USDA announces $4.3 billion smorgasbord of ag aid
Farmers and ranchers who suffered losses due to natural disasters ranging from drought to hurricanes last year will receive $3.7 billion in aid in coming months, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The USDA also announced $500 million in additional funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program and $103 million to defray marketing costs for organic dairy farmers this year.
Report: Farm policies fuel grasslands destruction, undermine climate and biodiversity goals
The U.S.’s grasslands are critical habitats for pollinators and birds and hold vast amounts of carbon in their soils. But our agricultural policies — particularly the Renewable Fuel Standard and crop insurance subsidies — are incentivizing the rapid destruction of these ecosystems, the World Wide Fund for Nature said in a report published Monday. (No paywall)
CBO adds 2 percent to cost of farm bill programs
Higher enrollment in SNAP and lower commodity prices will boost the 10-year baseline for the farm bill to $1.48 trillion, the most expensive ever, said the Congressional Budget Office in an updated projection of federal spending. The baseline sets the limit for spending in the new farm bill. …
India is challenged at WTO over rice and wheat subsidies
Some of the world’s agricultural powerhouses accused India on Thursday of violating world trade rules through exorbitant subsidies for its wheat and rice farmers. India was the ninth-largest farm exporter in the world in 2020, but its success was built on subsidized production, said Australia, Canada, Paraguay, Thailand, Ukraine, and the United States in a WTO filing.
Farm-state Republicans consider raiding climate-change cookie jar
Without exception, Senate and House Republicans voted last summer against the climate, health and tax bill that earmarked $20 billion for USDA’s voluntary land stewardship programs, with a priority on practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resiliency. Now, they are …
Farm safety net cushions big operators the most — analysts
Due to consolidation, federal farm supports increasingly are paid to the wealthiest producers, who have household incomes far above the rest of the country, said analysts at a think tank seminar on Monday. The stream of money to large operators was a stark contrast to frequent depictions of the farm program as the safeguard of small family farmers, they said.
Farm bill perspectives come in blue and red in the Senate
Farm bills are typically a marriage of farm support and public nutrition programs, but Republicans and Democrats bring different priorities to the undertaking, said associate professor Jonathan Coppess of the University of Illinois.
Premium subsidies for crop insurance near $12 billion a year
In a decade, government outlays to subsidize crop insurance increased 60 percent, expanding in step with the rapid growth in acreage covered by the policies, according to Risk Management Agency data released Sunday.
As ecological ‘triple threat’ looms, U.S. envoy urges action on biodiversity
Leaders must act to confront the "triple threat" of nature loss, climate change and pollution, said Monica Medina, the U.S. Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources, speaking Friday at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal. (No paywall)
Food-system reform is crucial, but controversial, piece of biodiversity deal
At the UN Biodiversity Conference, currently underway in Montreal, delegates from 196 countries are trying to craft a plan to reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030. And food production, which is responsible for 70 percent of terrestrial biodiversity loss and half of the loss of freshwater species, is proving to be a key but contentious variable in fulfilling that goal. (No paywall)
Farm bill proposal: Strengthen subsidy limits, boost land stewardship
With its toothless payment limits, the U.S. farm program directs billions of dollars a year to the largest and wealthiest farmers in America while struggling family farmers often are overlooked, said the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Middling support for helping farmers adopt sustainable practices
Americans agree that federal aid to farmers during a disaster is important. They are less likely to support federal assistance to help producers adopt sustainable farming practices, according to the quarterly Gardiner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey.
Farm income is forecast far above average for second year
Record-high expenses and sharply lower federal subsidies will erode farm income in 2022, according to a forecast by the Agriculture Department. Nonetheless, U.S. agriculture would see one of its best years on record, with net farm income 26 percent above its 10-year average.
As ag embraces climate mitigation, trade may benefit — researchers
The Biden administration's plan to enlist American agriculture in mitigating climate change through cover crops and carbon trading could pay dividends in another field entirely — negotiations for freer agriculture trade, said an American Enterprise Institute paper on Tuesday. The United States would be in a stronger bargaining position if it shifted some of its farm subsidies into .s.o-called green box programs that are deemed not to distort international trade, said the paper written by three farm policy experts.
Biden vows to pay farmers to plant cover crops and put land in conservation
The government will help farmers mitigate climate change by paying them to "put their land in conservation" and plant cover crops, said President-elect Biden, providing some details on his campaign call to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. The sector accounts for roughly 10 percent of emissions nationwide.
Small share of coronavirus package for food aid and farmers
The final coronavirus aid package of the year would direct 3 percent of its $900 billion in funding to food assistance and relief for agricultural producers, according to its Democratic and Republican sponsors. "It's a deal that must come together," said one of the sponsors, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, on Sunday.