USDA expected agency relocation would drive away employees

With the USDA on the cusp of moving two research agencies to Kansas City, a senior official said on Thursday that massive staff turnover — so far, 250 employees have declined to leave Washington — is par for the course for cross-country relocations. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow offered a different take: “This is not a relocation. It’s a demolition.”

Producers borrow more, need more time to repay

Agricultural bankers are lending a markedly larger amount of money to farmers and ranchers, with loan volume up 11 percent from April, May, and June of last year, said the Federal Reserve on Thursday. It was the highest rate of growth in loan volume in the spring quarter since 2011.

Today’s quick hits, July 19, 2019

EPA rejects chlorpyrifos ban (Washington Post): The agency, facing a court order to make a decision, rejected a petition by environmental and public health groups to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is widely used in agriculture. USDA quashed climate plan (Politico): Top USDA officials …

USDA says agencies are going to Kansas City regardless of staff refusals

Newly hired USDA employees will begin work in Kansas City on Monday as part of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s decision to move two research agencies out of Washington. The USDA said it would use “an aggressive hiring strategy” to replace the 250 staffers who declined the offer to move halfway across the United States.

Public interest law firm launches food project to take on corporate ag

This week, the public interest law firm Public Justice announced the rollout of a national food project that will unite attorneys and communities across the country to work on cases that involve agribusiness. The announcement comes as concerns about the power of corporate agriculture are growing, from the heartland to Capitol Hill.

Ibach: Gene editing might fit in organic agriculture

The USDA official overseeing organic agriculture said the sector, which rejects GMO crops along with the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, might benefit from gene-edited varieties. “There is the opportunity to open the discussion,” said Agriculture Undersecretary Greg Ibach.

Today’s quick hits, July 18, 2019

BLM headquarters goes west (Washington Post): Trump administration officials confirmed that eight of every 10 employees at the Bureau of Land Management headquarters in Washington will be relocated to several western states by the end of this year, with Colorado getting the largest number of …

For livestock groups, USMCA and year-round labor visas are top priorities

Congress should overhaul the U.S. guest worker program so it allows foreign laborers to work year-round on farms and in meat processing plants, rather than just seasonally in the fields, said U.S. poultry and livestock groups on Tuesday. Representatives of six groups also supported prompt …

White House fleshes out immigration plan, but no mention of farm labor

President Trump's proposal for a "merit-based" immigration system that favors younger, highly-trained and high-salary workers is now a 620-page bill that will be released "very soon," said presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner on Tuesday.

Today’s quick hits, July 17, 2019

Longer and hotter droughts in Plains (NOAA): Climate change will make drought, a common occurence in the southern Plains and the U.S. Southwest, significantly hotter and longer, as much as 9.9 degrees F warmer than a similar drought in 1850, says a NOAA study in a scientific journal. …