The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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FDA plans to publish preventive controls rule

The Food and Drug Administration has sent the Federal Register the Food Safety Modernization Act rule on preventive controls, as required by a court decision on FDA’s schedule. Read More...

Wyden, Vilsack to push for fire disaster bill in September

Citing the continuing wildfires in the western states, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today they would urge Congress to pass a bill to change the system to pay for fighting the worst forest fires. Read More...

United Fresh defends fruits and vegetables in schools

In reaction to a University of Vermont study that found students are throwing away a lot of the fruits and vegetables they are required to take under school meals rules, United Fresh Senior Vice President Robert Guenther issued a statement this week. ... Read More...

Vilsack to address child nutrition at CAP

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will speak Tuesday at the Center for American Progress in Washington on school meals and reauthorization of child nutrition programs, USDA announced Thursday. Read More...

Court to consider consolidation of Clean Water Rule cases as it takes effect

As the Obama administration today began enforcement of the Clean Water Rule in all states except the 13 that won a preliminary injunction against the rule on Thursday, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation announced that it will hold a hearing this fall on the federal government’s request to consolidate the lawsuits against the rule in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Read More...

CDC: School meals better, but still need improvement

Schools have increased the availability of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the national school lunch program, but improvements such as more salad bars are needed, the Centers for Disease Control said in its Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report. Read More...

Beer Institute hires Dunckel

The Beer Institute has hired Denise Dunckel as vice president for public affairs, effective September 14. Read More...

Obama administration to implement Clean Water Rule in most states despite court ruling

The Obama administration will implement the Clean Water Rule as scheduled Friday everywhere but in the 13 states that won an injunction against it today, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement issued moments ago. Read More...

Administration plans to enforce Clean Water Rule Friday

The Obama administration plans to implement the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule, on Friday as scheduled, despite calls and court filings attempting to delay, a Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman has told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Vilsack to announce expanded sage-grouse program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is announcing today that USDA will launch a four-year, $211 million conservation strategy to benefit the greater sage-grouse.
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Monsanto drops bid for Syngenta

Mosanto on Wednesday dropped its bid to buy agribusiness rival Syngenta, Reuters reported. Read More...

Vilsack to speak at National Press Club on child nutrition

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will deliver remarks at a National Press Club Newsmakers news conference on Tuesday, September 8, the NPC said in a news release. Read More...

National Grain and Feed hires Gonzalez

The National Grain and Feed Association announced Wednesday it has hired Sarah Gonzalez as its new director of communications and digital media. Read More...

Clinton says she would ‘strengthen’ RFS

ANKENY, Iowa — Flanked by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said here today she would “strengthen the Renewable Fuel Standard” and take other actions to promote economic growth in rural America, as well as fight methamphetamine addiction. Read More...

Vilsack’s experience reflected in Clinton’s view and proposals

ANKENY, Iowa — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton emphasized in a major rural policy speech here today that she paid attention to rural issues when she was a senator from New York, but the view of rural America that she articulated and the proposals she made are very close to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s experience as secretary and the policies he has emphasized since he joined the Obama administration in 2009. Read More...

Clinton talks about rural drug-use epidemic and rural women’s issues

ANKENY, Iowa — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said here today that one issue Iowans have emphasized to her is the epidemic of drug abuse, and she said she would focus on rural social issues if she becomes president. Read More...

Vilsack praises Clinton, reveals more personal history

ANKENY, Iowa — Did Agriculture Tom Vilsack praise Hillary Clinton enough and reveal enough about himself today to win serious consideration as her running mate if she gets the Democratic nomination? Or did his enthusiastic introduction simply reflect a long professional and personal history with Clinton? These seemed to be the questions of the day in Iowa as Vilsack introduced Clinton here during a day devoted to her agricultural and rural agenda. Read More...

Clinton takes on Republicans at rural event

ANKENY, Iowa — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton did not shy away from criticizing Republican presidential candidates and, in veiled references, Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad at her rural campaign event here today. Read More...

Clinton, Vilsack acknowledge possibility of Biden candidacy

ANKENY, Iowa — Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack went out of their way today to show respect for Vice President Joe Biden as he considers a run against Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Read More...

