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Buis to step down as Growth Energy CEO

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis announced today he will step down as CEO and become co-leader of the Growth Energy board of directors, along with Jeff Broin, the founder of POET, a company that builds and manages biofuels plants. Read More...

EPA, Army Corps issue memo on Clean Water Rule

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Department of the Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, who is in charge of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, issued a memo to their regional administrators on Thursday regarding implementation of the Clean Water Rule, which is scheduled for August 28. Read More...

USDA proposes rule on broadband funding

The Agriculture Department on Thursday published a rule establishing two funding cycles to review and prioritize applications for the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program. Read More...

Senators urge Vilsack to act on algae blooms

Citing the expectation of a large algae bloom in Lake Erie this summer, Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today urging him to develop a comprehensive strategy to help communities improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Read More...

OMB sends letter on Ag appropriations

The White House Office of Management and Budget this week sent Congress a letter on its views on fiscal year 2016 Agriculture appropriations. Read More...

Senate confirms USDA general counsel

The Senate this week confirmed President Barack Obama's nomination of Jeffrey Prieto as the general counsel of the Agriculture Department.
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U.N. now expects world population of 9.7 billion

The United Nations expects the world population to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, higher than earlier estimates, according to a report issued this week.
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Senate passes highway bill with Ex-Im reauthorization

The Senate on Thursday passed a long-term highway bill that includes a reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which guarantees funding for exports in many rural areas, National Journal reported. Read More...

Rice growers worried about TPP as talks continue

U.S. rice growers are worried that the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations will not include enough increased access to the Japanese market for them to support the agreement, a key U.S. rice industry official said in an interview from Hawaii, where the talks are taking place. Read More...

Two rice groups to alter names

Two key rice groups are changing their names to make them more appealing. Read More...

DeLauro, Peterson, other Dems call on administration to use certification for TPP compliance

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and 19 other House Democrats including House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., sent President Barack Obama a letter Wednesday calling for the administration to use a formal certification process to ensure all prospective partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership are in compliance with the agreement before it goes into effect. Read More...

House Ag subcommittee holds avian influenza hearing

As members of the House left town for a five-week break from legislating, the House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee today held a hearing to examine the federal response to avian influenza. Read More...

Kass debuts as NBC News food analyst

In the first sign of how First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign for healthier eating may play out after President Barack Obama leaves office, former White House chef and aide Sam Kass prepared fruit on NBC’s “Today” show today and said he would be bringing stories of innovation and technology to the network. Read More...

Hoeven tries to address labeling issues

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has become the Senate leader trying to resolve complicated food labeling issues, Jerry Hagstrom writes in his National Journal column today.
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Conaway: No increased funding for CFTC until reauthorization

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said today he is opposed to any increased funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission until it is reauthorized. Read More...

Kass first ‘Today’ show appearance Thursday

Sam Kass, the former director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative whose appointment as senior food analyst for NBC News was announced today, will make his first appearance on NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday. Read More...

Vilsack: Poultry, turkey disaster program needed

The United States needs a disaster program for the poultry and turkey industries, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Avian Influenza Outbreak Conference in Des Moines on Tuesday. Read More...

USDA announces water, community facility projects

The Agriculture Department on Wednesday announced the first round of investments in rural infrastructure projects through the U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund.
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U.S. Grains Council promotes Atkins, Sifferath

The U.S. Grains Council has named Kimberly Atkins as vice president and chief operating officer, and promoted Cary Sifferath to her previous post as senior director of global programs. Read More...

Vilsack tells entrepreneurs to work with farmers

Budding entrepreneurs should “work with farmers” to solve problems in agriculture rather than criticizing them, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told a mostly youthful audience today at an innovation lab in Washington. Read More...

Florida, Texas, Hawaii sugar growers hire more lobbyists

The Florida Sugar Cane League, the Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers and the Hawaii Sugar Farmers have hired two new firms to lobby for them, Ryan Weston, the Washington executive vice president of all three groups told The Hagstrom Report today. Read More...

