The Hagstrom Report

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Tipton: FDA should ease rules as dairy industry addresses consumer demands

BOCA RATON, Fla. — International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Connie Tipton said here this week that the Food and Drug Administration should change some of its standards of definition to allow the dairy industry to develop new products as it tries to satisfy the desires of consumers. Read More...

Corn, renewable fuels industry rebut World Resources study

The World Resources Institute said Thursday that eliminating the production of fuels made from corn, sugar and vegetable oils, would help narrow the gap between food demand and need as the world's population grows, but the U.S. corn and renewable fuels industries disputed the theories behind the paper. Read More...

First Lady to appear at PHA dinner

First Lady Michelle Obama’s appearance at the Partnership for a Healthier America Building a Healthier Food Summit next month will be at a February 26 fundraising dinner celebrating the five year anniversary of the start of her Let’s Move! program, PHA has announced. Read More...

Vilsack: Cuba exports could surge to $500 million as Congress plans hearings

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this week that U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba could rise from $300 million to $500 million, with Florida the biggest winner, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Read More...

Eating locally in Palm Beach

Key lime pie and grapefruit sorbet for dessert illustrate Florida’s agricultural bounty at the Brazilian Court in Palm Beach, Fla., during Sunday brunch. Read More...

National Journal: Senate approves Keystone XL pipeline, creating winners and losers

The Senate Thursday passed legislation to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which seems largely symbolic because President Barack Obama has threatened to veto it, but the exercise created winners and losers on many levels, the National Journal reported Thursday. Read More...

Roberts to eat school lunch today

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., will eat school lunch today at Mill Valley High School in Shawnee, Kan. Read More...

WTD: Japan offers to slash beef tariff

Japan has proposed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations reducing its beef tariff from 38.5 percent to 9 percent over 15 years, Washington Trade Daily reported Thursday, citing a report by the Kyodo news service. Read More...

Official: Mexico doesn’t support ITC case

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The Mexican government disagrees with the efforts of two U.S. cane refiners to stop the agreements to resolve complaints about Mexican sugar imports into the United States, Kenneth Smith Ramos, head of the trade and NAFTA office at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, told The Hagstrom Report here earlier this week. Read More...

EPA Argentine biodiesel decision upsets industry

An Environmental Protection Agency decision this week that an Argentine biodiesel exporter would meet the standards of the Renewable Fuel Standard has come under fire from the National Biodiesel Board and the American Soybean Association. Read More...

House Ag Appropriations subcommittee named

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and ranking member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., have announced the leaders and members of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Read More...

Report shows increase in use of biotech seeds

A record 18 million farmers in 28 countries are growing biotech crops on 448 million acres, according to a report released Wednesday by the released annually by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. Read More...

SNA seeks more school meal reimbursement, end to fruit and vegetable requirement

The School Nutrition Association today released a position paper calling for a 35 cent increase in federal reimbursement “to ensure school food authorities can afford to meet federal requirements,” as well as an end to the requirement that each student take a half cup of fruits or vegetables with every meal and the rollback of some other provisions. Read More...

Federal judge rules against Farm Bureau, National Pork Producers in EPA FOIA case

A federal judge in Minneapolis has dismissed a challenge brought by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Pork Producers Council to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from further releases of the personal information of livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers in response to Freedom of Information Act requests. Read More...

Farm/food coalition pressures unions, ports to resolve West Coast slowdown

More than 90 farm and food organizations have called on both sides of the labor dispute at five West Coast ports to resolve their issues.
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Consumer Federation supports single food safety agency bill

The Consumer Federation of America announced late Wednesday that it supports the Safe Food Act of 2015, the single food safety agency bill introduced by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. Read More...

Senate Ag Appropriations subcommittee named

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and ranking member Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., today announced the leaders and members of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Read More...

Groups sue EPA over ‘factory farm’ air pollution

A coalition of environmental, humane and community organizations filed two lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday for failing to address air pollution from factory farms. Read More...

