Debt deal toughens SNAP rules for some, eases them for others – White House
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy agreed in debt limit negotiations with President Biden to exempt able-bodied veterans and homeless Americans from a 90-day limit on SNAP benefits, said two White House officials. But the agreement also applies the 90-day limit to so-called ABAWDS — able-bodied adults without dependents — up to age 55; the cutoff age is 50 now.
School nutrition association calls for free school food for all students
School meals should be free for all kids, regardless of their families' incomes, said the School Nutrition Association in a position paper released on Wednesday. Students have racked up $19.2 million in debt for meals they couldn't pay for since the waivers that made school meals universally free during the pandemic expired last spring, said the group.
Biden administration defines upstream reach of clean water laws
Stepping ahead of a pending Supreme Court ruling, the Biden administration spelled out through a new regulation the upstream reach of water pollution laws, saying it would assure safe drinking water for Americans "while supporting agriculture, local economies and downstream communities." Farm and home-builder groups, who helped stall an Obama-era definition of the "waters of the United States" (WOTUS), said the Biden WOTUS rule also was a regulatory nightmare built on murky interpretations of the law.
SNAP outlays climb to record level in must-pass spending bill
House and Senate negotiators proposed a record $154 billion for SNAP this fiscal year in the government funding bill unveiled on Tuesday, an increase of nearly 10 percent from last year. The increase would provide the larger benefits generated by the Biden administration's update of the cost of a healthy diet and emergency allotments enacted as a response to the pandemic.
USDA awards $325 million to second round of climate-smart projects
The Biden administration will put $325 million into an additional 71 projects to develop climate-smart commodities and a money-making market for them, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. The initiative is part of President Biden's goal to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and for American agriculture to be first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions.
‘No fowl play’ as Biden pardons Thanksgiving turkeys
In a traditional moment of White House whimsy ahead of Thanksgiving, President Biden pardoned tom turkeys "Chocolate" and "Chip" on Monday. An outbreak of bird flu has driven up turkey prices and crimped supplies for the holiday season.
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)
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.
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.
Biden launches non-traditional Indo-Pacific Economic Framework
The United States and a dozen nations, from Japan in the north to Australia in the south, launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) on Monday, built on common interests in the digital economy, climate change, economic resilience and clean government. "The future of the 21st century economy is going to be largely written in the Indo-Pacific — in our region," said President Biden in Tokyo.
White House starts ‘rural infrastructure tour’ loaded with dollar signs
President Biden launched a "rural infrastructure tour" on Monday to deliver billions of dollars in funding for rural America with senior officials visiting 30 communities in April. "These generational infrastructure investments will provide rural communities across America affordable high-speed internet, clean drinking water, reliable electricity, better roads and bridges and good-paying jobs," said the president.
Infrastructure package is ‘monumental step forward,’ says Biden
America will have the best roads, bridges, ports and airports in the world when the new $1.2 trillion infrastructure law is fully implemented, said President Biden at a bill-signing ceremony on Monday. And he will be on the road to promote the benefits of the bipartisan package, beginning with a trip to New Hampshire to visit a structurally unsafe bridge that has been on the state's "red list" since 2013.
USDA withdraws proposals on poultry plant line speeds and SNAP
As part of the regulatory freeze announced by President Biden, the USDA withdrew proposed regulations that would have allowed much faster line speeds at poultry slaughter plants and would have ended SNAP benefits for 3.1 million people by tightening eligibility rules. They were among seven USDA …
U.S. permit may jumpstart ocean aquaculture, despite concerns
Aquaculture companies seeking to cultivate finfish in the open ocean could soon have an easier path to approval under a nationwide permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers last week, despite concerns from environmental groups. The permit, which could create an industry for aquaculture in federal waters, was written in response to a May executive order by President Trump calling on agencies to deregulate and expand seafood production in the United States.
A Biden possibility: Tom Vilsack as three-term agriculture secretary
Tom Vilsack could be on the verge of competing with a fellow Iowan, “Tama Jim” Wilson, for the record of longest-serving cabinet secretary in U.S. history. But as soon as Vilsack was identified on Monday as the leading contender for agriculture secretary in the Biden administration, …