Candidate reacts to the Virginia shootings

ANKENY, Iowa — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is often criticized for being too cautious and calculating, but today when she was asked at the end of a news conference for a reaction to the shooting of two TV reporters in Virginia, Clinton responded by calling for gun control — a controversial issue in rural America. Read More...

Clinton regrets single email at State

ANKENY, Iowa — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said here today she wishes that she had established two email accounts rather than one when she was secretary of State. Read More...

Vilsack endorses Clinton, will campaign with her in Iowa Wednesday

DES MOINES — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will endorse Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Wednesday and will campaign with her here.
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McKalip named acting chief of staff at USDA

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that he has selected Doug McKalip as acting chief of staff while he searches for a successor to Brian Baenig, who has resigned to take an as yet unannounced job in the private sector. Read More...

Pingree, Concannon tour compostable lunch plate plant

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon on Monday toured a plant in Maine that has just won a contract to produce compostable lunch plates for six of the largest school districts in the country — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Orlando, and Dallas.
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SNA: New meal standards threaten school meals programs

The costs of implementing the meal standards under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act have “harmed” the financial health of school meals programs, according to a survey of meal program operators the School Nutrition Association released today. Read More...

Chicken Council offers avian flu precautions

The National Chicken Council has made biosecurity recommendations to its members for avoiding avian influenza in their flocks. Read More...

Obesity specialist, agribusiness executive named White House fellows

Sara Bleich, a physician known for her research on obesity prevention and Erik Malmstrom, a Cargill executive who worked in Africa and founded an investment firm that specializes in frontier markets, are among the 2015-2016 class of White House fellows whose appointments were announced Monday by the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Read More...

AFFI hires conference, nutrition staff, promotes Davis

The American Frozen Food Institute has hired new staff members for its conference and regulatory and technical affairs departments.
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Pfaff to run farm programs at FSA in round of USDA personnel changes

Brad Pfaff, the Wisconsin state director for the Farm Service Agency, has been named acting deputy administrator for farm programs at the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency, according to a memo on personnel changes issued by the USDA Office of the White House liaison. Read More...

Obama promotes clean energy in Nevada

President Barack Obama is scheduled to promote clean energy, particularly solar, as a way to address climate change, at the National Clean Energy Summit organized by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., today in Las Vegas. Read More...

Clinton to focus on rural issues in Iowa Wednesday

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton will spend Wednesday in Iowa at rural-oriented events, The Des Moines Register reported today. Read More...

Waterways Council worried about Chickamauga funding

The Waterways Council, Inc. says that the Chickamauga Lock on the Tennessee River should be modernized despite an economic study that showed tonnage is down and costs have doubled, a spokeswoman for the council said in an email. Read More...

USDA seeking input on educational messages for dietary guidelines

The Agriculture Department’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion will ask for comments on how to communicate with consumers about the dietary guidelines, according to a document scheduled to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register. Read More...

President declares wildfire emergency in Washington state

President Barack Obama today declared an emergency exists in the state of Washington and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the areas affected by wildfires,effective August 13 and continuing. Read More...

Federal judge to consider delay of Clean Water Rule implementation

The Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule, promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is scheduled to be enforced beginning August 28, but a federal judge in North Dakota was scheduled to hold a hearing today on a case brought by state attorneys general asking for a delay. Read More...

Inside U.S. Trade reports TPP agreement on geographical indicators

Trans-Pacific Partnership countries last month reached a tentative agreement on disciplines for geographical indicators that would require TPP countries seeking to protect new GIs to subject them to a domestic consultation process, but would exclude from that requirement any GIs protected under international agreements already in force or already negotiated, Inside U.S. Trade reported today. Read More...

Beer Institute OKs celebrities under 25 in ads; anyone can file advertising complaint

The Beer Institute had updated its advertising and marketing code to allow member companies to use “generally recognizable athletes, entertainers and other celebrities who are, and appear to be, of legal drinking age” in their ad campaigns, rather than a previous policy of using only those 25 years old or older, the group announced this week. Read More...