Pelosi wants to pass TPA

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. said Wednesday she wants to find a way to pass trade promotion authority while also dealing with the concerns of Democrats who oppose it, Reuters reported. Pelosi, who had not taken a position on the issue, made the statement to reporters at a Democratic retreat in Philadelphia. Read More...

Senate Ag Committee approves subcommittees as Roberts says he will emphasize WOTUS

At an organizational meeting Wednesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee by voice vote approved the committee’s rules and the subcommittee assignments for the 114th Congress. Read More...

Conaway, Peterson announce subcommittee members

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, D-Texas, and House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., today announced the members who will serve on the Agriculture subcommittees. Read More...

National Journal: Dairy leaders join Durbin in quest for Cuba market

Dairy executives are among the many agricultural leaders who want to increase exports to Cuba, Jerry Hagstrom writes in his National Journal column today from the International Dairy Foods Association meeting in Boca, Raton, Fla. Read More...

Vetter: Pressure is on Canada in TPP talks

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The United States is continuing to put pressure on Canada to put forward a more robust proposal in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, Darci Vetter, the chief U.S. agricultural trade negotiator said here today at the International Dairy Foods Association’s annual Dairy Forum. Read More...

Meat groups support TPA

Four key meat groups — the National Pork Producers Council, the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association — said Monday they are urging members of Congress to grant President Barack Obama trade promotion authority so that the administration can finish negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreements. Read More...

CBO releases baseline for USDA programs

The Congressional Budget Office has released an economic forecast and the baseline for Agriculture Department farm and nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps, and child nutrition programs. Read More...

Peterson, Thune concerned about farm program costs

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., both told the Red River Farm Network they think that lower commodity prices will lead to higher farm program costs, the Red River Farm Network News reported. Read More...

Forest Service publishes snowmobile policy

The U.S. Forest Service today released the final rule for managing snowmobile and other “over-snow” vehicle use on national forests and grasslands.
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Beer can 80 years old

The beer can was introduced 80 years ago, the Beer Institute and the Can Manufacturers Institute said in a news release. Read More...

ARS names animal welfare ombudsman

Agricultural Research Service Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young has named an animal welfare ombudsman as part of an animal welfare review for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in the wake of the recent New York Times article on conditions at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Institute in Nebraska. Read More...

Tipton calls for more changes to dairy policy

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Less than a year after the 2014 farm bill became law, International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Connie Tipton today called for more changes to the dairy program. Read More...

Barbour: Immigrant workers needed — even prisoners won’t take chicken plant jobs

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Congress should reform the immigration system because even prisoners do not want to work in chicken plants, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour told the International Dairy Foods Association in a wide-ranging speech here Sunday. Read More...

Barbour comments on GOP presidential candidates

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Former Mississippi Gov. and Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour said here Sunday that “there will be a much higher quality field” of Republican presidential candidates for 2016 than in 2012, but he then made critical comments aabout several GOP candidates and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Read More...

China increases access for U.S. apples

U.S. and Chinese officials reached agreement over the weekend to allow to all U.S. apples to gain access to the Chinese market, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today. Read More...

New Yorker profiles food safety lawyer Bill Marler

The New Yorker has published a profile of the Seattle-based food safety lawyer Bill Marler that describes him as “the most prominent and powerful food-safety attorney in the country.” Read More...

Sweetener Users Association praises ITC examination of Mexico agreements

The Sweetener Users Association on Friday praised the International Trade Commission’s formal announcement that it will examine the agreements between the United States and Mexico suspending the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of Mexican sugar imports and providing for limits on Mexican sugar exports to the United States. Read More...

Vilsack orders animal welfare update

In reaction to a New York Times story on conditions at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Friday ordered the Agricultural Research Service to develop an animal welfare strategy within 60 days, Reuters reported.

Reuters based its story on an internal memo from Chavonda Jacobs-Young, head of the agency's Agricultural Research Service, sent to all Animal Research Service staff.

