The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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Republicans boycott trade 'mock markup,' forcing Senate Finance to cancel

The Senate Finance Committee “mock markup” on pending trade agreements with Korea, Panama and Colombia and trade adjustment assistance is not being held because all Republican members of the committee are boycotting it. Read More...

NASS reports high corn acreage; will resurvey in July

Following a crop report today that showed an unexpectedly high number of acres planted to corn despite wet weather problems, the Agriculture Department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced that it will collect updated information on 2011 acres planted to corn, soybeans, durum and other spring wheat in four states in July. Read More...

Senate recess canceled for work on budget

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., today canceled next week’s Senate recess and said the Senate will be in session beginning Tuesday, July 5. Read More...

House Ag announces subcommittee farm bill hearings

The House Agriculture Committee announced today that its subcommittees will hold two “audit” hearings on aspects of the farm bill next week and a joint hearing with a Natural Resources subcommittee. Read More...

TAA gets ag industry support as Senate Finance heads to 'mock markup'

As a Senate Finance Committee “mock markup” of implementation legislation for the Korea, Panama and Colombia free trade agreements approaches this afternoon, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Feed Industry Association have endorsed a plan to seek congressional approval of the agreements and reauthorization of trade adjustment authority (TAA) for workers hurt by imports, even as Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and some Senate Republicans continue to spar over the inclusion of TAA in the package. Read More...

Free trade deal, including TAA, not fully embraced by GOP

Farm and business groups have begun pushing for congressional approval of the free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama, even though House Republican leaders and conservative groups are still expressing some concerns about the deal with congressional Republicans that the White House announced Tuesday. Read More...

Baucus schedules mock markup on draft free trade bills

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., will hold a “mock” markup on Thursday of the draft implementing bills for the South Korea, Colombia, and Panama free trade agreements that include an extension of trade adjustment assistance (TAA). Read More...

Graziano da Silva attends U.S.-sponsored women in agriculture event in Rome

ROME — José Graziano da Silva, director general-elect of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, spoke at a U.S. embassy-sponsored event on women in agriculture Monday, even though it’s unclear whether the United States supported his candidacy. Read More...

Farm Credit Administration names Van Meter to ORP

The Farm Credit Administration board has selected Gary Van Meter as the agency’s director of the Office of Regulatory Policy, the agency announced. Read More...

Graziano da Silva supports GMOs, but not seed monopolies

ROME — José Graziano da Silva, the director general-elect of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, said today that he believes in genetic modification in agriculture but is opposed to individual companies being granted monopolies on genetically modified seeds. Read More...

Graziano da Silva of Brazil elected FAO director general

ROME — Delegates from member countries of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization today elected José Graziano da Silva, an architect of the Brazilian anti-hunger program, as director general of the FAO. Read More...

Kofi Annan tells FAO higher food prices help production

ROME — Farmers around the world should continue to get higher commodity prices in order to increase food production in future years, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan told the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in a lecture here today. Read More...

Delegates in Rome for U.N. FAO election

ROME — Delegates from the 191 countries that are members of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization will elect the first new director general of the FAO in 18 years on Sunday through a complicated voting process that is expected to take several rounds. Read More...

Merrigan representing U.S. at FAO conference

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan is scheduled to represent the United States at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization election and biennial conference beginning Saturday in Rome. Read More...

N.Y. Apple says schools may now bid for state-grown fruit

Schools in New York state will be able to specify state-grown apples when placing bids for school lunch programs, the New York Apple Association has announced. Read More...

EWG updates its farm subsidy database

The Environmental Working Group released today the latest update of its farm subsidy database. Read More...

G20 ag ministers come to agreement on global food issues

PARIS — In an attempt to reduce global food price volatility, the agriculture ministers from the G20 countries, including the United States, agreed today to launch a new wheat research initiative, convinced China and India to participate in a new food market supply and demand system, and released a proposal for a pilot project on humanitarian food reserves. But the group did not take a position opposing biofuels subsidies. Read More...

