The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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Merrigan announces $18 million for new farmer training

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced today that USDA has awarded 36 grants totaling $18 million to organizations that will provide training and assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers to help them run successful and sustainable farms. Read More...

U.S.: China makes progress on trade rules, concerns remain

At the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva today, China underwent the eighth and final review of the agricultural trade policy required under its 2001 membership agreement to join the organization, a source close to the WTO has told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Conrad crop revenue guarantee program would combine ACRE, countercyclical and SURE

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., is developing a crop revenue guarantee program that would make payments to crop farmers who experience “shallow revenue losses” in their whole farm incomes due to reduced yields, quality and prices, top Conrad budget aide Jim Miller said in an exclusive interview with The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Blazer joins USDA as new deputy undersecretary for natural resources and environment

Arthur “Butch” Blazer, the first Native American state forester in New Mexico, will join the Agriculture Department as deputy undersecretary for natural resources and environment on October 11, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today. Read More...

Major farm groups offer differing farm bill proposals

Three major farm groups — the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives — today released their farm bill proposals. Read More...

USDA makes $136 million in biofuel grants to universities

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today in Seattle that USDA has made five major grants totaling $136 million to university researchers to develop aviation biofuels from tall grasses, crop residues and forest resources. Read More...

Waterways Council against infrastructure user fee plan

Waterways Council, Inc., which lobbies in Washington for locks and dams, said today that President Barack Obama’s proposal for financing waterways infrastructure would be “counterproductive.” Read More...

Hagen announces pre-harvest food safety summit

Agriculture Undersecretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen announced today that the Agriculture Department will hold a public summit on pre-harvest food safety on November 9 in Washington. Read More...

National Milk program responds to pricing suit

The National Milk Producers Federation today defended “Cooperatives Working Together,” its program to cull cows when prices were low, against a lawsuit that charged it violated U.S. antitrust laws and attempted to fix milk prices. Read More...

Conservation groups lobby to preserve program funding

Fifty-six conservation-minded groups today urged Congress to preserving funding for Agriculture Department conservation programs following the release of an annual survey on agriculture and the environment funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Read More...

Obama to nominate Scuse to Ag undersecretary post

President Barack Obama today announced his intention to nominate Michael T. Scuse as Agriculture undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services.
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Dan Glickman: Former Agriculture secretary urges less defensive, more inclusive approach to policy

Farmers and other agricultural leaders will have to get used to consumers, doctors and other activists becoming involved in agricultural policy, former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said in an interview with The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Corn Growers back simplified crop producers program

The National Corn Growers Association has praised a proposal to create a simplified program for crop producers called the Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management (ARRM) program as part of the next farm bill. The legislation has been authored by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, John Thune, R-S.D., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind. Read More...

National Milk: CBO estimates 60 percent participation in dairy reform bill's market stabilization option

While a key element in the dairy reform bill would be voluntary, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the producers of at least 60 percent of the nation’s milk would sign up for it, National Milk Producers Federation President Jerry Kozak said today. Read More...

Vilsack, Merrigan traveling on opposite sides of U.S.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is on the West Coast this week promoting President Barack Obama’s jobs proposal, while Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan is touring farms impacted by recent disasters in New England and promoting local agriculture projects.
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Sweetener users battle sugar growers over reform

Candy makers and other confectioners fanned out across Capitol Hill on Thursday, telling members of Congress that changing the U.S. sugar program is now their highest legislative priority. Read More...

Peterson: Dairy reform bill will save $131 million

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, today introduced a dairy reform bill which Peterson said would produce $131 million in federal budget savings over 10 years. Read More...

Vilsack, Lucas not yet briefed on Conrad plan

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has not briefed either Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack or House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., on his proposal to merge the countercyclical, average crop revenue election and disaster aid programs into one, but both Vilsack and Lucas said today they look forward to hearing his presentation. Read More...

National Milk promotes its dairy program changes, while IDFA continues to oppose it

National Milk Producers Federation President Jerry Kozak said today he hopes the super committee in charge of deficit reduction will consider including the dairy program bill as part of a jobs and deficit reduction, although International Dairy Foods Association President Connie Tipton said her processor group members still oppose it. Read More...