Reuters — USDA Secretary orders update of agency's animal welfare research strategy
The New York Times — Animal Welfare at Risk in Experiments for Meat Industry

USDA seeks conservation grant applications

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications for up to $20 million to create new markets for carbon credits that would lead to additional revenue sources for producers to use to address natural resource conservation challenges. Read More...

Roberts announces more Senate Ag staff

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan, the new chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee staff, on Friday announced new staff on the committee. Read More...

Beard Foundation seeks sponsors and programming for USA Pavilion at food-focused Expo Milano 2015

Imagine a world’s fair where everyone in American agriculture could explain what they do to an audience from around the world. That place will exist at the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 from May 1 to October 31. The expo in Milan, Italy, with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” is a world’s fair that will cover technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity and how they relate to food and diet as the world’s population grows. Read More...

USDA awards rural development loans

Agriculture Undersecretary for Rural Development Lisa Mensah today announced five awards to expand access to credit for rural businesses, particularly small businesses in poor and underserved areas. Read More...

NASS releases variety of farm congressional rankings

The Agriculture Department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service on Thursday released the 2012 Census of Agriculture rankings of congressional districts. Read More...

House Ag Committee to take up CFTC soon

The House Agriculture Committee will try to finish a bill to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission “as early in April as we can,” House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, told reporters Thursday. Read More...

Houston Chronicle: Vilsack promotes TPP in Texas

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a way to counter the power of China during a trip to Houston Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reported.
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The Hill: Democrats at war over TPA

Dozens of House Democrats are on a collision course with President Barack Obama over his request for trade promotion authority, also known as fast-track trade negotiating authority, while Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzer said that other “dozens” of Democratic legislators support granting the authority to the president, The Hill Online reported in two stories Thursday. Read More...

Battle over sugar suspension agreements continues

Imperial Sugar Company and AmCane Sugar, two U.S. refiners that rely on imported raw sugar, have taken the second step in their fight to kill the settlements reached in December to suspend the antidumping and countervailing duty cases against Mexican sugar imports, Inside U.S. Trade reported today. Read More...

New study debunks impact of COOL as opponents ask Congress to act

The National Farmers Union today released a study that says reductions in Canadian and Mexican exports of cattle to the United States are due to factors other than the country-of-origin labeling program, and that Canadian cattlemen have not suffered $1 billion per year in losses, as they have claimed.
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House Ways and Means, Senate Finance set trade hearings

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced Wednesday that the committee will hold a hearing on the U.S. trade policy agenda with testimony from Trade Representative Michael Froman next Tuesday.
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Seattle study shows menu labeling increases awareness

A study of calorie labeling on menus in chain restaurants in Seattle showed that while it increases awareness of the calories in foods, awareness is heightened more among white, highly educated, wealthier people than other groups, the American Journal of Public Health reported this week.
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Budget instructions could alter SNAP review plan, Conaway says

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, told reporters today that his plans to undertake a “full-scale review” of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program without “prejudging the outcome” could be altered if he receives budget instructions from the leadership before that review is finished.
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Branstad announces ‘presidential campaign’ for ethanol industry in Iowa

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad today announced a bipartisan campaign to promote the Renewable Fuel Standard in the 2016 Iowa presidential caucuses.
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Durbin, Feinstein, Gillibrand applaud poultry standard as National Chicken Council reviews it

Democrat Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York today applauded the new pathogen standards for salmonella and campylobacter in chicken and turkey, while the National Chicken Council said “We look forward to reviewing the proposed new federal standards in their entirety and providing comments to the agency.” Read More...

Conaway, Peterson highlight characteristics of new House Ag Committee members

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., today highlighted the characteristics of the eight new Republican and six new Democratic members at the committee’s organizational meeting. Read More...

