The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Navigation

EPA’s proposed standards renew battle over renewable fuels

Ignoring a recent court ruling that it had overestimated possible cellulosic ethanol production in 2012 in setting its targets for the use of renewable fuels, the Environmental Protection Agency today announced it is proposing 2013 renewable fuel standards that include another increase for cellulosic ethanol. Read More...

WTO Profile: Tim Groser, New Zealand

GENEVA — Tim Groser, the New Zealand trade minister who chaired the agriculture negotiations when he was New Zealand’s ambassador to the World Trade Organization, told the General Council and reporters on Wednesday that the next director-general must deal not with a “crisis” but a problem of long term “relevance.” Read More...

Pryor to chair Senate Ag Approps Subcommittee

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., confirmed Wednesday that he will chair the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee for the 113th Congress. Pryor succeeds Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who retired. Read More...

WTO begins process of selecting new director-general

GENEVA — The World Trade Organization Tuesday began the process of selecting a new director-general to succeed Pascal Lamy, a former European Union official who has held the post for eight years. Read More...

WTO Profile: Anabel González, Costa Rico

GENEVA — Anabel González, the Costa Rican foreign trade minister who headed the World Trade Organization’s agriculture division from 2006 to 2009, presented her credentials to the General Council and the media on Tuesday.
Read More...

USDA to issue MILC payments in February

The Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency announced today that that beginning February 5, USDA will issue payments to dairy farmers enrolled in the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program for the September 2012 marketings. Read More...

WTO Profile: Mari Elka Pangestu, Indonesia

GENEVA — Mari Elka Pangestu, an Indonesian government minister who is a graduate of the University of California at Davis, was among the first group of candidates for director general of the World Trade Organization to present themselves to the WTO General Council and the media on Tuesday. Read More...

WTO Profile: Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, Ghana:

GENEVA — Alan Kyerematen, a former Ghana trade and industry minister and ambassador to the United States, made the case that he should be the next director-general of the World Trade Organization to the WTO General Council and to the press on Tuesday. Read More...

Senate confirms Kerry for State

The Senate today confirmed Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as secretary of State, with a vote of 94 to 3. Read More...

President’s lunch ‘only’ 1,600 to 1,800 calories

The inaugural luncheon of Maine lobster tail, South Dakota bison and Hudson, Valley, N.Y., apple pie that was served to President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama contained only 1,600 to 1,800 calories, not the 3,000 calories that Fox News and the Washington Examiner reported, the chef has told Obama Foodorama. Read More...

White House includes farm workers in immigration proposal

President Barack Obama did not mention farm workers specifically in his immigration reform speech today in Las Vegas, but a fact sheet handed out by the White House said: “Undocumented immigrants must come forward and register, submit biometric data, pass criminal background and national security checks, and pay fees and penalties before they will be eligible for a provisional legal status. Agricultural workers and those who entered the United States as children would be eligible for the same program.” Read More...

UFW endorses three immigration efforts, but with caveats

The president of the United Farm Workers has endorsed the immigration reform proposal announced today by President Barack Obama and separate proposals announced earlier by a bipartisan coalition of eight senators and by a coalition of agricultural groups, but he also differentiated among the proposals. Read More...

Immigration reform proposal wins ag group praise

Agriculture groups with an interest in immigration praised the proposal unveiled by eight senators to resolve the nation’s immigration problems. Read More...

U.S., Japan agree on beef export terms

Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the United States and Japan have agreed on new terms and conditions for U.S. exports of beef and beef products to Japan. Read More...

Vilsack leading trip to Special Olympics Winter Games

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will lead a delegation to attend the opening ceremony of the 20th Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea, on Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced today. Read More...

Harkin, Chambliss announce they will not run for re-election

Two former chairmen of the Senate Agriculture Committee who are still members of the committee announced on Friday that they will not run for re-election in 2014. News of the decision by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., not to run again is expected to set off a mad scramble among candidates in both parties in their states, with the outcome dependent on candidate appeal to middle-of-the-road voters. Read More...

Small ag agreements could help stalled global trade talks

DAVOS, Switzerland — Agriculture has often been blamed for the failure to finish the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, but small agreements on agriculture may play a role in determining whether the long-stalled round can be saved, trade ministers signaled here in a meeting after they attended the World Economic Forum. Read More...

