The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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Farm bill up in Senate next week

The Senate will move to the farm bill next week after what is expected to be an unsuccessful cloture vote Tuesday afternoon to take up the Paycheck Fairness Act, Democratic leadership aides have told the National Journal Daily. Read More...

NGFA urges FDA to change access to facility records

The National Grain and Feed Association has urged the Food and Drug Administration to make several important changes to its draft guidance document that addresses the agency’s expanded powers to access facility records under the Food Safety Modernization Act, the group said today. Read More...

FAO: No sustainable development without hunger eradication

There can be no sustainable development without hunger eradication, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report released Wednesday in preparation for the Rio+20 Summit coming up in June in Rio de Janeiro. Read More...

Study looks at farm program 5-year moving average

Carl Zulauf, a professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at The Ohio State University, has published a new analysis of the impact of using a 5-year moving average in farm income as the benchmark for farm program payments. Read More...

EWG calls for names of crop insurance beneficiaries, restrictions on large farm operation subsidies

After releasing a crop insurance study today based on data obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, the Environmental Working Group called on senators to take action during the upcoming farm bill debate to allow the Agriculture Department to release names of beneficiaries and to introduce amendments that would put restrictions on the insurance subsidies that go to large farming operations, including fruit and vegetable farms. Read More...

Bill to make bison the national mammal introduced

Sens. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., have introduced a bill to designate the bison as the official mammal of the United States, and a group of organizations has announced a campaign to encourage public support. Read More...

EWG publishes crop insurance subsidy report by state

The Environmental Work Group today will publish a new crop insurance analysis which it says shows that farmers in 25 states have received premium subsidies ranging from $100,000 to more than $1 million each in the last year. Read More...

UFW founder Dolores Huerta receives Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama on Tuesday presented Dolores Huerta, one of the founders of the United Farm Workers, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Read More...

FAPRI farm bill analysis tracks commodity payments

The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri today released an analysis of the impact of several key provisions in the Senate farm bill that the American Soybean Association says proves that the new farm bill is fair to all commodities, but with which other groups may disagree. Read More...

AEI report critical of ‘shallow loss’ program

The American Enterprise Institute today issued a report highly critical of the Senate farm bill’s Agricultural Risk Coverage or “shallow loss” program. Read More...

2010 crop loss assistance application deadline June 1

The deadline for applications for assistance for 2010 crop losses under the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments program known as SURE is Friday, the Agriculture Department Farm Service Agency said Tuesday. Read More...

Northeast groups release farm bill agenda

A coalition of northeastern farm groups Tuesday released a farm bill agenda emphasizing that “investing in local and regional agricultural must be a priority.” Read More...

Specialty crop members push programs in House bill

As the House Agriculture Committee approaches a markup of a farm bill, coalitions of House members from specialty crop-producing districts are urging Congress to be fair to those programs. Read More...

Six on FSA office closure list to remain open

All but six of the 131 Farm Service Agency offices that the Agriculture Department proposed in January for closure will be closed, USDA said Tuesday. Read More...

Grassley presses Vilsack on civil rights complaints

Two Iowans who have been longtime champions of civil rights at the Agriculture Department — Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa Democratic governor, seem to be vying for the title of who is the most committed to the cause. Read More...

House Ag leaders to push target price proposal

The leaders of the House Agriculture Committee are returning to Washington after a week in their districts, and wishing Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the best of luck in getting a bill through the Senate in June. But House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., are even more determined than before the recess to pass a farm bill that includes a target price and countercyclical program for crop farmers as well as the revenue approach that is in the Senate bill. Read More...

Farm bill filed; CBO score reports $23.6 billion in savings

The Congressional Budget Office has released a score saying that the 2012 farm bill would cost a total of $969 billion between fiscal years 2013 and 2022, $23.6 billion less than if the 2008 farm bill were extended. Read More...

Feinstein coalition introduces egg-laying cage bill

In a signal that senators are preparing amendments to be considered on the farm bill, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and a bipartisan coalition of seven other senators Thursday introduced a bill based on an agreement between the Humane Society of the United States and the United Egg Producers that would set housing standards for egg-laying hens. Read More...

No farm bill mention in House summer agenda

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., sent House Republicans a summer legislative agenda today that does not mention the farm bill, although it does say, “our schedule will undoubtedly require further additions.” Read More...

Vilsack announces 3.9 million acres for CRP

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA will accept 3.9 million acres offered under the 43rd Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up. Read More...

