The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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New dietary guidelines could change food purchase habits

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released new dietary guidelines for Americans that could change the foods the government buys, encourage changes to the food stamp program in the next farm bill and affect USDA decisions on what research it funds and how it analyzes food consumption patterns. Read More...

Anti-GMO alfalfa campaign launched

Food & Water Watch today launched a campaign to oppose USDA’s decision to approve genetically modified alfalfa for widespread planting. Read More...

Organic farmers ‘deeply disappointed’ with alfalfa decision

A wide range of farm and agribusiness groups praised Thursday’s announcement that USDA would allow the planting of Roundup Ready genetically-engineered alfalfa without restrictions, but the Organic Trade Association said in a news release it was “deeply disappointed.” Read More...

Vilsack announces Conservation Reserve Program signup

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will hold a general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program from March 14 through April 15. The program pays farmers to enroll highly erodible land and plant grasses and other crops that will conserve soil and create wildlife habitat. USDA also provides cost-share assistance to farmers to help establish the long-term, resource-conserving cover on the CRP land. Read More...

Vilsack: Genetically engineered alfalfa can be grown without restrictions

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has granted genetically engineered Roundup Ready alfalfa seed non-regulated status, which means it can be planted anywhere without barriers or geographic restrictions. Read More...

Dairy industry told to do better marketing milk as a beverage

MIAMI — The nation’s dairy industry needs to improve the experience children have drinking milk at school and use special occasion marketing to reverse the decline in milk consumption in the United States, a key dairy industry adviser told the International Dairy Foods Association at its annual Dairy Forum here this week. Read More...

Krysta Harden new Vilsack chief of staff

Krysta Harden, the assistant secretary of Agriculture for congressional relations, will become Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's chief of staff on Monday when Karen Ross, the current chief of staff, leaves to become California's food and agriculture secretary. Read More...

Stabenow announces committee members

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said today that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had announced the members of the Senate Agriculture Commitee. Read More...

Tipton, Kozak agree and disagree on same stage

MIAMI – The leaders of the International Dairy Foods Association and National Milk Producers Federation put on a display of cooperation on many issues today at IDFA’s Dairy Forum here, but agreed to continue to disagree on National Milk’s proposal for supply management as part of a reform of the federal dairy program. Read More...

FAO releases guide for countries hit by high food prices

Apparently fearing that countries experiencing food shortages will imposing export restrictions as they did in 2008, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization today published a policy guide for countries hit by high food prices. Read More...

Stabenow, Roberts to sit together at State of the Union

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the incoming chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the incoming ranking member, will sit together at President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight to show they will work together on the next farm bill, Stabenow said in a statement late today. Read More...

Study: Supply management would cost dairy farms money

MIAMI — A dairy supply management program proposed by the National Milk Producers Federation would have cost dairy farmers $626 million in payments from processors if it had been in place from 2000 to 2009, according to a study released today by the International Dairy Foods Association, a processors group, at its annual Dairy Forum here. National Milk, the nation’s largest organization of dairy farmers, defended the proposal. Read More...

Shah promises evaluation of ‘Feed the Future’

Is President Obama’s “Feed the Future” program to encourage agricultural development in poor countries working? Lawmakers and taxpayers should be able to get answers within a month, according to a scenario laid out last week by Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Read More...

Obama's USDA: Interview with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said despite the Democrats’ losses in rural America in the 2010 congressional elections, he believes President Obama will do well when he runs for re-election in 2012. Even though the president is criticized by both organic and conventional farmers for not favoring one approach to agriculture, Vilsack said farmers will recognize that the Obama administration’s attempt to aid all types of agricultural production is the best way to proceed. Vilsack also said he still enjoys his job and has no plans to leave. Read More...

EPA declares 15 percent ethanol safe for 2001 and newer vehicles

Fuel that contains up to 15 percent ethanol is safe for cars and light trucks made since 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency declared this morning. Read More...

Vilsack: Status of genetically modified alfafa to be announced

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made his first appearance before the House Agriculture Committee since the Republicans gained controlled of the House, and announced he would make a decision on the regulatory status of Roundup Ready alfalfa “very, very shortly” after a comment period comes to an end on January 24. Read More...

USDA reveals new bio-based product label

Products made of “wholly or significantly biological ingredients — renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials” will be eligible for a USDA-certified bio-based label under a rule to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced Wednesday. Read More...

GOP trio questions engineered alfalfa approval process

On the eve of a House Agriculture Committee public forum on the biotechnology regulatory approval process, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said today they had sent Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack a letter questioning USDA’s process for approving the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa. Read More...

