The Hagstrom Report

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Vastine retires, Allgeier to lead CSI

J. Robert Vastine has retired as president of the Coalition of Service Industries and been appointed a senior industry fellow at the Center for Business and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Vastine has been replaced at CSI by Peter Allgeier, a former ambassador and veteran of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Read More...

National Milk to push farm bill, trade issues

National Milk Producers Federation Chairman Randy Mooney and President and CEO Jerry Kozak told members of their organization this week that they are increasing pressure on Congress to pass a farm bill that will include the new dairy program the group has proposed. Read More...

NASS releases delayed reports today

The Agriculture Department’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is releasing today the reports that were scheduled for Monday. Read More...

EU budget proposed, rejected

The government of Cyprus, which holds the presidency of the European Union, has proposed a new EU budget with deep cuts to agriculture, but the European Commission and the European Parliament have already rejected it, according to European news reports. Read More...

Sugar users and growers have Halloween spat

It wouldn’t be Halloween without a nasty exchange between the sweetener users and the sugar growers, would it? Read More...

Thursday declared National Bison Day

The National Bison Association, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Intertribal Buffalo Council have declared Thursday to be National Bison Day.
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Iowa farmers launch email campaign for Obama

Concerned that neither President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign nor groups that champion local and regional agriculture are working hard enough to point out that the Obama administration has promoted both small farm agriculture and conventional industrial farming, two Iowa farmers have launched their own Internet campaign to encourage farmers and foodies to vote for Obama.
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NASS delays rice, peanut reports

With the federal government offices in Washington closed today due to the storm, the Agriculture Department's National Agricultural Statistics Service has delayed the Rice Stocks, Peanut Stocks and Processing and Crop Progress reports scheduled to be released today. Read More...

Academic: Regional, local food programs at stake in presidential election

The Obama administration has aided regional and local food production programs in an unprecedented fashion and the future of those programs may be at stake in the 2012 presidential election, a prominent agricultural law professor said Sunday. Read More...

GOP aide: Cantor remarks no different from Boehner

The remark by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., last week in Boise, Idaho, that the House will vote on the farm bill after the election was no different from the statements made by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, a House GOP aide told The Hagstrom Report on Friday. Boehner has previously said the House will address the farm bill after the election. Read More...

Cantor says House will vote on farm bill after election

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who has been viewed all year as the House leader most opposed to bringing up the farm bill, said Wednesday in Boise that the House will vote on the bill during the post-election lame duck session, an announcement that won praise from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Read More...

McGovern: Fighting hunger greatest achievement

In his last interview, a student asked former Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., to name his greatest accomplishment. McGovern replied, “Well, I received the honor from President Bill Clinton – they call it the “Medal of Freedom” — and that is my greatest pride as far as awards. “But outside that, my greatest achievement is working towards ending hunger. A while ago a respected historian out of Oxford University wrote that I have helped more hungry people than any other individual in history. And that is the best honor I can think of.”
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National Research Council releases algal biofuels report

The National Research Council on Wednesday released a report called "Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels in the United States."
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Memories of McGovern and his work continue

As dignitaries and South Dakotans gather in Sioux Falls to remember former Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., at a prayer service this evening and a funeral on Friday, the outpouring of tributes to him continues. Read More...

Children’s Defense Fund uses food stamp vote in scorecard

The Children’s Defense Fund Action Council has included a vote on elimination of categorical eligibility as part of its report card on Congress. Read More...

Poll: California’s GMO food labeling initiative a dead heat

With a poll showing that California’s Proposition 37, the statewide ballot measure to label genetically engineered foods, is in a dead heat for “yes” or “no” votes, organic food producers and distributors held a news conference today to promote the measure and the entire Los Angeles City Council endorsed it this week. Read More...

Graziano da Silva: Eliminate food waste

Eliminating food waste should be a high priority for anti-hunger advocates, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organizaton Director-General José Graziano da Silva said this week. Read More...

