The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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Budget negotiations may be dominated by Ryan, Murray

The congressional budget conference committee, which could play a role in the completion of the farm bill, has 29 members including Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., but it is likely to be dominated by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., National Journal reported today. Read More...

Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section an ag Halloween treat

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The streets of the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, one of the hottest neighborhoods in New York City at the moment, will undoubtedly be filled this evening with costumed adults and children making the most of Halloween. But a recent Hagstrom Report Sunday tour revealed that Williamsburg is filled with the ghosts of agriculture past and future with a few redevelopment surprises along the way. Read More...

Farm bill conference reveals details of debates

Most of the statements that farm bill conferees delivered in a public session on Wednesday repeated their positions established over the last two years of farm bill debate, but there were some signs of new thinking and clarifications of positions. Read More...

Mikulski, Rogers ask budgeters for appropriations spending caps

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., today urged the leaders of the budget conference committee to make setting discretionary spending caps for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years their first priority. Read More...

Cantor announces 2014 House calendar

The House of Representatives will come back into session on January 7 and will be in session on January 15, the date that the current continuing resolution that funds the government expires, according to the 2014 House calendar released today by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Read More...

Sesame Street Muppets join produce promotion, help harvest White House kitchen garden

Sesame Street characters Elmo and Rosita will be used in a campaign to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids, First Lady Michelle Obama announced on Wednesday, the same day she and school children harvested produce from the White House kitchen garden. Read More...

Stutzman leads members who want separate farm, nutrition programs

A group of 27 House members led by Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., today urged House and Senate farm bill conferees to keep the farm policy and nutrition policy separate in the future. Read More...

Farm bill conference ends

The farm bill conference has come to an end after more than two hours of statements that included all the differences among members, but were conciliatory in tone.
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Farm bill conferees move quickly through opening statements

House and Senate farm bill conferees have begun quickly moving through their opening statements. Read More...

Last-minute statements come in to farm bill conferees

As the 41 House and Senate farm bill conferees prepared for what is likely to be a lengthy opening meeting with opening statements this afternoon, a few members and farm groups have issued last-minute statements on what the conferees should do. Read More...

Baucus says TTIP must overcome agricultural barriers

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said today that the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, between the United States and the European Union is “an opportunity we must jump at quickly,” but that negotiators must address European barriers to agricultural imports. Read More...

EWG urges changes to USDA rules to protect California water

The Agriculture Department’s main conservation programs could do more to protect California water quality by changing the rules on applications for $485 million in federal funding annually, the Environmental Working Group said in an analysis released today. Read More...

Nassif: Labor making progress on visas

Tom Nassif, president of Western Growers, the group of California and Arizona fruit and vegetable growers that ships about half the produce in the country, said Tuesday that the Labor Department has begun expediting the applications for visas for migrant fruit and vegetable pickers that were delayed by the government shutdown. Read More...

Farm Bureau, Western Growers back immigration reform as Ros-Lehtinen endorses Democratic House bill

Nearly 60 members of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif participated Tuesday in efforts to convince Congress to pass immigration reform legislation this year. Read More...

Rabobank fined by CFTC and British authority

Rabobank, the Dutch-based farm bank that has expanded throughout rural America in recent years, today was fined $475 million by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and 105 million British pounds (approximately $170 million) by the British Financial Conduct Authority for its role in attempted manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) for U.S. dollar, yen and sterling, and of the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor) and charges of successful manipulation of yen LIBOR. Read More...

Farm Bill Primer maps farm bill conferees, other data

Farm Bill Primer, a website, has posted maps related to the farm bill conference, including one showing the states the farm bill conferees represent. Read More...

Rice growers send letter on farm bill issues

Leaders of eight rice growers’ groups sent a joint letter to all House and Senate farm bill conferees on Monday urging them to support the price loss coverage policies in the House version of the farm bill, the supplemental coverage option (SCO) in the crop insurance title and the market access and foreign market development programs. Read More...

NGFA asks for changes to CFTC customer protection rule

The National Grain and Feed Association and 15 other agricultural groups today sent the Commodity Futures Trading Commission a letter asking for changes to a CFTC-proposed futures market customer-protection rule slated for a vote on Wednesday. Read More...

Farm group coalition seeks permanent law, ‘meaningful’ nutrition title

On the eve of the first farm bill conference meeting, more than 250 organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, sent a letter today to House and Senate agriculture committee members and congressional leadership encouraging passage of a five-year farm bill as soon as possible and continuation of current permanent law and a five-year cycle for all programs including nutrition programs. Read More...

Teamsters support Dairy Security Act

The Teamsters Union announced today it will support the Dairy Security Act that is in the Senate version of the farm bill.
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CBPP: Congress should keep SNAP benefit cuts for veterans in mind

Thousands of veterans will experience cuts to their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits on Friday and Congress should keep this in mind as it considers cuts to the program, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said Monday. Read More...

