International contest of ideas: Farm to Fork vs. productivity coalition

The United States will launch a "coalition for productivity growth" to promote the use of high-tech tools such as gene editing and precision agriculture to build a more sustainable food system, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. The coalition would stand in contrast to the EU's Farm to Fork Strategy of greatly reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides and putting 25 percent of European farmland into organic production.

Renewable diesel boom is wild card for U.S. soybeans

Thanks to a rush in investment, the renewable diesel industry is in a building boom in the United States and abroad "that is very comparable, I believe, to the ethanol boom of the mid-2000s," said economist Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois on Thursday.

Schlanger nominated as USDA civil rights leader

President Biden selected law professor Margo Schlanger, a longtime civil rights advocate, to serve as assistant secretary for civil rights at the USDA, said the White House on Thursday.

Today’s quick hits, Sept. 17, 2021

More obese Americans: The CDC says that least 35 percent of the residents of 16 U.S. states are obese, up from 12 states in 2019 and nine in 2018. Obesity, a risk factor for severe Covid-19, also increases the risk of such chronic diseases as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. (Philadelphia …

House panel asks meatpackers how many Covid-19 infections and deaths they had at their plants

The toll the coronavirus has taken on the meatpacking industry may be greater than currently thought, said a House panel on Wednesday in asking Cargill and National Beef, two of the largest U.S. meat processors, to disclose how many of their workers had contracted Covid-19 and how many had died. (No paywall)

Boozman on Democrats: ‘Shattering the farm bill process’

The polarized debate over President Biden's $3.5 trillion "build back better" bill may imperil the drafting of the 2023 farm policy law, said the senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. Arkansas Sen. John Boozman blamed Democrats for a breakdown in bipartisanship, saying they were "shattering the farm bill process and putting our farmers' futures in jeopardy."

Today’s quick hits, Sept. 16, 2021

Sweltering August: The global surface temperature during the month was 1.62 degrees F (0.9 degrees C) above the 20th century average, making it the sixth-hottest August in 142 years of record-keeping. It was also the 440th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average. …

One in seven rural Americans lived in poverty during 2020 pandemic

Nearly 6 million people in rural America had incomes below the poverty line during the pandemic year of 2020, an increase of 315,000 from the preceding year, according to a Census Bureau estimate released on Tuesday. The annual Income and Poverty report indicated that one in seven rural residents lived in poverty, compared to the national average of one in nine.

Food prices rise as U.S. inflation moderates

Beef prices were 12 percent higher than a year ago, helping to drive overall food prices upward, said the Labor Department on Tuesday. The monthly Consumer Price Index report said food prices were 3.7 percent higher but the U.S. inflation rate slowed slightly in August.