The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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Gensler: CFTC Ag Advisory Committee to meet this summer

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler said today the CFTC Agricultural Advisory Committee will meet this summer, but declined to say whether he would lead it. Read More...

Farmers Union supports Senate Farm Bill Energy Title bill

The National Farmers Union has praised the introduction of a Senate bill that would reauthorize and reauthorize and provide mandatory funding for energy programs such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), and Biorefinery Assistance Program (BAP). Read More...

Glickman, Veneman seek insurance conservation requirement

Former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and former Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman wrote leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees this week that they should attach a conservation compliance requirement to government-subsidized crop insurance. Read More...

Concannon doesn’t watch Jamie Oliver

Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon said today that he has not seen the video of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver showing the ingredients in the “lean finely textured beef product” also known as “pink slime.” Read More...

Vilsack defends agency cuts against criticism

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today defended USDA’s decision to close some Farm Service Agency county offices if they were within 20 miles of each other “as the crow flies,” and also the agency’s cuts to certain research programs. Read More...

Stabenow confirms farm bill markup in late April

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today confirmed that committee members want to have a have a bill passed out of committee by the end of April, DTN correspondent Chris Clayton reported late today. Read More...

Senate trio introduce farm bill commodity title

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., today introduced a farm bill commodity title proposal that they maintain would treat Northern Plains farmers more fairly than the “shallow loss” and higher target prices that have already been introduced, and also include disaster programs for livestock and tree producers. Read More...

Peterson, Lucas comment on House budget resolution

Following House passage of the Republican budget resolution today, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he believes the budget and reconciliation instructions will make it difficult to pass a farm bill this year. Read More...

Senate Ag leaders introduce ag research foundation bill

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. and ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., today introduced legislation to establish a foundation to solicit private donations to enhance agricultural research. Read More...

Senate Ag markup planned by end of April

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., held a meeting of the committee today with a goal of marking up the farm bill by the end of April, a Senate aide told The Hagstrom Report late today. Read More...

Vilsack, Branstad defend ‘lean finely textured beef’

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad held a press conference in Des Moines today to defend the “lean, finely textured beef product,” a hamburger additive composed of leftover bits of meat that has come under scrutiny in recent weeks because it is treated with ammonia gas to kill harmful bacteria including e Coli and salmonella. Read More...

County officials call for farm bill before elections

The National Association of Counties today called for passage of a farm bill before this year's elections. Read More...

Western Growers poll shows guest worker program support

Western Growers, which represents California and Arizona fruit and vegetable producers, today released a poll showing that 70 percent of voters would support a guest worker program for immigrant farm workers. Read More...

Vilsack: Undocumented immigrants are ‘orphaned' workers who deserve dignity

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called upon Congress Monday to reform immigration laws so that today’s farm workers can gain legal status in the United States, in a speech at a Labor Department ceremony honoring United Farm Workers Founder César Chávez. Stepping to the podium, Vilsack asked the largely Latino audience if they knew “how difficult it is for a white, male Caucasian” to follow Salazar and precede Solis and other Latino leaders at the event. Read More...

Stabenow, Roberts introduce MF Global resolution

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., today introduced a resolution opposing bonuses for MF Global executives. Read More...

First Lady helps plant potatoes at White House garden

Planting her fourth White House kitchen garden, First Lady Michelle Obama personally cut up several varieties of seed potatoes today as reporters watched. The first lady's role in planting the potatoes is remarkable because the Obama administration attempted to implement a rule that would have reduced the amount of white potatoes served in school meal program on the grounds that children should eat a broader variety of vegetable Read More...

Dairy manufacturers send letters opposing Peterson bill

Twenty-five dairy manufacturers have sent letters to members of the House and Senate agriculture committees opposing the Dairy Security Act that is likely to be included in the next farm bill, the International Dairy Foods Association said in a news release. Read More...

Forest System rule wins praise, legal threats; hearing set

A National Forest System final planning rule likely to be the subject of a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing Tuesday has won widespread praise from environmental groups, but also provoked the threat of lawsuits from one forestry industry group and one environmental group. Read More...

USDA: More fraudulent letters and a call

The Agriculture Department warned over the weekend that additional fraudulent letters and at least one fraudulent phone call purportedly coming from a USDA procurement officer seeking personal information have been received by individuals in a number of states and asked that anyone receiving the letter or call report the information to USDA. Read More...

Vilsack to testify before Senate Ag approps

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will make his annual appearance before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday. Read More...

USDA announces China trade trip participants

Leaders from six state departments of agriculture and representatives of 39 companies are taking part in what Acting Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse is describing as “the largest U.S. trade mission to date.” Read More...

Franken, Harkin introduce REAP reauthorization

Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Thursday introduced legislation that would reauthorize the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), National Farmers Union said in a news release. Read More...

