The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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House Ag Committee planning farm bill hearings soon

The House Agriculture Committee is considering holding a series of field hearings on the 2012 farm bill beginning as soon as next week, The Hagstrom Report has learned. Read More...

House Ag approps schedules USDA hearings

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has scheduled a series of hearings Thursday and next week on Agriculture Department operations. Read More...

FAO gives Gates permanent building pass

In what the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization described as a symbolic gesture of FAO’s commitment to working more closely with the private sector and civil society, FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva presented Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates with a permanent pass to the FAO building in Rome last week. Read More...

FDA Commissioner Hamburg: Expect more food problems without more Food Safety Modernization Act funding

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said today that if her agency does not get more money to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act she can already predict an increase in foodborne illness and problems with imported food. Read More...

White House Easter Egg Roll connects to 'Let's Move' April 9

The White House Easter Egg Roll will be held on Monday, April 9 and will be tied to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative against childhood obesity, the White House announced Friday. Read More...

Vilsack, Merrigan to hold webinar on 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food'

Has the Obama administration managed to create lemonade out of a lemon of a report demanded by congressional Republicans who distrust the administration's “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative? Read More...

White: No position on conservation/crop insurance link

The Obama administration is pleased with the farm bill conservation title that the agriculture committees sent to the supercommittee in charge of deficit reduction and is unlikely to take a position on whether conservation compliance should be tied to crop insurance, a key Agriculture Department official said today. Read More...

USDA to be partner in Interagency Trade Enforcement

The Agriculture Department will be a partner in the new Interagency Trade Enforcement Center that President Barack Obama created by executive order today fulfilling a promise in his Jan. 24 State of the Union address, but Congress would have to provide money to make the unit effective. Read More...

Stabenow wants action on farm bill as soon as possible

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said today that she moved up the dates of the last two farm bill hearings so that her committee can move more quickly toward marking up the bill. Read More...

Gensler to testify before House Ag Wednesday

Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner Gary Gensler is likely to come under intense questioning about MF Global, the regulation of commodity trading in the wake of the MF Global scandal, and the leadership of the CFTC Agriculture Advisory Committee when he testifies before the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday on the CFTC agenda in 2012. Read More...

Concannon: Food stamp food restrictions unlikely

The Obama administration does not believe that the government should determine the types of food people buy with food stamps, but will consider experiments and pilot projects to encourage healthier eating, a key Agriculture Department official said today in response to intense questioning from Republican members of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Read More...

Stabenow moves up dates of last two farm bill hearings

In what appears to be a signal that the Senate will move faster and work harder to finish the farm bill this year, Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced today that her committee's last two farm bill hearings scheduled for March will be moved up a week. Read More...

Governors stress nutrition efforts, school meal cost concerns

Several governors told Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Sunday how they are supporting improved nutrition in their states, but some also expressed concerns about higher prices for school meals and USDA inspections of school meal facilities under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. Read More...

Senate Ag gets competing conservation advice

When the Senate Agriculture Committee meets Tuesday to consider the conservation title of the farm bill, members will have received separate letters from farm and conservation groups and a report from the Environmental Working Group calling for tying crop insurance coverage to conservation compliance. Read More...

White House schedules conservation conference

The White House announced today that it will host a conference on Friday to explore the link between conservation and strong local economies through tourism, outdoor recreation, and healthy lands, waters and wildlife. Read More...

USDA announces four political appointments

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Friday announced the following political appointments at USDA. Read More...

Crop insurance indemnities hit new record of $10 billion

Crop insurance companies’ payments to farmers and ranchers for loses on their 2011 crops have reached more than $10.08 billion, National Crop Insurance Services announced today. Read More...

'Occupy Our Food Supply' actions planned for today

An alliance of Occupy Wall Street and environmental and food justice organizations has called for a global day of action today “to resist corporate control of our food supply and to work towards a healthy food supply for all,” the Rain Forest Action Network has announced.
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Vilsack notifies Congress of office consolidation plan

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today informed Congress that in 90 days he plans to approve consolidation of 131 Farm Service Agency offices with other USDA service centers. Read More...

