Infant formula bills are put on fast track for House vote

House Democratic leaders unveiled a pair of bills on Tuesday to ease infant formula shortages and beef up the FDA office in charge of assuring the products are safe for babies. "People are selling samples on the street. Mothers are watering down formula. Quite frankly, they're desperate," said Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, sponsor of one of the bills.

House panel approves bill to expand meat processing capacity

Congress would create a loan and guarantee program to expand competition in the meat processing industry under a bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. The bill would authorize up $20 million a year through 2024 for the loan guarantees.

Today’s quick hits, May 18, 2022

Iowa law requires E15: Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a bill requiring most gas stations in Iowa to offer gasoline with higher blends of corn ethanol, such as E15, beginning in 2026 and creating expanded tax credits for higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. (Des Moines Register) ADM in …

FERN’s live Ag Insider briefing coming June 8. Don’t miss it!

On Wednesday, June 8th at 1pm ET please join FERN for an exclusive, subscriber-only LIVE Ag Insider briefing featuring our amazing reporting team — Chuck Abbott, Bridget Huber and Teresa Cotsirilos — moderated by FERN Editor-in-chief Samuel Fromartz on Zoom. Q&A to follow.

‘Stay tuned,’ says Vilsack as dairy demands retaliatory tariffs

The United States was "greatly disappointed" by Canada's refusal to allow larger imports of U.S. dairy products despite a USMCA trade ruling, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. Vilsack expressed solidarity with U.S. dairy groups that called for retaliatory tariffs on Canadian goods, telling reporters, "Stay tuned."

Consent decree to clean up and re-start infant formula plant

Abbott Nutrition would hire an outside expert and implement a sanitation plan at its infant formula plant in Michigan as part of returning the plant to production and ending U.S. shortages of formula, said the Justice Department on Monday. The largest U.S. maker of formula, Abbott has said it could resume production within two weeks once it has a federal go-ahead but it could take several weeks for products to reach retailers.

Crop farmers to see $6 billion in disaster aid — USDA

Beginning later this month, farmers across the nation will receive around $6 billion in disaster relief for losses due to catastrophic weather and wildfires, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. The money, part of $10 billion earmarked for agricultural disasters, would be paid through the new Emergency Relief Program (ERP) to offset lower yields and value losses, said the Agriculture Department.

Today’s quick hits, May 17, 2022

‘Deep concern’ on India ban: During a teleconference, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expressed “deep concern” about India’s ban on most exports of its wheat, a step that drove up grain prices and injected additional uncertainty into global food supplies. …

House to vote on infant formula shortage

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote this week on emergency legislation to relax some WIC regulations on infant formula, now in short supply, "so that we can get nutrition into the mouths of America's babies." Through WIC, the government buys about half of the infant formula sold in the country.

Biden nominates two for USDA undersecretary posts

President Biden selected two veterans of U.S. agriculture and nutrition policy for sub-cabinet positions at the Agriculture Department. Stacy Dean was nominated to serve as undersecretary for nutrition and Alexis Taylor to be undersecretary for trade, announced the White House. Dean has been the senior official overseeing USDA nutrition programs since Biden took office and Taylor has been Oregon's agriculture director since December 2016.

Farmland values soar more than 20 percent in Midwest and Plains

Strong agricultural income and favorable interest rates are fueling a nonstop climb in farmland values in the Plains and Midwest, said farm bankers in quarterly surveys by the Kansas City and Chicago Federal Reserve banks. The Chicago Fed said farmland values in the opening months of this year were 23 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2021; the increase was 24 percent for non-irrigated land in the Plains.

Today’s quick hits, May 16, 2022

India halts wheat exports: Scorched by a heat wave, India banned exports of wheat in most cases, tightening the world supply already disrupted by warfare in Ukraine, with exceptions for governments with vulnerable food supplies. (New York Times) Argentina approves GMO wheat: Argentina approved …

Meatpackers drafted Trump order on meat plants during Covid-19

Facing pressure from local health officials over conditions in their plants, meatpacking companies "drafted and pitched an executive order to the Trump White House" to keep slaughterhouses open during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, said a congressional staff report on Thursday. When President Trump issued an order that adopted the industry position, meatpackers exaggerated its scope.

Russian wheat booms, while world draws down stockpiles

Aided by one of its largest crops ever, Russia will again be the world’s largest wheat exporter in the year ahead while neighboring Ukraine will ship only half as much wheat as this year, the result of the invasion by Russia, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday. The U.S. wheat crop will …

Today’s quick hits, May 13, 2022

Biden acts on infant formula: The Biden administration announced steps to increase the supply of infant formula, including a speed-up in U.S. production, additional imports and a crackdown on price gouging. (Politico) U.S. fish catch plunges: U.S. fishing boats caught 8.4 billion pounds of fish …

U.S. cuts red tape to increase food production, fill Ukraine gap, says Biden

Jeff O’Connor gave President Biden a firsthand introduction to double-cropping on his 800-acre Illinois farm on Wednesday and agreed with the president that America can help fill the gap in global food supplies created by the war in Ukraine. “We have the ability to raise two crops in one growing season while simultaneously providing conservation benefits,” said O’Connor. “The farming community stands ready to maximize production, which we do so well, in this time of world need.”

Report: Crop insurance premiums could skyrocket as climate change intensifies 

Taxpayers shelled out nearly $40 billion in crop insurance premiums in the Mississippi River region between 2001 and 2020, and that number is expected to increase sharply as climate change intensifies, according to an analysis of Department of Agriculture data by the Environmental Working Group that was released Wednesday. 

Grocery prices up 10.8 percent even as overall inflation rate declines

Although the U.S. inflation rate slowed to 8.3 percent for the year ending in April, food continues to cost more and more, said the Labor Department on Wednesday. Grocery prices shot up 10.8 percent in the past year, driven by higher prices for such foods as bacon, up 17.7 percent, chicken, up 16.4 percent, and eggs, up 22.6 percent.

Today’s quick hits, May 12, 2022

Global food crisis looms: The director of the World Food Program asked for an additional $5 billion in U.S. food aid, saying warfare in Ukraine “is quickly transforming a series of already terrible hunger crises into a global food crisis” that could destabilize governments, cause mass …

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