Food Day observations in progress

Groups around the country today are sponsoring events to encourage healthier eating. Read More...

Food Policy Action leaders lean left

Food Policy Action’s board consists of leaders of 12 groups, all of which would be considered on the left of the political spectrum, even if their leaders claim to represent bipartisan, policy-oriented organizations. Read More...

The issue of scoring members of Congress

Scoring senators and House members on their votes is a common practice in Washington that is more an art than a science, but nevertheless has become a shorthand way for voters and particularly for activists to decide what to think about a politician. Read More...

Wisconsin Rural Leaders for Obama announced

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday in Eau Claire, Wis. announced the existence of Rural Leaders for Obama, an organizing operation in rural communities.
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‘Food movement’ leaders form policy watchdog group

The Environmental Working Group and 11 other organizations that consider themselves part of the “food movement” today announced a new organization called Food Policy Action, and released a scorecard on every senator and House member based on 32 floor votes — 18 in the Senate, 14 in the House — that Congress has taken over the past two years.
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Biden to attend McGovern service Thursday, C-SPAN to broadcast funeral Friday afternoon

Vice President Joe Biden will take a break from the campaign trail Thursday evening to attend an evening prayer service in Sioux Falls, S.D., honoring George McGovern, the late South Dakota Democratic senator and former ambassador to the U.N. food agencies in Rome, according to a White House pool report. Read More...

Food Policy scores for individual members

Senators and House members who are rarely associated with agricultural or food policy generally got better scores on the Food Policy Scoreboard announced today than members of the House and Senate agriculture committees or agriculture appropriations subcommittees. That is not surprising since members from heavily agricultural states and districts have to think about agricultural as an industry as well as thinking about consumers. Read More...

Twitter session scheduled on People’s Garden

The staff of the Agriculture Department’s People’s Garden will host a live session on Twitter to answer gardening questions on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Read More...

Vilsack in Wisconsin for ‘personal’ campaigning

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was scheduled to spend today campaigning for President Barack Obama in Wisconsin, the Obama campaign office announced early today. Read More...

USDA provides $27 million in drought assistance

The Agriculture Department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service provided more than $27 million in assistance to farmers and ranchers in drought-stricken areas of 22 states this year through September 19, USDA said in a news release today. Read More...

Farmers & Ranchers Alliance unveils research tool

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance today unveiled USFRA FoodSource, an online resource designed to provide information to consumers about how food is grown and raised. Read More...

National Milk plans to revamp REAL seal

The National Milk Producers Federation has taken over the REAL® Seal symbol and will try to educate consumers to look for it to make sure they are getting real dairy products. Read More...

Varilek got McGovern endorsement

Matt Varilek, a Democrat who is running for against Republican Rep. Kristi Noem for South Dakota's lone House seat, noted his endorsement by the late former Sen. George McGovern in a statement Monday: Read More...

Vilsack makes announcement about Indian programs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that tribal colleges in eight states have received $3.3 million in grants, that a national tribal drought and disaster recovery conference call will be held on October 30, and that the Southwest American Indian Veterans Farming and Ranching Summit scheduled for that date has been moved to November 1. Read More...

Remembering George McGovern

President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials, the heads of U.N. agencies and leaders of anti-hunger organizations and leaders of anti-hunger groups were among the many that issued statements of mourning and praise for the late George McGovern. Read More...

Anti-hunger programs loom large in McGovern legacy

Former Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., who died Sunday in a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospice at age 90, may go down in history for his anti-war activism and the presidential campaign he lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972, but his most enduring legacy is likely to be the domestic and international anti-hunger programs he helped established while also aiding the nation’s farmers. Read More...

McGovern-Dole a reminder of CCC authorities

The origins of the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Nutrition Program are a reminder of the creative ways that the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act, the financing mechanism that the Agriculture Department uses to send out farm subsidy checks, can be used when other government authority is lacking. Read More...

Panama tariffs on U.S. ag products to go down

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Panamanian Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano announced today that the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will enter into force on October 31, USTR said in a news release. Read More...