European farmers schedule demonstration over market

Copa, the largest coalition of European Union farm groups, and Cogeca, the organization of cooperatives, have scheduled a mass demonstration outside the offices of the European Union Agriculture Ministry in Brussels on September 7. Read More...

French lawmaker proposes vegetarian school meals

A French lawmaker has proposed offering vegetarian meals at schools as an alternative to pork for Muslim and Jewish students, the Associated Press reported. Read More...

Peirce Mill to grind corn Saturday, and on regular schedule

Peirce Mill, the refurbished grist mill in Washington’s Rock Creek Park, will grind corn this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Read More...

Wilson: Schools serve up healthy ‘cultural’ foods

Schools are finding healthier ways to prepare foods that children are used to eating at home, Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Katie Wilson wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. Read More...

Longtime Farm Bureau president remembered

A memorial service was held Tuesday in Urbandale, Iowa, for former American Farm Bureau President Dean Kleckner.
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USDA seeks nominations for Peanut Standards Board

The Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service today issued an appeal for nominations on the Peanut Standards Board by its Monday deadline, and is particularly seeking to diversify the board. Read More...

Obama, Vilsack mourn western state fire fighters

Following the reports late Wednesday of the deaths of three U.S. Forest Service firefighters near Twisp, Wash., the White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued statements mourning their deaths and acknowledging the fires. Read More...

McCarthy plans travel to Japan

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will travel to Japan next week to advance environmental bilateral cooperation between the U.S. government and the government of Japan. Read More...

World Bank continues CGIAR funding only after U.S. push to maintain it

The World Bank has cut its funding for the global research institutions known as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) from $50 million per year to $30 million, and agreed to that amount only after 46 U.S. agricultural groups and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., urged bank leaders to continue the funding. Read More...

FSA expands storage facility loans to dairy, flowers and meats

Producers of dairy products, flowers and meats are among those now eligible for loans under the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency Farm Storage Facility Loan program, FSA Administrator Val Dolcini announced this week. Read More...

Richmond Fed analyzes crop insurance

The crop insurance program now covers almost every almost crop but also attracts more and more critics as well, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond says in an article written for a broad audience and released this week. Read More...

Crop insurance industry consolidating as profitability falls

Crop insurance companies are seeking mergers as profitability falls, DTN/The Progressive Farmer reported on Monday as the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported increasing claims for prevented planting. Read More...

Kellogg survey: Nine of 10 want healthy school lunch

Nearly nine out of 10 Americans support the school meals nutrition standards under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, according to a poll commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and released today. Read More...

Groups seek more funding for children, including nutrition

Fourteen groups advocating for children and families are sending a letter to Congress today to urge a year-end budgetary package that will increase spending on children’s programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC. Read More...

Pew report: Schools need more money to train food service staff

Under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, all school food service staff members have to complete annual continuing education and training courses as of July 15 of this year, but only 37 percent of schools have adequate budgets for staff development and training, according to a report issued today by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Read More...

DoneGood app connects with socially conscious companies

DoneGood, a Boston-based startup in which Cullen Schwarz, the former press secretary to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is a partner, has released its app to connect consumers with socially conscious companies, BetaBoston, a section of the Boston Globe, reported Monday. Read More...

Corn Growers hire Bennett for market development

The National Corn Growers Association has hired Jessica Johnson Bennett as director of market development.
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Brown praises USDA fight against algae blooms, promotes bill

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, today praised the Agriculture Department’s decision to provide an additional $5 million to fight toxic algae blooms in the Great Lakes, but also noted his own bill to address the problem. Read More...

AMS revamps website

The Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Marketing Service has revamped its website.
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USDA announces grants for voluntary public access

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $20 million in grants to 15 state agencies to improve wildlife habitat and public access to recreational opportunities on privately-owned and operated farm, ranch and forest lands. Read More...

Kerry re-opens U.S. embassy in Havana

Secretary of State John Kerry formally reopened the U.S. embassy in Havana this morning. Three retired U.S. Marines who lowered the flag when the embassy closed in 1961 handed the flag to the team of Marines who raised it. Read More...