Boehner: No House action on Senate TAA bill until free-trade pacts sent to Congress

The Senate today paved the way for congressional consideration of the pending free-trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama by passing a bill that extends trade adjustment assistance for workers and farmers hurt by international trade. But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the House will not take up the trade adjustment bill until President Barack Obama formally sends the agreements to Congress for consideration. Read More...

Surveys measure consumer and farmer/rancher attitudes on food and how it is produced in U.S.

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance released the results of two surveys commissioned to collect attitudes toward food and how it is grown. The surveys focused separately on the opinions, attitudes and questions consumers and farmers/ranchers have about the current and future state of how food is grown and raised in the United States.
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Farmers/Ranchers Alliance launches 'Food Dialogues' campaign today with consecutive events

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be the headliner today when the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, a coalition of more than 50 national, regional and state agricultural groups and their partners, launches its campaign to create a better dialogue with consumers about how food is grown in the United States. Read More...

Vilsack announces staff appointments

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the following appointments today: Read More...

NASCAR releases report on competition use of E15 ethanol

NASCAR today released a white paper designed to show that E15, a 15 percent ethanol blend, is a high-performance gasoline. At a breakfast sponsored by Growth Energy, the ethanol lobby, NASCAR announced it has accumulated more than a million miles of driving on “Sunoco Green E15.” Read More...

Stabenow: Ag Committee should make the cuts

Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said she still believes her committee should make any cuts to the agriculture budget, and that farmers still need crop insurance and conservation. Read More...

National Milk changes dairy reform proposal to offer opt-in for margin safety net

The National Milk Producers Federation’s board of directors voted today to change a key element in the group’s dairy reform proposal, deciding that farmers should be able to decide whether to join its dairy margin protection program, which critics have said would lead to supply management, the group said in a news release. Read More...

U.S. files chicken trade case against China with WTO

The United States has filed a case in the World Trade Organization over China’s threat to impose duties on imports of American chicken parts, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said today at a news conference. Read More...

Organic farmers seek more mandatory spending

Congress should increase mandatory spending on organic farming in the next farm bill to $185 million over five years to encourage the already-expanding industry, the Organic Farming Research Foundation said at a news conference Monday. Read More...

NSAC sends proposal to avoid conservation cuts

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition today sent members of the congressional super committee in charge of deficit reduction a letter and proposal urging them to resist cuts in conservation programs, and also to put more money into programs for beginning farmers, rural development, conservation, renewable energy, agricultural research, and new market development. Read More...

Authorizing committees to get super committee guidelines

The super committee in charge of deficit reduction is expected to provide the Agriculture and other authorizing committees with “parameters” for what it will ask from the committees by Oct. 14, two key farm lobbyists have told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Conrad proposal could mean quick farm bill rewrite

Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said today he is hoping the Senate Agriculture Committee supports his proposal to combine the countercyclical program, the average crop revenue election program known as ACRE, and the disaster aid programs into a new farm bill when it makes recommendations to the super committee in charge of deficit reduction. Read More...

Vilsack thanks restaurateurs, pushes immigration reform

In what may be standard fare as he campaigns for President Barack Obama’s re-election, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today thanked the National Restaurant Association’s board of directors for making more nutritious food appealing, said Obama’s economic plan will help the country “get back to building things,” defended ethanol and, when no one in the audience asked about immigration, raised the issue himself. Read More...

Obama proposal extends farm disaster aid; crop insurance cuts draw fire

President Barack Obama’s call to extend the farm disaster aid programs championed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., was the most noteworthy element in the agriculture package the White House released Monday as part of the president’s jobs and deficit reduction proposal, several lobbyists said, although Republican farm leaders on Capitol Hill disagreed. Read More...

Obama: Extend disaster aid, eliminate direct payments cut crop insurance, conservation costs

President Barack Obama's jobs and deficit reduction proposal would extend agricultural disaster aid while eliminating direct payments and cutting the cost of the crop insurance and conservation programs, for a total of $33 billion in cuts over 10 years, the White House said today. Read More...

