as well as save farmers and the government money, the Agriculture Department’s Risk Management Agency announced today that it will update the methodology to set crop insurance premiums, leading to lower insurance premium rates for many corn and soybean producers in the 2012 crop year. Read More...

Stabenow sets second hearing on MF Global

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced today that she will hold a second hearing on bankruptcy of MF Global Holdings Ltd., and that she has called on MF Global CEO Jon Corzine, a former U.S. senator from New Jersey and former governor of that state, to testify. Read More...

Clinton nominates Cousin for WFP post

The United States has nominated Ertharin Cousin, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. food agencies in Rome , to be the next executive director of the U.N. World Food Program. Read More...

Obama sets 'Liberty' free with official turkey pardon

President Barack Obama today pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony on the North Portico of the White House in the company of his daughters Sasha and Malia. Read More...

House Ag subcommittee hearing set on IG audits

The House Agriculture Department Operations, Oversight, and Credit Subcommittee will hold a hearing next Thursday to review updates on Agriculture Department Inspector General audits, including fraud detection efforts in food stamps and information technology compliance. Read More...

FFA students escort presidential turkey in Washington

The turkey that may be presented to President Barack Obama on Wednesday had its media debut today on the roof of the W Hotel in Washington. Read More...

Anti-hunger advocates split on choice for WFP post

U.S. anti-hunger advocates are split over whether former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman or Ertharin Cousin, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. food agencies in Rome, would be the best U.S. candidate to become executive director of the U.N. World Food Program. Read More...

Swedish firm seeks interest in urban greenhouse plan

Should food be grown in large spherical greenhouses near the center of cities rather than shipped around the world? Read More...

Supercommittee failure means uniform cuts as Congress fights over new farm bill in 2012

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s failure to come up with a proposal into which a new five-year farm bill could have been incorporated means that the Office of Management and Budget will announce early next year that farm programs will be subject to across-the-board cuts at the same time that Congress is struggling to write a new five-year bill in regular legislative order. Read More...

U.S.: China makes some concessions, more work needed

The Agriculture Department and China's Ministry of Agriculture are finalizing the framework of a five-year strategic plan focused on food security, food safety and sustainable agriculture to build a stronger foundation for critical cooperation in agriculture. Read More...

USTR may appeal WTO country-of-origin labeling ruling

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said today that the United States may appeal a World Trade Organization ruling finding fault with its country-of-origin labeling program for red meat. Read More...

Stabenow: December 1 hearing will cover MF Global

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., sent Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, a letter today assuring him that the December 1 hearing she has scheduled will cover the issues surrounding MF Global. Read More...

Ag leaders await CBO scores on farm bill proposal

House and Senate farm bill leaders and their staffs are still waiting for final Congressional Budget Office scores on the farm bill proposal that they are trying to send to the super committee in charge of deficit reduction, key congressional aides and lobbyists said today. Read More...

Study: Sugar reform would save consumers

The Coalition for Sugar Reform, a group funded by industrial sweetener users, released a study today that claims that the complete elimination of the U.S. sugar program and the elimination of all tariffs and restrictions on sugar imports would save American consumers up to $3.5 billion per year. Read More...

Farm bill moving so quickly, so slowly

Action on the writing of a farm bill proposal to the super committee in charge of deficit reduction varied wildly today, even as the 12-member committee faces a Wednesday deadline to vote on the proposal, with a public markup likely before that. Read More...

USDA grants $4 million for beef promotion in Korea

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., achieved a major victory when the Agriculture Department made a $4 million grant to promote the sale of American beef in Korea this year. Read More...

Senate Ag sets hearing on Dodd-Frank

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced today that her committee will hold a hearing on oversight of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — better known as the Dodd-Frank bill — on Dec. 1. Read More...

Super committee plans markup, farm bill not yet ready

The super committee in charge of deficit reduction is preparing for a public session markup early next week, the National Journal reported today, but the farm bill continues to be developed behind closed doors. Read More...

Frozen MF Global accounts impacting rural America

The continued regulation of the futures and derivatives industry by the House and Senate agriculture committees seems to many people in the financial services business to be a historical accident, owing only to the fact that futures were initially mineral and agricultural. Read More...

CFTC commissioner publishes 'Ponzimonium'

Bart Chilton, a commissioner on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission today released a book called “Ponzimonium — How Scam Artists are Ripping Off America,” to warn consumers and investors about investment fraud. Read More...

OMB: Improper payments cut by $17.6 billion

The White House Office of Management and Budget announced today that the Obama administration has cut wasteful improper payments by $17.6 billion dollars in 2011, partly because the error rate on supplemental nutrition assistance or SNAP payments is at an all-time low. Read More...