Roberts schedules child nutrition markup in September, but conflict looms

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., announced late Tuesday that the committee will mark up the child nutrition reauthorization bill on September 17.
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EPA sends Congress report on the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has implemented more than 2,500 projects to improve water quality, clean up contaminated shoreline, protect and restore habitat and species and prevent and control invasive species in the Great Lakes, the Environmental Protection Agency said in a report sent to Congress today. Read More...

Obama tours food factory in Ethiopia, but declines GMO question

President Barack Obama today toured a food factory in Ethiopia supported by the U.S. Feed the Future program, but he declined to take a question on whether genetically modified ingredients were involved in the production. Read More...

White House responds to GMO labeling petition

The White House today responded to a petition on labeling genetically modified foods by noting the actions the administration has already taken on the issue.
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Hoeven, Stabenow add COOL cosponsors, speak on floor

Five more senators have become cosponsors of the bill introduced by Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to repeal mandatory country-of-origin labeling for beef, pork and chicken and to establish a voluntary labeling program, Stabenow said Monday. Read More...

Politico: Many rural broadband projects not complete

Under the Recovery Act, the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service was supposed to bring high-speed Internet service to rural areas, but many of those projects are not complete and people are still lacking service, Politico reported today. Read More...

IDFA praises Hatch, Wyden letter

The International Dairy Foods Association, which represents dairy processors, on Monday praised Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., for writing a letter to Canadian Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer urging Canada to engage and commit to “significant and commercially meaningful market access for all remaining agricultural products,” including dairy in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks. Read More...

Food & Water Watch asks SEC to reject GMO salmon stock

Food & Water Watch today called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to reject the stock registration filings of AquaBounty Technologies, the maker of genetically engineered salmon. Read More...

Mulhern, Mooney in Maui to lobby on dairy in TPP

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, Randy Mooney, the chairman of NMPF and Dairy Farmers of America Inc., and Jaime Castaneda, NMPF’s senior vice president of strategic initiatives and trade policy, are in Hawaii this week hoping to make sure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement gives the U.S. dairy industry more access to Japan and Canada and that New Zealand does not get too big an entry into the U.S. market. Read More...

Beer industry releases report on economic impact

The beer industry produces $253 million in economic activity and 1.75 million jobs, the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association said in a report issued today.
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Obama: USDA to guarantee financing U.S. commodities to Africa

President Barack Obama announced on Sunday in Nairobi, Kenya, that the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corporation will provide an additional $1 billion for financing U.S. agricultural commodity exports to Africa through 2017, the White House said in a fact sheet. Read More...

USDA looks to insider, outside candidates for chief of staff

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will consider both current USDA employees and outsiders to succeed Brian Baenig, his chief of staff, a spokesman for Vilsack said today.
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Conklin to retire from Farm Foundation

Neil Conklin, the president of the Oakbrook, Ill.-based Farm Foundation, has announced his intention to retire effective December 2016. Read More...

EPA accepts pro-RFS comments on last comment day, but NFU says lobbying will continue

An Environmental Protection Agency official today personally accepted more than 200,000 comments on the proposed volumetric requirements for biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard from Fuels America, a coalition that wants the agency to raise the required levels of usage higher than in the proposal. Read More...

State Department upgrades Malaysia human trafficking status, allowing TPP participation

In its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, the State Department today upgraded Malaysia from Tier 3 to Tier 2 Watch status, which allows U.S. officials to continue negotiating with Malaysia on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Read More...

USDA, Microsoft sponsor food resiliency challenge

The Agriculture Department and Microsoft have launched the “Innovation Challenge,” a contest designed to explore how climate change will impact the United States’ food system.
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CFTC hires Flaherty

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Timothy Massad late last week named Eileen Flaherty as the director of the agency’s Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight. Read More...

COOL advocates want highway bill as vehicle, but ...

Advocates of total repeal of the country-of-origin labeling program for beef, pork and chicken and advocates of replacing the mandatory program with a government-approved voluntary program hope to use the highway bill as a vehicle for that legislation, but the highway bill has many road blocks to enactment, National Journal reported today. Read More...