Vilsack, at Paris Air Show, talks biofuels for aviation use

PARIS — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said here Wednesday that a meeting with fuel and airline company executives at the Paris Air Show has reassured him that the United States is taking the right in path in developing biofuels, particularly for airline use. Read More...

Collins joins Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Vaughn T. Collins has joined the staff of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a national sportsmen-conservation group, as director of government affairs. Read More...

Food stamp program at peak efficiency, Vilsack says

The Agriculture Department says that the food stamp program has reached its highest level of efficiency in history, but also announced a proposed rule to stop beneficiaries from "water dumping" — buying beverages that require a container deposit and immediately dumping out the contents in order to return the container and receive the deposit credit in cash. Read More...

House Ag conservation program hearing postponed

The House Agriculture Committee has postponed indefinitely its hearing scheduled for today on conservation programs. Read More...

Stabenow sets hearing on livestock industry

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will hold a hearing on June 28 on the state of the livestock industry. Read More...

Peterson/Schock bill would extend biodiesel tax credit

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., have introduced a bill to extend the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit to 2014 and to change the tax incentive to a production excise tax credit. Read More...

Farm, wildlife groups disagree on pesticide permitting bill

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and several farm groups are urging the Senate to pass a bill intended to reduce what they consider to be costly and duplicative pesticide permitting requirements, but the National Wildlife Federation is opposed to the bill.
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Obama to nominate Baenig to congressional relations post

President Obama Tuesday announced his intention to nominate Brian Baenig as Agriculture assistant secretary for congressional relations. Read More...

Lincoln, Holifield join Alston & Bird as policy advisers

Former Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Robert Holifield, who was staff director of the committee during her chairmanship, have joined the Washington law firm of Alston & Bird. Read More...

USDA to launch seven-prong push for better eating

The Agriculture Department is planning a series of seven special campaigns to encourage Americans to eat better and eat less. Read More...

Senators cite pork trade issues in Russia's WTO application

Twenty-six senators led by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., have written U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to urge him not to support Russia’s application to join the World Trade Organization until it address barriers to U.S. pork products. Read More...

World Food Prize goes to former leaders of Brazil, Ghana

The 2011 World Food Prize was awarded today to two former presidents who led drastic reductions of hunger and poverty in their countries: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, and John Agyekum Kufuor, former president of Ghana. The awards were announced in a ceremony at the State Department and will presented to the two leaders on October 13 in a ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa. Read More...

USDA efficiency topic of Senate, House hearings this week

Only days after the Senate voted to end ethanol tax breaks and the House voted to cut a number of farm programs in the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill, the Senate and House agriculture committees will hold hearings this week on the efficiency of USDA programs. All the hearings are intended as preparation for writing the 2012 farm bill. Read More...

Vilsack heads to France for G-20, Paris Air Show

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack heads to Paris this week for a meeting of the agricultural ministers of the Group of 20 countries. The focus of the summit Wednesday and Thursday is on international efforts to ensure global food security. Read More...

Senate, House votes go against agricultural interest

In what appears to be the worst day for traditional American agricultural interests in decades, the Senate voted to end ethanol tax breaks immediately while the House of Representatives voted to end payments to settle the Brazil cotton case as well as to cut a wide range of other programs including nutrition. Read More...

Ag approps expected back on House floor

Floor action on the fiscal year 2012 House Agriculture appropriations bill is expected to resume today after a schedule break late Wednesday for the congressional White House picnic. Read More...

New USDA greenhouse to fight wheat rust; researcher says more needed

Scientists will fight wheat rust from a new state-of-the art Agriculture Department greenhouse at the University of Minnesota, but a key researcher says more money is needed if the fungal disease is to be fought successfully in Africa before it reaches North America. Read More...

House Ag Committee schedules hearings next week

The House Agriculture Committee will hold three oversight hearings and a business meeting next week. Read More...

Debate, votes continue on Ag appropriations

The House of Representatives has approved the rule for consideration of the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill, but debate and votes are expected to continue today. Read More...

Senate rejects ethanol tax break repeal

The Senate Tuesday rejected a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to immediately repeal the ethanol tax break formally known as the Volumetric Ethanol Tax Credit. Read More...

