The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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Two GMO labeling petitions on White House website

Two petitions asking the government to require labeling of genetically modified foods are on the same website that is home to a petition asking for release of the White House home-brewed beer recipe. Read More...

Western Growers produces school garden video

The Western Growers Foundation has produced a video to show Head Start institutions and schools how to start gardens.
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Obama promises release of White House beer recipe

President Barack Obama on Wednesday promised to release the recipe for White House home-brewed Honey Ale beer. Read More...

Groups push new farm bill with rural development title

Forty-four groups including the National Association of Counties today wrote congressional farm leaders urging passage of a new farm bill with a strong rural development title. Read More...

Two named to Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission

President Barack Obama has announced two appointments to the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, which is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean and for the implementation of the International Dolphin Conservation Program. Read More...

Vilsack: Farm groups united on need for farm bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that the unity of farm groups in favor of passing a farm bill shows how important it is to pass that bill before the 2008 farm bill expires on September 30. Read More...

Center for Food Safety sues FDA, OMB over regs

The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health filed suit in federal court in San Francisco Wednesday against the Food and Drug Administration and the Office of Management and Budget for their failure to implement several food safety regulations, as required by the 2011 Food Safety and Modernization Act. Read More...

Republican ag platform contains Ryan food stamp block grant

TAMPA — The Republican Party platform’s agriculture section proposes turning food stamps into a block grant to the states, just as the party's vice presidential nominee, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., proposed in the House-passed budget. Read More...

Roberts: Top 10 reasons farmers should fear Obama re-election

TAMPA — Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., always has comedic tendencies, but they come out in the extremes when he has a friendly Republican audience. Read More...

Romney/Ryan top topic as Republicans host Great American Farm Lunch at convention

TAMPA — Republican lawmakers, farm lobbyists and about 50 farmers celebrated American agriculture at a lunch during the GOP national convention here today, but the pressing question of when Congress will pass the next farm bill took a back seat to calls for the election of presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republicans in order to reduce regulation and taxes and promote foreign trade. Read More...

Lucas: Ryan good for ticket, but needs farm bill education

TAMPA — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said today there are positives for the Republican presidential ticket in Mitt Romney’s selection of a vice presidential candidate, but that he is still trying to educate House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., about agricultural policy. Read More...

ERS forecasts high farm income, but Vilsack warns many struggle with drought

The Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service forecast today that farm income would rise this year despite the drought, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned that while the figures showed that overall agriculture is “resilient,” they mask the problems that individual farmers are facing in the drought. Read More...

Report: Valued consumers moving away from grocery stores

High-income, Hispanic and baby boomer shoppers are moving away from grocery stores and purchasing food in other venues such as drug stores and dollar stores, Supermarket News reports in its September 1 issue, according to the Food Marketing Institute. Read More...

AC21 reportedly ends meeting on positive note

The Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture ended its two-day meeting on a “positive note,” executive secretary Michael Schechtman told The Hagstrom Report late today. Read More...

FAPRI posts corrected farm bill report, August market update

The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri today posted a corrected version of its report comparing the farm bills passed by the Senate and by the House Agriculture Committee, as well as an August update for U.S. agricultural markets. Read More...

Scuse visiting Missouri and Kansas drought areas

Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse is visting farms and livestock operations in Missouri and Kansas this week to show support to farmers and ranchers affected by the drought, USDA said in a news release today. Read More...

AC21 committee meeting this week, report to be issued after election

The Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture appointed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to try to resolve conflicts between producers using genetically modified seeds and other producers is meeting today and Tuesday in Washington to try to reach consensus, but its final report will not be released until after the election. Read More...

Biofuel producers thank Obama for RFS support

Eight biofuels groups today sent President Barack Obama a letter thanking him for his support of the renewable fuel standard, and urged him to continue that support. Read More...

Kirk, NFTC call on Congress to vote on Russia PNTR

With Russia formally admitted to the World Trade Organization this week, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and the National Foreign Trade Council have both called on Congress to vote as soon as possible on granting Russia the permanent normal trade relations status. Read More...

