Nominee would build ‘civil rights culture’ at USDA

Declaring "there is no place at USDA for discrimination," University of Michigan law professor Margo Schlanger told senators on Wednesday that she would build "a civil rights culture" at the USDA if confirmed as assistant secretary for civil rights. At the same confirmation hearing, Chavonda Jacobs-Young said she would be an advocate for advanced technology, such as gene editing, if confirmed as undersecretary for research.

Genetic engineering is the future of agriculture, scientists tell lawmakers

The United States must modernize its regulation of agricultural biotechnology, especially in livestock, to reap the benefits of genetic engineering editing and to lead the world in breakthroughs of food production, said a panel of scientists on Tuesday. Joined by some farm-state lawmakers, panelists said the FDA and USDA should share duties in regulation of GE plants and animals.

USDA ‘hiring at an extremely fast pace’ to rebuild ERS and NIFA

One-third of the jobs at two USDA research agencies are still vacant 18 months after their abrupt Trump-era relocation to Kansas City, said the chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the USDA budget on Wednesday.

Big increases for rural power, WIC, ag research in Biden proposal

Most of the increased spending proposed by President Biden for USDA's so-called discretionary accounts would go to three things: Rural electricity, WIC and agricultural research. If approved by Congress, the money would accelerate the shift to cleaner electricity, help low-income families put food on the table and, as part of climate mitigation, find ways to verify carbon sequestration and greenhouse-gas reduction on the farm, said the White House.

Lippman awarded NAS prize for research into hardier crops

Genetics professor Zachary Lippman is the winner of the 2020 Prize in Food and Agricultural Sciences, announced the National Academy of Sciences on Wednesday. The honor is awarded annually to a mid-career scientist making extraordinary contributions to agriculture or biology.

Lawmakers propose USDA agency for agricultural innovation

The USDA would sprout a new research agency, dedicated to innovative agricultural technologies that will increase economic opportunity in the agriculture sector and rural communities, under legislation announced by Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Iowa Rep. Cindy Axne on Monday. The Advanced …

Few ERS and NIFA replacements as relocation reaches milestone date

When Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Kansas City as the new home for two USDA research agencies, officials laid out an aggressive schedule to have everyone in place by today, the final day of fiscal 2019. The USDA has hired only a comparative handful of workers to stanch staff turnover that could exceed 75 percent and the senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee says the disruption is affecting farm bill implementation.

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.”

GOP hoots ‘elitist’ as Democrats question USDA’s plan to relocate researchers

Hoping to dissuade Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, farm-state Democrats in Congress asked for a cost-benefit analysis that would justify moving two USDA research agencies out of Washington. Two senior Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee ridiculed the opposition to the relocation as elitism and knee-jerk obstructionism of President Trump.

The high cost of the government’s failure to invest in agriculture R&D

U.S. farmers and ranchers face a host of problems that could be solved or greatly curtailed by scientific innovation. But the federal government has largely abandoned its role as a leading funder of agricultural research and development, writes Alan Leshner, CEO emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in The Hill.