ARS ‘looking into’ Nebraska livestock center; Humane Society seeks end to taxpayer-funded research

The Agriculture Department's Agricultural Research Service said today that it is ”looking into” the conditions at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska, which was the subject of an article in The New York Times on Monday. Read More...

Senate Ag to hold organizational meeting

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a business meeting on Wednesday to welcome new members and approve the committee funding resolution, committee rules and subcommittee assignments, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., announced today. Read More...

USDA proposes tougher ground poultry standards

The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service today proposed tougher federal standards to reduce salmonella and campylobacter bacteria in ground chicken and turkey products as well as raw chicken breasts, legs and wings. Read More...

First Lady reads to children about eating healthy

In a demonstration of the Obama administration’s continuing commitment to promoting healthier eating, First Lady Michelle Obama today invited school children to the White House where she read to them about “staying healthy” from a new version of a Dr. Seuss book. Read More...

Moran to chair Senate Ag Approps

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., will chair the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., announced Wednesday. Read More...

Obama administration begins TPA push

After President Barack Obama asked Congress in his State of the Union address to grant him trade promotion authority, the administration has begun a push to convince Democrats to support it, even as Democratic House members who oppose it began their own campaign to convince other members to join them.
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NCGA, Farm Bureau, NFU support Cuba liberalization

The National Corn Growers Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union all issued statements in favor of President Barack Obama’s notice in the State of the Union message that the United States will pursue normal diplomatic relations with Cuba. Read More...

Peterson announces 19 Democratic members on House Ag

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., announced today that 19 Democrats will serve on the House Agriculture Committee in the 114th Congress, two fewer than in the 113th. Read More...

White House promotes State of the Union

With President Barack Obama’s performance rising in the polls as he prepares to give the State of the Union address tonight to a Congress controlled by Republicans in both chambers, the White House has launched its promotion of the address, giving hints of what might be in it. Read More...

Youth pizza consumption should be limited, study says

Children and adolescents get too much saturated fat and sodium from pizza and their consumption of it should be limited, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics released Monday. Read More...

Ethanol groups criticize Feinstein-Toomey-Flake ethanol repeal amendment

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., last week introduced an amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill to repeal the corn ethanol mandate, but pro-ethanol groups called the amendment a rehash of previously introduced and failed legislation. Read More...

SupermarketGuru says everyone wants fresh, talks trends in all food sectors

LA QUINTA, Calif. — All sectors of the food industry want to create for themselves the image of freshness that the fruit and vegetable industry has had for decades, Phil Lempert, author of the SupermarketGuru newsletter, told the United Fresh Produce Association last week at this resort near Palm Springs. Read More...

United Fresh updates logo, website, issues

LA QUINTA, Calif. — The United Fresh Produce Association has updated its logo and website while establishing its national policy agenda for 2015, CEO Tom Stenzel told industry executives of member companies at its leadership forum here last week. Read More...

Study: Recess before lunch increases fruit and vegetable consumption, reduces waste

Holding grade school recess before lunch rather than after is significantly more effective at encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption than simply requiring students to take a fruit or vegetable with their lunch and fewer children throw food away, Cornell University and Brigham Young University have concluded in a joint study. Read More...

Durbin, DeLauro to introduce single food safety bill

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., announced Monday that he and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., will introduce a bill to establish a single food safety agency.
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Stabenow, Leahy, Durbin, others travel to Cuba

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a former chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, led a Democratic delegation to Cuba this weekend, The New York Times reported on Saturday. Read More...

First Lady to read from ‘healthier’ Dr. Seuss

On Wednesday, the morning after the State of the Union address, First Lady Michelle Obama will host local students in the East Room for a special reading of “Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You: All About Staying Healthy.” Read More...

EPA renewable fuels data garners criticism

Data on renewable fuels released by the Environmental Protection Agency Thursday garnered criticism of EPA’s inability to make decisions on the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014 from both the National Biodiesel Board and the Renewable Fuel Association. Read More...