Stabenow raises north-south equity issue

In an appearance on the Diane Rehm Show today, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., raised an issue that has permeated behind-the-scenes farm bill negotiations, but that other participants in the debate have avoided mentioning in public: the longtime view among northern farmers that southerners have gotten more than their fair share of farm subsidies over the decades. Read More...

What do farmers want?

While House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., travel this week listening to farmers in preparation for markup of a farm bill sometime in June, a close reading of testimony delivered before a House Agriculture subcommittee last week reveals that farmers are divided commodity by commodity and region by region. Read More...

Changes crop by crop

Commodity group witnesses testified that the farm program is critical to provide a stable food supply, that it should be based on crop insurance, and that tighter payment limitations are onerous. But they also stressed policies that are important to their individual commodities. Read More...

Neary moves to Senate Finance Committee

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., today named Sean Neary as the new director of communications. Read More...

Fertilizer group names Hebebrand director general

The International Fertilizer Association has named Charlotte Hebebrand as its new director general beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the IFA announced today at its annual conference in Doha, Qatar.
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Hagstrom joins farm bill panel this morning on NPR

Jerry Hagstrom will be among the guests discussing the farm bill today at 10 a.m. on the Diane Rehm Show on WAMU 88.5, a National Public Radio member station. Read More...

Beachy: Federal agencies should reduce biotech regs

Agricultural biotechnology is overregulated, but federal agencies rather than Congress hold the keys to reducing the burden, a panel of experts told congressional staff at a briefing today. Read More...

Grassley criticizes southern lobbying on payment limits

In a sign of the bitterness that surrounds the debate over the Senate Agriculture Committee-passed farm bill as it inches toward consideration on the floor, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has issued a statement that southern farm lobbyists have been misleading senators in their criticism of the payment limit provisions in the bill. Read More...

First lady’s ‘American Grown’ garden book coming out

First Lady Michelle Obama’s book, “American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America,” is now available for preorders and the first lady will promote the book in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Read More...

Vilsack: USDA studying report release changes

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that USDA officials are examining whether to make any changes in the release of USDA reports in the wake of the Intercontinental Exchange’s launch of electronic grain futures trading and the CME Group’s decision to extend its Chicago Board of Trade trading hours. These developments mean that trading will be taking place when USDA reports are released. Read More...

Obama to call for clean energy

President Barack Obama will call on Congress to extend the production tax credit for clean energy production and will emphasize it when he visits a wind manufacturer in Newton, Iowa, on Thursday. Read More...

USDA to spend $32 million on Mississippi River Basin projects

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service will invest nearly $32 million this year in financial and technical assistance for five water quality and wetlands improvement projects in seven Mississippi River Basin states, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today. Read More...

Vilsack announces tribal relations director

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week that he has appointed Joanna Mounce Stancil as director of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations. Read More...

Crop insurance industry releases videos

Amidst reports that crop insurance indemnities have reached $10.7 billion this year and are continuing to rise, National Crop Insurance Services today released the third in a series of videos in which farmers and crop insurance industry officials discuss their relationships. Read More...

Smith criticizes defense bill energy provision

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., said today that a provision in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act that would prohibit the military from buying alternative fuels if they are more expensive than oil is short sighted. Read More...

USDA announces appointments

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Friday announced a series of appointments at USDA. Read More...

Stabenow: Farm bill on floor early June

MONTEREY, Calif. — Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said here late Friday she expects the farm bill to come up on the Senate floor in early June and to garner at least the 60 votes needed to end debate and move to passage. Read More...

G-8 allies with private sector on agricultural development

Leaders of the G-8 countries issued an official communique Saturday committing them to continued support for Third World agricultural development and food security and established an alliance with private sector companies that have committed to spend $3 billion on agricultural development programs in Africa. Read More...

Obama to announce global food alliance today

President Barack Obama today will announce a new G8 alliance for global food security and nutrition that expands the effort launched at the L’Aquila G-8 meeting in 2009. The new alliance involves both major companies in the private sector and governments worldwide in assisting millions of small-scale African farmers, most of them women, in improving their products and outcomes, administration officials revealed late Thursday. Read More...

House Ag subcommittee completes commodity hearings

The House General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee today completed its second and final day of hearings on the commodity title of the farm bill after testimony from the National Farmers Union, a number of commodity groups, and the crop insurance industry. Read More...

CME Group proposes schedule changes

The CME Group’s announcement that it will expand its Globex electronic trading hours and close from 2 to 5 p.m. Central time each afternoon won mixed reaction today. The announcement said CME wanted to allow time during business hours to reconcile trading accounts and perform other required administrative functions that occur following the daily market close for grain and oilseed futures and options contracts. Read More...