USA Rice hires Klein as VP communications

The USA Rice Federation has hired Michael Klein as vice president of marketing and communications. Read More...

Senators oppose nutrition cuts, House members protest stimulus cut

Thirty-nine Democratic senators led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., sent farm bill conferees a letter Monday urging them “to fight against harmful cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” which is better known as SNAP or food stamps, and to reject all eligibility changes that would make it harder for low-income children to get free school meals. Read More...

Farm bill conference meeting time changed

The farm bill conference will begin Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. rather than 1 p.m., due to votes, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., announced today. Read More...

Budget and farm bill negotiations start Wednesday

Conference committees on both the budget and the farm bill start on Wednesday, the same day that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appears before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the launch of the Affordable Care Act. Read More...

Lucas: Farm bill proposals reflect childhood experiences

The childhood experiences of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., including a hail storm, are reflected in his proposals for the farm bill, the Tulsa World reports today. Read More...

Dietary Guidelines committee meeting to be rescheduled

The second meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, originally scheduled for October 3-4 but postponed due to the government shutdown, is being rescheduled, the Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments announced today.
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Hunger not the same as nutrition, panelists say

NEW YORK CITY — How does anyone know if someone else is hungry and whether someone is getting proper nutrition? And what approach would lead the government and society in general to make sure people get food? Read More...

Rolling Stone: Food stamp cut a ‘metaphor’

The Republican handling of cuts to the food stamp program has become a “metaphor for how the far right in the House is systematically trying to take down the federal government,” Rolling Stone said in an article in its November 7 issue that is now online. Read More...

NACD sends letter on farm bill bill priorities

The National Association of Conservation Districts sent a letter to farm bill conferees today outlining the association’s priorities for the bill. Read More...

Russell Group, DC Policy Group form partnership

The Russell Group, an agricultural consulting and lobbying firm, has formed a partnership with the DC Policy Group, which has expertise in global securities and derivatives, Randy Russell, the head of the group announced today. Read More...

Southern religious leaders oppose SNAP cuts

Southern religious leaders announced today that they are opposed to the proposed cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps. Read More...

USDA posts blog item on November 1 SNAP cuts

Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon posted a blog post today urging Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants to prepare for the benefit cuts that will go into effect on Friday. Read More...

Finance to hold TTIP hearing

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement between the United States and the European Union, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced today. Read More...

Anti-hunger groups urged to talk to conservatives

NEW YORK CITY — Anti-hunger activists need to talk to the tea party members of Congress and other conservatives if they are going to make the case to save food stamps and other nutrition programs, a Philadelphia lawyer who grew up on food stamps told the James Beard Foundation Food Conference here last week.
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Denham favors immigration overhaul but Republicans don't plan vote

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., will join the Democrats in calling for comprehensive immigration reform, but the House Republican leadership does not plan a vote on a broad immigration overhaul, The Washington Post has reported. Read More...

FDA releases proposed rule on animal food

The Food and Drug Administration today released the proposed rule “Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals” under the Food Safety Modernization Act, and said it will be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday. Read More...

Letters continue to farm bill conferees

Coalitions of senators and House members on Thursday wrote farm bill conferees letters urging support for beginning farmers and ranchers, including targeted programs that provide new and young farmers with education and training, access to credit, and programs to help them buy land and have access to conservation programs. Read More...

James Beard Foundation honors sustainable food leaders

NEW YORK CITY — The James Beard Foundation this week presented awards to five people its leaders consider “visionairies creating a more healthful, sustainable and safe food world.” Read More...

Scenes from the James Beard Foundation Dinner

Chef Maria Hines, whose Seattle-area restaurants create cuisine that supports the local, sustainable and organic community, created “A Menu in Three Acts” for the James Beard Foundation’s third annual Leadership Awards dinner. Read More...

National Journal: Gillibrand broadens image

As she has moved from representing an upstate district in the House to being a U.S. senator, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has broadened her image from that of a rural populist to a politician along the lines of her predecessor, former Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., National Journal reports today. Read More...

Kass introduces Schumacher as JBF Leadership Award winner

NEW YORK CITY — In his first public appearance since returning to work after the government shutdown, Sam Kass, the assistant White House chef who is also executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, traveled here to introduce Gus Schumacher, one of the James Beard Leadership Award winners at its annual dinner on Monday. Read More...

Immigration reform lobbying intensifies

Both the American Farm Bureau Federation and the United Farm Workers are intensifying their lobbying on immigration reform as President Barack Obama ramped up the pressure on Congress to pass a comprehensive bill and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., pushed backed. Read More...

National Journal: Norquist endorses marijuana taxation

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform has said that taxing marijuana will not violate politicians' pledges not to raise taxes, National Journal reported Thursday. Read More...