BRIC countries post opportunities, challenges to U.S. trade

Brazil, Russia, India and China all offer opportunities and individual challenges to American exporters, four trade experts said at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum on Thursday. Read More...

Farm bill must be passed this year, Miller says

Jim Miller, the former Agriculture undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services who is now a top aide to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., made an impassioned plea for passing the farm bill this year. Read More...

Panel: Minority, beginning farmer programs must continue

Congress should continue programs to help minority, small and beginning farmers, a panel of advocates said at the Agricultural Outlook Forum today. Read More...

Glauber: World crop prices to drop, ethanol demand slows

USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber said crop prices around the world are forecast to drop sharply this year as farmers increase production to ease fears of food inflation and bring stability back to commodity markets, Reuters reported Thursday. Read More...

Panel: Water resources, rural America critical to economy

Rural Americans are taking water for granted and need to start thinking about how it is used and allocated, a panel of water experts said at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum today. Read More...

Former Secretary Bergland taken ill before panel

Former Agriculture Secretary Robert Bergland was taken ill this morning before his scheduled appearance at the USDA's Agriculture Outlook Forum 2012. Read More...

Gates announces grants, urges UN action to feed the hungry

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today urged changes in United Nations efforts to feed the hungry, and announced $200 million in new foundation agriculture grants. Read More...

Former secretaries offer perspectives on agriculture's future

Seven former secretaries of Agriculture offered their perspectives on USDA today as the agency celebrated its 150th anniversary at the annual Agriculture Outlook Forum. Read More...

Glauber reports corn, soybean lead planting intentions

Agriculture Department Chief Economist Joe Glauber said today that USDA expects U.S. farmers to plant 94 million acres of corn, 75 million acres of soybeans, 58 million acres of wheat and 13 million acres of cotton. Read More...

Vilsack calls for farm bill, immigration reform

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today called on Congress to pass a farm bill and immigration reform in this election year, noting that in 1862 the Civil War did not stop Congress from doing two things “big and bold.” Read More...

USDA promotes enrollment of erodible land in CRP

In a sign that the Agriculture Department wants to keep the country's most highly erodible land in the Conservation Reserve Program, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that a special continuous enrollment for up to 750,000 acres with an erodibility index of 20 or higher will begin this summer. Read More...

Discrimination case hearing set, but negotiations continue

The Federal District Court in Washington is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on the status of the Hispanic and female farmers’ discrimination cases against the Agriculture Department, but lawyers in the cases are not satisfied with the Obama administration’s offer, and negotiations between the administration and the lawyers and plaintiffs are likely to continue.
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Obama announces bio-based product boost in rural areas

The Obama administration announced it will attempt to boost the economy in rural areas by increasing the government's purchase of bio-based products, creating a national competition for about $15 million in funding for private housing, community facilities and community development projects, and supporting training for information technology workers at rural hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
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Churches, nonprofits asked to feed children this summer

Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon issued an appeal to churches and nonprofit groups to sponsor summer food programs for children this year. Read More...

New Borlaug Award for field research announced

Nominations are being accepted for a new Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, it was announced Tuesday. Read More...

House Ag sets CFTC hearing for next week

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on Feb. 29 on the Commodity Future Trading Commission’s agenda for 2012.
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Cattlemen asked to rebuild herds in light of Korea pact

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association told its members Tuesday that the implementation of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement on March 15 means they should think long-term and increase the size of their herds. Under the agreement, Korean tariffs on U.S. beef will be phased out over 15 years. Read More...

Nelson, White lead witness list for Senate Ag hearing

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced Tuesday that Farm Service Agency Administrator Bruce Nelson and Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Dave White will be lead witnesses when the committee holds a hearing next Tuesday on conservation and the next farm bill.
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Garner moves to National Restaurant Association

The National Restaurant Association has hired Liz Garner as director of commerce and entrepreneurship to work on tax and profitability issues including permanent extension of both 15-year depreciation for restaurants and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Read More...