Kirk wants E.U. agreement, but cites agriculture

DAVOS, Switzerland — Outgoing U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in interviews during the World Economic Forum here this weekend that he favor a free-trade agreement with the European Union, but that it must address potential problems including those in agriculture or it will be a waste of time. Read More...

Vilsack mum on Senate run in Iowa

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack praised Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, over the weekend, but declined to comment on whether either he or his wife might run for Harkin’s job. Read More...

Experts: Weight, not gender, may be biggest problem in qualifying for combat

Weight may be the biggest issue for women serving in combat, as it is for men, experts said Thursday after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted restrictions on women serving in combat roles, NBC News reported on its Vitals website. Read More...

Sommers wins wide praise after CFTC resignation

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Commissioner Jill Sommers, who has been charge of the MF Global investigation, won wide praise Thursday, particularly from Republican members of Congress, after she unexpectedly announced she would resign in the coming months. Read More...

Obama nominates White for SEC

President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated Mary Jo White, a former prosecutor and private sector lawyer, to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission. Read More...

Huelskamp ‘thank you’ to students doesn't work out

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who opposes the changes to school lunch rules intended to encourage healthy eating, attempted recently to thank students who made a video opposing the rules, but the thank you session did not work out, the National Journal reported this week. Read More...

Chilton likely to take over MF Global investigation

Commodities Futures Trading Commissioner Bart Chilton expects to take over the commission’s investigation into the case of MF Global, he said in an email to The Hagstrom Report late Thursday. Read More...

Nutrition groups prepare for battle again in 2013

Key anti-hunger groups have praised the Taxpayer Relief legislation that included an extension of the farm bill through September 30, noting that it reauthorized the bill with no cuts to food stamps. Read More...

Expert report questions food stamp adequacy

An expert panel assembled by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council to study the adequacy of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps, released a report last week that said the benefit depends the availability of time to purchase and prepare meals, geographic variability in food prices, and barriers to accessing food outlets. Read More...

Peterson optimistic on farm bill

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Wednesday that he has had several conversations with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, about moving forward with the farm bill and that he is "optimistic" that the House will take up the bill this year. Read More...

Coloradans urge USDA to extend deadline for Hispanic, female discrimination claims

Three Colorado lawmakers this week urged the Agriculture Department to give Hispanic and female farmers and ranchers more time to submit discrimination claims related to lawsuits over the way USDA offices treated them when they applied for operating and disaster loans. Read More...

House Ag holds organizing meeting

The House Agriculture Committee today held its organizational session for the 113th Congress. Read More...

Courtney to stay on House Ag

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., today announced that the Democratic Caucus has appointed Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., to serve on the House Agriculture Committee for the 113th Congress. Read More...

FSA: Extended program signups to begin in February

The Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency announced Tuesday that signup for farm programs that were extended in the American Taxpayer Relief Act through September 30 will begin in February. Read More...

FAO: Syrian agriculture ‘in tatters’

Twenty-two months of conflict has left Syria’s agricultural sector in tatters, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in a news release today. Read More...

TRCP unveils policy agenda

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a coalition of organizations and grassroots partners working to preserve the traditions of hunting and fishing, has unveiled its policy agenda for 2013. Read More...

Farm Bureau names Moore to lead policy department

The American Farm Bureau Federation today announced that Dale Moore will lead its public policy department and manage its lobbying staff. Read More...

Reid introduces Senate-passed farm bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today introduced last year’s Senate-passed version of the farm bill as one of several “privileged, top priority bills,” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced. Read More...

Kirk to leave position as U.S. Trade Representative

United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk today announced that he intends to leave the position late next month. Read More...

Peterson announces Ag subcommittee ranking members

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., today announced the Democratic ranking members and membership for the committee’s five subcommittees. Read More...

Rural America — and Washington — celebrate inauguration

Polls may show that rural Americans voted 59 percent for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but that didn’t stop rural Democrats, lobbyists, Agriculture Department officials and members of Congress and their aides from celebrating President Barack Obama’s second inaugural this weekend.
Read More...

President renews commitment to climate change, sustainable energy

President Barack Obama did not mention agriculture directly in his second-term inaugural address on Monday, but he did make a new commitment to addressing climate change and to the development of sustainable energy. Read More...