Clinton to campaign with Harkin at Iowa State Fair; Trump builds Iowa staff

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will campaign for the Democratic nomination for president at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday, accompanied by former Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, her campaign announced today. Read More...

Wetjen announces plans to leave CFTC

Mark Wetjen, a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, announced today he plans to resign from the commission at the end of the month.
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CIMMYT: Anti-wheat fad diets undermine food security

The Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known by the acronym CIMMYT, has published what it calls a “wheat discussion paper” entitled “Anti-Wheat Diets Undermine Global Food Security.” Read More...

Fed Reserve banks comment on lower commodity prices

The Federal Reserve banks in Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis have issued reports noting that lower commodity prices have been reflected in farmland values and lower economic activity in the general economies of farm states. Read More...

Leahy, Klobuchar, McGovern with Kerry in Havana

Secretary of State John Kerry’s 19-member delegation to formally reopen the U.S. embassy in Cuba and raise the American flag for the first time since 1961 include members of the Senate and House Agriculture committees and other lawmakers who have long advocated for full diplomatic relations with Cuba, Prensa Latina reported today. Read More...

Inside U.S. Trade: Mexican sugar chamber threatens cut in HFCS imports over Australian sugar access

Mexico will likely seek to restrict imports of U.S. high-fructose corn syrup as retaliation if the Obama administration gives Australia a large chunk of Mexico’s share of the U.S. sugar market through the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a top Mexican sugar industry official has warned, according to an Inside U.S. Trade story dated Friday. Read More...

Lawyers seek hearing on denial of USDA discrimination claims

Lawyers for female and Hispanic farmers who filed discrimination cases against the Agriculture Department are hoping a federal judge will grant them a hearing on whether USDA and a firm it hired followed proper procedure when denying most of the claims that were filed.
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McCarthy: Animas River back to ‘pre-event conditions‘

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said in Durango, Colo., today that water in the Animas River, which was polluted by a spill during an EPA clean up of a gold mine, is back to “pre-event conditions,” The Denver Post reported. Read More...

Klobuchar to attend opening of embassy in Havana; Kerry says he will meet with dissidents

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., will attend the ceremonial opening of the U.S. embassy in Cuba on Friday, her office announced today. She will accompany Secretary of State John Kerry, who will preside over the ceremony in Havana. Read More...

Government, industry react to Tulane study showing more children working in cocoa production

U.S. policy makers and cocoa and chocolate industry executives are trying to figure out how to proceed on the goal of reducing the number of children working in cocoa production in West Africa, following the release last week of a Labor Department-commissioned report that found the number of children doing hazardous work in cocoa production grew between 2008 and 2014, despite efforts by governments and private groups to reduce their numbers. Read More...

USA Rice launches new website

USA Rice, previously known as the USA Rice Federation, today launched its new website.
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States ask federal judge to delay Clean Water Rule

Thirteen states led by North Dakota asked a federal judge on Monday to delay the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule, that is scheduled to go into effect on August 28, the Associated Press reported. Read More...

Kerry to reopen Havana embassy Friday amidst conflicting signals

Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to travel to Cuba Friday to raise the flag on the U.S. embassy there for the first time since 1961 but the trip will take place amidst conflicting signals about how U.S.-Cuban relations are developing. Read More...

NOAA proposes to ban fish from fisheries that kill whales and dolphins

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday proposed a rule that would prohibit the U.S. importation of seafood from fisheries that kill whales and dolphins in excess of U.S. standards. Read More...

Europeans disagree over impact of EU sugar subsidy overhaul

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. — A European consultant under contract to American sugar growers and representatives of two European sugar manufacturers disagreed here last week over whether the overhaul of the European sugar program will result in $665 million in subsidies to sugar farmers there, and whether those subsidies will result in production increases that will distort world prices. Read More...

USDA tells employees of political personnel changes

The Agriculture Department Office of the White House Liaison on Friday sent USDA political appointees a memo informing them of a number of changes of personnel.
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Senate Foreign Relations approves Smith for USAID as Obama nominates Etim for Africa Bureau

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week approved President Barack Obama’s nomination of Gayle Smith to become administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development before the August recess, and Obama nominated Linda Etim to head the Africa Bureau. Read More...