Farm groups disagree on proposals, Glauber says they will be amber box

Coalitions of northern and southern growers issued competing statements today on the structure of new programs that farm leaders on Capitol Hill are considering, while a key Agriculture Department official said that the demise of direct payments and the creation of new commodity programs may mean that the United States will have to notify the World Trade Organization that more of its farm programs should be classified in the amber box of trade-distorting payments. Read More...

Sheeran, Cousin, Glickman vie for World Food Program post

U.N. World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. food agencies in Rome Ertharin Cousin, and former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman have become embroiled in an increasingly public spectacle over who will lead WFP when Sheeran’s term expires in April. Read More...

USDA announces funding for rural broadband expansion

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $478.6 million in funding for expansion and improvement of broadband service in rural areas. Read More...

Chicago Council issues ag development statement

A bipartisan group of policy leaders organized by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs today called on the U.S. Congress to maintain U.S. leadership in global agricultural development. Read More...

Farm Bill Budget Visualizer launched online

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, a division of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, has adopted a “farm bill budget visualizer” that it says will increase transparency about farm bill spending by allowing specific expenditure categories to be analyzed, compared, researched and monitored over time. Read More...

Center for Democracy in Americas reports on Cuban reform

The Center for Democracy in the Americas, a group that advocates a more liberal relationship between the United States and Cuba, last week published a report on economic reform in Cuba, including a section on agriculture. Read More...

EWG releases 2009 direct payment database

The Environmental Working Group has released a database that details the $4.7 billion direct payments to individuals, partnerships and corporations in 2009. Read More...

National Chicken names new communications vp

The National Chicken Council has appointed Tom Super as vice president of communications, NCC President Mike Brown announced last week. Read More...

National 4-H Council announces executive appointments

The National 4-H Council announced Friday that Jennifer Sirangelo has been named executive vice president and chief operating officer. Read More...

CropLife America report supports crop protection products

A CropLife America report says the increased crop production and resultant economic spin-offs that stem from the use of crop protection products generate $33 billion in wages for over 1.05 million American workers. Read More...

World Food Program USA adds staff

World Food Program USA, a nonprofit organization that seeks to shape U.S. anti-hunger policy and encourages donations to the U.N. World Food Program, announced several new hires this week. Read More...

USDA reports farm exports reach record high

Farm exports in fiscal year 2011 reached a record high of $137.4 billion, exceeding past highs by $22.5 billion, the Agriculture Department said today. The agriculture trade surplus for the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, hit $42.7 billion. Read More...

GIPSA final rule surfaces

The Hagstrom Report has obtained a copy of the interim final rule on changes to the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration rule Read More...

CFTC names Sommers to head MFGI investigation

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced that Commissioner Jill Sommers will be acting as the senior commissioner for the agency in matters relating to the bankruptcy of MF Global, Inc. (MFGI) and the shortfall of funds in MFGI’s segregated accounts containing customer property and funds. Read More...

Stabenow huddles with farm senators

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., huddled with several farm state senators on the Senate floor today while committee staff made themselves available in a room off the Senate floor to answer questions as the Veterans Day weekend approached. Read More...

USDA announces appointments, staffing changes

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a series of new political appointees, job changes and hires on Tuesday: Read More...

Conrad: Farm bill content now moving target

A day after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said that the farm bill proposal being prepared for the super committee in charge of deficit reduction had some "kinks" in it, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said that the commodity title is now a "moving target" that the Senate Agriculture Committee staff is revising. Read More...

Scuse: Safety net should be farm bill priority

FARGO, N.D. — Congress should pass legislation to protect farmers from disaster and other losses that are not covered by crop insurance, two Obama administration Agriculture Department officials said here today. Read More...

Romney tells Western Growers states should have visa power

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Monday that he would give the states authority to issue visas for farm workers, reported Western Growers, a large association of Arizona and California growers, packers and shippers. Read More...

Senate Ag members meeting tonight on farm bill

FARGO, N.D. — Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Agriculture Committee will meet separately this evening to discuss the status of the farm bill proposal to the super committee in charge of deficit reduction, but there is still substantial work to be done on the details of the proposal, three senators said here today. Read More...

G20 Summit ends without strong commodity market reform

CANNES, France — Leaders of the G20 countries ended their meeting in this Mediterranean resort city today by endorsing an end to tariffs and restrictions on food purchased for humanitarian purposes and backing a food reserve pilot project in West Africa. Read More...

USDA sends modification of proposed GIPSA rule to OMB

The Agriculture Department on Thursday sent a modified version of its proposed changes to the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review, and today Food & Water Watch, a consumer group, and the National Farmers Union sent out conflicting reactions to USDA's approach. Read More...

