For farm bill, ag groups say, ‘We want some more’

Net farm income is at record levels, thanks to high commodity prices, and is expected to remain strong for two or three years, yet farm groups are telling Congress “that existing subsidy programs should be continued, their scope expanded, and federal spending increased” in the 2023 farm bill, said an American Enterprise Institute analyst.

Report: Pollution cleanup is falling short in Chesapeake Bay

With three years left to meet the goals of a “pollution diet,” the three major states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have greatly improved their wastewater treatment, though they still lag in three other areas, including reducing agricultural runoff, said the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Today’s quick hits, Oct. 6, 2022

Death scrambles House race: The Legal Marijuana Now candidate running in Minnesota against Democratic Rep. Angie Craig, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, and Republican Tyler Kistner has died, potentially delaying the election scheduled for Nov. 8. (WCCO News) Missouri creates …

More farmers plant cover crops for higher yields and soil health

America's biggest farmers are unchanging skeptics of climate change but they slowly are adopting cover crops, mostly to improve crop yields and soil health, said Purdue University on Tuesday. Only one in 20 growers say they planted the soil- and water-holding crops for carbon sequestration.

After a decade of decline, WIC participation rose during pandemic

The number of children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) increased by 8.7 percent during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Food Research & Action Center.

USDA awards $671 million for pandemic payments to frontline workers

Fourteen nonprofit organizations and the Cherokee Nation will distribute $671 million in pandemic payments of $600 per person to farmworkers, meatpacking employees and frontline grocery workers, said the Agriculture Department on Tuesday.

Today’s quick hits, Oct. 5, 2022

Expand margin protection tools: The leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee urged USDA to accelerate the expansion of margin protection tools to more commodities and regions of the country; an aide said the request was separate from work on the 2023 farm bill. (Senate Agriculture) Imperial …

Supreme Court hears case to limit Clean Water Act

The Supreme Court should restrict federal regulation of wetlands to marshy areas with a surface connection to a waterway — a dramatic reduction in coverage but a standard that would be easier to understand than the "significant nexus" test now in use, said a lawyer for the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation on Monday. Two justices said the court's decision, in a case involving a home site in Idaho, could rewrite wetlands regulations nationwide.

Today’s quick hits, Oct. 4, 2022

Drought hits wildlife hardest: Despite arguments over water reductions in cities vs. farmland, the environment is the first to take a hit during dry years in California “and that can have harsh consequences for wildlife.” (Los Angeles Times) Low water slows barges: Water levels in the lower …

Europe reports biggest bird flu epidemic ever

Bird flu cases have been reported from the Arctic islands of northern Norway to southern Portugal this year in the largest epidemic yet seen in Europe of the disease, said the E.U. food safety agency on Monday. The virus that causes highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was unusually persistent during the summer and the risk of disease among flocks would increase with autumn migratory season, it said.

As war disrupts supply chains, U.S. wheat crop is smaller than expected

U.S. growers reaped their second-smallest wheat crop in 20 years due to drought in the Plains, said the Agriculture Department. The smaller-than-expected harvest would delay any American role in restoring grain flows disrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Senate confirms Logan to FCA, USDA nominees wait

Despite having the support of the Senate Agriculture Committee, two Biden nominees to the Agriculture Department must wait until mid-November, at the earliest, for a Senate vote.

Today’s quick hits, Oct. 3, 2022

Bird flu in the wild: Highly pathogenic avian influenza is increasingly common among wild species, prompting some wildlife experts to suggest a shift to the goal of wildlife health from the longtime approach of disease prevention. (High Country News) Inspection challenge dismissed: A U.S. …

FTC accuses two pesticide makers of ‘boxing out’ competitors

Two of the largest pesticide makers in the world, Syngenta and Corteva, illegally paid distributors to limit their business with competitors that made cheaper generic versions of their chemicals so they could charge inflated prices to farmers, alleged the Federal Trade Commission and 10 state attorneys general in a lawsuit on Thursday.

California farmworker bill will reduce intimidation during union elections, says union official

In a remarkable reversal, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Wednesday that will make it easier for farmworkers to vote in union elections, after indicating that he would veto the bill only weeks before. The governor changed course after facing mounting pressure from union leaders, workers, and political allies, including President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (No paywall)

Analyst: Climate change is a rare focus in farm bill debate

Congress allocated nearly $20 billion for USDA land stewardship programs in the climate, healthcare and tax bill that was enacted in August — historic investments, said Jonathan Coppess, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, on Thursday. The funding could lead to a rare focus on climate change and the agriculture sector, though he said that was not assured.

Today’s quick hits, Sept. 30, 2022

Costa’s prospects improve: With the likelihood of a GOP mega-wave fading, the seat of Rep. Jim Costa of California, second in seniority among Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee, was upgraded to “safe” for the midterm elections. (Sabato’s Crystal Ball) Farm bill wish list: State …

At White House conference, Biden lays out plan to end hunger by 2030

America can end hunger by 2030 by fighting poverty, expanding access to healthy food, and reorienting healthcare toward preventing diet-related diseases, said President Biden on Wednesday. Framing the task in epic terms, he called on government and society to step up. “This could be a giant step,” he said. “This could remind us who the hell we are.” (No paywall)

Report: USDA conservation programs need to focus more on climate change mitigation

Farmers received billions of dollars from two of the largest federal agricultural conservation programs between 2017 and 2020, but only a small proportion of the money funded practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group. 

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