Economists: T-TIP difficult to model

The proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’s potential benefits for agriculture are very difficult to model, economists agreed last week at an expert meeting organized by the Ecologic Institute, a German think tank, and the International Food Policy Research Institute. Read More...

Cane refiners file ITC case on Mexican agreement

Two U.S. sugar cane refiners have petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate whether the U.S.-Mexican agreement on sugar announced last month actually removes the injury to the domestic sugar industry, Inside U.S. Trade reported last week. Read More...

House to take off more days than Senate in 2015

The days that the House and Senate will not be in session this year begin Monday with the observance of the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
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EPA releases scientific report for WOTUS rule

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday released the scientific report that Administrator Gina McCarthy has said will be vital in final rulemaking on the Waters of the United States rule that EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are writing. Read More...

Forest Service announces payments to states

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday that the U.S. Forest Service will pay more than $50 million to 41 states and Puerto Rico to support local schools and roads under the Twenty-Five Percent Fund Act of 1908, but that the payments would have been much higher if Congress had reauthorized the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS), which expired on September 30. Read More...

Farm workers, employers react to House immigration vote

The United Farm Workers and the Agriculture Workforce Coalition both responded to the House vote that would rescind President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration, DTN/The Progressive Farmer reported Thursday. Read More...

House Ag to hold organizational meeting

The House Agriculture Committee will hold its organizational meeting for the 114th Congress on Thursday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, announced. Read More...

Obama in Iowa: Broadband ‘a necessity’ but rural America slow

“Today, high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” President Barack Obama said Wednesday during a visit to Cedar Falls, Iowa, a city that has developed its own community broadband network with internet speeds faster than Washington, New York and San Francisco. Read More...

Farm Bureau board approves strategic plan after quiet delegate session

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s board on Wednesday approved a strategic action plan to address public policy issues for 2015 after a quiet delegate voting session on Tuesday. Read More...

USDA predicts ‘normal water supply’ for western states

The National Water and Climate Center predicted today that “much of the West” will have “a normal water supply” this year, although the Southwest, Sierra Nevada region and Pacific Northwest are beginning 2015 drier than normal. Read More...

USDA conservation funding receives widespread praise

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday announced that 115 projects across all 50 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will receive more than $370 million in federal funding as part of the new USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which was created in the farm bill. Read More...

FRAC: Paid school lunch participation decline preceded healthier meals rule

In a major report released Wednesday, the Food Research and Action Center said multiple factors including higher prices have led to a decline in the participation in the National School Lunch program by middle-class students who pay the highest prices. Read More...

Rogers announces House Ag apropos members

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., announced Wednesday that the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will be composed of the following Republican members in the new Congress:
  • Robert Aderholt, Alabama (chairman)
  • Alan Nunnelee of Mississippi
  • Kevin Yoder, Kansas
  • Tom Rooney, Florida
  • David Valadao, California
  • Andy Harris, Maryland
  • David Young, Iowa

Treasury, Commerce publish regulations easing ag sales to Cuba

Sales of U.S. agricultural products, farm equipment and items related to environmental protection including renewable energy should be eased under regulations the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department published today to fulfill President Barack Obama’s promises on December 17 to ease restrictions on U.S. citizens doing business with Cuba and traveling to the island nation. Read More...

Grandin: Big animal welfare issues now on farm, not slaughterhouse

Animal care expert Temple Grandin's statement to the American Farm Bureau Federation that the big problems in animal care must be solved at the farm level could reset the animal welfare agenda, Jerry Hagstrom writes in his National Journal column today. Read More...

Food scenes from California

California is often ahead of the rest of the country, and that appears to be the case with menu labeling in theaters, and with eggs from chickens raised in larger cages or free range. Read More...

Vilsack: Conaway has ‘no foregone conclusions’ on SNAP, but review unlikely to affect crop insurance

SAN DIEGO — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said here Monday that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, told him Friday that he plans “a soup-to-nuts review of the SNAP program with no foregone conclusion attached to that review in his mind.” Read More...