European Parliament delegation meeting with farm leaders

A delegation of 10 members of the European Parliament led by Italian MEP Paolo de Castro, who chairs the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, is scheduled to meet with congressional and Obama administration farm leaders today, only days after the European Parliament voted to propose a 5 percent increase in funding for the European Union budget and to at least maintain the current budget for agriculture. Read More...

Farm groups write opposing disproportionate cuts

More than 130 farm groups sent President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, a letter Tuesday saying they will oppose any deficit reduction package that would disproportionately impact U.S. farmers and ranchers and rural America. Read More...

AMS administrator Pegg to leave post next month

Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Rayne Pegg will resign effective mid-July to return to California to pursue another opportunity and spend more time with family, the Agriculture Department Office of the White House Liaison announced Tuesday. Read More...

Leaders continue to urge movement on free trade pacts

The Obama administration’s announcement that Colombia has completed the second stage of action items on a labor rights plan related to its proposed free trade agreement with the United States prompted Democrats to call for advancing the agreement in conjunction with trade adjustment assistance for American workers and Republicans to ask President Obama to send the agreement to Capitol Hill immediately. Read More...

Ethanol groups back variable tax credit bill

In a signal of increasing trouble for the ethanol industry’s tax breaks, the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association all issued news releases Monday opposing the amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and endorsing the bill introduced by Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to make the ethanol tax credit dependent on the price of oil beginning July 1. Read More...

Ag appropriations bill moves to House floor

The fiscal year 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill is expected to come to the House floor today under an open rule that will allow debate on amendments that would cut farm subsidies but might also deal with cuts to nutrition programs that liberals say would lead to increased hunger. Read More...

Lucas asks Dreier not to waive rules against provisions

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., wrote House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., asking him not to waive points of order against provisions in the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill that came before Rules today. Read More...

Global Harvest backs technology to fight hunger

The Global Harvest Initiatitive, a consortium of agribusiness companies, today published a policy issue briefing calling for the use of science-based technologies to address global hunger and food security. Read More...

Farm groups push points on Ag appropriations bill

With the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill set to go before the House Rules Committee at 5:30 p.m. and to the House floor Tuesday, farm groups are lobbying furiously on a variety of provisions, but it is hard to tell if those efforts will have much impact. Read More...

Peterson: Resolution might not mean farm bill spending cuts

The House-passed 2012 budget resolution may not require that the 2012 House version of the farm bill spend less than the current farm bill, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said in interview last week. Read More...

Noem headed for House Ag Committee

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., has apparently won a seat on the House Agriculture Committee, succeeding Rep. Steven Fincher, R-Tenn., who vacated it to take a seat on the House Financial Services Committee. Read More...

Obama sets up White House Rural Council

The Obama administration late last week established a White House Rural Council to better coordinate federal activities in rural areas. Read More...

Lucas, Peterson working on Ag appropriations bill changes

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., appear to be working together to oppose some elements of the fiscal year 2012 House Agriculture appropriations bill as passed by the House Appropriations Committee last week, but Peterson also appears likely to take the opposition farther than Lucas will go. Read More...

Stabenow won't support Ryan food stamp program plan

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said Wednesday that she will not support the proposal of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to turn the food stamp program into a capped block grant to the states, but anti-hunger advocates are still planning a campaign to make sure the federal program remains in place. Read More...

Senate Ag Committee to examine USDA accountability

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will hold a hearing June 23 on accountability in programs at the Agriculture Department. Read More...

Obama names Wodder for Interior fish and wildlife job

President Obama Wednesday announced his intention to nominate Rebecca R. Wodder as Interior assistant secretary for fish and wildlife, a position that can have substantial impact on agricultural and rural interests. Read More...

WTO seeks successor for Doha ag talk chairman

A World Trade Organization official confirmed today the departure of David Walker, the New Zealand ambassador who has been serving as chairman of the agriculture negotiating committee in the Doha round, and said that the WTO is looking for a new agriculture chairman. Read More...