Study says healthy food is not more expensive

Buying healthy food is not more expensive than buying less healthy food if economists and consumers consider the price per pound instead of the price per calorie, the Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service said in a study released Wednesday. Read More...

Senate, House Ag leaders spar over farm bill

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., held a news conference today to announce they are ready for the farm bill to move to the Senate floor, while a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing today turned into an opportunity for members of Congress, economists and farm leaders to evaluate the Senate Ag Committee-passed bill. Read More...

The Lucas interview: An edited transcript

The following interview with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., focuses on the commodity title of the next farm bill. The interview was conducted on May 8, and a story about the interview appeared in the May 9 edition of The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

45 Senators urge open debate on farm bill

Forty-five senators from every region of the country have sent letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urging them to schedule floor consideration of the farm bill and allow an open debate on it, but there is also speculation over how the bill would fare on the Senate floor. Read More...

Dodd-Frank markup postponed

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., today postponed a markup scheduled for Thursday on three bills related to the Dodd-Frank financial services reform bill. Read More...

Highlights of USDA 150th anniversary celebration

The Agriculture Department celebrated its 150th birthday today with a program that emphasized how the agency’s mission has broadened from its role when President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill creating it on May 15, 1862 and the event even included audience exercise to work off some of the weight that comes from eating the country’s agricultural bounty. Read More...

College fund set for Stewart Doan's daughters

A college fund has been established for the daughters of farm journalist Stewart Doan, who died Thursday, the National Association for Farm Broadcasting has announced. Doan, 52, was senior editor at Agri-Pulse and a veteran broadcaster. Read More...

View USDA anniversary celebration live

The Agriculture Department’s 150th birthday celebration will be available live on the Web Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. EST. To watch the celebration in real time, access it at www.usda.gov/live. Read More...

Presidential proclamation hails USDA 150th anniversary

President Barack Obama today proclaimed Tuesday to be the 150th birthday of the Agriculture Department while agency officials planned ceremonies in Washington. Read More...

Ag secretary, EPA at American University tech market

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today joined Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Commerce Secretary John Bryson at a technology market summit at American University in Washington to promote the development and adoption of American-made technologies to achieve economic growth through environmental protection. Read More...

HBO’s 'Weight of the Nation' debuts tonight

“The Weight of the Nation,” a Home Box Office documentary series on the nation’s obesity problem that could be a key factor in public policy issues in the years to come, debuts tonight. Both critics of American agriculture and defenders of industrial production should watch it. Read More...

EU hosts luncheon celebrating organic trade agreement

Some members of Congress took a break from their political battles Thursday to celebrate the U.S.-EU organic trade agreement at a luncheon hosted by the European Union in the Capitol. Read More...

Committee on World Food Security endorses voluntary guidelines on land tenure rights

The United Nations Committee on World Food Security endorsed a set of voluntary guidelines on land tenure rights Thursday that includes provisions addressing two of the most difficult issues in developing countries today: land rights for women and the purchase and leasing of land by outside interests. Read More...

Anti-hunger groups blast House cuts to SNAP

Anti-hunger groups reacted with outrage after the House voted Thursday to cut the supplemental nutrition assistance program, better known as SNAP or food stamps, by nearly $36 billion. Read More...

Farm journalist Stewart Doan dies

Stewart Doan, a longtime farm broadcaster and senior editor for Agri-Pulse died unexpectedly Thursday in Little Rock, where he lived. He was 52. Read More...

More speakers announced at Chicago Council meeting

The U.S. Agency for International Development, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the World Economic Forum Wednesday announced a list of speakers at the May 18 symposium on global agriculture and food security they are hosting in Washington. Read More...

NSAC releases analysis of commodity title provisions

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which advocates strict payment limitations on farm subsidies, today released its analysis of the payment limitation provisions in the commodity title of the Senate Agriculture Committee-passed bill. Read More...

House Ag to hold markup session next Thursday

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a markup session next Thursday to consider three bills:
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USDA celebrating 150 year anniversary on Tuesday

MSNBC Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzinski will join Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack next Tuesday at a "Day of Celebration" recognizing 150th anniversary of USDA, the department's communications office announced today. Read More...

Vilsack may consider another run for president

In an interview with Gannett reporter Christopher Doering in the Des Moines Register, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he has not ruled out another run for the White House. Read More...

Vilsack takes New York media tour to promote agriculture

NEW YORK — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is visiting the nation’s media capital to promote American agriculture as a story in general and the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Agriculture Department that will occur next Tuesday. Read More...