Lucas expects direct payments to be made

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said Thursday that he expects the Agriculture Department to make the direct payments which were included in the farm bill extension as part of the “fiscal cliff” bill, DTN reported. Read More...

Vilsack sees rural support for gun law changes

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday that he backs President Barack Obama’s proposed changes to gun laws, and that he believes there is support for them in rural America even though there has always been a lot of concern about gun rights in rural areas. Read More...

House Ag announces organizational meeting

The House Agriculture Committee will hold an organizational meeting for the 113th Congress next Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Read More...

Mayors see increased food demand

The U.S. Conference of Mayors released a report last month showing in an increase in demand for emergency food assistance. Read More...

Vilsack urges mayors to support farm bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today urged the nation’s mayors to encourage Congress to pass a new five-year farm bill, while Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., told the mayors they should make sure the bill has a good nutrition title. Read More...

Mayors ask for assistance in promoting locally-produced food

Mayors from cities in two of the nation’s most productive agricultural areas told Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today that they are working hard to provide locally-produced, healthy food to their constituents, but that the connection is hard and that they would appreciate more help from the Agriculture Department. Read More...

Smithsonian plans big agriculture business exhibition

NASHVILLE — The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History announced here this week that it is planning a major exhibition on the development of American agriculture as a business, and that the American Farm Bureau Federation is helping build a collection of stories, photographs and ephemera to be used in the exhibit. Read More...

Interior's Salazar announces his departure in March

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced today that he will resign by the end of March to return to his home state of Colorado, prompting speculation about a successor. Read More...

Farm Bureau takes no position on Hagel; Stallman praises him

NASHVILLE — Delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting did not take any position on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s suggestion that farmers support the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., as Defense secretary, but Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman did praise the nominee at a news conference here. Read More...

CGD publishes fair-trade coffee paper

The Center for Global Development has published a paper on the complications of fair-trade coffee certification and the movement to urge people to buy it. Read More...

Gay delegate proposes change to Farm Bureau family policy

NASHVILLE — The vice president of the Hawaii Farm Bureau stood up at the American Farm Bureau Federation delegate session today, announced that he is gay and proposed that the organization’s position on families be made gay-friendly or at least neutral on gay issues.
Read More...

USDA establishes microloan program

The Agriculture Department has established a new program designed to help small and family operations and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers secure loans under $35,000, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today in Memphis. Read More...

Farm Bureau gives board leverage on farm bill, endorses immigration reform proposal

NASHVILLE — The American Farm Bureau Federation today gave its board full leverage to take positions on the farm bill and also endorsed an immigration reform proposal that has been worked out by a coalition Farm Bureau has joined. Read More...

Vilsack confirms he will stay on, and still wants five-year farm bill

NASHVILLE — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack confirmed here today that President Barack Obama has asked him to continue in his position, and he said his biggest disappointment as secretary has been the unwillingness of Congress to pass a five-year farm bill. Read More...

Vilsack urges farmers to support Hagel and immigration reform

NASHVILLE — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today urged members of the American Farm Bureau Federation to support former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., for Defense secretary, saying Hagel would support military use of renewable fuels. Read More...

Vilsack to allow flexibility on ACRE, is unsure on future of direct payments

NASHVILLE — In implementing the farm bill extension that Congress passed, the Agriculture Department will allow farmers to opt in or opt out of the Average Crop Revenue Election program known as ACRE, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said here today. Read More...

Stallman reassures Farm Bureau on ‘relevance’

NASHVILLE — In his annual address to members, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman today seemed to criticize Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s December statement that rural America is becoming “irrevelant” because farmers are too focused on a “preservation” agenda rather than forward-looking growth. Read More...

Food stamps should remain part of farm bill, Stallman says

NASHVILLE — American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said here today that he opposes the idea of dividing the farm bill and the nutrition programs into separate pieces of legislation. Read More...

Stallman praises extension, urges farm bill in 2013

NASHVILLE — Although the American Farm Bureau Federation lobbied for passage of a farm bill in 2012, President Bob Stallman today praised Congress for passing the tax bill that included a farm bill extension. But he also said a new bill is needed in 2013, and that farmers need to tell politicians that they will not stand for more “self-serving jackass stubbornness.” Read More...