Judge tells Keepseagle parties to work it out

Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. Court for the District of Columbia today ordered the parties in Keepseagle v. Vilsack – the American Indian civil rights discrimination case against the Agriculture Department – to work out an agreement and come back to the court. Read More...

FDA makes added sugars proposal

The Food and Drug Administration today proposed updating the nutrition facts label to include a recommended daily maximum for added sugar – 10 percent of calories.
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CFTC’s Massad: Swaps margin will not apply to end-users

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s proposed rule on margin for uncleared swaps does not apply to commercial end-user counterparties, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Timothy Massad said Thursday. He was making a speech reflecting on the fifth anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Financial Services Reform Act. Read More...

Vilsack to speak at 1776

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will speak Wednesday at 1776, a Washington, D.C., global incubator and seed fund that bills itself as the place “where revolutions begin.”
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Florida remapping causes problems for Gwen Graham

A court decision leading to a remapping of Florida’s congressional districts is making life complicated for Gwen Graham, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, who famously defeated Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., in the 2014 elections, National Journal reported this week. Read More...

Republicans pay less attention to Heritage Action

Some Republican lawmakers are paying less attention to Heritage Action, an arm of the Heritage Foundation that scores votes, because they are upset with the group’s demands – particularly those surrounding the 2014 farm bill, National Journal reported this week. Read More...

All part of a school lunch: Milk, juice, tea, serving trays and ... bug zappers?

SALT LAKE CITY — Schools meals don’t serve conventional soft drinks, but they do include a range of beverages from milk to juice to iced tea. There were so many milk products that there was a “Dairy Way” at the School Nutrition Association trade show here last week. Read More...

Wilson: Healthy school meal rules complete

SALT LAKE CITY — The Agriculture Department has completed the implementation of all the school meal rules scheduled to date under the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and all the rules can be defended, Katie Wilson, the Agriculture deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, said here in an interview during the School Nutrition Association’s annual meeting last week. Read More...

Baenig to leave USDA in August

Brian Baenig, chief of staff to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, told USDA staff today that he will step down in August, with the exact date still to be determined. Read More...

Hoeven, Stabenow introduce COOL voluntary labeling bill as Roberts introduces House repeal bill

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., today introduced a bipartisan bill to take beef, pork, chicken, and ground meat out of the mandatory country-of-origin labeling law and establish a voluntary labeling program. At the same time, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced the House-passed bill to repeal country-of-origin labeling for the same products. Read More...

House Ag to hold two hearings next week

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday titled “Dodd-Frank Turns Five: Assessing the Progress of Global Derivatives Reforms.”
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School food trends: From simple to something special

SALT LAKE CITY — At the School Nutrition Association’s annual trade show at the Salt Palace last week, exhibits ranged from commodity groups showing school food service administrators the many ways in which they can use basic foods, to groups offering a more refined approach. Read More...

Hoeven says no biotech bill until fall; White House cautious

The biotechnology and food industries had a big victory today when the House voted 275 to 150 to pass H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, but Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said he would not introduce a biotechnology labeling bill until fall. The White House, which had been neutral, issued a cautionary statement. Read More...

House passes Pompeo bill

The House today passed the bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., that would stop states from establishing laws to require labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients. The vote on H.R. 1599 – Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act – was 275 to 150. Read More...

House to debate and vote on Pompeo bill today

The House will consider H.R. 1599 – Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act – later this morning and vote on it at approximately 1 p.m., the House Daily Gallery said this morning.
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Administration takes no position on Pompeo bill as opponents continue fight

The Obama administration is unlikely to take a position on H.R. 1599, the biotech labeling bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., that is expected to come up on the House floor on Thursday, sources have told The Hagstrom Report. Read More...

Hunting for healthy school snacks at SNA trade show

SALT LAKE CITY — Snacks are a major feature of school foods, and companies that make the snacks for the schools exhibited products ranging from fresh fruit to juices, popcorns, and small packages of commercially sold snacks at last week’s School Nutrition Association trade show at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City. Read More...

