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. 

FDA updates criteria for when ‘healthy’ can appear on a food label

More foods could carry the word “healthy” on the label under an FDA proposal announced on Wednesday, if they are part of a healthy dietary pattern and recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The agency said it was updating its criteria for the “healthy” label in hopes of improving the U.S. diet.

Today’s quick hits, Sept. 29, 2022

Newsom signs union law: California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Wednesday that makes it easier for farmworkers to join unions, a victory for the United Farm Workers. (Los Angeles Times) EPA rejects pesticide petition: The EPA denied a petition by environmental groups demanding that …

An $8 billion response for Biden fight against hunger

President Biden's goal of ending hunger and reducing diet-related disease by 2030 already is backed by $8 billion in commitments from the private sector, medical groups, schools and charities, said senior administration officials. Biden was to deliver "a call to action to all Americans" on Wednesday at the first White House hunger conference in half a century.

USDA puts in motion grant program to increase fertilizer production

The government will award up to $500 million in grants to increase domestic fertilizer production, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday at a meeting of state agriculture directors. Some of the money will go to projects that would pay off in 2023 or 2024.

Today’s quick hits, Sept. 28, 2022

Committee advances ag nominees: The Senate Agriculture Committee cleared three Biden nominees for a floor vote: Alexis Taylor for agriculture undersecretary for trade, Jose Esteban for agriculture undersecretary for food safety and Vincent Logan to serve on the Farm Credit Administration board. …

To end hunger, White House backs more free school meals and healthier food choices

The Biden administration on Tuesday proposed panoramic action to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030, including a "pathway" to free school meals for all students, expansion of SNAP, development of front-of-package nutrition labels and a Medicare test of "food as medicine". The 44-page strategy was released ahead of the first White House hunger conference in half a century and when one in 10 American households was food insecure and millions of people suffered obesity and other diet-related illnesses.

USDA issues rule against unfair practices in livestock marketing

At a meeting of his competition council, President Biden announced on Monday a proposed USDA rule to prevent unfair and deceptive practices in livestock marketing. It was the second of three rules planned by the USDA to give poultry, hog and cattle producers more leverage in dealing with meat processors.

Today’s quick hits, Sept. 27, 2022

PFAS in pesticides: New research finds high levels of PFAS in widely used pesticides, contradicting EPA statements that the chemicals are not used in the products and prompting calls to ban pesticides containing the substances. (PEER) Invasive invertebrates: Water fleas and bloody red shrimp …

Fights over SNAP are likely to delay farm bill

Farm bill veteran Colin Peterson, a former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, offered some firsthand advice on Monday for drafting the 2023 farm bill: Make an agreement on SNAP the first order of business. But he doubts lawmakers will avoid the prolonged fights over public nutrition that derailed the 2014 and 2018 farm bills.

How a broken village became a model for ending India’s farmer suicide crisis

In the 1980s, "Hiware Bazar, a village tucked deep inside the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Back then, the hamlet was a crime-ridden backwater, desperately poor and largely abandoned by government agencies," writes Puja Changoiwala in FERN's latest story, published with Grist.

EPA withdraws interim registration, but glyphosate remains in use

The EPA withdrew its interim approval of glyphosate, the most widely used weedkiller in the world, while insisting that the herbicide is safe to use and does not cause cancer. In a court filing, the EPA said it would concentrate on completing the periodic review of glyphosate required by law, most likely in 2026.

Minnesota’s new climate plan asks farmers to change how they farm

Anne Schwagerl would love to purchase an interseeder, a machine that plants cover crop seeds directly into a field where another crop like soybeans is already growing. But she and her husband, who grow a variety of grains on 400 acres in western Minnesota, can't afford the $80,000 price tag. So she was happy when the state legislature recently approved a cost-share program to help farmers to purchase such equipment.

USDA: Highest grocery price inflation since 1974

Grocery prices will rise an average of 11 percent this year, the largest year-on-year increase since 1974, when prices soared by a torrid 14.9 percent, said the USDA. The monthly Food Price Outlook said grocery inflation would ebb to a near-normal 2.5 percent in 2023.

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