House passes water resources act by a wide margin

The House on Wednesday passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act by a vote of 417-3. The passage of the act, which was viewed only a few months ago as a long shot because tea party conservatives might oppose it, has important implications for the transport and export of agricultural products in the coming years because it would authorize construction and repairs on the nation's locks and dams. Read More...

C-FARE reports on USDA data products

The Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (C-FARE) on Wednesday released a report on Agricultural Department data products, “From Farm Income to Food Consumption: Valuing USDA Data Products.” Read More...

Fish and Wildlife Service endorses lesser prairie-chicken plan

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wednesday endorsed the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-Wide Conservation Plan, a collaborative planning effort to conserve a species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Read More...

Congressional Algae Caucus revived

Reps. Scott Peters, D-Calif., and Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., on Wednesday announced the revival of the Congressional Algae Caucus. Read More...

Obama administration supports WRDA bill

The White House Office of Management and Budget today announced that the administration supports the Water Resources Reform and Development Act now under consideration on the House, although it has some concerns. Read More...

House to take up WRDA today

The House will take up the Water Resources Reform and Development Act today with a long series of amendments, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced late Tuesday. Read More...

Farm bill conferees, leaders hear from many farm groups

A number of groups have written to members of the House and Senate conference on the farm bill, urging support for their positions on planted acres payments, specialty crops, USDA catfish inspection and international food aid. Read More...

USDA urges South Dakota ranchers to sign up for programs, document losses

Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse told South Dakota ranchers Monday that USDA is offering a special signup through the Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help them address the impacts of the recent blizzard. Read More...

Report: No action on industrial food production policies

The Obama administration and Congress have done nothing to act on the recommendations made by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production five years ago, according to a new analysis by Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future. Read More...

WFP awarded U.S. commodities for school meals

The United Nations World Food Program has been awarded $81 million in food commodities under the Agriculture Department’s McGovern-Dole international school meals programs, WFP announced today. Read More...

Farm Aid to make grants to South Dakota, Colorado farmers

Farm Aid has activated its Family Farm Disaster Fund to issue emergency grants to South Dakota and Colorado farmers who lost animals in the recent blizzard, but also warned that private aid cannot equal government aid, singer Willie Nelson, the group’s president, announced from the group’s Cambridge, Mass. headquarters on Monday. Read More...

Two-week delay to bring export sales reports up to date

The Agriculture Department missed four weekly export sales reports during the government shutdown this month, and will need two weeks to get caught up, Reuters reported on Friday. Read More...

USDA: Most school districts buying food locally, or plan to

More than half the schools in the country are buying food locally or plan to buy it locally within the next year, the Agriculture Department announced in a Farm to School Census released early today. Read More...

Scuse to visit South Dakota blizzard area

Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services Michael Scuse will travel to South Dakota this week to survey the damage from the October 3-5 blizzard that killed at least 80,000 cattle. Read More...

Expect five flash points in farm bill conference

The first meeting of the House and Senate conference on the farm bill is likely to show that there are five flash points over differences in the House and Senate versions, Jerry Hagstrom writes in his National Journal column published today. Read More...

Obama again lists farm bill as priority

President Barack Obama has again mentioned the farm bill as a priority. Read More...

House to take up water resources bill

The House will take up the Water Resources Reform and Development Act on Wednesday and Thursday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced over the weekend. Read More...

World Food Prize Laureates honored

The 2013 World Food Prize Laureates addressed the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines on Friday, urging the world to advance biotechnology to help feed the growing population. Read More...

Cornell’s Coffman wins new World Agriculture Prize

Cornell University plant breeder William R. “Ronnie” Coffman has been awarded the inaugural World Agriculture Prize, awarded by the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences (GCHERA), an organization that represents more than 600 universities worldwide, Cornell announced Sunday, the day the prize was scheduled to be awarded at a meeting in Nanjing, China. Read More...

Lucas outlines farm bill conference plans

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., outlined his plans for the farm bill conference in a radio interview last week with Ron Hays of the Oklahoma Farm Report. Read More...

Former Speaker Foley played major role in food stamp law

Former House Speaker and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Foley, D-Wash., who died last week, played a major role in writing the Food Stamp Act of 1977, Robert Greenstein writes in a blog post. Read More...

CR leaves out ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

The continuing resolution to fund the government through January 15 covers everything in the 2013 Agriculture appropriations bill — except the provision that has become known as the Monsanto Protection Act, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., announced Thursday. Read More...

White House kitchen garden gets clean up

Back on the job after being furloughed during the government shutdown, National Park Service workers began cleaning up the White House lawn including the kitchen garden early Thursday morning. Read More...

Dairy farm groups send letter on farm bill

More than 50 state and national groups representing dairy farmers sent House and Senate farm bill conferees a letter Thursday urging them to adopt the Dairy Security Act in the Senate version of the farm bill. Read More...

Roosevelt Institute honors Berry, farm worker group

The New York-based Roosevelt Institute on Wednesday presented its Four Freedoms awards to rural writer Wendell Berry and to the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Read More...

