Farm bill

Premature to talk about next steps on climate change — Vilsack

The USDA will seek maximum impact from the $1 billion that it will put into climate-smart pilot projects, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday, but he demurred at discussing next steps for agriculture in mitigating global warming. "We'll see where the applications take us," he told the North American Agricultural Journalists meeting.

Tenfold increase proposed for rural energy program

Congress should guarantee at least $500 million a year for USDA grants and loan guarantees to install renewable energy systems or improve energy efficiency on farms and small businesses in rural areas—10 times current funding, said an environmental group on Tuesday. House Agriculture chairman David Scott said mandatory funding levels for USDA energy programs would be considered as part of writing the 2023 farm bill.

Hemp industry pivots toward grain and fiber

After a brutal shake-out that chopped hemp acreage in half in two years, the industry is focusing on hemp as a source of grain and fiber, a less profitable but possibly steadier market than cannabinoid (CBD) oil, used in food, beverages and dietary supplements. Analysts say the unclear regulatory status of CBD has throttled sales.

Danger signs for 2023 farm bill in partisan rancor on Capitol Hill

Congress traditionally enacts the farm policy bills covering the gamut from crop subsidies to food stamps at the urging of a coalition of farm, conservation and anti-hunger groups. A former USDA official said the 2023 farm bill could be in peril if there is a repetition of the political turbulence that temporarily derailed the omnibus legislation twice in the eight years.

Boozman on Democrats: ‘Shattering the farm bill process’

The polarized debate over President Biden's $3.5 trillion "build back better" bill may imperil the drafting of the 2023 farm policy law, said the senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday. Arkansas Sen. John Boozman blamed Democrats for a breakdown in bipartisanship, saying they were "shattering the farm bill process and putting our farmers' futures in jeopardy."

Crop insurance should be a starting point for 2023 farm bill, say farmers

Farmers from Georgia to California told a House Agriculture subcommittee on Wednesday that the foundation of the 2023 farm bill should be the taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance system. They also expressed interest in the creation of a standby disaster relief fund.

Peterson-Fischbach race stands out in House contests

If there were a "toss-up caucus" of U.S. representatives in the tightest races, House Agriculture chairman Collin Peterson could be its premiere member. The Blue Dog Democrat from western Minnesota is running for re-election against a well-financed Republican, former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, in a district that that voted for President Trump in a landslide in 2016.

USDA to expand enforcement of organic products

Utilizing authority granted in the 2018 farm bill, the USDA said it would propose a regulation on Wednesday to expand its enforcement of the production, handling and sale of organic products. If adopted, the regulation would reduce the number of uncertified businesses in the organic supply …

Conservation reserve program is ‘competitive’ this year, despite lower rental rates

Despite lower rental rates, enrollment in the land-idling Conservation Reserve Program is "competitive" this year, a USDA official said at a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. The 2018 farm bill raised the cap on the number of acres to be enrolled in the CRP from 24 million to 27 million, and Congress reduced the rates paid to farmers to fund the expansion.

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.

Farm bill aids black farmers and heirs’ property owners

The farm bill contains crucial improvements for black farmers and increased funding for historically black land-grant universities, members of the Congressional Black Caucus said on a media call Monday. The bill also includes provisions for heirs’ property owners — land passed down without formal title — that clears the way to apply for farm programs.

House is last hurdle for compromise farm bill

Following a resounding vote in the Senate, the House could vote as early as today to pass the compromise farm bill that modestly strengthens the farm safety net and ends an attempt by House Republicans to impose stricter work requirements on food stamp recipients. House Agriculture chairman …

Status-quo farm bill nears victory with modifications already in the air

After months as an ideological flashpoint, a toned-down farm bill is on track for bipartisan passage in Congress this week, shorn of a proposal for stricter SNAP work requirements. Enactment won't end debate over the status-quo legislation. "It can't come soon enough and when it comes, it will not be enough," said president Roger Johnson of the National Farmers Union.

Congress sets the rules but farm subsidies are ‘a great investment,’ says Perdue

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue steered clear of a farm bill squabble on Tuesday that has Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley considering a vote against the bill because it would relax crop subsidy limits. Perdue said the farm program is “a great investment” that keeps U.S. food prices low and that …

Farm bill would loosen subsidy rules

With the farm bill potentially days away from congressional approval, House and Senate negotiators are ready to let distant relatives of farmers qualify for crop subsidies, said an ag lobbyist. Agricultural leaders in Congress hope to release details of the 2018 farm bill early this week, which would open the path to a final vote in each chamber in a matter of days.

Final farm bill hurdle: White House forestry demands

Congressional leaders are taking a direct hand in the final farm bill fight—the Trump administration's demands for a freer hand in fire prevention in national forests—with a decision possible as early as today that would allow a lame-duck vote on the $87 billion-a-year legislation. Negotiators have resolved the headline issue, a proposal by House Republicans for stricter SNAP work requirements, but are keeping it under wraps until the compromise bill is complete.

White House delays farm bill in fight over forests, says senator

Three weeks remain in the lame-duck session and farm bill negotiators are at odds over the forestry title of the farm bill despite hopes of enacting the bill this year. Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy puts the blame on the Trump administration and House Republicans for seeking "extremely partisan provisions on behalf of a small minority in the timber industry."

As lame duck session opens, farm bill isn’t ready for a vote

A month ago, the lead negotiators on the farm bill linked arms in a show of unity and said they wanted to have the $87 billion-a-year legislation ready for a vote when Congress convened for its post-election session. The lame duck session opens today and one lobbyist says there is no chance of a vote this week because of many unresolved issues, including the headline question of stricter SNAP work requirements.

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