The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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Stabenow, Roberts investigating farm program cuts

WICHITA, Kan. — Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, both said here today that they are investigating how much Congress will cut farm programs under the debt-ceiling deficit reduction bill passed in August, but they indicated they will take different approaches. Read More...

Food trends analyst: Baby boomers changing eating habits

First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity may have a hard time reaching busy parents, but the food industry needs to be aware that people who are over 50 years or have experienced health problems are changing their eating habits, according to a prominent food trends analyst. Read More...

Adelstein: Youth need broadband to stay on the farm

Future farmers who attended President Barack Obama’s rural economic forum in Iowa last week said that they would be unwilling to stay in rural areas without high-speed Internet service, Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein said Monday. Read More...

USDA announces Conservation Innovation Grants

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $22.5 million in innovative conservation technologies and approaches on Monday. Read More...

Pending Peterson-Simpson dairy bill churns the industry

As the National Milk Producers Federation held the last of its information meetings on dairy reform proposals Monday in Nashville, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., was making plans to introduce his bill with the co-sponsorship of Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. Read More...

Reaction split to SNAP decision on NYC beverage ban

The Agriculture Department has rejected New York state’s application for a demonstration project to ban the use of supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits (SNAP) to purchase sweetened beverages in New York City, but the issue of what SNAP beneficiaries can buy could surface again in the 2012 farm bill debate as an issue that crosses party lines. Read More...

USDA, Council on Foundations agree to work together

The Agriculture Department and the Council on Foundations, a nonprofit membership association of foundations and corporations that make grants for community purposes, have signed an agreement to work together to spur economic growth in rural America, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Council on Foundations President Steve Gunderson have announced. Read More...

Ripples, reactions from Obama's bus tour of the Midwest

President Barack Obama’s three-day bus trip to the Midwest continued to make news over the weekend with a series of developments. Read More...

EPA releases Science Advisory analysis on reactive nitrogen

The Environmental Protection Agency today posted a report of the Science Advisory Board on reactive nitrogen in the United States. Read More...

Stabenow, Vilsack to tour Michigan for biofuels, rural forum

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will tour the NASCAR Sprint Cup Garage in Brooklyn, Mich., Sunday to view engines using ethanol, and will then discuss the benefits of American-grown biofuels with the press, Stabenow's office announced on Thursday. Read More...

CFTC hosting commodity research conference next week

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will host a high-level research conference on commodity markets next Thursday and Friday, the agency announced today. Read More...

Sell: Crop insurance alone not enough safety net

BRAINERD, Minn. — Farmers still need a safety net besides crop insurance, a key farm lobbyist said here this week. Read More...

USDA to spread word to local offices on regulations

Following up on President Barack Obama's statement to a farmer in Illinois that he should “contact USDA” if he has concerns about proposed regulations, the Agriculture Department in Washington will provide USDA offices in the states and counties information on regulatory initiatives, a spokesman for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today. Read More...

Peterson: Automatic 9 percent cut best deal for agriculture

BRAINERD, Minn. — An automatically-triggered 9 percent cut to the Agriculture budget would probably be better than any deal the congressional super committee works out on reducing deficit, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said here this week in a wide ranging speech to Minnesota Corn, a growers’ group. Read More...

Disaster relief available for losses before October 1

BRAINERD, Minn. — Crop, livestock and other producers who have suffered losses from natural disasters this year will be eligible for government payments if they can prove that the losses occurred before Oct. 1, a key Agriculture Department official said here this week. Read More...

USDA announces rural business, job training projects

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of projects in 15 states to support small business and job creation opportunities, and train workers in Native American communities. Read More...

Ethanol industry set to fight over renewable fuels standard

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Republican presidential candidacy and President Barack Obama’s comments on ethanol have thrown the corn-based ethanol industry into turmoil as it struggles to convince Congress to provide assistance to build blender pumps. Read More...

Vilsack defends Obama's statements on pending regulations

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack capped President Obama’s three-day Midwestern bus tour today by announcing USDA grants and loans for community facilities in 31 states and Puerto Rico, explaining how food stamps stimulate the economy and agreeing with Obama’s statements Wednesday that farmers worried about impending regulation should check to make sure the regulations are really moving forward or are just fears being fed by lobbyists in Washington. Read More...

Midwest bus tour puts Obama in touch with rural leaders and voters

President Barack Obama’s three-day Midwestern bus tour, which concludes today in Illinois, has given him an opportunity to invite farm and rural leaders who are likely to help him get re-elected to a White House-sponsored event. It has also given him a chance to hear directly about those issues that rural Americans say the administration has not handled very well and could pose problems in convincing them to vote for him in 2012. Read More...