Safe Food Coalition urges labeling of mechanically tenderized beef

Members of the Safe Food Coalition today urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to approve a proposal to label mechanically tenderized beef products so that consumers know they must cook the products differently in order to avoid food safety problems. Read More...

Crop insurers launch photo contest

In what appears to be an attempt to demonstrate the importance of crop insurance as Congress continues to consider the farm bill, National Crop Insurance Services has announced that it is sponsoring a contest of farm photos showing the impact of the 2012 drought.
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Stump joins Futures Industry Association

The Futures Industry Association announced Thursday it has hired Dawn Stump as senior vice president and head of government affairs, starting September 10. Read More...

Texas governor asks for RFS waiver

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who in 2008 unsuccessfully petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard requirement for ethanol in gasoline, today joined the waiver movement for this year and 2013, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association announced today. Read More...

Long Island Farm Bureau exec asked back to State committee

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has invited Long Island Farm Bureau Executive Director Joseph Gergela to renew his two-year membership in the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, the Long Island Farm Bureau announced this week. Read More...

Pro-ethanol groups praise Romney on RFS position

Three key ethanol groups — the Renewable Fuels Association, the American Council on Ethanol, and Growth Energy — guardedly praised Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for announcing today that he supports the Renewable Fuel Standard, while the Obama campaign said Romney's speech mostly signaled support for big oil and was vague on renewable energy.
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Vilsack announces more help for drought victims

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday made a series of announcements to help farmers, ranchers and businesses impacted by the drought.
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Farm groups form coalition to push bill by September

Thirty-nine farm groups today announced they have formed a coalition to urge Congress to pass a new farm bill before the 2008 bill expires on September 30, and that they will hold an event in Iowa on August 28 and one in Washington on September 12 to publicize the effort.
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Pork producers, AMI praise pork mandatory price reporting rule

Both the National Pork Producers Council and the American Meat Institute have praised the Agriculture Department's final rule on mandatory price reporting, which was published in the Federal Register today. The rule, which goes into effect on January 7, implements mandatory wholesale price reporting as required by the Mandatory Price Reporting Act of 2010. Read More...

New NRDC report looks at food system waste

The Natural Resources Defense Council on Tuesday released a report that examines the inefficiencies in the U.S. food system, and offers solutions to the problem.
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Report: Food production could lead to water, food shortages

The Stockholm International Water Institute on Tuesday released a report that maintains that food production methods could lead to water shortages that, in turn, would lead to food shortages. Read More...

Obama administration revamps federal recreation website

The Obama administration announced Monday that it has redesigned www.recreation.gov, a multiagency government website that guides visitors to 90,000 sites on federal lands such as national parks, wildlife refuges, waterways, forests and recreation areas, in an effort to increase rural tourism. Read More...

Smith leaving AFT for executive director job at COPAFS

Katherine “Kitty” Smith, the former administrator of the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service and now the chief economist at the American Farmland Trust, is leaving that position to become executive director of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, known as COPAFS. Read More...

President helps promote healthy eating at 'Kids' State Dinner'

Just as the Agriculture Department began promoting new guidelines for school meals Monday, President Barack Obama elevated the importance of healthy eating by showing up at a White House luncheon his wife Michelle organized to honor 54 children who submitted the winning entries in a healthy eating recipe contest called the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Read More...

The Obama rural message: Remind, defend and attack

CHICAGO — President Barack Obama’s campaign team is mounting a three-pronged rural re-election effort to remind voters in the heartland of the actions the Obama administration has taken to help rural America, to defend the president against attacks he has overregulated agriculture and to suggest that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s policies would hurt rural America. Read More...

Obama plans big effort in rural America, but campaign is different from 2008

CHICAGO — When President Barack Obama traveled through Iowa last week to campaign for re-election, he was backed up by an agricultural and rural campaign headquarters staff here that is dedicated to repeating his 2008 electoral performance in the heartland, but with different personnel and without the lobbyists who helped him in 2008.
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Obama team lists 10 accomplishments in rural America

Obama for America has published a paper listing 10 ways in which it says the Obama administration has helped create a stronger rural economy. Read More...