FAO announces Brazilian food purchase plan for Africa

In a move that could be interpreted as a challenge to the American system of providing domestically-raised food aid shipped to needy countries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced that the Brazilian government is providing $2.38 million for a new local food purchase program to be set up by FAO and the World Food Program, the U.N. food distribution agency, to benefit farmers and vulnerable populations in five African countries – Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal. Read More...

Kingston, Kaptur suggest healthier eating initiatives

In a strong sign of the growing, broad political appeal of encouraging healthier eating, House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said last week that the Agriculture Department should conduct an experiment in a state with a high obesity level to encourage food stamp beneficiaries to buy healthier food, while Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said she believes USDA should connect poor urban consumers with nutritious food produced by local farmers.
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Vilsack fields subcommittee scrutiny of budget cuts

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack may have thought he was complying with the mood in Congress last week when he presented a budget with a minimum of increases, but at a four-hour hearing before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee he got a full dose of members’ views on cuts to the programs they think are important. Read More...

U.S.-Korea trade agreement takes effect March 15

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that the U.S.-Korea trade agreement will enter into force – that is, take effect – on March 15.
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Hassebrook running for Senate seat in Nebraska

Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska, announced last week that he will seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb. Read More...

Peterson sees three program options for commodity title

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Monday that he believes the next farm bill will include three separate programs in the commodity title — one program for shallow losses and catastrophic losses, another for cotton and the higher target prices that rice, sorghum and peanut growers want. Read More...

Vilsack nixes crop insurance switch at approps appearance

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today he has no plans to turn the crop insurance program over to the Farm Service Agency county offices, although the cost of the program and the future of the county offices came up repeatedly at the secretary’s annual appearance before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Read More...

EPA approves E15, reaction mixed

Ethanol and farm groups praised an Environmental Protection Agency decision today to approve a higher level blend of ethanol known as E15, but the Environmental Working Group announced a campaign to discourage consumers from using it, and an Agriculture Department economist said he did not think it will win acceptance soon. Read More...

National Grain and Feed’s Kendell Keith retires

The National Grain and Feed Association announced today that its president, Kendell Keith, has retired. Read More...

Vilsack urges cooperation at U.S.-China Ag Symposium

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping today that their countries have a “responsibility and opportunity to work together” to address the causes of global hunger that affect more than 925 million people. Read More...

Glauber hopes for U.S.-Brazil cotton program agreement

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Agriculture Department Chief Economist Joe Glauber said he hopes that the United States and Brazil reach agreement over the cotton program in the next farm bill so that the United States does not have to go back to the World Trade Organization to resolve the cotton case that Brazil won against the U.S. cotton program. Read More...

White House spreads word of illegal raw milk sales from Pa.

In a signal of the Obama administration's opposition to the sale of raw milk, the White House has distributed a Justice Department news release announcing that a Pennsylvania milk producer has been found to be illegally distributing unpasteurized milk across state lines. Read More...

AGree publishes farm bill paper

AGree, an organization funded by major foundations to look at long-term U.S. agricultural policy, has published a paper on the farm programs with suggestions for the creation of a new safety net. Read More...

Ho now a senior policy adviser at USAID Food Security

Melissa Ho, an agriculture analyst for the Congressional Research Service, has gone to work as a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Agency for International Development Bureau of Food Security. Read More...

Boyd new general manager of Allison+Partners in D.C.

Trudi Boyd has left FTI Consulting (formerly Dittus Communications) to become general manager of Allison+Partners' Washington, D.C. office. Read More...

Peterson: Congress must take charge as farm groups disagree

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Tuesday that it will soon be time for congressional leaders to take charge of writing the farm bill as representatives of general farm and commodity groups signaled in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week that they are still promoting their individual proposals and are not close to compromise on a comprehensive approach. Read More...

Insurance interests hear commodity proposals on farm bill

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A series of farm group representatives spoke on farm bill proposals at the annual crop insurance industry conference held here this week.