IOM, NRC release report on analyzing food systems

The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council today released a report on a framework for assessing the health, environmental, social, and economic effects of proposed changes to the food system. Read More...

Merkley ranking member on Senate Ag Approps subcommittee; Udall picks Interior, Tester gets Mil Con

Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., announced Friday that Sen. Jeff Merkley will be the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Read More...

Taylor: FDA ready to finish FSMA rules

SAN DIEGO — The Food and Drug Administration is set to finish the rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act under a court-ordered schedule, Mike Taylor, the FDA deputy commissioner for food said here Sunday at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention. Read More...

ERS releases structure of farms study

The Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service has released a study of the structure and finances of farms in the United States, noting that most are family operations, with even the largest farms predominately family-run. Read More...

Chicken industry releases study of economic impact

The National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association on Monday released an economic impact study that showed the number of jobs in the chicken industry rose from 259,000 to 280,800 between 2012 and 2014. Read More...

Leno closes Farm Bureau convention

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual convention ended Monday with an appearance by comedian Jay Leno.
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Scenes from the Farm Bureau show

Lower commodity prices may lead farmers to buy less equipment but Case’s red tractors are still competing with Deere’s green machines on the American Farm Bureau Federation trade show floor. Read More...

Japan election blow to TPP

The election of a Japanese governor backed by traditional agricultural interests has signaled troubles for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his plans for economic reforms and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Japan Times reported. Read More...

Farm Bureau Foundation launches educational database

SAN DIEGO — The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture announced here that, with the support of DuPont Pioneer, it is launching an online database of educational resources to improve understanding of the agriculture industry among students. Read More...

Farm Bureau gives Vilsack an award as he speaks on trade, water, COOL

SAN DIEGO — The American Farm Bureau Federation, though legally a nonpartisan organization, is known as Republican-leaning. But today its leaders gave Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, an award for his performance in office. Read More...

USDA announces dairy program enrollment figures

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that some 23,000 dairy operators — more than half of all dairy farms in the country — have enrolled in the Margin Protection Program, the new safety-net program created by the 2014 farm bill. Read More...

White, May, Straughn form conservation consulting firm

Three people with extensive Capitol Hill agriculture experience are forming a conservation and sustainability consulting firm called the 9b Group. Read More...

National Pork Board names Hodges CEO

The National Pork Board, which manages the pork checkoff, today named Chris Hodges, a senior vice president of Smithfield Farmland, as its new CEO.
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Farm Bureau friends

The American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention featured wild animals brought to the trade show floor by Zoo to You, a Paso Robles, Calif., program that takes wild animals to schools. Animal expert and TV host Jack Hanna was the speaker at a Farm Bureau Foundation flapjack fundraiser on Sunday. Read More...

Stallman fears Congress will focus on election, not legislation

SAN DIEGO — American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said here Sunday that he fears some members of Congress will soon be focused on the presidential election and that Farm Bureau members will have to work hard to convince them to act on important legislation. Read More...

Des Moines Water Works intends to sue rural Iowa counties over pollution

In a move with implications for urban-rural government relationships nationwide, the Des Moines Water Works has issued a notice of intent to sue three rural counties for discharging pollutants under the Clean Water Act and an Iowa law. Read More...

Johanns elected to Deere board

Former Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., also a former U.S. secretary of agriculture and governor of Nebraska, has been elected to the board of Deere & Company, the farm equipment manufacturer has announced. Read More...

Pelosi announces new House Ag Democratic members

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced today that the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee has voted to recommend the assignment of the following members to the House Agriculture Committee: Read More...

Thornton to retire from USDA

Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Janey Thornton retired today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced.
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Fedoroff joins OFW Law

Nina Fedoroff, a plant scientist and a science and technology adviser to the secretary of state and to the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development from 2007 to 2010, has joined OFW Law with the title of senior science adviser. Read More...