Lucas: Target prices a national issue, markup likely in June

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said Tuesday he believes that all crops need a farm program that protects them from multiyear price drops, a position with which House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., agrees. Read More...

Obama to speak on food security

In advance of the G-8 Summit at Camp David, President Barack Obama on May 18 will deliver the opening keynote address to the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, the White House announced Tuesday. Read More...

Kass takes on 'Let’s Move' critics at obesity conference

Sam Kass, the deputy White House chef and senior adviser on healthy initiatives, defended First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign against childhood obesity at The Weight of the Nation conference this week. Read More...

Vaughan moves to Neugebauer office

Heather Vaughan has been named the communications director in the office of Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas. Read More...

HBO series 'The Weight of the Nation' debuts next week

“The Weight of the Nation,” a Home Box Office multi-part documentary series on the nation’s obesity problem set to air next week will encourage a fresh round of debate about obesity and its ties to production agriculture and farm subsidies as Congress struggles to write a farm bill this year. Read More...

IOM: Examine all ag policies for impact on obesity

Congress, the Obama administration and federal agencies should examine all U.S. agricultural policies for their impact on obesity, an Institute of Medicine committee chaired by former Agriculture secretary Dan Glickman said in a report released early today. Read More...

Senate Ag Committee posts farm bill summary

The Senate Agriculture Committee has published a 16-page summary of the farm bill. Read More...

Farm groups press Senate leaders for farm bill passage

More than 100 major farm, conservation, forestry and rural development groups sent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a letter late Friday urging them to bring the farm bill approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee to the floor for consideration as quickly as possible. Read More...

Aides, lobbyist silent on possible changes to bill draft

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said at the April 26 markup of the farm bill that they are open to further changes to the commodity title if they fit within the budget, but it's unclear whether the committee is considering any proposals to address the issues that rice and peanut growers and others have raised about the draft bill.
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U.S. obesity forecast warns of 42 percent rate by 2030

The pressure to reduce obesity intensified today with the release of a study that shows that the percentage of Americans who are obese will rise from about one-third today to 42 percent by 2030, an increase that would add $550 billion to the nation’s medical expenditures.
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Birds Eye pledges $6 million to kid 'GenVeg' campaign

The Birds Eye frozen food company today joined The Partnership for a Healthier America, the private sector partnership that works with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to address childhood obesity, a move that was welcomed by Sam Kass, the White House deputy chef and senior adviser on healthy eating initiatives. Read More...

Vilsack asks help of rural youth to fight educational cuts

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today appealed to 4-H and FFA students to join the administration in opposing Republican plans to cut Pell grants and health care to avoid an increase in interest rates on student loans. Read More...

Peirce Mill offers agricultural experience in nation's capital

When farmers, agribusiness executives and conservationists visiting Washington get tired of walking the halls of Congress and the Agriculture Department, they can now visit the only legitimate agricultural or farm exhibit within the nation’s capital: the restored Peirce Mill, a 19th century commercial flour mill and its grounds, where an apple orchard will be replanted this spring. Read More...

African leaders invited to G-8 Summit talks on food security

President Barack Obama has invited African leaders to join the G-8 Summit at Camp David on May 19 for a discussion on accelerating progress towards food security in Africa, the White House announced today. Read More...

Vilsack names FAS, AMS administrators

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has named USDA career employees as administrators of two agencies, the Foreign Agricultural Service and the Agricultural Marketing Service. Read More...

Growth Energy hires press staff

Growth Energy announced today that Michael Frohlich has joined the pro-ethanol organization as its new press secretary and that Michael Lewan has been hired as a public affairs associate. Read More...

Report compares food industry donations to Congress members' stance on FTC guidelines

The Sunlight Foundation today published a report noting that members of Congress who received campaign donations from food processing and beverage companies wrote letters to the Federal Trade Commission critical of the voluntary guidelines that the FTC was developing to tone down the marketing of certain foods to children. Read More...

Comment period ends for change to beef checkoff rule

The comment period on a proposed rule that would make it easier for a wider variety of beef groups to be contractors for the Beef Promotion and Research Order, better known as the beef checkoff, ended today, but the agency has not established a time line for moving forward with the rule. Read More...

Report: Land grant organic research not growing fast enough

The Organic Farming Research Foundation today released a study that says land grant colleges are increasing organic research and programs, but not keeping up with the growth in organic agriculture. Read More...

United Fresh donors provide salad bars to school

Member companies of the United Fresh Produce Foundation today donated salad bars to 100 schools in Texas. Read More...