Obama cites need for farm bill, doesn’t seem to know it passed the House

In his remarks Thursday on reopening the government and moving forward with legislation, President Barack Obama cited the need to pass a farm bill and noted that a bill has passed the Senate with bipartisan support, but he went on to say it still needs to pass the House. Read More...

DeLauro, Slaughter ask CDC, FSIS about salmonella outbreak

Reps. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., today asked the Centers for Disease Control and the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to explain their actions regarding the recent salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 400 people. Read More...

USDA reopens as shutdown ends

The Agriculture Department has reopened following President Barack Obama’s signing early today of the continuing resolution to fund the government through January 15. Read More...

Critics ask for changes to food aid programs

A coalition of 18 humanitarian and foreign policy groups that are critical of current U.S. food aid policy have written House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., encouraging them to support changes to the food aid programs during the farm bill conference. Read More...

Waterways Council praises Olmsted funding

The Waterways Council, Inc., a group that advocates for modernization and maintenance of ports and inland waterways, today praised congressional passage of a provision authorizing an increase in the amount of money that can be spent on the Olmsted locks and dams project in Kentucky and Illinois.
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Lucas: Conference will begin when both houses in Washington

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., confirmed late tonight that the House-Senate farm bill conference will begin as soon as both houses of Congress are in town at the same time. Read More...

CR includes special provisions for USDA

The continuing resolution that the House and Senate passed tonight to reopen the government funds the Agriculture Department and other government agencies through January 15. Read More...

Boehner, Pelosi name House budget conferees

House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced their conferees on the House-Senate budget. Read More...

Government to reopen Thursday

The government will reopen Thursday morning, the White House Office of Management and Budget said late tonight. Read More...

Stabenow: Farm bill conference starts week of October 28

The House-Senate conference on the farm bill is likely to begin the week of October 28, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told The Hagstrom Report tonight after the Senate voted to reopen the government and begin a budget process. Read More...

Senators oppose House GIPSA provision

Eight senators today sent a letter to Senate agriculture leaders opposing a provision in the House farm bill that would repeal a provision of the 2008 farm bill giving the Agriculture Department additional authority to regulate livestock and poultry markets under the Packers and Stockyards Act. Read More...

Obama: Immigration reform, farm bill still needed

In remarks tonight after the Senate vote approving an end to the government shutdown, President Barack Obama said he would sign the agreement immediately once it arrives on his desk. Read More...

Cochran calls for farm bill passage as part of ‘sustainable’ budget agreement

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said late this afternoon on the Senate floor that he hopes Congress will pass the farm bill “as part of a sustainable budget plan,” but a spokesman said that Cochran did not mean that the farm bill should necessarily be attached to a budget deal. Read More...

Rural Coalition, NFFC lead letter on farm bill passage

More than 400 groups around the country organized by the Rural Coalition and the National Family Farm Coalition pledged Tuesday to campaign for passage of a farm bill this year. Read More...

E. Linwood Tipton, IDFA founder, dead at 78

E. Linwood Tipton, the founder of the International Dairy Foods Association, died Saturday at 78. Read More...

Stabenow, Collins: Budget deal may include farm bill savings

The inclusion of budget negotiations in the agreement announced today to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling raises the possibility that the deal could include the farm bill so that Congress could include savings from nutrition and the farm program. Read More...

EBT glitch did not add to government costs

The glitch in the use of electronic benefit transfer cards in New Orleans last weekend that allowed food stamp beneficiaries to use their cards with no limits did not result in any increased government costs because there are systems in place in the case of an EBT system breakdown, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department said late Tuesday.
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Green America begins GMO-free Cheerios campaign

Green America, a group that describes itself as a “green economy organization,” has begun a campaign to push General Mills to offer Cheerios cereal free of genetically modified organisms. Read More...

‘Big four’ meet on farm bill conference

The chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees met today and made plans for the farm bill conference, a spokeswoman for House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., has told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Food aid coalition opposes Senate provisions

A coalition of humanitarian, commodity and maritime groups sent farm bill conferees a letter today that they appreciate the reauthorization of food aid programs in the farm bill but oppose certain provisions in the Senate farm bill that would make changes to current programs. Read More...

Global Harvest Initiative releases productivity report

The Global Harvest Initiative, an organization of companies that promote agricultural productivity, said in its annual report today that East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa continue to need to import food and that Brazil and other Latin American countries are likely to be the suppliers. Read More...

Cato: Turn food stamps over to states

Congress should phase out all funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps, and turn nutrition responsibilities over to the states, the Cato Institute says in a new report. Read More...

UFW continues immigration reform campaign

The United Farm Workers, Farmworker Justice and more than 200 other organizations sent a letter to House members Tuesday stating their opposition to the Agricultural Guestworker Act introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. Read More...