18 appointed to Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Council

n what could be interpreted as a well-timed effort to reminds voters who are hunters and anglers that the Obama administration cares about their concerns, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week announced the appointments of 18 members of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, an advisory group they established in 2010 to advise them on wildlife conservation, habitat conservation, and hunting.
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FDA releases annual report

The Food and Drug Administration has released its annual report this week. Read More...

Mexican sugar chamber plans anti-HFCS effort

COEUR D’ALENE — There has been no effort in Mexico to question the impact of high fructose corn syrup on health and weight as there has been in the United States, but as HFCS increases its market share, the Mexican sugar industry is considering raising the issue. Read More...

Ethanol groups praise court ruling in favor of E15

The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit today rejected multiple challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to allow E15 ethanol to be introduced into the commercial marketplace. Read More...

Coca-Cola exec: Sugar growers need to fight off detractors

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — American sugar growers should become more active in defending their products and production methods and promoting their products, a key Coca-Cola executive said here August 7 at the American Sugar Alliance International Sweetener Symposium.
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Sugar growers, sweetener users spar over stocks-to-use ratio

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Since 1996, the Agriculture Department has aimed to maintain a 14.5 percent ending stocks-to-use ratio for refined sugar as to make sure there is enough sugar on hand but not so much that prices fall below forfeiture levels, which would mean that growers could turn over sugar to the government and get payments for it. Read More...

Zulauf posts new farm bill analysis

Ohio State University President Carl Zulauf has posted a new analysis of the shallow loss provisions of the House and Senate farm bills. Read More...

Consumer analyst: Sugar industry needs new products, promotion, and push for exercise

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The sugar industry needs to think about new products, promote sugar on the Internet and think about urging consumers to exercise, a top consumer analyst said here last week at the American Sugar Alliance International Sweetener Symposium. Read More...

New FAPRI study shows House, Senate farm bills differ in benefits for crops

The farm bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee would provide substantially more support to producers of wheat, rice, barley and peanuts, while the Senate bill would provide more benefits to corn and soybean producers, according to a new analysis released today by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri (FAPRI). Read More...

Peterson: Ryan pick bad for farm bill prospects

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said in an interview this week that Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential nominee may be bad news for writing a farm bill this year because Ryan has been one of the opponents of the bill. Read More...

Study details sugar policy problems in Europe

U.S. policy makers should be wary of changes to the U.S. sugar program in light of problems that occurred after the European Union changed its sugar regime, Patrick Chatenay, a United Kingdom-based sugar and ethanol consultant, said in a recent report. Read More...

Sweetener users still want current U.S. sugar production

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho -- U.S. sweetener users want lower sugar prices, but they still want to keep U.S. sugar production at the same levels on a widely spread geographic basis, a key sweetener industry official said after grower and user representatives discussed the future of the sugar program here at the American Sugar Alliance International Sweetener Symposium last week. Read More...

Managing sugar supply from Mexico a top issue for U.S. sweetener industry

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Barbara Fecso, the Agriculture Department economist who helps manage the U.S. sugar program, is also a runner who uses her daily jogs around the National Mall in Washington to observe other people. Read More...

Obamas finish Iowa tour

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama returned to Washington last night after a last rally in Davenport, Iowa, at which the president’s eating habits were once again mentioned. Read More...

Romney announces leaders, members of campaign's farmers and ranchers coalition

From his Boston headquarters today, Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, formally announced the leadership and membership of a “Farmers and Ranchers for Romney” coalition. Read More...

Michelle Obama hosting Kids’ ‘State Dinner’ Monday

First Lady Michelle Obama has announced that on Monday she will host the first “state dinner” luncheon for children at the White House, which will feature a selection of recipes from the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge that was created to support her “Let’s Move!” initiative, which aims to help solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Read More...