Obama launches $510 million biofuel program

President Barack Obama announced today in Peosta, Iowa, that the government will invest $510 million over the next three years in partnership with the private sector to produce advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation. He then took part in a rural economic development forum. Read More...

USDA names new acting deputy assistant secretary for congressional relations

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday appointed Ann Wright, the Agriculture deputy undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, as acting deputy assistant secretary for congressional relations. Read More...

Peterson will fight crop insurance changes in 2012 farm bill

BRAINERD, Minn. — House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said here today that there should be no changes to the crop insurance program in the 2012 farm bill. Read More...

Canadian-Colombian trade agreement goes into force

As the Canadian-Colombian free trade agreement entered into force today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Senate Finance ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, urged passage of the U.S.-Colombian free trade agreement, but emphasized different points. Read More...

Obama bus tour begins in Minnesota

On the first leg of his three-day Midwestern bus tour, President Barack Obama today praised the productivity of American agriculture, but noted that many small farmers are still having difficulties. Read More...

Sugar reform group debuts its website

The Coalition for Sugar Reform has launched a new website. Read More...

Healthier U.S. School Challenge program reaches goal

As the start of the school year approaches, Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon announced today that the administration had reached its goal of registering 1,250 schools as winners of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Healthier U.S. School Challenge.” The schools had to improve school nutrition and expand physical activity opportunities. Read More...

Rural Council report prelude to fight for rural vote

The White House report on rural jobs and economic security released today sends a strong signal that President Barack Obama will fight hard for the rural vote in 2012. The report was released in advance of Obama’s three-day bus trip to the Midwest next week. Read More...

AGree sets up research committee to help set priorities

AGree, the foundation-funded initiative on the 2012 farm bill, announced today that it has established a research committee composed mostly of academics to advise its leaders on agricultural research priorities. Read More...

Roberts announces witnesses for Kansas farm bill hearing

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., today announced the witnesses who will appear at the Wichita field hearing on the farm bill on August 25. Read More...

Conrad submits farm program consolidation proposal

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has submitted his proposal to combine several farm programs to the Congressional Budget Office for a score, the Red River Farm Network reported Thursday. Read More...

Thompson visiting scholar at John Hopkins SAIS

Robert Thompson, a former World Bank and Agriculture Department official, has joined the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) as a visiting scholar. Read More...

Toomey elected president, CEO of Waterways Council

The Waterways Council, Inc. board of directors has elected Mike Toohey as president and chief executive officer, effective August 14. Read More...

White House issues report on rural jobs, economic security

In advance of President Barack Obama’s trip to the Midwest next week, the White House has just released a report entitled “Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America.” Read More...

Analysts: Demand will keep sugar prices high

STOWE, Vt. — World sugar prices are likely to remain high due to world demand and the difficulty of increasing supply, analysts said at the American Sugar Alliance International Sweetener Symposium here last week. Read More...

U.S. sugar industry warned to avoid EU-style reform

STOWE, Vt. — The European Union’s sugar reform has caused such supply shortages and price volatility that the United States should be leery of any proposal that would reduce domestic production and make the country dependent on sugar from developing countries that may not be reliable suppliers, European sugar analysts and executives say. Read More...

$21.8 million more for sage-grouse conservation

As part of the Obama administration’s effort to avoid listing the greater sage-grouse as an endangered species, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today $21.8 million in additional financial assistance to help eligible farmers and ranchers in Wyoming conserve critical greater sage-grouse habitat. Read More...

Clinton: U.S. to send $17 million more for famine relief

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that the United States will contribute another $17 million for humanitarian relief from famine in the Horn of Africa, but called for continued support for the Obama administration’s “Feed the Future” initiative, which aids long-term agricultural development in the region. Read More...

Pelosi fills last three seats on deficit committee

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced today that she has chosen Democratic Reps. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Xavier Becerra of California to serve on the bipartisan House and Senate super committee on deficit reduction. Read More...

Florida gets $100 million Wetlands Reserve Program aid

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced $100 million in financial assistance to acquire permanent easements from eligible landowners in four Florida counties and assist with wetland restoration on nearly 24,000 acres of agricultural land in the Northern Everglades Watershed. Read More...

Deficit reduction committee three-fourths filled

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., today announced their appointees to represent Republicans on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the National Journal reported today. Read More...