Vilsack to speak at avian influenza conference

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will speak at a poultry industry conference on avian influenza on Tuesday in Des Moines, a spokeswoman said today.
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Meat institute hosts hot dog lunch

The North American Meat Institute, which was formed January 1 from the merger of the American Meat Institute and the North American Meat Association, held its first Congressional Hot Dog Lunch for lawmakers and congressional staff today, continuing a tradition begun 40 years ago by AMI. Read More...

Vilsack talks poultry crop insurance, IG reports, FSA computers, WOTUS, 1890s schools to House Ag

The next farm bill should create the equivalent of a crop insurance program for poultry producers, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today at a House Agriculture Committee oversight hearing that covered a wide range of topics. Read More...

GMA’s Gruber, EWG’s Faber decline joint photo – for now

Michael Gruber is senior vice president for federal affairs at the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). Scott Faber is senior vice president for governmental affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Read More...

Hoeven, Stabenow to introduce voluntary country-of-origin labeling act Thursday

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., have scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. Thursday to announce the introduction of their Voluntary Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) Act of 2015. Read More...

House Rules allow four amendments on Pompeo bill

The House Rules Committee voted late today to allow a structured rule allowing four amendments on H.R. 1599, the bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., on labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients. Read More...

Vilsack announces electricity, broadband funding

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced funding for new electricity and broadband projects.
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NFU submits organic supplemental proposal

The National Farmers Union on Monday filed with the Agriculture Department a proposal that a majority of organic checkoff funds should go toward agricultural research, that producers should make up a majority on the board to manage the checkoff, and that the checkoff should be inclusive so that all organic producers have the ability to vote in any referendum establishing the checkoff. Read More...

SNA leaders: Universal nutrition education needed

SALT LAKE CITY — Student and parents of all income categories, school food service employees and teachers all need nutrition education, the outgoing and incoming chairs of the School Nutrition Association Public Policy and Legislation Committee said in a joint interview here last week as they toured the trade show of the association’s annual meeting. Read More...

Senate Finance approves tax bill with ag provisions

The Senate Finance Committee today approved a tax extenders bill that includes tax breaks for biofuels and other tax provisions important to agriculture, according to the Renewable Fuels Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Read More...

Agriculture committee leaders comment on Dodd-Frank anniversary

The leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture committees each issued statements today on the fifth anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. Senate Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., praised the law while Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, were critical. Read More...

NFU opposes Pompeo bill as 475 other groups support it

As the House Rules Committee prepares to hold a hearing at 5 p.m. today on H.R. 1599 – the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act that was introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan. – the National Farmers Union said today it opposes the bill. Read More...

McConnell: Ex-Im bank reauthorization to be on highway bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced today that the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank will be attached to the multiyear highway bill, Washington Trade Daily reported. Read More...

Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act's effects felt at school food trade show

SALT LAKE CITY—The School Nutrition Association’s annual national conference trade show last week at the Salt Palace offered a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of school foods in which companies displayed the foods for sale. Read More...

Senators ask for increase in biodiesel requirements

Thirty-six senators – led by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. – today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, asking the agency to increase the volumetric requirements for biodiesel for 2016 and 2017 under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
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Pompeo bill set for action this week as biotech advocates continue to spar

The House Rules Committee has scheduled a meeting for 5 p.m. Tuesday to consider the rule for debating H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, better known as the bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., to stop labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients at the state level and establish a GMO-free labeling program at the Agriculture Department. Read More...

Obama, Vilsack issue statements on Cooper’s death

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have both issued statements on the death of George Cooper, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Cooper died Sunday. Read More...

Vilsack to testify before House Agriculture Committee

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify before the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, USDA said in a media advisory late Friday.
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Pork producers urge Senate to repeal COOL

The National Pork Producers Council and 34 state pork-producing organizations today sent letters to all members of the Senate, urging lawmakers to take up legislation to repeal country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef, pork, and poultry before Congress takes a month-long recess beginning in early August. Read More...

Cuban Embassy reopens; Caterpillar, NFU push end to embargo

As the Cuban Embassy reopened today in Washington, Caterpillar Inc. and the National Farmers Union said it is time for Congress to end the embargo.
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Iowa poultry growers wonder when they can restock

Iowa poultry growers are asking when the federal government will let them restock chickens and turkeys, The Des Moines Register has reported. Read More...