Funeral services for McGovern announced

Funeral services have been set for former South Dakota Democratic Sen. George McGovern on Thursday and Friday in Sioux Falls, S.D., the Associated Press reported late Sunday. Read More...

Daniel Hillel awarded World Food Prize

The World Food Prize was presented in Des Moines Thursday evening to Israeli scientist Daniel Hillel of Israel, who pioneered innovative ways of bringing water to crops in arid and dryland regions. Read More...

Report raises Brazilian land governance issues

Small-scale farmers have played a larger role in providing Brazil's food needs than has been recognized, but small farmers are endangered in that country, the London-based International Land Coalition said in a report it released Thursday in Rome.
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Female farmers fight dismissal of claims system complaint

The Obama administration has asked the U.S. District Court to dismiss complaints from female farmers that the new system to resolve longstanding discrimination complaints is unsatisfactory, but lawyers for the women are opposing that motion, and have moved for a summary judgment. Read More...

NCGA releases Obama, Romney responses to questionnaire

The National Corn Growers Association on Thursday release President Barack Obama's and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's responses to the organization's questionnaire on policies affecting agriculture and farmers.
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Vilsack announces energy grants

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for 244 projects nationwide to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and costs and use renewable energy technologies in their operations. The funding is through USDA's Rural Energy for America Program known as REAP. Read More...

U.S. to audit Canadian food safety system

The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will begin an audit of Canada’s food safety inspection system next week, an FSIS spokesman confirmed today. Read More...

Merrigan wins James Beard leadership award

NEW YORK CITY — The James Beard Foundation on Wednesday evening presented one of its leadership awards to Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.
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Right of farmers to own land is key, says leader of Landesa rural development group

NEW YORK CITY — Farmers’ legal rights to land ownership in developing countries should be higher on the agenda of the U.S. government, foundations and corporations doing business in those countries, according to Landesa, a Seattle-based development group that will a be sponsoring a session on rural women’s right to land today at the World Food Prize ceremonies in Des Moines. Read More...

Global Harvest report highlights needs in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia

The Global Harvest Initiative said Wednesday in its third annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report that sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia will find it increasingly difficult to meet food demand in their regions if investments in infrastructure and other needs of farmers are not met. Read More...

Landesa: A little-known 40-year-old land rights group

Seattle-based Landesa is not well known, but it has been around for 40 years, according to President and CEO Tim Hanstad and the organization’s website.
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Land rights problems vary country to country

The land rights problems stem from each developing country’s history, Landesa CEO Tim Hanstad explained. Read More...

The fight for women’s land rights: A long history

Virtually all of the property systems in developing countries discriminate against women, Landesa President and CEO Tim Hanstad said in an interview, but he also noted that was also true of systems in the developed countries. Read More...

Clinton Global Initiative: The elite agenda on food and agriculture

NEW YORK CITY — Small farms versus large, nutrition in the first thousand days of a child’s life, the potential of cassava as a food, conservation and waste are all topics of interest, even obsession, to the international elite if sessions of former President Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative meeting last month are an indicator.
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Vilsack announces rural development grants

The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Education and Charitable Foundation, Inc., the Dennison, Minn., Food Co-op and the Montana Crow Indian Tribe are among the 112 groups in 39 states, the District of Columbia and the Western Pacific that will receive rural development grants and loans, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today. Read More...

EU Commission formally proposes biofuels limits

The European Commission today formally proposed limiting the use of biofuels from arable crops and imposing consideration of the impact of those fuels on land use patterns, but Copa-Cogeca, the largest European farm and co-op group slammed the proposal. Read More...

Obama back to Iowa, Ohio today; Romney in Virginia

President Barack Obama is campaigning today in the rural Iowa and in Ohio, key swing states, while Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney travels to Virginia, another swing state, according to the C-SPAN website. Read More...

USDA provides guidance on school purchase of local foods

The Agriculture Department has provided school food service directors with detailed guidance on how they may go about purchasing locally produced foods for school programs, the School Nutrition Association noted in a mailing to members today. Read More...