Congressional Research Service: House farm bill would save $52 billion, Senate bill $18 billion

The House-passed farm bill would save $51.9 billion over 10 years in baseline spending while the Senate bill would save only $17.9 billion, according to a new Congressional Research Office comparison of the bills completed late last week. Read More...

Farm Bureau outlines its farm bill conference priorities

Maintaining the current dating of the farm laws and the “marriage” between the farm program and nutrition programs are “overarching concerns” of the farm bill conference process, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation’s largest general farm group, said in a letter to conferees sent today. Read More...

NFU details farm bill priorities

Maintaining permanent farm law and including a reference price-based commodity program in the House bill, the dairy program in the Senate bill and mandatory funding for energy programs are top priorities for the National Farmers Union, NFU President Roger Johnson wrote in a letter to congressional agriculture leaders today. Read More...

Peterson explains farm bill complications

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has told the Red River Farm Network that he has concerns about several farm bill issues now that the House leadership has appointed House conferees and the conference can move forward. Read More...

Reports detail public costs of low-wage fast-food jobs

Low wages in the fast-food industry lead those workers to utilize $7 billion in federal benefits including $1 billion in food stamps each year, according to new reports released by the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education and the National Employment Law Project.
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No U.S. officials at World Food Prize events

Due to the government shutdown, no U.S. officials will be present at the World Food Prize ceremonies and side events this week in Des Moines as the organization presents its awards to the developers of biotechnology. Read More...

President proclaims National School Lunch Week amid School Nutrition Association concerns about funding

President Barack Obama has proclaimed this National School Lunch Week, noting that the school lunch program began in 1946, and that Congress passed a resolution in 1962 that the second week of October would be national school lunch week. Read More...

White House kitchen garden languishes during shutdown

The White House kitchen garden championed by First Lady Lady Michelle Obama is going untended during the shutdown, Obama Foodorama has reported. Read More...

Obama visits Martha’s Table

President Barack Obama on Monday visited Martha’s Table, a social services agency where furloughed federal workers were preparing meals for low-income people. Obama said that the federal workers’ decision to volunteer showed the “spirit” of government workers. Read More...

Interior reopens waterfowl hunting areas, works with states to open some national parks

Reacting to the economic impact of the absence of hunters, fishers and tourists during the government shutdown, the Interior Department has reopened waterfowl hunting areas and some national parks. Read More...

Stabenow, Cochran say they’re ready for conference

Reacting to the House passage late Friday of a bill to go to conference with the Senate on the farm bill, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said they are ready and eager to start.
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‘Captain Phillips’ has message about U.S. food aid

“Captain Phillips,” the Tom Hanks movie about the pirate capture of a U.S. vessel carrying U.S. food aid bound for African countries, should make Americans think twice about making changes to the U.S. food aid program, a maritime union official said this week at a news conference with Capt. Richard Phillips, whose four-day ordeal is the subject of the film. Read More...

House rejects sugar resolution, Democratic instruction, approves Ryan crop insurance resolution

In final floor action before the beginning of the House-Senate conference on the farm bill, the House today voted down a resolution to make changes to the sugar program and a Democratic motion to instruct conferees. Read More...

Vilsack weighs in on EPA leak on RFS

In a signal of how upsetting this week’s leak of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to lower the requirements of the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014 has been to the Obama administration and the biofuels industry, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack late Friday broke his general silence during the government shutdown to issue a statement. Read More...

Boehner, Pelosi name farm bill conferees

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., today named their negotiators to serve on the House-Senate conference committee charged with resolving differences between the House and Senate-passed farm bills. Read More...

House debates Ryan crop insurance resolution

The House late today began debating a sense of the House resolution sponsored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would urge farm bill conferees to adopt an amendment in the Senate farm bill that reduces crop insurance subsidies for farmers who make more than $750,000 per year. Read More...

Heitkamp issues disaster loss guidance to ranchers

With Farm Service Agency county offices closed due to the government shutdown, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., issued guidance to ranchers on what records they should keep to try to make a livestock disaster loss claim at some point in the future. Read More...

Foster Farms submits cleanup plan, will stay open; DeLauro, Slaughter displeased

The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced late Thursday that Foster Farms, the California poultry producer whose chickens have been the source of antibiotic-resistant salmonella that has sickened hundreds of people, had submitted a plan to clean up its facilities and would be allowed to stay in operation. Read More...

House debates sugar resolution

The House today debated a “sense of the House” resolution that conferees on the farm bill should repeal “the Administration of Tariff Rate Quotas language as added by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 6 2008, and thus restore the secretary of Agriculture’s authority to manage supplies of sugar throughout the marketing year to meet domestic demand at reasonable prices.” Read More...

Peterson introduces motion to instruct

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., today introduced a motion to instruct farm bill conferees to make the length of time for the reauthorization of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, the same length as the farm program provisions in the bill and to keep the 1938 and 1949 laws as permanent law. Read More...

