Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack should tap a USDA reserve fund to expand international food aid and export promotion programs, said the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee in a letter released on Wednesday.
Climate change is a worldwide challenge, but it also offers the opportunity to boost farm income for those who adopt climate-smart practices, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a food and agriculture conference on Wednesday. “I can guarantee you farmers will embrace this,” he said. “I am truly confident. I think agriculture gets to net-zero before most of the major industries.”
Declaring it was "an appropriate utilization" of resources, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack allotted nearly $2.7 billion in USDA funds for school meals, food banks, and domestic fertilizer production. House Republicans are trying to block Vilsack's access to the $30 billion account that was the source of the funding.
Split on party lines, a House subcommittee approved a USDA spending bill on Thursday that would rescind $6 billion earmarked for clean energy and farm loan forgiveness and end work on fair play rules in livestock marketing. The bill also would limit Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s access to a $30 billion reserve that is being used to pay for a climate-smart agriculture initiative.
The Biden administration cannot be trusted to spend tax dollars prudently, and Congress ought to block the USDA’s access to the $30 billion reserve fund it used to launch a climate mitigation initiative, said the chair of a House Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday. The Republican-controlled Congress restricted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s access to the fund for five years during the Obama administration.
The Biden administration bypassed lawmakers when it tripled the size of its climate-smart commodities initiative and may face congressional investigations and stricter limits on USDA spending as a consequence, said two farm policy consultants on Wednesday. “I think there will be an attempt to interject the Congress into the CCC process because of what’s happened,” said Colin Peterson, former chair of the House Agriculture Committee.
The USDA will put a "significant" amount of money into large-scale pilot projects of climate-smart agricultural practices to create new markets for sustainably produced products, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. In announcing the initiative, which would go into effect next year, he painted dollar signs on his picture of climate mitigation.
Agricultural law expert Janie Hipp promised on Thursday to be "a big voice at the interdepartmental table" in dealing with cattle prices and biofuels if she is confirmed by the Senate to lead the USDA's legal shop. "I commit to you that I will get on this [cattle price transparency] as one of my very, very top priorities."
The USDA has the authority to create a so-called carbon bank to encourage climate mitigation on the farm, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday, but he is waiting for farmers’ ideas on how the bank should operate. Speaking at a farm conference, Vilsack said he was open to an increase …
U.S. agriculture faces a triple imperative — market, environment, and income — in responding to climate change, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday, his first day on the job. "We don't have a day to waste on this," he told reporters while indicating that the USDA will move at deliberate speed to identify and support successful mitigation practices.
The new era of climate mitigation on the farm would look like a beefed-up version of longstanding USDA conservation programs, augmented by a carbon bank that sets a floor price for carbon sequestration and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, said leaders of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance on Wednesday.
Farmers face significant expenses in adopting climate mitigation practices, and the Biden administration is pondering how to "de-risk those investments," possibly through a so-called carbon bank, said USDA climate adviser Robert Bonnie on Thursday. "Can we look at some new authorities to create some new financing mechanisms?"
The incoming chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said she will pursue "voluntary, producer-led" solutions, such as carbon markets, for agriculture's contribution to fighting climate change, with the USDA providing expert advice to producers. Sen. Debbie Stabenow also said the USDA could need additional funding to pay for climate change programs.
During a re-election rally in rural Wisconsin on Thursday, President Trump announced an additional $13 billion in coronavirus relief for U.S. farmers and ranchers, more than doubling assistance to the sector. The money will be available beginning next week, said the president.
Although the USDA has distributed only 9 percent of the $16 billion in coronavirus aid earmarked for agriculture, three farm and ranch groups asked lawmakers for more on Wednesday. The American Farm Bureau Federation sent a five-page wish list to Congress that included a $38 billion increase in USDA spending power and a guarantee that undocumented farmworkers will not be targeted by immigration agents during the pandemic. (No paywall)
The Trump administration will send billions of dollars in cash to farmers and ranchers to offset low prices caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and it will buy goods to assure there are no gaps in the food supply, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday night. (No paywall)
The USDA is working with a smaller amount of money for coronavirus relief than is commonly believed, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday. He indicated the agency has $15.5 billion at its disposal — two-thirds of the figure that has been widely cited. (No paywall)
Farmers and ranchers would see $23.5 billion in aid under the coronavirus bill agreed on by the Senate and the Trump administration on Wednesday. The two largest U.S. farm groups welcomed the aid but said more may be needed to survive the looming economic slowdown. (No paywall)
As President Trump scored his second trade victory in two days, Senate approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, he asked farmers on Thursday to remember the billions of dollars they had received in trade war payments.