Obama notes farm bill, energy credits and pork chops

While campaigning in Iowa, with his wife, Michelle, President Barack Obama cited the need to pass a farm bill and continue wind energy tax credits today as some of the reasons to re-elect him. Read More...

Poultry state governors seek RFS waiver

Four Democratic governors formally asked the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard because the drought has caused higher feed prices, but ethanol, corn and biotech groups urged the agency not to grant the waiver. Read More...

Obama promotes wind while Romney promotes coal

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney both turned their campaigns toward energy today, with Obama promoting wind energy in Iowa while Romney promoted coal in Ohio. Read More...

President picks and chooses food at Iowa State Fair

Presidential candidates are known for being unable to turn down any food and gaining weight on the campaign trial, but President Barack Obama proved at the Iowa State Fair Monday that he can delay gratification for the food and drink he really wants and continued that pattern today. Read More...

Obama campaign: Romney-Ryan budget cuts would gut rural American economic security

CHICAGO — Even before presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced that he had picked House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate, President Barack Obama’s campaign team had published a paper charging that a Romney-Ryan budget would hurt rural America by capping crop insurance subsidies for more than 50,000 farmers and making cuts to rural development, conservation and nutrition programs.
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DTN: Ryan cooperated with Kind, EWG on farm policy

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was an ally of Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and others in their attempts to change farm policy in 2007 and 2008, according to an analysis of material on Ryan’s congressional Web site by DTN.
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Lobbyists: Putnam most likely Romney Ag secretary

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is the most likely candidate for Agriculture secretary if Mitt Romney is elected president, two key agricultural lobbyists said here last week. Read More...

Ryan food stamp proposals complicate election and farm bill

The position that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has taken on food stamps may not be of as much interest to voters as his position on Medicare, or of as much interest to farmers as his position on farm programs and crop insurance, but his proposal to turn food stamps into a block grant to the states will also have an impact on voters’ thinking and could complicate efforts to pass a farm bill this year. Read More...

NCIS: Companies and government have money for payments

Reacting to the Agriculture Department’s report today that the corn and soybean crops are expected to be smaller than expected, National Crop Insurance Services said in a news release that crop insurance companies backed by the government will have money on hand to pay the indemnities that are likely to result. Read More...

Vilsack again calls for farm bill passage

On a visit to Omaha today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said passage of a new farm bill is the best way to address problems created by the drought.
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Corn estimate results in calls on RFS, farm bill

The corn estimate has produced the usual calls for a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard and the usual defense, while farm leaders issued new calls for passage of a five-year farm bill. Read More...

USDA takes further action on SNAP fraud

Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon on Thursday announced new penalties on retailers that defraud the supplemental nutrition assistance program [SNAP] or food stamps, and a requirement that states make sure ineligible people do not participate in the program. Read More...

Corn, soybean production down, but not wheat and cotton

The Agriculture Department announced today that drought-plagued U.S. corn growers are forecast to produce 13 percent less corn and 12 percent less soybeans than in 2011, but wheat production is steady and cotton production is up.
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FAO director-general calls for RFS waiver, countered by Global Renewal Fuels group, BIO

In light of rising global food prices, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva called Thursday for the United States to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard, but the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance said today it is not necessary. Read More...

OCM filing beef checkoff suit with HSUS help

The Organization for Competitive Markets announced Thursday that today, with help from the Humane Society of the United States, it would file a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the Agriculture Department from sending beef checkoff dollars to groups tied to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
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Scuse: New computer system will speed up farm bill implementation

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — The new computer system at the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency will permit USDA to implement the next farm bill much faster than previous bills, Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse said here Wednesday as he called on Congress to finish the new bill before September 30.
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White House anti-hunger summit gathers opponents to nutrition program cuts

In a move that could further complicate prospects for the 2012 farm bill, the White House held an anti-hunger summit on Tuesday that appeared intended to organize a coalition to prevent budget cuts to the federal nutrition safety net, Obama Foodrama reported. Read More...