Quarterly prices added to food security index

DuPont and the Economist Intelligence Unit announced today that they have had a quarterly food price adjustment factor to the Global Food Security Index that they launched in July. Read More...

Food stamps come up in the campaign obliquely

The issue of food stamps came up in the presidential debate on Tuesday night, but both campaigns used the program only as an example.
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Brazil, FAO announce cotton aid program

The Brazilian government is planning to help other developing countries with their cotton production, but initially not the African countries it has often championed in its trade disputes with the United States, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization announced today. Read More...

Poll: Romney surges among rural voters in swing states

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has increased a strong lead among rural voters in swing states, according to an independent poll released today in advance of the presidential debate tonight. Read More...

U.S. opposes grains stockpile at World Food Day meeting

The United States does not support using strategic grains stocks to tame volatile food prices, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations food agencies said at a meeting in Rome today during the celebration of World Food Day, Reuters reported. Read More...

U.N. food agencies emphasize co-ops on World Food Day

In a joint World Food Day message, the heads of U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Federation for Agriculture Development and the World Food Program emphasized the importance of agricultural co-operatives in reducing hunger and increasing agricultural development in poor countries.
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Poll details: Declines for Obama on all major issues

The poll showed a decline for President Barack Obama among rural voters in every issue area covered in the poll compared with his standing in September, the Center for Rural Strategies said in its analysis of the poll results. Read More...

Hunger fight questioned during World Food Prize week

As the World Food Prize ceremonies begin in Des Moines this week, experts are questioning how much progress increases in agricultural production are making in reducing hunger, the Des Moines Register reported on Sunday. Read More...

Vilsack announces biofuels grants, says Obama to show contrasting vision tonight

President Barack Obama “is prepared tonight to provide a contrasting vision based on what he has already done — getting America back in the business of making and creating things,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told The Hagstrom Report today in a telephone news conference highlighting the release of biofuels assistance in the northeastern states. Read More...

ASA releases Obama, Romney answers to its questionnaire

The American Soybean Association on Monday released the answers to questionnaires on farm policy that President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney answered. Read More...

Kitchen garden on White House fall tour

Washington residents Chuck Rohe and Isobel Ellis were among the thousands who visited the White House gardens on Saturday, including First Lady Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden. Read More...

Darden exec: Schools must teach portion control

NEW YORK CITY — Schools must teach children portion control to address issues of obesity and waste, the chief executive of the world’s largest full-service restaurant company said here during the Clinton Global Initiative meeting last month. Read More...

Budget shows lower USDA expenditures that expected

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients on Friday released details of the final fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget results. Read More...

Obama proclaims National School Lunch Week

President Barack Obama has proclaimed October 15 to 19 National School Lunch Week as school cafeteria managers planned events to highlight the new healthy foods menus and Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., praised the students who are protesting the calorie limits that have been imposed to fight childhood obesity. Read More...

Conway creates ag development website

Sir Gordon Conway, the former Rockefeller Foundation president who is now a professor of international development at Imperial College London, has created a website to collect the latest ideas on international agricultural development. Read More...

Gillibrand releases GAO farm worker study, asks Labor for change in application process

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., today released a Government Accountability Office study of the H-2A visa program and challenged Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to allow farmers to submit one application for multiple workers, even though the Labor Department said it disagreed with GAO’s proposed change. Read More...

EU groups warn against biofuel changes

The largest European farm and co-op group and key European Union biofuel industry organizations have stepped up pressure against the European Commission’s proposals to make fundamental changes in EU biofuels policy. Read More...

Both sides of RFS waiver issue make voices heard

Groups in favor of waiving the Renewable Fuel Standard and groups opposing the waiver filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, the last day that the agency was accepting comments on the petition from the governors of Arkansas and North Carolina to waive it because feed costs have risen so high.
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Cantor signals farm bill to come up in lame duck

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., gave the strongest signal yet that the House will take up the farm bill in the lame duck session, the Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times reported Tuesday. Read More...