Greenhouse gas projects funded in 24 states

Funding for nine greenhouse gas mitigation projects in 24 states was announced today by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White. Read More...

Stabenow sets hearing on Dodd-Frank Title VII

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow announced late Tuesday that the committee will hold a hearing on the implementation of Title VII of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on June 15. Read More...

National Grain hires ex-Congressional staffer

The National Grain and Feed Association has announced that it has hired Elizabeth (Beth) Elliott as director of legislative affairs. Read More...

National Milk launches dairy policy tour

In an apparent attempt to build support for its "Foundation for the Future" plan to change dairy policy, the National Milk Producers Federation has scheduled a summer tour to bring together dairy producers and industry representatives to discuss: Read More...

IFPRI: More farm subsidy monitoring needed by WTO

The World Trade Organization needs a stricter system of monitoring members’ levels of farm subsidies and should consider more restrictions on conservation payments, biofuels programs and other farm policies that are not now considered trade distorting, the editors of a new book published by the International Food Policy Research Institute said today at a seminar in Washington.
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WTO ag chairman summoned to New Zealand

In new signals of the dire prospects for the decade-old Doha round of trade talks, the New Zealand government has summoned home David Walker, the ambassador who has been chairing negotiations, while Clayton Yeutter, a former U.S. trade representative and agriculture secretary, said today that the Doha round should be allowed to die, but will probably linger on. Read More...

Woteki: Budget cuts having 'severe' effect on research

Cuts in the fiscal year 2011 agriculture research budget are having “very severe” effects on Agriculture Department research activities, a USDA official said today. Read More...

First lady to attend Alice Waters-hosted fundraiser

First Lady Michelle Obama will appear at an Oakland, Calif., breakfast fundraiser for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign hosted by Alice Waters, the legendary Berkeley, Calif., chef, who pioneered the concept of school gardens, Obama Foodorama reported today. Read More...

Michelle Obama promotes 'Let's Move' with Indian plantings

In the latest sign of the Obama administration’s interest in Native Americans, First Lady Michelle Obama and American Indian children harvested vegetables from the White House kitchen garden Friday and planted the “three sisters” — corn, beans and squash — that Indians traditionally grow together. Read More...

French ag minister outlines plans for G20 meeting

Emergency food reserves, insurance against food price volatility and more coordinated regulation of futures markets are among the issues on which the French government will seek to achieve consensus when agriculture ministers from the G20 countries meet in Paris this month, French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire told The Hagstrom Report today. Read More...

Vilsack to promote GMOs, biofuels in Paris

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will raise the issue of science-based rules that could allow countries to adopt biotechnology and promote biofuels at the Paris Air Show when he travels to Paris this month, he told The Hagstrom Report today. Read More...

NASS cuts back on surveys, aquaculture census

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service announced today it has indefinitely postponed the renewal of the Census of Aquaculture and the Tenure, Ownership and Transition of Agricultural Land Survey in order to meet its budget. Read More...

Vilsack: Obesity threatens national security, competitiveness

Releasing a new dietary icon that encourages Americans to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables and facing questions about a congressional plan to stop changes in the school lunch program, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today seemed to up the stakes in the Obama administration’s anti-obesity campaign, calling it a matter of national competitiveness and national security. Read More...

USDA sets national table with new nutrition 'plate'

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that he believes a new dietary guideline symbol — a plate divided into quarters for fruits, vegetables, grains and protein with a glass for a dairy product on the side — will not endanger the U.S. meat industry, but could encourage small farmers to grow more fruits and vegetables. Read More...

Oxfam launches global GROW campaign for food justice

Oxfam, the international charity that played a big role in convincing the World Trade Organization to take up the issues of West African cotton growers in the Doha round, today launched a new global campaign to achieve "food justice in a resource-constrained world." Read More...

Former USDA official starts consulting firm

James Callan, a USDA Risk Management Agency official in the Bush administration and executive with the Corn Refiners Association, has founded James Callan Associates, a consulting and lobbying firm in Arlington, Va. Read More...