Farm bill proposal not expected today

The House and Senate agriculture committees will not send a new farm bill proposal today to the super committee on deficit reduction, key House and Senate aides have told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

G20 leaders learn of drop in food price index

CANNES, France — The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said Thursday that its food price index had dropped to an 11-month low in October, an announcement that was good news for people in developing countries in the short run, but also reduced the pressure on leaders attending the G20 meeting here to take much action on long-term agricultural development. Read More...

UN Human Development Report notes soil, forest declines

The United Nations released its 2011 human development report this week, analyzing sustainability and equity in 187 countries. Read More...

Ag leaders close in on farm bill proposal

The chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate agriculture committees are close to finalizing a farm bill proposal to send to the super committee in charge of deficit reduction, and could release it later tonight or Friday. Read More...

EWG releases farm insurance analysis

The Environmental Working Group today released a study contending that replacing the direct payments that crop farmers get whether prices are high or low with an expanded “insurance” program would give big farmers “a guaranteed level of income.”
Read More...

G20: Economy may overshadow food security, ag agenda

CANNES, France — President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive in this seaside resort on the Mediterranean within a few hours to join other leaders of the G20 countries for their annual meeting. Read More...

OTA survey says more U.S. families choosing organic

Seventy-eight percent of U.S. families — more than ever before — say they are choosing organic foods, according to a survey published Wednesday by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Read More...

Vilsack launches USDA anniversary logo and website

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the year-long celebration of USDA’s 150th anniversary Wednesday with the unveiling of a logo and launch of a web page that will provide information about events and history related to the anniversary. Read More...

Gates working with Brazil on African, Asian ag development

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced Tuesday that it is broadening its commitment to agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by signing a memorandum of understanding with a Brazilian government agency and providing a $2.5 million grant to the Africa-Brazil Agricultural Innovation Marketplace, developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) to promote development in Africa through agricultural innovation. Read More...

State ag department group defends farm bill programs

As House and Senate agriculture aides continue to struggle with the farm bill proposal to the super committee in charge of deficit reduction, agriculture groups continue to do battle over what may be provisions in the bill. Read More...

USDA's 150th anniversary celebration begins today

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will kick off a year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the USDA’s founding today in Springfield, Ill., the hometown of department founder President Abraham Lincoln, USDA announced. Read More...

Senate approves Ag appropriations bill

The Senate on Tuesday approved the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill as part of a larger package of bills. Read More...

Pew provides details of Chicago school chicken project

The Chicago Public Schools has begun serving local chicken raised without antibiotics to students in 473 schools, the Pew Charitable Trusts announced Tuesday. Read More...

Rep. Moran to introduce exotic animals in captivity bill

The use of exotic and wild animals would be restricted under a bill that Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., is scheduled to unveil today, according to a news release from Animal Defenders International. Read More...

Farmworker group objects to child labor change delay

The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs said late last week that the Labor Department’s decision to extend the comment period on a proposal to update child labor regulations amounts to a capitulation to farm groups and members of Congress who asked for the extension. Read More...

Vilsack traveling to China, Vietnam

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to China and Vietnam in mid November, USDA has announced. Read More...

Ag leaders still working on farm bill proposal

Amidst rumors that the real deadline for the House and Senate agriculture committees to submit their farm bill proposal is being moved from today to the end of the week, farm lobbyists have continued to submit letters and proposals for their consideration. Read More...

Finance, Ways and Means leaders write Kirk on Russia, WTO

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich, are all urging U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to insist that Russia meet a high standard and ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses and workers, including meat producers, in the negotiations for Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. Read More...

Enright leaves Western Growers for BIO position

Cathleen Enright, the vice president for federal government affairs at Western Growers Association, will join the Biotechnology Industry Association (BIO) as executive vice president for food and agriculture on Nov. 7. Read More...

Chicago Council releases farm bill white paper

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has released the white paper on the next farm bill that the co-chairmen of the council's agriculture project presented to staff for the House and Senate agriculture committees and the super committee on Sept. 23.
Read More...

Chicago schools to serve chicken raised without antibiotics

The Chicago Public Schools will announce today that it will serve chicken raised without antibiotics in its school meals programs. Read More...

Farmers Union objects to Peterson-Simpson dairy act

The proposed Dairy Security Act introduced by House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, would lead to further vertical integration of the dairy industry and should be revised to include a program that would help small dairy producers, the National Farmers Union said late last week. Read More...

USDA announces $44.6 million for biofuel production

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Monday announced $44.6 million in payments to 156 advanced biofuel producers across the country to support the production and expansion of advanced biofuels. Read More...

California makes farm bill recommendations

The Environmental Working Group and others have called on the California delegation to make sure that California's priorities are covered in what is seen as a bill that is likely to be primarily concerned with Midwestern crops. Read More...