Weller: Riders would hurt sage grouse initiative

Jason Weller, chief of the Agriculture Department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, said today that congressionally proposed measures which would delay the Interior Department from listing the sage grouse on the endangered species list might discourage ranchers and landowners from participating in voluntary programs to improve wildlife habitat. Read More...

Belleville, Ill., raises school meal prices

Some school districts in Belleville, Ill., in the southwestern part of the state, are raising the cost for students who pay the full price of their lunches, the Bellevue News-Democrat reported. Read More...

USAID responds to Conaway-Rouzer food aid letters amidst concern about cash assistance

The U.S. Agency for International Development has issued a public response to a letter about closed-door negotiations to amend or change the Maritime Security Program that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer, R-N.C., sent on July 8. Read More...

Biofuels groups ask for tax breaks in extenders bill

Biofuels groups today sent Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a letter asking that a series of tax incentives for the industry be included in the tax extenders bill that Hatch has announced will be marked up on Tuesday. Read More...

Historically black land-grant schools commemorate second Morrill Act of 1890

The 125th anniversary of the signing of the second Morrill Act, which created the historically black land-grant educational institutions, was commemorated on Thursday with a program at the Library of Congress attended by the presidents of the universities.
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House Ag recognizes anniversary of 1890s colleges

The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday held a hearing to recognize the 125th anniversary of the historically black educational institutions known as the 1890 land-grant universities. Read More...

Bonnie gives administration views on forestry bills

Agriculture Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie presented the Obama administration’s views on a series of proposed forestry bills at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Thursday. Read More...

Japan reception features Waygu beef

The annual Japan Embassy food reception on July 9 featured Zen-Noh Waygyu beef from cattle which small-scale Japanese farmers wash, dry and brush daily to improve blood circulation Read More...

House Ag to hold USDA oversight hearing

The House Agriculture Committee has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on oversight of the Agriculture Department.
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USDA Farmers Market tonight

The Agriculture Department USDA Farmers Market at Night from 5 to 8 p.m today will feature Brazilian music, local food trucks and free blueberry ice cream.
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FDA hires Waldrop

The Food and Drug Administration has hired Chris Waldrop for a position in its Center for Food Safety and Nutrition Office of Analytics and Outreach.
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Waterways Council hires Zea for government relations

The Waterways Council, Inc. has named Tracy Zea as its director of government relations, effective August 4.
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Vilsack praises Stabenow COOL effort, prefers Hershey app to Pompeo bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told The Hagstrom Report today that he likes the voluntary country-of-origin labeling for beef and pork proposal Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has made to address the conflict with the World Trade Organization over the current mandatory labeling. Read More...

McCarthy in the lion’s den: EPA administrator speaks to corn growers

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy apologized to the National Corn Growers Association for the problems caused by the agency’s delays in issuing the volumetric requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard and urged the farmers to read both the volumetric requirements proposal and the Clean Water Rule before reaching conclusions that neither one is good for agriculture. Read More...

Senate Approps adds amendments at markup

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the fiscal year 2016 Agriculture appropriations bill by a vote of 28 to 2 and added a series of amendments.
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Vilsack announces new biorefinery assistance program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA is accepting applications for funding USDA under the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program, which was formerly known as the Biorefinery Assistance Program.
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Kirk, Duckworth speak at corn RFS rally

In a dramatic display of the dynamics of the 2016 Illinois Senate race, incumbent Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., his opponent, spoke at the National Corn Growers Association Capitol Hill rally on the Renewable Fuel Standard. Read More...

Congressional committee late on child nutrition bills

Congressional committee have not yet proposed bills to reauthorize child nutrition programs including school meals, even though programs September 30, raising questions about whether Congress will pass a bill, Jerry Hagstrom writes in his National Journal column. Read More...

Walorski: USDA needs to change SNAP research

The Agriculture Department needs to make changes to its research on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee Chairwoman Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., said today at a hearing. Read More...