Sheeran, LeMaire meet; no details on food security plan

World Food Program Executive Director Josette Sheeran met in Paris Thursday with French Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Territorial Management Minister Bruno LeMaire to discuss global food security matters related to the agenda of the G20 countries, WFP and the French Agriculture Ministry said in a joint news release today. Read More...

Senate Appropriations OKs direct cash transfers with Cuba

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson on Thursday praised a Senate Appropriations Committee vote to allow direct cash transfers between U.S. and Cuban financial institutions. The vote was 20 to 10, NFU said. Read More...

Vilsack announces $27 million in energy grants, loans

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced renewable energy and energy efficiency loans and grants totaling $27 million to more than 500 agricultural producers and rural small businesses in 49 states and Puerto Rico, including one to help with the installation of ethanol and biodiesel flex fuel pumps. Read More...

Rural broadband access hearing set in Illinois

The House Agriculture subcommittee on Rural Development Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture will hold a hearing on the role of broadband access in rural economic development on Saturday, Sept. 24, in Springfield, Ill., House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., announced today.
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Murphy: Large crop insurance claims may help focus program support

MANKATO, Minn. — Crop insurance companies may have to pay out large claims this year, but that may help keep support for the federal crop insurance program on Capitol Hill, the administrator of the Agriculture Department's Risk Management Agency said here Wednesday. Read More...

FCA names Mootz to new EEO position

The Farm Credit Administration, regulator of the farm credit system, today announced the appointment of Thais Mootz as director of equal employment opportunity and inclusion. Read More...

Stabenow, Thune bill aimed to boost ag research

Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., today introduced a bill to amend the tax code to allow for the creation of charitable, tax-exempt agricultural research organizations, similar to medical research organizations which have been in existence since the 1950s. Read More...

Farmers Union, corn and cotton growers release farm bill proposals

With concern rising that Congress might write a farm bill quickly in the midst of deficit reduction negotiations, the National Farmers Union has released its policy ideas, following recent press releases from the National Corn Growers Association and the National Cotton Council. Read More...

Livestock, ethanol groups spar over tightening federal renewable fuel standard

Livestock, dairy and poultry groups today used a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the issue of feed availability to call for a tightening up of the federal renewable fuel standard that controls the amount of ethanol that must be used in the feed supply. Corn growers and pro-ethanol groups, which were not invited to testify, complained that the hearing was an attack on ethanol. Read More...

Carlson elected World Farmers Organization president

North Dakota Farmers Union President Robert Carlson was elected president of the World Farmers Organization, the National Farmers Union announced Monday. The election took place at a meeting of the group in South Africa. Read More...

Food safety advocates, meat industry debate USDA's declaration on E. coli strains

The Agriculture Department is scheduled to announce today that it will declare six strains of E. coli as adulterants in food, but the story broke early after USDA briefed advocates on Monday. Read More...

Baucus urges confirmation vote on trade appointees

Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., urged his colleagues on Monday to vote for confirmation of key Obama administration trade officials who have been serving in recess appointments, and told reporters he knows of no holds on the nominations. Read More...

Lucas: Super committee won't cut nutrition programs

House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said Monday that he does not expect the 12-member super committee trying to cut the federal deficit to make any cuts in federal nutrition programs. Read More...

Obama's USDA: Undersecretary/Chief Scientist Catherie Woteki

With the end of earmarks, the Agriculture Department may need to ask Congress for the kind of authority that the National Science Foundation has to initiate new research facilities on its own, Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Catherine Woteki said in a wide-ranging interview with The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Obama jobs plan could impact trade, rural America

President Barack Obama’s speech on jobs to a joint session of Congress Thursday evening did not specifically mention agriculture, but his statements on trade and rebuilding roads and other infrastructure could have an impact on agriculture and rural America. Read More...

EPA regulation concerns continue to stir dust with GOP

Congressional Republicans are clearly running out of patience with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, even though Jackson, President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have said farmers have much less to worry about at EPA than they think. Read More...

