After ups and downs, farm groups look for finality on trade

As lawmakers become more vocal in criticizing Trump tariff payments, U.S. farm groups  increasingly are quiet on trade issues. The reasons range from weariness to uncertainty over what's to come, whether it's the Sino-U.S. trade war, congressional approval of the USMCA with Canada and Mexico, or implementation of new ag trade rules with Japan, say analysts and farm group officials.

Did USDA pay Alaska to lobby USDA?

The top Democrats overseeing the Forest Service asked the inspector general on Monday to investigate whether USDA grant money to Alaska was used by the timber industry to argue for more logging in the Tongass National Forest. The Forest Service is weighing a state request for a full exemption from a 2001 rule that bars road construction and logging in undeveloped forests.

Today’s quick hits, November 19, 2019

Public health group: No new CAFOs (JHCLF): The American Public Health Association adopted a policy statement calling for a moratorium on the construction or expansion of the large livestock farms, or concentrated animal feeding operations. It also called for a ban on the routine use of …

USDA releases additional $3.6 billion in Trump tariff payments

With the Sino-U.S. trade war unresolved, the Trump administration released $3.625 billion in trade-war payments to farmers and ranchers on Friday to offset losses on 2019 production. Payments will begin this week and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said they "will give farmers, who have had a tough year due to unfair trade retaliation and natural disasters, much needed funds in time for Thanksgiving.”

As U.S. sugar production plunges, USDA may allow larger imports

Freezing wet weather in the northern Plains has pummeled the sugarbeet crop and cut deeply into domestic sugar production. The USDA said it "fully intends to take appropriate actions to ensure an adequate supply of sugar," language likely to mean it will allow larger than usual imports of foreign-grown sugar.

Q&A: Bettina Elias Siegel, author of ‘Kid Food,’ on advertising, school lunch and food culture

Bettina Elias Siegel’s new book, Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World, is an entertaining primer for anxious parents on the myriad ways that America’s food system is designed to frustrate their best efforts to feed their kids a healthy diet—and what can be done to push back and, hopefully, change that system.(No paywall)

Today’s quick hits, Nov. 18, 2019

Harvest harassment on the West Bank (Washington Post): On the rocky hillsides of the West Bank, harvest time for Palestinian olive farmers “is when some of the most extreme [Israeli] settlers launch harassment campaigns.” Lots of sugar for youngsters (New York Times): Government …

Hemp farming may be more pioneer life than Wild West

For all its Gold Rush aura, hemp farming may be more like life on the frontier, where everything must be built from the ground up, said advocates of industrial hemp on Thursday. Hemp can require a lot of manual labor to keep weeds under control, it’s hard to find processors for the crop, and marketing networks are rudimentary.

China removes ban on imports of U.S. poultry

Poultry farmers could register $1 billion a year in sales to China now that Beijing has removed its “unwarranted ban on U.S. poultry and poultry products,” said U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer on Thursday. Industry groups see the potential to double that total.