Tester promotes Montana beef over 'pink slime'

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said this week that the Agriculture Department should use its school lunch budget to buy “high quality Montana beef” rather than buying the ammoniated beef that has become known as “pink slime.” Read More...

FAO releases new statistical yearbook

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization this week released its latest statistical yearbook. Read More...

Senate bill would block Labor's youth work rule; Visack says migrant youth on large farms the concern

Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and 36 of their Republican colleagues Wednesday introduced a bill to prevent the Labor Department from enacting a rule to restrict youth labor on farms, while Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he believes the Labor Department’s major concern is migrant youths working on large farms. Read More...

Conrad says Ryan would cut $180 billion from USDA

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said today that the budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would cut the Agriculture Department budget by $180 billion over 10 years and hurt programs important to North Dakota. Read More...

Coalition: Ag must be part of U.S.-Euro trade agreement

Any U.S.-European free trade agreement should be comprehensive and include agriculture, an ad hoc coalition of 40 food and agricultural organizations led by the National Pork Producers Council said in a letter sent today to the Obama administration and Congress. Read More...

Bipartisan bill would cap payments, close loopholes

Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., today introduced a bipartisan bill that would place a hard cap on farm program payments in an attempt to close loopholes that allow big farmers to get payments the law says they are not supposed to get, The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said in a news release. Read More...

House Ag subcommittee schedules Dodd-Frank hearing

The House Agriculture General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on repealing a section of the Dodd-Frank financial services reform bill on swap data repository and clearinghouse indemnification. Read More...

Vilsack releases report on REAP, urges sign up

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released a report on USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and urged eligible farmers, ranchers and rural business owners to sign up for certain programs by March 30. Read More...

Vilsack, Lucas comment on Ryan ag, SNAP budget proposal

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today he will review how farm groups that reacted negatively to President Barack Obama’s proposed budget cuts in farm programs react to the $30 billion cut over 10 years that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. proposed today, while House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said he would be careful about “reading too much” into either Obama’s or Ryan’s budgets. Read More...

Almost 500 more operators on USDA's organic list

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has released an updated list of certified organic operators, listing 17,673 organic farms and processors across the country. Read More...

USDA warns of fraudulent letters

The Agriculture Department over the weekend issued a warning that individuals and businesses have received fraudulent letters seeking personal information. Read More...

NSAC releases farm bill platform

Congress should write the farm bill this year and make it one that will help young farmers, among other goals, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said today as it released its comprehensive 2012 farm bill policy platform, “Farming for the Future: A Sustainable Agriculture Agenda for the 2012 Food & Farm Bill.” Read More...

Center for American Progress: Cuts to SNAP would cut jobs

Each $1 billion cut to the supplemental nutrition assistance program known as SNAP would eliminate 13,718 jobs, the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said in a report released today.
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Consumer Federation urges approval of four food safety rules

The Consumer Federation of America is urging the Obama administration to issue four proposed food safety rules that have been delayed for more than two months. Read More...

EWG: Keep conservation compliance on insurance, but use lowering of subsidy as penalty

Congress should attach conservation compliance requirements to subsidized crop insurance in the next farm bill but should only use the lowering of the farmer premium subsidy as a penalty for those who do not comply rather than making farmers ineligible for coverage, Environmenal Working Group officials said today. Read More...

EWG study points out foreign ownership of crop insurance

Eight of the 20 largest crop insurance companies operating in the United States are foreign-owned and have been receiving U.S. government subsidies to provide crop insurance to American farmers, according to a study released today by the Environmental Working Group. Read More...

Merrigan releases AMS report on local food distribution

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today released a report on the practices of eight producer networks and their partners distributing locally or regionally-grown food to retail and foodservice customers. Read More...

Hagstrom on 'Washington Journal'

Jerry Hagstrom, the founder and executive editor of The Hagstrom Report, is scheduled to be a guest on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" Friday from 9:15 to 10 a.m. Read More...

Senate Ag Committee 'moving forward' after final farm bill hearing, Stabenow says

Following a final hearing today on the next farm bill, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said she will hold a markup on the bill “as soon as possible,” while the National Association of Wheat Growers called for passage of the bill before Sept. 30. Read More...

Senate Ag members urge no bonuses for MF Global execs

All members of the Senate Agriculture Committee including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sent MF Global trustee Louis Freeh a letter today urging him not to award bonuses to top executives of the bankrupty firm. Read More...

U.S.-Korean agreement goes into effect

As the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement entered into force today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said it was “a monumental day for American farmers and ranchers.” Read More...

Fears of 'pink slime' lean beef product assuaged

In response to requests from school districts across the country concerned about “pink slime” in hamburger, the Agriculture Department announced today that it will offer more ground beef choices to schools in the National School Lunch Program. But both USDA and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association affirmed the safety of what is officially known as “lean finely textured beef product.” Read More...