Executives from the insurance companies and reinsurers and agents are wondering if Congress will cut the budget for crop insurance and how a rewritten farm program would interact with crop insurance. Some proposals would lead farmers to buy less insurance while others might cause a rerating of policies. Read More...

Vilsack answers Roberts on bio/agro-defense move to Kansas

Under questioning from Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that the Obama administration is committed to building a National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kan., that would replace the facility on Plum Island off Long Island, New York. Read More...

US, EU reach organic equivalency agreement

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced today that the United States and the European Union have reached agreement to allow organic products certified in Europe or in the United States to be sold as organic in either region beginning June 1. Read More...

FCC blocks LightSquared proposal

The Federal Communications Commission has announced it will block the planned development of a nationwide wireless network by communications company LightSquared over concerns that it cannot be fixed to coexist with global positioning systems. Read More...

Acres in cotton expected to drop, Cotton Council says

U.S. cotton producers intend to plant 13.63 million acres of cotton this spring, down 7.5 percent from 2011, according to the National Cotton Council’s 29th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey, the Memphis-based group has announced. Read More...

Zoellick to leave World Bank

World Bank President Robert Zoellick will leave his post on June 1, at the end of his five year term, news services reported today. Read More...

Senate Ag approves Scuse, Culver, Sherrick

The Senate Agriculture Committee today approved the nominations of Michael Scuse to be Agriculture undersecretary for farm and foreign agriculture services and a member of the board of directors of the Commodity Credit Corporation. Read More...

Faber joins Environmental Working Group

Scott Faber, a lobbyist for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, has joined the Environmental Working Group as vice president for government affairs. Read More...

Congressional ag leaders all stand against crop insurance cuts

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., today joined other House and Senate agriculture leaders in criticizing President Barack Obama’s budget proposal to cut crop insurance, but each took a different tone in commenting on the overall proposal. Read More...

Murphy: Agents can't be part of crop insurance negotiations

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — While acknowledging that California agents have borne the brunt of adjustments in agent compensation under the standard reinsurance agreement he negotiated, Risk Management Agency Administrator Bill Murphy said today that USDA has no plans to involve anyone other than crop insurance company representatives in future formal negotiations. Read More...

Meat groups decide to consolidate

The National Meat Association (NMA) and the North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP) announced Friday that their boards had approved a consolidation agreement. Read More...

USDA budget again cuts direct payments, crop insurance

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released a proposed fiscal year 2013 Agriculture Department budget that would eliminate the direct payment program and cut crop insurance but reinstate permanent disaster programs and increase competitive grants for agricultural research. Read More...

Crop insurers, NSAC unhappy with budget proposal

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The crop insurance industry reacted negatively to President Barack Obama’s proposed budget that includes cuts to crop insurance programs while the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which could be considered at the opposite end of the political spectrum, found the proposal dull. Read More...

Coppess tells insurers to help on farm bill, think long-term

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The crop insurance industry should help Congress write a farm bill in 2012, but also should think about its role longer term as crop insurance becomes the “foundation” of the farm program, a former USDA official who is a top aide to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said at a crop insurance industry convention here today. Read More...

First lady: Parents should fight for good nutrition

First Lady Michelle Obama finished her three-day tour celebrating the two-year anniversary of her “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign this weekend. Read More...

DesJarlais bill would ban federal funds for anti-product ads

Angered by anti-obesity ads, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., has introduced a bill to prohibit the use of federal money for advertising campaigns against any food or beverage deemed safe and lawfully marketed under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Read More...

Roberts hopes for Senate Ag farm bill by May, FSA crop insurance proposal DOA

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said today that he is hopeful the committee will finish a farm bill by Memorial Day, and noted that a proposal to turn the crop insurance program or portions of it over to the Farm Service Agency county offices is “dead on arrival.” Read More...