House passes motion to go to farm bill conference

The House today passed a bill to go to conference with the Senate on the farm bill. Read More...

House approves rule on motion for farm bill conference with Senate

The House has approved a rule on a motion for the House to go to conference with the Senate on the farm bill, and is expected to name conferees on the bill on Saturday. The vote was 223-189, with one Republican voting no, five Democrats voting yes, and 20 not voting. Read More...

EWG, NCIS disagree on supplemental coverage option

The Environmental Working Group said in a report released today that the crop insurance supplemental coverage option in the farm bills would lead to another round of big payments to farmers in drought years, but the crop insurance industry said the report was yet another one-sided and slanted report intended to dismantle the farm safety net. Read More...

House conferees including Southerland may be named Friday

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said today that she expects House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to name farm bill conferees on Friday, but a spokesman for Boehner said he could not confirm that was the plan. Read More...

Environmentalist: Farm Bureau defection on conservation compliance won’t matter

Craig Cox of the Environmental Working Group said today that the American Farm Bureau Federation’s decision to reverse its support for tying crop insurance subsidies to conservation compliance won’t matter. Read More...

DeLauro, Slaughter denounce Foster Farms, USDA over salmonella cases

As the Agriculture Department today released enforcement memos threatening the closure of Foster Farms, the California firm whose products have led consumers to come down with antibiotic-resistant salmonella, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., denounced USDA for not closing the farm earlier while Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., said she is so afraid of illness she may not eat turkey for Thanksgiving. Read More...

Boehner announces leaders he will take to White House

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced today that even though President Barack Obama invited the full House Republican Conference to the White House on Thursday, he would bring a smaller group of negotiators, “including the elected leadership and certain committee chairmen.” Read More...

Ryan WSJ column heightens prospects for farm bill deal

As President Barack Obama made plans to meet with House Democrats late this afternoon and Republicans on Thursday, an opinion column by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in The Wall Street Journal today would appear to create another opportunity for inclusion of the farm bill in a budget deal. Read More...

Farm Bureau reverses policy on conservation compliance

The American Farm Bureau Federation board last week reversed its policy position that crop insurance should be linked to conservation compliance, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., praised that decision today. Read More...

Ocean Spray bog spends two days in Washington

If farmers around the country are looking for a way to tell official Washington about their products and their policy concerns, they might take a cue from the Ocean Spray cooperative, which brought a bog to Washington’s Union Station and won visits from senators and congressional aides — and also got attention for the value of cranberries to consumers. Read More...

Heritage Foundation compares farm bills, calls for cuts

The Heritage Foundation late Tuesday posted an issue brief comparing the House and Senate versions of the farm bill and calling for food stamps and the farm program to be separated and for cuts to both programs. Read More...

DeLauro, Slaughter, Marler comment on salmonella outbreak

The outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant salmonella strain in the western states from Foster Farms chicken and the recall of Centers for Disease Control personnel to handle the issue despite the government shutdown have led some to relate the case to longstanding food-safety issues. Read More...

Brookings releases report on North Korean hunger

With up to 31 percent of North Korea’s population still hungry, the commemoration of U.N. World Food Day on October 16 is an opportunity for governments, U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations to try to design ways to reduce hunger in North Korea ― “not just in the immediate present, but over the longer term,” Roberta Cohen, a nonresident senior fellow at The Brookings Institution writes today in her blog.
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South Dakota blizzard brings pressure on farm bill, rural shutdown

South Dakota’s weekend blizzard is turning the state into Republican action central for passage of a new farm bill and an end to the government shutdown or at least a reopening of key offices in rural areas. Read More...

Veterinarians get caught up in ‘essential’ versus ‘excepted’

The American Veterinary Medical Association on Tuesday got caught up in the debate in Washington over whether federal employees who are on the job during the shutdown should be declared “essential.” Read More...

Fed nominee Yellen has short ag record

Janet Yellen, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Federal Reserve system, has not had much to say about agriculture but there is a record of at least two speeches and some research that took place under her direction. Read More...

Zichal leaving White House climate post

Heather Zichal, the White House climate adviser, will step down, Reuters reported on Monday. Read More...

UFW official, farm workers, House members arrested at immigration protest on Capitol Hill

United Farm Workers National Vice President Giev Kashkooli and California farm workers Fabio Calderon and Francisco Torres were arrested today during a non-violent civil disobedience action held at the base of Capitol Hill, the UFW said in a news release. Read More...

National Chicken Council issues cooking, handling guidelines after FSIS alert

The National Chicken Council and the Partnership for Food Safety Education issued a statement today noting the importance of proper cooking and handling of food in preventing illness. Read More...

Study: GMO labeling would not cost as much as projected

The Alliance for Natural Health on Monday released a study that says the cost of labeling foods produced with genetically modified organisms would not be as high as other studies have said. Read More...