White House serving North Dakota bison at tonight's dinner

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will break with their pattern of serving beef at high-level dinners when they serve bison tonight at a high-level dinner for British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha Cameron. Read More...

Lobb hired for BIO information council job

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) announced today that Richard Lobb, former communications director for the National Chicken Council, has been hired to serve as managing director for the Council for Biotechnology Information. Read More...

Moran, Harkin, Solis spar over youth labor rule

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., told Labor Secretary Hilda Solis today that she had not done a good enough job in reaching out to the farm community or Congress in developing a rule to restrict youth labor on farms. Read More...

Senate Ag hearing moved to Thursday

The Senate Agriculture Committee farm bill hearing on risk management and commodities scheduled for Wednesday will be moved to Thursday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced late today. Read More...

Roberts suggests farm bill could be attached to another bill

Senate Agriculture ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said today that the best way for the farm bill to pass this year might be to attach it to another bill that could use the budget authority from the proposed $23 billion cut over 10 years in farm spending. Read More...

Miller: CBO numbers unlikely to change minds on farm bill

The Congressional Budget Office baseline for farm and nutrition programs for the next 10 years released today is unlikely to change lawmakers’ views that the appropriate cut in farm programs for deficit reduction is $23 billion, a former Agriculture undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services and key Senate aide told The Hagstrom Report today. Read More...

Stallman confirms Farm Bureau will be flexible on policy

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman confirmed today that three state Farm Bureau chapters have dissented from the national organization's farm bill proposal, and that he will tell the Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday that Farm Bureau will consider supporting alternative proposals. Read More...

Senate votes down biodiesel tax incentive

The National Biodiesel Board expressed disappointment today that the Senate voted down two amendments that would have extended the biodiesel tax incentive through the end of the year. Read More...

N.Y. dairy processors say House Ag didn't seek their views

New York dairy processors are complaining that the House Agriculture Committee did not invite them to testify at the committee’s hearing in Saranac Lake, N.Y. last Friday, according to a news release issued by the International Dairy Foods Association on Monday. Read More...

EWG posts 'Farm Subsidy Jackpot' winners

The Environmental Working Group today released a study showing that a number of farmers have received subsidies after becoming lottery winners. Read More...

Roberts blasts proposal for MF Global executive bonuses

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said in a news release late Monday that a proposal by MF Global trustee Louis Freeh to award huge cash bonuses to MF Global executives to aid in the search for missing client funds following the firm’s bankruptcy “is absurd.” Read More...

Farm Bureau considering alternative farm bill proposals

The American Farm Bureau Federation board voted last week to consider supporting alternatives to the Farm Bureau’s own commodity title proposal, sources within the organization have told The Hagstrom Report.
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Biodiesel industry sees support for raising volume under RFS

The National Biodiesel Board said today that the Obama administration’s recognition of the role of the Renewable Fuel Standard in increasing domestic fuel production signals that the White House should approve a proposal to raise the biodiesel volume requirement under the RFS from 1 billion gallons to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013. Read More...

Congressional letter backs GE food labeling

Fifty-five members of Congress — 10 senators and 45 House members — today sent Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg a letter calling on the agency to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Read More...

USDA personnel changes announced

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the following personnel changes at USDA: Read More...

Lucas announces two subcommittee hearings

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., today announced two hearings at the subcommittee level in Washington later this month:
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Tester to MF Global trustee: No executive bonuses

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said today that MF Global executives should not be paid bonuses while farmers and ranchers are still missing millions of dollars that were supposed to have been kept segregated in the brokerage firm’s customer accounts. Read More...

Obama names Ramaswamy new director of NIFA

President Barack Obama announced today his intent to appoint Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy as director of the Agriculture Department’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The position, established in the 2008 farm bill, is a six-year presidential appointment but does not require Senate confirmation. Read More...

Stabenow announces witness list for hearing

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today announced the witness list for Wednesday’s hearing on risk management and commodity programs: Read More...

Lucas still seeking dairy policy consensus for farm bill

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said today at a field hearing in Saranac Lake, N.Y., that he is still seeking “consensus” on dairy policy in the next farm bill and that the bill must also address the needs of specialty crop producers. Read More...

APHIS proposes rule to match OIE standards on BSE

A proposed rule to bring U.S. import regulations regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in line with international animal health standards is expected to help reopen trade markets that remain closed to U.S. beef, the Agriculture Department’s chief veterinarian, Dr. John Clifford, said today.
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Vilsack, Concannon: Tighten food stamp store definition

Congress should tighten up the definition of stores that are eligible to accept food stamps in order to reduce fraud, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Consumer and Nutrition Services Kevin Concannon said this week. Read More...