FCA: Credit rating drop won't affect risk calcuations

The Standard & Poor's lowering of the credit ratings of the Farm Credit System from AAA to AA+ will not affect the calculations for risk of the debt issued by those institutions, said Leland Strom, chairman of the Farm Credit Administration, the regulator of the Farm Credit System and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac). Read More...

DOT: No new regulations on CDLs for farm vehicles

The Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today that it has no intention to propose new regulations that Republicans and some farm leaders charged could have required farmers and ranchers to get commercial drivers’ licenses to transport animals and farm equipment. Read More...

APHIS seeks comments on proposed livestock tracing rule

The long-awaited and long-feared proposed rule requiring animal identification for the purposes of tracing back incidences of disease will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today. Comments on the rule will be accepted until November 9. Read More...

Glickman joins board of Oxfam America

Former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman has joined the board of directors of Oxfam America, the international relief and development organization announced today. Read More...

Vilsack: Safety net needed despite budget concerns

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a variety disaster assistance programs for farmers and ranchers hit by floods, drought and tornadoes, but also said the need for disaster declarations around the country has shown the importance of maintaining a safety net for farm producers even in the midst of federal budget problems. Read More...

USDA: More farmers markets, but few deal with SNAP

More than 1,000 new farmers markets have opened across the country in the past year, but the percentage of all markets that accept SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefits remains small, the Agriculture Department reported today. Read More...

Steckel new head of National Biodiesel's Washington office

The National Biodiesel Board announced today that it has hired Anne Steckel as vice president of federal affairs and head of its Washington office. Read More...

Thatcher: Conrad and aide working on farm bill proposal

STOWE, Vt. — Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and budget aide Jim Miller are working on a proposal to combine the countercyclical farm payment program, the average crop revenue election program known as ACRE and disaster aid in the next farm bill, a key farm lobbyist said Wednesday. Read More...

Peterson: Food stamps, CRP would be exempt from sequestration

STOWE, Vt. — In a videoconference discussion of the impact of the new debt ceiling and deficit reduction law today, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn, said the supplemental nutrition assistance program or SNAP (formerly called food stamps), the Conservation Reserve Program that idles land and an Environmental Protection Agency program addressing hazardous waste in grains bins would be exempt from sequestration if an across-the-board federal budget cut would go into effect in 2012. Read More...

Conrad: No immediate farm subsidy cuts, but no advantage to waiting on farm bill

STOWE, Vt. — Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., confirmed today that the debt ceiling-deficit reduction bill will not cut farm subsidies in the short run, but said that if the congressional joint super committee does not come up with a deficit reduction proposal by December, automatic triggers will affect farm programs. Read More...

Gunderson: America needs more community foundations

KANSAS CITY — Community foundations across rural America do everything to improve the rural quality of life, from helping to bring in high-speed Internet service to buying new school playground equipment, but more of these foundations need to be formed, Steve Gunderson, president of the Council on Foundations and a former Wisconsin Republican congressman said here last week. Read More...

Senate Ag approves Wetjen for CFTC, Baenig for USDA post

The Senate Agriculture Committee today approved the nominations of Mark Wetjen to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Brian Baenig to become Agriculture assistant secretary for congressional relations, a spokesman for Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Vilsack: Government, foundations need to partner

KANSAS CITY — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told foundation officials working in rural America last week that he needs to understand better what they do, while the foundation officials discussed how they could work more closely with the federal government and proposed a rural philanthropy growth act that would provide federal challenge grants to communities to develop their own foundations and charities. Read More...

Appropriators could still cut mandatory farm programs, WIC

STOWE, Vt. — The bill to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit on which Congress is expected to vote on today does not provide for any cuts in mandatory farm spending in the short run or end ethanol tax breaks, but it is still possible that appropriators could reduce mandatory farm programs and the special nutrition program for women, infants and children known as WIC when they make the cuts. Read More...

Community foundations benefitting from farmer bequests

KANSAS CITY — Aging farmers are beginning to will land to community foundations that promise to rent it to local farmers and use the income for projects to improve the community, foundation executives said at conference on rural philanthropy here last week. Read More...

Conaway: Debt-ceiling agreement doesn't include farm bill cuts before 2013

STOWE, Vt. — The agreement to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending announced by congressional leaders and the White House Sunday night will not include cuts to farm programs before 2013, but may lead to a rewrite of the farm bill later this year rather than in 2012, a key House agriculture leader told the American Sugar Alliance by videoconference here today. Read More...