API challenges EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard in court

The American Petroleum Institute filed a lawsuit today in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements for 2013, but renewable fuels advocates called the suit frivolous and unsurprising. Read More...

Clinton Foundation starts Haitian coffee project

The Clinton Foundation announced today that it is launching a project to revitalize the Haitian coffee industry. Read More...

Grassley releases farm payment loophole report

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, on Monday released a Government Accountability Office report on Farm Service Agency payments to farmers that says Congress needs to clarify its definition of “actively involved” in farming. Read More...

Farm Bureau, NCGA appeal decision on EPA in Chesapeake

The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Corn Growers Association said today they have filed an appeal of the recent court decision that held the Clean Water Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency jurisdiction over cleanup in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Read More...

Restaurant association releases nutrition report

The National Restaurant Association today released its report on nutrition in the industry. Read More...

Udall, Johnson, NFU say shutdown imperils weather response

The offices of Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said this week that the federal government shutdown is imperiling assistance in their states after recent weather events, while the National Farmers Union said it is worried about the impact on livestock producers after snowstorms in Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming. Read More...

House votes to fund FDA during shutdown

The House late Monday passed a bill to fund the Food and Drug Administration during the shutdown, but the measure has little likelihood of seeing action in the Senate. Read More...

Hunting, fishing groups call for end to shutdown, passage of farm bill

Seven leading hunting and fishing groups on Monday called on Congress to end the government shutdown and to pass a new farm bill.
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Vilsack reopens APHIS biologics center to handle vaccines

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has reopened the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Center for Veterinary Biologics, citing a need for animal vaccines. Read More...

No WASDE report Friday

It's official. The Agriculture Department will not issue the U.S. crop report or the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report scheduled for Friday “due to the lapse in federal funding,” an Agriculture Department spokeswoman said Monday. Read More...

More speculation on farm bill in a budget deal

House Republicans are expected to vote today on another supercommittee to work out compromises on reopening government and raising the debt ceiling, National Journal has reported. Read More...

DeLauro defends opposition to WIC funding bill

The House on Thursday voted to provide funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) during the shutdown but Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., one of the most vigorous advocates of nutrition programs, voted against it and said in a floor statement Friday that the Republican bill was “disingenuous.” Read More...

House to consider FDA appropriations bill today

The House today will consider a bill to fund the Food and Drug Administration during the shutdown, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced late Sunday. Read More...

House passes furlough pay bill, Senate action uncertain

The House on Saturday passed a bill to pay furloughed federal employees including those at the Agriculture Department after the government shutdown ends. Read More...

National Journal: Farm bill prospects improving

Prospects for Congress passing a farm bill rather than an extension appear to be increasing during the shutdown, Jerry Hagstrom writes in his National Journal column today Read More...

Shutdown impact at USDA this week: No timber cutting or crop report

As the government shutdown enters its second week, the Agriculture Department's U.S. Forest Service has told timber companies they will have to stop their activities on federal forest land, the Associated Press reported last week. Read More...

Hagstrom column on nutrition lobbying updated

Jerry Hagstrom's September 23 National Journal column on nutrition lobbying has been updated with comments from an Oklahoma anti-hunger advocate. Read More...

No House farm bill conferees yet

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is not expected to name farm bill conferees today or over the weekend, a House GOP aide has told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

WIC Association opposes special WIC funding bill

House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., has introduced a bill that would fund the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, through the duration of the government shutdown, but the National WIC Association has expressed opposition to the bill. Read More...

Harkin: Crop insurance companies not getting reimbursements

Crop insurance companies are not getting reimbursements from the Agriculture Department’s Risk Management Agency during the shutdown, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, told Agriculture.com. Read More...

Philandering fairywrens keep their species intact

A study by two Cornell University researchers shows that the female red-backed fairywren, a chickadee-type bird found in Australia, is determining the fate of the species by deciding what bird to mate with for life and what birds to cheat with, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says. Read More...

WIC funds should be available through October

Although there have been stories about the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, running out of money in some states, each state should have enough money through October, the president of the National WIC Association told The Hagstrom Report today. Read More...

Most chicken execs think Congress won't change RFS

Seventy-two percent of the 200 chicken industry executives attending the National Chicken Council conference today think Congress will take no action on the Renewable Fuel Standard, the council announced after attendees filled out a questionnaire earlier today. Read More...

Conservation group opposes opening only National Park Service

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership on Wednesday came out against Republican proposals to reopen the National Park Service by itself on the grounds that the entire government needs to be reopened to deal with conservation issues.
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Iowa’s Rep. King assembling anti-immigration bloc

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is leading a growing bloc of House Republicans who
will oppose any immigration reform bill in the House, National Journal
reports. Read More...