Ethanol groups thank Romney and Obama on RFS

Two pro-ethanol groups issued statements Tuesday thanking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for announcing his commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard, and in statements to The Hagstrom Report Wednesday also thanked President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for their commitments to the RFS and the biofuels industry. Read More...

Romney transcript released

Farm Policy.com has released a transcript of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign talk Tuesday at a farm in Iowa. Read More...

Ethanol waiver comment period ends today as groups release competing RFS studies

The Environmental Protection Agency comment period on the request of several governors to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard ends today, and two groups released competing studies Wednesday on the strengths and weaknesses of the standard. Read More...

Lucas, Roberts release pro-Romney statements

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign has released statements from House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., supporting Romney. Read More...

Fruit, veg exec: Distributors should help schools

Fruit and vegetable growers and distributors can do a good business selling their products to schools under the new meals rules, but they should help school food directors and teachers educate students about unfamiliar foods, a key produce distributor told his own industry last week. Read More...

Romney issues ag policy paper in Iowa; Obama team issues response

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned in Iowa Tuesday and released a 16-page paper on agricultural policy, but the Obama campaign quickly responded with its own news conference with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and former Agriculture Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Jim Miller.
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Study: Africa could produce more wheat

Sub-Saharan Africa’s farmers may be growing only 10 to 25 percent of the production that research suggests is both biologically possible and economically profitable, according to a study released Monday. Read More...

Child farmworker advocate still disappointed in withdrawal of rule rewrite

President Barack Obama’s dedication of the César E. Chávez National Monument in California on Monday was inspiring, but the administration's withdrawal of a proposal for tougher safety rules for child farm workers remains disappointing, a key farm worker advocate said in a news release Tuesday. Read More...

FAO: There may not have been 1 billion hungry

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said today that the number of hungry people in the world between 2010 and 2012 was 870 million, and that that number of chronically malnourished people in the world in 2009 probably never hit 1 billion as the agency contended at that time.
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EPA to hold ag teleconference on October 22

The Environmental Protection Agency announced last week that it would hold a teleconference on October 22 for its Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee.
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Obama dedicates new Chávez National Monument

President Barack Obama on Monday dedicated the César E. Chávez National Monument honoring the late United Farm Workers president at his headquarters at Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz in Keene, Calif. Read More...

Unemployment rate dips in rural America

Like the unemployment rate in the rest of the country, the unemployment rate in rural America went down in August, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by The Daily Yonder. Read More...

Romney in Iowa, announces supporters

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is scheduled to campaign in Iowa today and has announced a list of members of an Iowa farmers for Romney coalition, the Des Moines Register reported. Read More...

OTA: USDA organic survey shows importance of industry

The Agriculture Department on Thursday released a first-ever survey of U.S. certified organic agricultural production that the Organic Trade Association said proves the organic industry deserves more recognition. Read More...

Bertini named to Libya attack probe panel

Catherine Bertini, a former executive director of the World Food Program, has been appointed a member of the State Department accountability review board to examine the facts and circumstances of the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The attack led to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Read More...

Huelskamp, King, USDA continue to spar over school meals

Reps. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., and Steve King, R-Iowa, are continuing their campaign against new school meal rules that encourage healthier eating and set calorie limits, but USDA officials, nutrition advocates and military officials concerned about obesity are fighting back. (See following story)
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Waiving RFS wouldn't affect corn prices much

Reducing the renewable fuel standard would have only a small negative effect on corn prices, according to a study released Thursday by the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. Read More...

Ireland honors Bertini for work

Irish Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello presented Catherine Bertini, a former executive director of the World Food Program, with a Certificate of Irish Heritage. Read More...

New school meal rules receive widespread defense

Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, the Food Research & Action Center, and retired and current military officials concerned about obesity have risen to the defense of the school meal rules that some students and Republican officeholders have criticized. Read More...