Sugar Alliance honors ‘Mother Road’

The American Sugar Alliance paid homage to the “Main Street of America” last week with a “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” dinner and dance, part of the International Sweetener Symposium held in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M. Read More...

Harden in Africa to announce school feeding grants, talk trade

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden is in Rwanda today to announce the fiscal year 2015 McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program grants, and will continue to South Africa to speak at a trade conference. Read More...

Sugar program working — at least for now

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. — The U.S. sugar program is functionally fairly smoothly, but sweetener users are complaining that prices are too high and there are court cases and other issues that could cause complications in the months ahead. Read More...

Sugar growers start with fruit at breakfast

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. — Members of the American Sugar Alliance produce sugar, but for breakfast at their International Sweetener Symposium this week the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa followed nutritionists’ advice and put fruit at the beginning of the buffet line. Read More...

Senate leaves early; Congress faces busy September

The Senate left Wednesday for a five-week break, two days earlier than expected, National Journal reported.
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Anti-hunger groups endorse summer meals bills

More than 1,500 national, state and local groups from around the country organized by the Food Research & Action Center have endorsed two summer meals bills, while Share Our Strength is promoting a third. Read More...

Atlanta airport leads in water campaign

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is among a growing number of public places offering water stations that provide both a touch-free drinking fountain and an automatic bottle filler. Read More...

Scuse urges sugar growers to support TPP

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. — Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse urged the nation’s cane and beet sugar growers today to support the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement currently under negotiation. Read More...

Cane, beet sugar headed to different prices over GMO issue

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. — The United States appears headed toward higher prices for cane sugar compared to beet sugar because consumers are concerned that sugar beets have been genetically modified, a prominent commodity specialist said here today. Read More...

EPA proposes stronger standards for applicators of restricted use pesticides

The Environmental Protection Agency announced today it will propose that people who apply “restricted use” pesticides will have to be 18 years of age and undergo more training than in the past. Read More...

Study differentiates politics of rural counties

“Rural does not always equal Republican,” according to a study released today by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.
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Experts: Consumers much more concerned about HFCS and GMOs than sugar

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. — Concern about “wellness” is leading consumers to take some steps to avoid sugar consumption, but they are trying much harder to avoid artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup and genetically modified organisms, food industry executives said here today at the American Sugar Alliance’s International Sweetener Symposium. Read More...

Combest: Heritage Action obsessed with agriculture

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. — Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest said here this week that Heritage Action, the division of the Heritage Foundation that scores members’ votes, has become obsessed with agriculture, particularly sugar policy, at the expense of bigger issues that conservatives care more about. Read More...

USTR files COOL submission with the WTO

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative filed a legal brief with the World Trade Organization last week on requests by Canada and Mexico to retaliate against the United States following the WTO panel ruling that the U.S. country-of-origin labeling program for beef and pork discriminates against Canadian and Mexican producers. Read More...

Bush lists ‘Iowa farm team’

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has announced his “Iowa farm team.”
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USTR: Obama administration won’t undermine sugar program

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. — The Obama administration will not weaken the U.S. sugar program in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, a key U.S. trade official told U.S. sugar growers today.
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NFU criticizes Obama Clean Power Plan

The National Farmers Union, the most Democratic-leaning farm group, today issued a statement severely critical of the Clean Power Plan that President Barack Obama and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy issued today. Read More...

USDA: Only 15 broadband projects not complete

Fewer than 15 of the 297 projects to bring high-speed Internet service to rural areas funded by the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service under the Recovery Act will not be complete by a September 30 deadline, a USDA spokesman said today. Read More...

USTR: No trade minister meeting until TPP is ready

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M — Trade ministers from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations do not want to meet again until they are ready to finalize the agreement, Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, the U.S. assistant trade representative for agricultural affairs and commodity policy said here today. Read More...

Farm Aid concert tickets on sale

Tickets for Farm Aid 30 — the annual concert headlined by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews — have gone on sale.
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