Defense plans healthy eating changes at military bases

In a move that could have substantial market impact, the Defense Department says it is going to change its nutritional standards for the first time in 20 years to emphasize healthy eating and will evaluate every military base in the country to make sure they're serving healthy food to those in uniform and their families.
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Murphy: Agents needed on crop insurance program

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There are good reasons to continue private sector delivery of the crop insurance program, Agriculture Department Risk Management Agency Administrator Bill Murphy said here today after a speech to the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau on the current state of the program. Read More...

NASCOE says crop insurance proposal well received

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Members of the National Association of FSA County Office Employees received a warm welcome in congressional offices this week when they presented their proposals for the FSA county offices to take over portions of the crop insurance program, association president John Lohr said in a telephone interview today. Read More...

Ag groups urge committee leaders to write farm bill in 2012

A long list of farm, conservation, anti-hunger and rural development groups sent congressional leaders a letter today urging them to write the farm bill in 2012.
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French business school launches agri-bio-industrial chair

The Reims Management School in Reims, France, has announced the launch of a new chair dedicated to "agri-bio-industrial research," the school announced this week. Read More...

Crop insurers will fight proposal for FSA office takeover

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The American Association of Crop Insurers and other industry groups will oppose all attempts to turn over portions of the crop insurance program to the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency county offices, crop insurance leaders said here today. Read More...

Thatcher says commodity title proposals must change

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — All the commodity title program proposals need to change before Congress would pass a farm bill, American Farm Bureau Federation lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher said here today. Read More...

U.S. to host first agricultural symposium with China

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu will visit Des Moines next Thursday for the first U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium. Read More...

Michelle Obama starts 'Let's Move' tour in Iowa

First Lady Michelle Obama began her three-day “Let’s Move” anniversary tour in Iowa today, urging children to make their own decisions to be more active and eat healthier. Read More...

More restaurants promoting child nutrition

The National Restaurant Association announced today that the number of restaurant companies participating in its “Kids LiveWell” program has more than tripled since the initiative’s launch last July. Read More...

NASCOE suggests FSA offices take on crop insurance program

Congress could save up to $2.5 billion per year by taking the crop insurance program away from insurance companies and agents and turning it over to the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency county offices, the National Association of FSA County Office Employees is telling members of Congress today. Read More...

Johanns says Senate Ag can reach farm bill agreement

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said today he is optimistic that the Senate Agriculture Committee can reach agreement on a farm bill proposal and send it to the Senate floor. Read More...

Feinstein urges support of new crops in Afghanistan

Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. on Tuesday urged Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to support the Afghan government’s plan to replace poppy cultivation with other sustainable crops. Read More...

Student food, ag projects at White House Science Fair

An FFA student from Tennessee who used genetics to breed the natural color of sheep back into the industry, a Los Angeles student who invented a dissolvable sugar packet, and two girls from Kansas City who developed a sanitizing lunchbox to make sure food is safe were among the students who got to exhibit their projects today at the White House Science Fair. Read More...

First lady's 'Let's Move' anniversary tour starts Thursday

Sam Kass, White House senior policy adviser on healthy food initiatives and deputy chef, briefed reporters today on the first lady’s upcoming three-day tour to celebrate the second anniversary of her “Let’s Move” initiative. Read More...

‘Let’s Move’ executive director has departed

Dr. Judith Palfrey, head of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, left the White House at the end of December without fanfare, the Chicago Sun-Times and Obamafoodorama reported today. She began the job on September 6. Read More...

Consumer groups petition FDA to ban GE salmon

Consumers Union, Food & Water Watch, and the Center for Food Safety submitted a formal petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today asking the agency to classify and evaluate AquaBounty’s “AquAdvantage” genetically engineered (GE) salmon and all of its components as a food additive. Read More...

Cohen heading media relations at IFIC

The International Food Information Council has hired Steven Cohen, a former Agriculture Department and Capitol Hill press secretary, as its new director of media relations. Read More...

Ethanol advocates blast committee vote on E15 sales

Ethanol groups have criticized a House Science, Space and Technology Committee vote today in favor of a bill to block sales of a higher blend of ethanol in motor fuel until the government conducts more safety tests. Read More...