Hastert says there is no ‘Hastert Rule’

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert,R-Ill., says there is no “Hastert Rule,” but that Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, the current speaker, cannot pass many bills without a Republican majority and still keep his job, National Journal reports. Read More...

Coons: Shutdown likely to last another week, Senate Chicken Caucus formed

The government shutdown is likely to last another week, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told the National Chicken Council today after a speech in which he announced that he and other senators have formed a Senate Chicken Caucus and discussed his views on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Read More...

Dairy manufacturers ask Senate conferees to accept House dairy bill

Twenty-eight dairy manufacturers have written Senate conferees on the farm bill and other senators from the companies’ headquarter states, urging them to accept the House version of the dairy title of the bill. Read More...

ActionAid report: World does not need massive food production increase

ActionAid USA released a report today that says “many of the public pronouncements calling for a doubling of global food production by 2050 are based on outdated or flawed economic forecasting and misleading characterizations of this research.” Read More...

Shutdown ends United Fresh meeting early, causes cancellation of other ag events

The United Fresh Produce Association’s annual Washington conference ended early today and two other agriculture-related events have been canceled because of the government shutdown. Read More...

Oxfam: Small farmers’ land being taken for sugar plantations in Cambodia, Brazil

Oxfam America, a branch of the British-based charity, released a report today charging that small farmers in Cambodia and Brazil are being kicked off their land to make way for large-scale sugar plantations to supply sugar to major food and beverage companies. Read More...

Produce exec: No more contributions to Republicans until immigration bill passes

A key lettuce producer and packager in the western United States said today that although he is a proud Republican, he is so angry with House Republicans’ opposition to immigration reform that he will make no more campaign contributions to them until they act on the issue. Read More...

United Fresh, NASDA call for revised FSMA rule

United Fresh Produce Association President Tom Stenzel said that if Mike Taylor, the deputy commissioner for food at the Food and Drug Administration, had been able to speak to the group today he would have told him that United Fresh has joined with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in asking FDA to issue a revised proposed rule on the Food Safety Modernization Act rather than just a final rule. Read More...

Twenty senators won’t support extension of direct payments

Twenty senators led by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., last week that they will not support a farm bill extension that includes the direct payments that crop farmers have been getting since 1996 whether prices are high or low. Read More...

Denham urges faith-based action on immigration reform

Faith leaders in communities where the Hispanic population is low need to talk to Republican House members about the importance of immigration reform, Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., said today. Read More...

Reid to Boehner: Negotiations could include agriculture

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has written a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, today proposing that the House pass the Senate resolution to reopen the government to be followed by the large-scale negotiations on budget policies. Read More...

Senate reappoints conferees, sends farm bill back to House

The Senate has acted on the House farm bill, reappointed its conferees and sent the bill back to the House. Read More...

Stabenow, Vilsack celebrate specialty crop advances

Both Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pointed out to the United Fresh Produce Association the advances the industry has made in getting a share of farm policy and spending over the past decade. Read More...

Senate Ag biofuels hearing postponed

The Senate Agriculture Committee's hearing on biofuels and jobs scheduled for Thursday has been postponed due to the government shutdown, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced today. Read More...

House has sent combined farm bill to Senate, Stabenow says

The House of Representatives sent the bill that combined the farm program and nutrition bills to the Senate on Monday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said today. Read More...

Stabenow: House food stamp bill way off base; Vilsack: States should be accountable for work and training

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said that the House bill to cut $39 billion from food stamps over 10 years is far off from what the Senate will do, while Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned that decoupling farm programs from nutrition programs would mean that Congress would not help farmers in the future and that the states should be held accountable for getting food stamp beneficiaries into training programs. Read More...

Schrader: Shutdown could last weeks

The government shutdown could last for one, two or three weeks, Rep. Kurt Schrader, R-Ore., the ranking member on the House Agriculture Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Subcommittee, told the United Fresh Produce Association today. Read More...

Kass cancels United Fresh speech, FDA cancels visit

Sam Kass, the assistant White House chef who is also the executive director of “Let’s Move,” First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity initiative, has canceled a planned speech Wednesday before the United Fresh Produce Association because of the government shutdown, a United Fresh official told The Hagstrom Report today. Read More...

Vilsack, Stabenow tell produce growers they must urge Congress to act

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in separate speeches today urged members of the United Fresh Produce Association to tell Congress to end the shutdown and pass the farm bill and immigration reform. Read More...

Scott predicts no action on immigration bill, gets booed

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., the chairman of the House Agriculture Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Subcommittee, told the United Fresh Produce Association today that he doubts Congress will pass an immigration reform bill, and he got booed by some members of the audience. Read More...

USDA contingency plan document links now working

Links to the government shutdown plans of Agriculture Department agencies are now working on the Office of Management of Budget website. Read More...

Agency contingency plans for shutdown posted on OMB site

The contingency plans for the shutdown of all U.S. government agencies are now posted on the White House Office of Management and Budget site. Read More...