Irish honor Woteki for her work, heritage

Irish Ambassador H.E. Michael Collins presented a Certificate of Irish Heritage to Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Catherine Woteki, who is also USDA’s chief scientist. Read More...

One Rome meeting off, another on

Citing a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization food index report showing that food prices went up only slightly in September, the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) group established by the G-20 countries has decided a meeting of its Rapid Response Forum is not necessary. But another meeting proposed by French President François Hollande to discuss world food problems will be held in Rome on October 16, on the sidelines of World Food Day activities. Read More...

MACS sets objectives, establishes collaboration platforms

In their meeting in Mexico, the G-20 meeting of agricultural chief scientists (MACS) discussed the following objectives and research collaboration platforms, according to a USDA summary of the meeting. Read More...

G-20 ag scientists agree to share research information

The agricultural chief scientists from most of the G-20 countries met for the first time ever in Mexico last week and reached agreement to share information, with the goal of increasing the pace of agricultural research and production, Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Catherine Woteki told The Hagstrom Report in an interview this week. Read More...

Pelosi supports discharge petition, Farr cites Republican pressure

A day after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she supports the discharge petition to force the House leadership to bring up the farm bill, House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Sam Farr, D-Calif., said that whether Congress finishes the bill this year depends on pressure on Republicans.
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Roberts and Vilsack exchange views on school lunch

Citing “considerable public outcry” over the implementation of new nutrition guidelines for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today requesting justification of the new policies and further analysis of their effects on active students, on school participation in the program and on the industry and economy as a whole. Read More...

Fruit, vegetable industry to put heat on GOP to pass farm bill

Fruit and vegetable industry growers and other officials are leaving Washington today with plans to put pressure on House Republican leaders and members to finish a farm bill during the lame duck session after the election. Read More...

Vilsack, Merrigan stress need for farm bill for dairy producers

While Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke at a dairy expo in Wisconsin today about the need for a farm bill that creates a new dairy program, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said in Washington that, as a native New Englander she is particularly worried about the fate of dairy farmers. Read More...

Agricultural co-op sales, revenue up

U.S. farm, ranch and fishery cooperatives posted record sales and income in 2011, surpassing the previous record sales year of 2008 by $10 billion and the old income record by $500 million, Agriculture Undersecretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager, announced today. Read More...

Merrigan: Administration committed to new school meal guidelines

The Obama administration will stand behind the new school meal nutrition guidelines because they are based on science, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said today while also reviewing budget issues at USDA. Read More...

Produce groups decide not to merge

The boards of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association and the Produce Marketing Association have decided not to merge the two groups, United Fresh Chairman Dave Krause told members of his group at their Washington Public Policy Conference today. Read More...

FSA announces sign-up for 2011 SURE program

The Farm Service Agency on Friday announced that the sign-up period for the 2011 crop year Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program will open October 22. Read More...

Programs expire with 2008 farm bill; groups urge pressure on Congress

For weeks, key officials have said there would not be any immediate impact from expiration of the 2008 farm bill because the key commodity programs are ruled by crop year rather than government fiscal year and food stamps will continue. But after the bill expired at midnight on Sunday, it is clear that programs that matter to a lot of farmers and consumers have expired.
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Reaction to USDA programs that have expired

The Milk Income Loss Contract Program, which compensates dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a specified level, expired on September 30. Dairy producers, but not processors, have reached agreement on a new dairy program in the Senate-passed and House Agriculture Committee-passed farm bill. Read More...

Supreme Court rejects roadless rule challenge

In a major victory for environmentalists, the Supreme Court today rejected a challenge to the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule that determines the management of 45 million acres of national forests and grasslands outside of Idaho and Colorado Read More...

Vilsack announces specialty crop grants, notes programs lost with farm bill expiration

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $101 million in grants to support specialty crops producers today, but noted that the grants were from fiscal 2012 budget authority and that the USDA can no longer make similar grants or administer some other farm programs because Congress allowed the 2008 farm bill to expire. Read More...