DeLauro releases hunger guide, comments on crop insurance

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and an informal task force of House Democrats today released a resource guide to hunger issues that they say they hope will convince their Republican colleagues to take hunger more seriously. Read More...

Senate Approps to consider $144 billion bill Thursday

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday will consider a fiscal year 2016 Agriculture appropriations bill that the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved on Tuesday. Read More...

Stallman won’t run for Farm Bureau re-election

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, who has headed the organization for 16 years, announced Tuesday that he will not seek another two-year term when the group meets in Orlando, Fla., in January Read More...

House Ag approves Pompeo GMO labeling bill

The House Agriculture Committee today approved an amended version of the bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., that would allow labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients only at the federal level. Read More...

Senate Approps to take up Ag bill this week

The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up the fiscal year 2016 Agriculture appropriations bill today at 2:30 p.m. in Room 192 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Read More...

River lock projects seen as crucial to corn, soybean farmers

PADUCAH, Ky. — When farmers in this part of the country want to get a sense of the great public works that the government can build and at the same time get mad as hell over Congress’ current dysfunction, all they have to do is drive a few miles to look at the Kentucky Lock or the Chickamauga Lock in nearby Tennessee. Read More...

House Ag to mark up Pompeo GMO bill

The House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday will mark up H.R. 1599, the bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., to require that any labeling of genetically modified foods take place at the federal level. Read More...

USDA proposes allowing SNAP delivery services

In an effort to to improve access to groceries for homebound seniors and people with disabilities who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Agriculture Department today proposed for the first time permitting grocery purchasing and delivery services run by government and nonprofit organizations to accept SNAP benefits as payment.
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Vilsack urges Congess to keep healthier school meal standards

Congress should not roll back the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act healthier school meal standards, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote today in an opinion piece published in The Salt Lake Tribune. Read More...

First lady hosts kids’ state dinner, president drops by

As part of her campaign to maintain healthier school meals, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the annual White House kids’ state dinner on Friday, and President Barack Obama dropped by the event. Read More...

Vilsack, Jewell praise monument designation of Berryessa Snow Mountain in California

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Friday praised President Barack Obama’s designation of Berryessa Snow Mountain in California as a national monument. Read More...

CBPP: General assistance programs decline

State general assistance programs, which provide a safety net of last resort for those who are very poor and do not qualify for other public assistance, have weakened considerably in recent decades, according to a report issued last week by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Read More...

NSAC: Drop conservation compliance provision

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said late Friday that the Agriculture Department’s announcement that most farmers have fulfilled their conservation compliance requirement means Congress should drop the provision in the House version of the fiscal year 2016 Agriculture appropriations bill that gives farmers another year to comply. Read More...

Vilsack names Johansson USDA chief economist

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Friday formally named Robert Johansson as the Agriculture Department’s chief economist. Read More...

Humiston nominated to head UC ag and natural resources

University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Friday that she has nominated Glenda Humiston, the California state director of the Agriculture Department’s Rural Development office, as her nominee for vice president for the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Read More...

USDA: Conservation certification at 98 percent

The Agriculture Department announced today that more than 98 percent of producers have met the 2014 farm bill requirement to self-certify compliance with conservation measures in order to qualify for crop insurance premium support payments. Read More...

House leadership pulls Interior bill over rebel flag as White House comments on Senate version

The House leadership today pulled the appropriations bill that funds the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency amidst the controversy over the Confederate flag. Read More...

Clifford: Avian influenza outbreak ‘largest animal health emergency’ in U.S. history

John Clifford, the chief veterinary officer of the United States, told two congressional committees this week that the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza is “the largest animal health emergency in the country’s history,” but he declined to ask for congressional action other than long-term support for the Agriculture Department’s Animal Plant and Health Service, where he is the deputy administrator. Read More...

U.S., Swiss officials sign organic agreement

U.S. and Swiss officials today signed an agreement that allows organic products certified in the United States or Switzerland to be sold as organic in either country, beginning Friday.
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Farm workers to protest in New Orleans

Farm workers from California’s Central Valley and the United Farm Workers union and its foundation are traveling to New Orleans to participate in a vigil tonight and a rally Friday, when the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals conducts a hearing on the injunction against the president’s executive order on immigration. Read More...