New ag immigration coalition has met with White House, Stallman says

NASHVILLE — A new agriculture immigration coalition announced Friday has already met with White House officials and has a better chance of developing a proposal that can get through Congress than previous immigration efforts, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said here today. Read More...

Beachy to lead new Global Institute for Food Security

The Global Institute for Food Security in Saskatoon, Sasketchewan, announced Friday that it had appointed Roger Beachy as its founding executive director and CEO, effective January 1. Read More...

Mississippi rice growers join national rice groups

The Mississippi Rice Promotion Board joined the USA Rice Federation on January 1, following a unanimous vote of the Mississippi group on December 20. Read More...

U.S. challenges Indonesia on ag trade

Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced Thursday that the United States is requesting consultations with Indonesia under the dispute settlement provisions of the World Trade Organization concerning trade-restrictive measures applied to horticultural products, animals, and animal products. Read More...

Funeral services Saturday for Mary Chambliss, longtime FAS official

Mary Chambliss, a key official in the Agriculture Department’s Foreign Agricultural Service and leader on food aid issues, died Tuesday in Arlington, Va., at the age of 70 after a brief illness. Read More...

No signs of future compromise in reactions to farm bill extension

Agriculture, renewable fuels and conservation groups have issued a wide range of reactions to the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which included an extension of most of the 2008 farm bill through September 30. Many groups devoted as much attention to the tax measures in the bill as they did to the farm bill. Read More...

Inaugural lunch: Maine lobster, South Dakota bison

When congressional leaders entertain President Barack Obama and his family at a post-inaugural luncheon on January 21, he will be served a farm-to-table menu celebrating the inaugural theme, “Faith in America’s Future,” Obama Foodorama reported Tuesday. Read More...

Vilsack makes first drought designations of the year

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today designated 597 counties in 14 states as primary natural disaster areas due to drought and heat, making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans. Read More...

Obama nominates Lew, Solis resigns

President Barack Obama will nominate Jacob Lew, his chief of staff, to succeed Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has resigned, the Washington Post reported today. Read More...

HHS may change definition of ‘frontier’

To the debate at the Agriculture Department over how to define “rural,” add a debate at Health and Human Services over how to define “frontier” as a determinant in rural health care funding, National Journal reported today. Read More...

Scholl will step down from American Farmland Trust

American Farmland Trust President Jon Scholl announced today that he plans to step down this summer after a five-year term as the head of the farmland conservation organization. Read More...

FDA releases much-anticipated food safety rules

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday released two long-awaited rules to enforce the Food Safety Modernization Act, but groups with an interest in the rule did not react directly to them on Friday, saying that they would have to analyze them.
Read More...

House Agriculture Committee Democrats

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., today announced 19 of the 21 Democrats appointed to the committee for the 113th Congress.
Read More...

House Agriculture Committee Republicans

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., today released the names of the 25 Republicans who will serve on the House Agriculture Committee in the 113th Congress. Read More...

Stabenow to proceed with new farm bill

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said today that she will proceed with a new farm bill and not wait for the House Agriculture Committee to act first. Read More...

Peterson asks Boehner, Cantor to put farm bill commitment in writing

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., today asked House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., for a written commitment to bring up the farm bill on the House floor before he will agree to help develop the bill this year. Read More...

Aderholt to chair House Agriculture Approps Subcommittee

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., announced that Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., will chair the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee in the 113th Congress. Read More...

Cochran new Senate Ag ranking member; Lucas may delay farm bill markup

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., will assert his authority and become the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee in the 113th Congress, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., announced in a statement today. Read More...

House vote signals tough farm bill battles ahead

The House of Representatives vote to pass the fiscal cliff bill that also extended most of the 2008 farm bill until September 30 signals a tough fight ahead for a farm bill in 2013. The House voted 257 to 167 Tuesday night in favor of the bill that had passed the Senate earlier that morning by a vote of 89 to 8. Read More...

Farm bill extension sets stage for difficult 2013

When the Senate passed the fiscal cliff bill early today, it included a farm bill extension that will stop an increase in milk prices, but the measure also showed how agriculture’s power has diminished in Washington and how difficult it may be to pass a new five-year bill in 2013. Read More...