National Guard farmer-soldiers helping ag development efforts in Afghanistan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — American farmer-soldiers are making a small difference in Afghanistan, part of the National Guard’s agricultural development efforts in the war-torn country since 2007, Air Force Capt. Peter Shinn told those attending an Agriculture Media Summit luncheon here on Tuesday. Read More...

USTR: No more market access for Australia, Canada remains a question

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The U.S. government will not negotiate any new market access with Australia and three other countries that are original partners in the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, but has not decided if it will negotiate more market access with Canada, a key U.S. trade official told the American Sugar Alliance here today.
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Senators cite drought, ask EPA to waive RFS

Citing the drought, 25 senators today asked Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said in news releases. Read More...

Lane presents diplomatic credentials to FAO in Rome

David Lane, right, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), presented his diplomatic credentials to FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva Monday at FAO headquarters in Rome. Read More...

Peterson, Labrador differ on farm bill prospects

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, presented dramatically different but interrelated views on prospects for the farm bill in speeches to the American Sugar Alliance meeting here today. Read More...

Obama announces drought-relief, calls for farm bill passage

President Barack Obama late today announced several drought-relief steps and called on Congress to pass the five-year farm bill as quickly as possible. Read More...

President strolls in White House kitchen garden

President Barack Obama took a walk in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn on Friday. Read More...

BIO, ethanol groups fight efforts to cut RFS

The Biotechnology Industry Organization late last week announced its opposition to efforts to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard, and joined with ethanol groups to announce the formation of a new council to defend themselves. Read More...

Merrigan releases farmers’ market directory showing growth

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan on Friday released the latest edition of The National Farmers Market Directory and announced that the number of markets listed had grown by 9.6 percent. Read More...

Lucas asks sugar growers for help pushing farm bill

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., today urged sugar growers to build momentum for the farm bill during the congressional break. Read More...

EWG, Defenders of Wildlife: Farmers planting more land

The Environmental Working Group and Defenders of Wildlife said in a study released today that farmers have broken up more than 23 million acres of grassland, shrub land and wetlands between 2008 and 2011 in order to plant commodity crops. Read More...

NMPF says members of Congress should meet dairy farmers

The National Milk Producers Federation today called on members of Congress to meet with dairy farmers during the August recess to discuss the need for a new five-year farm bill. Read More...

Farmers & Ranchers schedules Food Dialogues event for fall

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance announced today that it will hold its next Food Dialogues event in New York City on November 15. Read More...

Congressional ag leaders, other senators meet on farm bill

After the House passed a disaster aid bill Thursday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., met with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Agriculture ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and other senators to discuss consideration of the five-year farm bill, Stabenow told The Hagstrom Report after the meeting. Read More...

House approves farm disaster aid bill

The House has passed the farm disaster aid bill with a vote of 223 to 197. Read More...

House expected to approve disaster aid bill

The House is expected to vote on the farm disaster bill before 5 p.m. EDT, and the bill is expected to pass. Read More...

House begins debate on disaster aid bill rule

The House debate on the rule for disaster aid bill H.R,.6233 has begun, with a vote on the rule expected later this morning. Read More...

Drought provokes more USDA disaster area designations

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today expanded haying and grazing on conservation lands, designated more counties as primary natural disaster areas and briefed Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., on the drought while other USDA officials visited drought areas. Read More...

Vilsack: Crop insurers agree to premium grace period

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that crop insurance companies have agreed to his request to provide a short grace period on insurance premiums from farmers this year. Read More...

Stabenow still backs farm bill with disaster aid; Roberts puts top priority on disaster aid

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Agriculture ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., both expressed support for disaster aid for farmers and ranchers today, but approached it from different angles. Read More...

Farm groups unenthusiastic about disaster bill, conservationists opposed

The nation’s most powerful farm groups today threw cold water on the House Republican leadership’s agriculture disaster aid bill by issuing a joint news release that said while they will not oppose the measure, they are disappointed that the House has not taken up the five-year farm bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee. Read More...