Imbergamo leaves Senate Ag for OFW Law

Staff member William Imbergamo has left the Senate Agriculture Committee to join the OFW Law firm, where he will be senior policy adviser and serve as executive director of the Federal Forest Resources Coalition, a new organization of companies and regional trade associations whose members manufacture wood products, paper, and renewable energy from federal timber resources. Read More...

OIG: AMS needs to strengthen COOL enforcement

The Agricultural Marketing Service, a division of the Agriculture Department, needs to improve its controls and processes to ensure retailers and suppliers fully comply with the regulations of the country-of-origin labeling program known as COOL, the USDA Office of the Inspector General said in a report issued Wednesday. Read More...

House dairy policy panel frustrated by USDA silence

Members of a House Agriculture subcommittee expressed frustration at a hearing today that Agriculture Department officials were unwilling to make their views known on the future of U.S. dairy policy. Read More...

USDA, USTR announce ag advisory committee appointments

The Obama administration today announced the appointment of 148 private-sector members to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees (ATACs). Read More...

Vilsack to visit Ohio, Florida to promote Obama jobs speech

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to Ohio on Friday and to Florida on Saturday to promote the jobs program that President Barack Obama will discuss in a speech in a joint session of Congress tonight at 7. Read More...

Senate Appropriations ag bill cuts discretionary spending, doesn't take up amendments

The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved a $19.78 billion fiscal year 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill that provides less discretionary spending than either the 2010 or 2011 bills, but left potential controversial amendments for the Senate floor even though some senators are worried that the bill will never come up as an individual piece of legislation. Read More...

'Frankenfish,' potato amendments among those on hold

Amendments to keep the Food and Drug Administration from approving “Frankenfish” genetically modified salmon and to stop the Agriculture Department from cutting back on the use of potatoes and other starchy vegetables in the school lunch program are among those that might be offered on the Senate floor if the Senate version of the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill comes up there as an independent piece of legislation. Read More...

Turkey Federation appoints Picard to v.p. post

The National Turkey Federation has announced the appointment of Lisa Wallenda Picard, formerly chief of staff at the Agriculture Department Food Safety and Inspection Service as the organization’s new vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. Read More...

Livestock, poultry feed issues to be heard Wednesday

The House Agriculture Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Subcommittee will hold a hearing next Wednesday on the issue of feed availability and its effect on the livestock and poultry industries, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas has announced. Read More...

Senate committee to consider Obama trade nominations

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced today that his committee will hold a confirmation hearing Monday on the nominations of two administration trade officials — Michael Punke and Islam Siddiqui — who are serving under recess appointments, and David Johanson, a long-time Senate agriculture trade aide to the International Trade Commission. Read More...

Concannon: Food insecurity report shows programs working

The percentage of American households that are food insecure — meaning that they do not have or fear not having adequate food — remained about the same, according to an annual report released by the Agriculture Department today, while the percentage of households that experienced very low food security — meaning that they did not have the quantity of food they needed — went down. Read More...

Fed Chicago: Farmland values up in second quarter

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago has released an analysis of farmland values that concludes farmland values for the second quarter of 2011 increased 17 percent from last year and that the value of "good" farmland has increased 4 percent. Read More...

First Lady names pediatrician to lead 'Let's Move'

Judith S. Palfrey, a Boston pediatrician who has held a professorship at Harvard, begins work today as the executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama's “Let's Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity and encourage healthy eating and exercise. Read More...

Transportation group: Rural roads, bridges deteriorating

The nation’s rural roads and bridges are rapidly deteriorating, causing the fatality rate along back roads to triple the national average for highway fatalities according to a report on rural road conditions released August 31 by Associated General Contractors and other transportation groups. Read More...

Nelson: Proof of loss by Sept. 30 critical for disaster aid

Farmers and ranchers who have experienced weather-related losses this year can get federal disaster assistance if they document those losses by Sept. 30, the date the assistance programs expire, Farm Service Agency Administrator Bruce Nelson has told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Two House Ag subcommittee hearings set

The House Agriculture Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing Thursday on federal dairy programs. Read More...

Senate appropriators to mark up 2012 Ag bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill on Wednesday. Read More...