House Ag schedules land grant, SNAP hearings

The House Agriculture Committee has scheduled two hearings next week.
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House Ag holds ‘positive’ hearing on crude oil exports

The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday held a hearing to examine what House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, called the “positive impacts” of lifting the U.S. ban on oil exports. Read More...

CropLife America hires environmental policy director

CropLife America announced today that it has hired Nader Elkassabany as senior director of environmental policy, effective July 20.
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House appropriators approve Ag bill with GRAS, catfish amendments, not GIPSA

The House Appropriations Committee today approved a fiscal year 2016 Agriculture appropriations bill to fund the Agriculture Department, the Food and Drug Administration, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Farm Credit Administration. Read More...

United Nations: Proportion of undernourished falls by half

The proportion of undernourished people in the world’s developing regions has fallen by almost half since 1990, the United Nations said this week in its final report on the Millenium Development Goals. Read More...

Dwyer joins Grains Council as chief economist

The U.S. Grains Council has hired Michael Dwyer as the organization’s chief economist, a newly created position.
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Farr to White House: ‘Get tougher’ on appropriations

After the failure of almost all the Democratic amendments offered today on the fiscal year 2016 Agriculture appropriations bill in the House Appropriations Committee markup, House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Sam Farr, D-Calif., said that the White House is going to have to take a stronger stance if it is to prevail in the appropriations process this year. Read More...

RFA: DDGS exports surge, denatured ethanol exports decline

May exports of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) — the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants — surged 23 percent over April levels and marked the second biggest monthly jump on record, but denatured ethanol exports were down, the Renewable Fuels Association reported. Read More...

OMB sends letter to House appropriations leaders objecting to Ag bill

Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan late Tuesday sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-N.Y., and ranking member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., objecting to a number of provisions in the fiscal year 2016 Agriculture appropriations bill that the committee is scheduled to consider today. Read More...

NFU urges House appropriators to avoid GIPSA rider, expresses other concerns

The National Farmers Union on Tuesday sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and ranking member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., urging the committee to follow the lead of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and exclude a rider prohibiting the implementation of livestock and poultry industry regulations by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA). Read More...

McCarthy, Donovan criticize Interior-EPA approps bill as senators call for budget deal

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said Wednesday that the fiscal year 2016 Interior and EPA appropriations bill that the House will consider today amounts to an attack on the agency in terms of both policy and budget. Read More...

AP: Appeals court upholds EPA Chesapeake Bay plan

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit pollution in the Chespeake Bay watershed despite the objections of the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Fertilizer Institute and other groups, the Associated Press reported. Read More...

National Journal: White House attempts to convince Americans GMOs are safe

A White House directive to federal agencies to update the regulatory framework surrounding biotechnology is an attempt to make Americans more comfortable with genetic engineering, but it is unclear whether it will work, the National Journal reported today. Read More...

USAID candidate promises to maintain partnership with farmers, shippers

In a little-noticed development, Gayle Smith, President Barack Obama’s nominee to become administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said last month that she wants to move forward with food aid reforms while maintaining the government’s relationship with the farmers and shippers who have questioned the administration’s proposal to buy more food for food aid in countries close to the places where the food is distributed. Read More...

Lane reflects on shooting, freedom, and presents flag

ROME — David Lane, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations agencies in Rome, said here Friday that Independence Day could not be observed this year without reflecting on the recent church shootings in South Carolina, and on July 4 presented a U.S. flag to the owner of a Rome pub who had taken down a Confederate flag. Read More...

Clifford to testify before two Senate committees on avian influenza

John Clifford, the Agriculture Department’s chief veterinary officer, will testify on the government’s response to avian influenza today before the Senate Agriculture Committee and on Wednesday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Read More...

House Ag to hold hearings on exporting crude oil, food aid

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday entitled “Energy and the Rural Economy: the Economic Impact of Exporting Crude Oil.”
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U.S. ambassador to Rome food agencies celebrates July 4

ROME — David Lane, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations agencies in Rome, welcomed 600 people to his residence on Friday to celebrate Independence Day, and on Saturday presented an American flag to a Rome pub that had removed a Confederate flag from its wall at his suggestion. Read More...

