Farm bill deliberations may stretch into 2024, analysts say

Congress could be even later than expected in completing the new farm bill, said two farm policy experts during a webinar on Tuesday, four days before the current law expires. House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders are now aiming for passage of the 2023 farm bill by the end of December, but closed-door negotiations have moved slowly.

Lawmaker proposes income and subsidy limits for crop insurance

The government would save money and better target the crop insurance system toward small and mid-sized farmers by denying subsidized policies to the wealthiest growers and by limiting the value of premium subsidies to eligible farmers, said Rep. Earl Blumenauer on Tuesday. The restrictions would reduce the cost of crop insurance by an estimated $2.7 billion a year, a quarter of its projected cost over the next 10 years.

Senate stopgap bill keeps WIC at full strength

Leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee unveiled a short-term government funding bill on Tuesday that would allow the USDA to provide full benefits to the 6.7 million participants of the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program. A test vote showed strong Senate support for the bipartisan bill.

Today’s quick hits, Sept 27, 2023

USDA expands community eligibility: An additional 3,000 school districts will be able to serve school breakfast and lunch for free to all students, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, under a new regulation that makes it easier for high-poverty areas to qualify. (USDA) Is hydropower green?: …

Farm bill could be victim of government shutdown — Vilsack

It will be difficult or even impossible for Congress to enact a new farm bill amid the disruptions of a federal shutdown, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters at the White House on Monday. A shutdown could begin on Saturday when government funding lapses, which is the same day the 2018 farm law expires. But agricultural leaders in Congress have some leeway — until December — to act on the farm bill.

After a bobble, grocery inflation trends downward again

Retail pork prices soared last year, part of an overall 11.4 percent increase in grocery prices, but they will decline this year by 1.1 percent, said USDA's monthly Food Price Outlook on Monday. The report forecast a grocery inflation rate of 5.1 percent this year and a below-normal 1.6 percent in the new year.

Today’s quick hits, Sept. 26, 2023

Biggest corn sale of 2023: Exporters reported the sale of 1.66 million tonnes of U.S. corn for delivery to Mexico — the largest single sale of U.S. grain this year, worth $315 million at current prices. (USDA) Mississippi River saltwater intrusion: The second year of drought in the Plains and …

Shutdown would jeopardize USDA nutrition program and crop reports

The Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program serving 6.7 million poor people could run out of money within a few days if Congress cannot agree to fund the government beyond Saturday, said a USDA official. In a repeat of the Trump era, a shutdown also could derail the monthly USDA crop report, but a USDA contingency plan says meat inspectors would stay on the job.

U.S. calls for WTO reform in 2024

International trade discussions are seeing a new dynamism now that the WTO is focused on updating and reforming its rules, said U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai. In a speech to a Washington think tank, Tai said the ministerial conference scheduled for February should "lock in progress on areas where we can agree."

Today’s quick hits, Sept. 25, 2024

Claim — Senator pressured USDA: The federal indictment accusing New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez of bribery includes an allegation that Menendez called a USDA official in an attempt to quash questions about his benefactor’s status as the sole certifier of U.S. food exports to Egypt as …

Drought eases and growers plant more winter wheat

Growers are expected to sow the largest amount of U.S. land to winter wheat in nine years, encouraged by strong market prices, in part a result of warfare in Ukraine, and forecasts of better growing conditions in the drought-hit central and southern Plains. Winter wheat accounts for roughly seven of every 10 bushels of wheat harvested in the nation.

SNAP monthly outlays drop 25 percent, says think tank

With the end of emergency pandemic aid, monthly government spending on SNAP has fallen by more than 25 percent, to an average of $7.9 billion, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Thursday. SNAP households were receiving at least $95 less per month, the think tank said.

Today’s quick hits, September 22, 2023

Climate spending okayed: Although some lawmakers were skeptical, the USDA acted legally when it used $3.1 billion from the Commodity Credit Corp. to launch its climate-smart farming initiative, said a congressional review. (Government Accountability Office) Record world grain demand: As a …

Reformers call for farm bill ‘guardrails’ on crop insurance

Congress should make the wealthiest farmers pay a larger share of the cost of taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance and hold the line on crop subsidies in the new farm bill, said a half dozen think tanks, budget hawks, and environmental groups on Wednesday. “There is no obvious or urgent need to increase farm subsidies,” said Nan Swift of the R Street Institute, despite the appeals of farm groups.

USDA launches Forest Corps alongside Biden’s Climate Corps

The White House announced the creation Wednesday of the American Climate Corps to train 20,000 young adults for work in clean energy, conservation, and climate resilience. At the same time, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Forest Corps, operating through the U.S. Forest Service, would be the first major interagency partnership with the Climate Corps.

Today’s quick hits, September 21, 2023

Glyphosate nears EU renewal: The European Commission proposed renewing EU approval of glyphosate, the most widely used weedkiller in the world, for 10 years, with some new restrictions on its application. (Euractiv) Could zero mean more?: Farmers should consider the long-term effects of reduced …

Capitol Hill logjam, funding shortage shift farm bill target to December

Farmers are clamoring to enroll in the USDA's climate mitigation programs, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday, while leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees made it official: December is the new target for passage of the farm bill. The 2018 farm law expires on Sept. 30, but there is little peril until dairy subsidies terminate on Dec. 31, said House Agriculture chairman Glenn Thompson.

With inflation, $4.80 a bushel is the new $4 a bushel for corn

U.S. corn stocks will be relatively abundant in the near term, never dropping below 2 billion bushels at their lowest point, according to forecasters. Ordinarily, large supplies mean low prices, but two agricultural economists say a season-average price of $4.80 a bushel could be the new normal for corn.

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