IG calls on USDA to increase debarment

Agriculture Department Inspector General Phyllis Fong said today that the agency should increase the use of suspension and debarment agency-wide to fight fraud and other crimes. Read More...

Vilsack tweets his MyPlate lunch

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack snapped a photo of his healthy lunch today and sent it out on Twitter in recognition of the USDA’s “What’s On My Plate Day,” designed to encourage the use of the MyPlate icon to design meals built around the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Read More...

Stabenow: Farm bill markup soon after March 14 hearing

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said today that she expects to hold a markup on the farm bill “in just a few weeks” after the final committee’s final farm bill hearing on March 14, and that she is making progress convincing farm groups to unify on the proposed commodity title. Read More...

House Ag: Farm bill reauthorization 'main focus'

In a move that indicates the House Agriculture Committee is planning to stick to a cut of $23 billion over 10 years in the next farm bill, the committee today approved a letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on fiscal year 2013 budget priorities that says its “main focus” will be reauthorization of the farm bill that expires Sept. 30. Read More...

Kaptur wins, Kucinich, Schmidt lose

While most of the country was focused on the presidential primaries on Tuesday, the biggest significance for agriculture may have been in two House primaries in Ohio. Read More...

Western Growers hires Nuxoll, promotes Barbic

Western Growers, the association of California and Arizona specialty crop producers, has hired Dennis Nuxoll as vice president of federal government affairs. He replaces Cathleen Enright, who has become head of the Washington office of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Read More...

Fortenberry: Pass farm bill this year with beginning, local farmer provisions

OMAHA — Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., said Monday that Congress should pass a farm bill this year and include assistance for both beginning and local producers. Read More...

Farmers Union delegates call for defense of COOL

OMAHA — Delegates to the National Farmers Union convention here today adopted special orders of business calling for continued defense of the U.S. country-of-origin labeling program in the World Trade Organization, as well as a number of farm bill provisions, including mandatory interstate shipment of meat products from state-inspected plants, reauthorization of nutrition programs at current or higher benefit levels, and inclusion of the NFU’s proposed market-driven inventory system. Read More...

American Farmland Trust backs conservation compliance as requirement for subsidized crop insurance

The American Farmland Trust today announced its support for making conservation compliance a requirement for access to subsidized crop insurance, one day after Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that he favors an incentive-based conservation system. Read More...

United States files WTO ag trade case against India

The United States is requesting consultations with India under the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement provisions concerning India’s prohibition on American poultry meat and chicken eggs, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today. Read More...

United Fresh donating salad bars to southern schools

The United Fresh Foundation is donating salad bars to 39 schools in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee through the “Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools” initiative, which is connected to First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign. Read More...

Obama committed to GIPSA reform, COOL, Vilsack says

OMAHA — In a statement with implications for the 2012 presidential race, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said here today that the Obama administration remains committed to a stronger rewrite of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration rule and to the country-of-origin food labeling program that has been challenged by the Canadian and Mexican governments at the World Trade Organization. Read More...

Vilsack: Incentives, not mandates on conservation

OMAHA — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said here today that the Obama administration wants to provide incentives for farmers to follow good conservation practices, rather than tying conservation compliance to subsidized crop insurance. Read More...

Peterson, talking farm bill, says he'll run again

OMAHA — House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said here late Sunday that he will run for re-election, partly because he is not sure that Congress will finish a farm bill in 2012 and he wants to be sure to be on hand for writing it. Read More...

Vilsack invites farmers to apply farm bill pressure

NASHVILLE — In a wide-ranging speech to the Commodity Classic here, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack intensified the pressure on Congress to pass a farm bill this year and also brought up a number of new ideas, including changing tax law to encourage land sales to beginning farmers and ranchers. Read More...

Secretary leaves second term question up to Obama

NASHVILLE — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today he would leave the issue of whether he would serve in a second Obama administration up to the president, but sounded more likely to accept an offer to stay on than either Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton or Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who have said they doubt they would serve in a second term. Read More...

Vilsack announces 1 million-acre CRP enrollment program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a new program to enroll 1 million acres of land in a new Conservation Reserve Program. Read More...

Scuse to head trade mission to China this month

Acting Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse will lead a trade mission to China March 23 to 28, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday. Read More...

Growers support a farm bill in 2012, unlikely to agree on commodity title

NASHVILLE — The corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum groups whose members are attending the Commodity Classic meeting here issued a joint statement today that they support passage of a farm bill in 2012, but they did not note any agreement on the commodity title of the bill. Read More...

Women in agriculture issues raised at UN commission

Several Americans raised issues about the situation of Third World women in agriculture at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York this week. Read More...

House Ag to meet on budget views of agencies, programs

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a business meeting Wednesday to consider the budget views and estimates letter for the agencies and programs under its jurisdiction for fiscal year 2013. Read More...