House Approps schedules Ag markup

The House Appropriations Committee has scheduled a markup of the fiscal year 2016 Agriculture appropriations bill on Wednesday at 10:15 a.m.
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BRAC founder named World Food Prize laureate

The World Food Prize board last week named Sir Fazie Hasan Abed of Bangladesh, the founder of a nongovernmental organization known as BRAC, as its laureate for 2015.
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Expo Milano the ag and food trip of the year

Expo Milano: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life opened May 1 and continues through October 31. It is technically a “universal exhibition,” granted that status by the Board of International Expositions, but is usually called a world’s fair, following in the tradition of the 1851 "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations" in London and the world’s fairs in Chicago 1933-34, New York 1939-40, Seattle 1962 and New York 1964. Read More...

Beyond the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano

People who visit their own country’s pavilion at Expo Milano are unlikely to learn much new about their own food or agriculture, but they are likely to learn a lot from the other pavilions.
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REA posters featured in Milan Art & Food show

MILAN — It’s hard to imagine how hard the Agriculture Department’s Rural Electrification Administration had to work in the 1930s to convince rural Americans to hook up to electricity — or to imagine the change that meant for food storage and preparation. Read More...

Expo Milano visitors experience top chefs at Beard American

Food trucks may be the latest trend in the United States, but you couldn’t expect the James Beard Foundation and the International Culinary Center to manage the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano without a first-class restaurant. Read More...

Vilsack in Milan

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is scheduled to appear at Expo Milano today and Saturday to participate in a conference on sustainability and to celebrate July 4.
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FAO, OECD predict stronger ag production, lower prices

ROME — Strong crop yields, higher productivity and slower growth in global demand should contribute to a gradual decline in real prices for agricultural products over the coming decade, according to the latest Agricultural Outlook report produced by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Read More...

Obama announces Milan Expo July 4 delegation led by Vilsack

President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced the names of the presdential delegation that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will lead to the United States National Day at the Milan Expo on July 4: Read More...

Obama re-establishes diplomatic relations with Cuba as commodity leaders note recent trip

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the United States and Cuba have re-established diplomatic relations, effective July 20, and will re-open embassies in their respective countries. Read More...

Roberts announces new time for avian influenza hearing

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., announced Wednesday that the committee hearing on avian influenza scheduled for Tuesday has been moved to 3 p.m. Read More...

Farm Bureau: Fourth of July cookout price down

The cost of a Fourth of July cookout is down to about $6 person, 3 percent less than a year ago, the American Farm Bureau Federation said this week, based on its annual informal survey. Read More...

IFPRI director asks World Farmers’ Organization to take realistic view of smallholders

MILAN — Many international forums on agriculture and development take a romantic view of smallholder farms: that all of them should be saved and that movement of farm men and women and their children to the cities should be discouraged. Read More...

Vilsack, Froman name members of 7 trade advisory committees

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman Tuesday announced the appointment of 129 people to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) and six agricultural technical advisory committees, known as ATACs. Read More...

Heitkamp protests Export-Import Bank closure as White House issues fact sheet

As the Export-Import Bank on Tuesday closed its doors to new loans, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., told a home state gathering she is frustrated by the unwillingness of congressional leadership to bring up legislation to renew its charter. Read More...

Obama, Rousseff highlight ‘mutual beef market access’

Mutual beef market access” is highlighted as one of the areas in which the United States and Brazil will cooperate, according to a White House fact sheet issued following Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's visit to the White House this week. Read More...

Shah joins Chicago Council as senior adviser

Former U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah joins the Chicago Council on Global Affairs today as a senior adviser, Council President Ivo Daadler announced late Tuesday. Read More...

USDA releases ‘Made in Rural America’ local foods report

The Agriculture Department this week released a report on local food production composed of state-by-state fact sheets.
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McCarthy to discuss papal encyclical and environment at Georgetown today

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will participate today in a discussion of the moral and policy implications of Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment hosted by the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University. Read More...