Forest Service increases size of timber cut

In a move with implications for both the rural economy and the 2012 elections, the Obama administration announced quietly last week that it has decided to increase the size of the timber cut in the national forests. Read More...

Bipartisan poll details western conservation views

Western voters across the political spectrum — from Tea Party supporters to those who identify with the Occupy Wall Street movement and voters in-between — view parks and public lands as essential to their state’s economy, and support upholding and strengthening protections for clean air, clean water, natural areas and wildlife, according to a 2012 Colorado College State of The Rockies Conservation in the West poll released last week. Read More...

USDA relocating NASS analysts to regional center

The Agriculture Department, the primary source of U.S. crop and livestock data, will move analysts from state offices into nine National Agricultural Statistics Service regional centers in an effort to provide more in-depth analysis while saving money, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture today, according to a Reuters report. Read More...

'Let's Move' anniversary sparks tour for first lady

First Lady Michelle Obama will go on a three-day national tour late next week to celebrate the second anniversary of “Let’s Move,” her initiative to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation, the White House announced today. Read More...

Stabenow, Roberts disagree on Gensler future role

In a sign of the continuing partisan differences over how to avoid repeats of the loss of customer funds in the wake of the MF Global scandal, the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee disagree over who should be in charge of making changes to the rules and procedures at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Read More...

NASS updates online CropScape tool

The Agriculture Department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service today released updates to its online geospatial exploring tool, CropScape. Read More...

USDA awards millions in grants and loans

In the latest of a series of announcements of loans and grants to boost rural economic growth following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, the Agriculture Department said today it has awarded $40.2 million in value-added producer grants to 298 recipients in 44 states and Puerto Rico. Read More...

King, Vilsack spar over child labor rules

A hearing on the Labor Department proposal for stricter rules on the employment of youths under 16 today resulted in testy comments from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose wife, Christie, is running against King for a House seat in Iowa. Read More...

Inouye: No earmarks through fiscal year 2013

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, announced today that his committee will continue a moratorium on earmarks through fiscal year 2013 appropriations bills. Read More...

Farm groups want farm bill this year, but say little else

Thirteen general farm and commodity groups issued a statement today that Congress should pass a farm bill this year, but the blandness of the statement signals the groups have made no progress in overcoming their differences on what should be in the bill. Read More...

Labor Department testifies for child farm worker rules; witnesses say more safety regs not needed

Nancy Leppink, deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, told the House Small Business Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee that between 2003 and 2010, there were 130 children 15 years of age and younger who died while working, and that 73 percent of these children were employed in agriculture. Read More...

USDA hires national director for 'Farm to School' program

The Agriculture Department has hired Deborah Kane as the national director of USDA’s ‘Farm to School’ program. Read More...

USDA announces Conservation Reserve Program signup

The Agriculture Department announced today that it will conduct a four-week Conservation Reserve Program general signup, beginning on March 12 and ending on April 6. Read More...

Labor to re-open parental exemption of child ag labor rule

A Labor Department decision today to pull back on a proposed rule restricting youth labor on farms in which their parents have ownership won praise from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., but Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kans., said the change was minor and that the administration should withdraw the entire rule. Read More...

Vilsack announces pilot program for rural refinancing

As part of the housing initiative that President Barack Obama announced today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that 235,000 rural homeowners in 19 states with loans guaranteed by USDA will eligible for refinancing and lower interest rates. Read More...

Wheat growers seek open market with Canada

The National Association of Wheat Growers and U.S. Wheat Associates each passed a resolution this week calling for an open border with Canada that provides reciprocal bilateral wheat trade. Read More...

Wholesome Wave hires new communications director

Wholesome Wave, the Connecticut-based group that promotes fresh, locally grown food in underserved neighborhoods, has hired Ralph Loglisci as its director of communications and public outreach. Read More...

Stabenow sets four farm bill hearings, says commodity title most challenging

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told The Hagstrom Report today that she will hold four hearings in February and March in anticipation of bringing the farm bill to the floor before the House acts. Read More...