Farr named highest-ranking Dem on House Ag subcommittee

The House Democratic caucus on Wednesday named Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Read More...

Michael Scuse named acting undersecretary after Miller's resignation

Michael Scuse will take the position of acting undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services when Jim Miller leaves the undersecretary post to return to Capitol Hill as an aide to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D. Read More...

Conrad: Democrat can win his seat in 2012

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said in an exclusive interview with The Hagstrom Report that he believes a Democrat can win the North Dakota Senate race in 2012 and listed five possible candidates. Conrad, who announced his retirement earlier today, also pledged to make two agricultural issues — reduction in dependence on foreign oil and the 2012 farm bill — priorities during his last two years in office. Read More...

Obama loosens Cuban travel rules

The White House announced late today that President Obama has directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security to take a series of steps to ease American travel to Cuba. The new rules will allow religious organizations to sponsor religious travel to Cuba, make educational and academic exchanges easier, and make it easier for Cuban Americans to see their families in Cuba and send money to people outside their families. “The president believes these actions, combined with the continuation of the embargo, are important steps in reaching the widely shared goal of a Cuba that respects the basic rights of all its citizens,” the White House statement said. Read More...

House Ag schedules first hearing

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., announced late today that the committee will hold its first hearing under his leadership next Thursday at 10 a.m. The topic will be the biotechnology regulatory review process. The witness list was not announced. Read More...

USDA gets new general counsel

The Agriculture Department finally got a general counsel today when Ramona Romero was sworn in. The position, a political appointment, had remained open until President Obama nominated Romero last year. She was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on December 22. Read More...

USDA proposes healthier school meal nutrition rule

WASHINGTON — School meals could get healthier under a proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for national school breakfast and meal programs, changing food purchasing patterns as early as next fall. The Agriculture Department published the proposed rule in the Federal Register today. Read More...

Farm Bureau delegates support ethanol changes, consider dairy supply management

ATLANTA — Delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation convention voted here Tuesday to endorse continuation of most of the 2008 farm bill programs in the 2012 bill and support changes to the ethanol program, while breaking with their usual ideology to consider supporting a supply management program in dairy. The 370 delegates from all 50 states voted for a resolution “to extend the concepts of the 2008 farm bill” and programs including crop insurance, direct payments, countercyclical payments, marketing loans and the average crop revenue election program known as ACRE. Read More...

Vilsack chief of staff to take California post

California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, is expected to announce today that he will appoint Karen Ross, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s chief of staff, as the secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, a source close to the situation has told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Stabenow promises agribusiness a centrist approach

In her first major speech on agriculture, incoming Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told a Michigan agribusiness audience today that she is planning a series of farm bill hearings and pledged to be a centrist force in resolving environmental issues facing agriculture. Read More...

Vilsack thanks Farm Bureau, asks support for biotech plan

ATLANTA — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack broke from his prepared remarks to the American Farm Bureau Federation here Monday to observe that he had come to the convention with “a heavy heart” after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and others on Saturday in Arizona. “We need to take a minute to appreciate what we have,” Vilsack said, adding that it was hard to give a speech under the circumstances. He said, however, that he thought it fitting to thank Farm Bureau members for producing the nation’s food supply and to thank rural Americans for their contributions to American life, particularly because a disproportionate number of them serve in the military.
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USDA, FDA say they’ll work with farmers on food safety

ATLANTA — In their first joint public appearance, the nation’s two top food safety experts told the American Farm Bureau Federation Sunday that food producers at all levels have to help improve the safety of American food, but they also reassured farmers and ranchers that they are not planning to come onto their property to conduct inspections on a frequent basis. Read More...

Chambliss likely to lose Ag leadership but will stay involved in ag issues

ATLANTA — Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., signaled today that he will leave that leadership post to become the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, but said he would still be a member of the Agriculture committee and very involved in agriculture issues. Read More...

Farm Bureau to sue EPA over Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan

ATLANTA — The American Farm Bureau Federation will file suit Monday to try to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from using the Clean Water Act to reduce the level of pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. In his annual address to the membership at Farm Bureau’s convention here, president Bob Stallman said the group would file suit in federal district court in Scranton, Pa. The suit addresses an EPA announcement that it would use total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements to put the Chesapeake Bay on a “pollution diet” to restore clean water in the bay and the region’s streams, creeks and rivers. Read More...

The Hagstrom Report debuts January 9

Veteran national agriculture reporter Jerry Hagstrom launched The Hagstrom Report on January 9, bringing news from the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting to his subscribers. The News Archives on this page will be a repository for sent to Hagstrom Report subscribers the previous week, and beyond. Read More...