USDA launches International Year of Soils initiative

The Agriculture Department this week launched its celebration of the International Year of Soils, in conjunction with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Read More...

Weller: NRCS wants single soil test to help farmers

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service hopes to develop a single soil test that can be used in any farmer’s field anywhere in the country and analyzed immediately to help the farmer determine what is needed to improve the soil, NRCS chief Jason Weller said this week at the International Year of Soils launch at USDA headquarters. Read More...

Roberts announces key Senate Agriculture staff

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who assumed the post Thursday, today announced his senior staff selections.
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Farm leaders: Agriculture key to normalizing relations with Cuba

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and a bipartisan group of senators and House members joined farm leaders today to launch the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba to work for normalization of trade relations between the United States and the Republic of Cuba. Read More...

Roberts confirmed as chairman of Senate Agriculture Committee

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., was confirmed as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee today and becomes the first person to have chaired both the House and Senate Agriculture committees in modern times. Read More...

First Lady to address Partnership for a Healthier America

First Lady Michelle Obama will keynote the Partnership for a Healthier America “Building a Healthier Future Summit” in Washington in February, the partnership announced today. Read More...

Vilsack: Beef checkoff should help small producers

In a wide-ranging interview on AgriTalk Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the beef checkoff should help small as well as large producers.
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Lack of high speed internet imperils ‘big data’

The lack of quality high-speed internet service on farms limits the use of “big data” and precision agriculture in some areas of rural America, the authors of an article in Choices, a publication of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association. Read More...

White House names Eschmeyer to Let’s Move post

The White House today announced that FoodCorps co-founder Debra Eschmeyer will be the executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative and senior policy adviser for nutrition policy. Read More...

Roberts chairmanship to be confirmed Thursday

The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to meet today to elect Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., as chairman of that committee. But the chairmanship will not be official until Thursday when the Republican conference is scheduled to vote on chairmanships and the full Senate will also vote on them. Read More...

EPA hires Colorado official for ag post

The Environmental Protection Agency has hired Colorado Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Ron Carleton as its liaison to farmers and ranchers, Greenwire reported today, based on an email sent to EPA staffers on Tuesday. Read More...

House Ag posts Republican members, not Dems yet

The House Agriculture Committee has posted a list of the 26 Republican members of the House Agriculture Committee for the 113th Congress, with pictures of most of them. Read More...

OMB issues Keystone pipeline statement

The White House Office of Management and Budget today issued a formal statement that President Barack Obama’s advisers would urge him to veto H.R. 3, a bill which would immediately authorize the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline and related cross-border facilities. Read More...

Four Ag committee members vote against Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, won re-election to his leadership post with 216 votes Tuesday, but 25 House Republicans including four members of the House Agriculture Committee voted against him, according to analysis by the Ag Insider of the Food & Environment Reporting Network. Read More...

WTD: Hatch says Republicans to take up TPA soon

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters today he expects to take up a bill to grant President Barack Obama trade promotion authority “in the early part of this year,” although it may not be the first bill on the committee’s agenda, Washington Trade Daily has reported. Read More...

IRS: Nonprofit hospitals can claim nutrition access aid to avoid taxes

In a major achievement for nutrition and local food advocates, the Internal Revenue Service has ruled that nonprofit hospitals throughout the country will be able to claim the help they provide their communities to “ensure adequate nutrition” as part of their exemption from federal taxation. Read More...

GAO: Food safety needs better coordination

The federal government’s food safety programs need better coordination, the Government Accountability Office said in a report issued in late December. Read More...

CBPP: One million people to lose food stamp benefits

About 1 million unemployed childless adults will lose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, also known as SNAP or food stamps, because unemployment rates are lower and waivers on the length of time they can get benefits will run out, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said in a report issued Monday. Read More...

Congress comes back today

The House and the Senate both come back into session today, with the re-election of Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and the transfer of power in the Senate from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, National Journal reports. Read More...