Although China purchased a record amount of U.S. farm exports over the past two years, it wasn't enough to comply with the "phase one" agreement that de-escalated the Sino-U.S. trade war, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. "We obviously have some unfinished business with reference to phase one," Vilsack told lawmakers a day after President Biden pointed to Chinese shortfalls.
With automakers shifting toward the production of electric cars and trucks, the ethanol industry said on Wednesday that biofuels will be an important tool against global warming, and arguably create less pollution than battery-powered vehicles. The comparison was based on life-cycle costs for the power sources, starting at power stations for electricity and corn fields for ethanol.
The campaign committee for House Republicans put Georgia Rep. Sanford Bishop, chairman of the Appropriations panel that oversees USDA and FDA spending, on its list of Democratic targets for the 2022 midterm elections. "In a cycle like this, no Democrat is safe," said Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, on Wednesday.
On a voice vote, the House Agriculture Committee approved a bipartisan bill on Thursday to create a cattle contract library at the USDA, with one proponent saying it would "inject much-needed transparency back into the marketplace." The bill was the first market reform to gain traction in Congress this year despite complaints by ranchers that meatpackers have an unfair advantage in an opaque sales system.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley urged reauthorization of mandatory price reporting, telling the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday that it is the ideal vehicle for ensuring cattle producers get a fair price from meatpackers. But few committee members got on board with the idea, preferring to switch topics and complain that the USDA's proposals for fair play in the marketplace would boomerang and mean lower sales prices.
Hostile Republicans finally got under the skin of gentlemanly Rep. David Scott. The House Agriculture chairman limited discussion during a committee hearing on Thursday — "We're here to deal with climate change and nothing else," he said — and told Republican Austin Scott, "I'm tired of your disrespect."
The House Agriculture Committee approved a bill on Tuesday to create a $500 million a year grant program to support local, county and state fairs that lost attendance and revenue due to the pandemic. An estimated 98 percent of the fairs were canceled last year and more are at risk in the fourth wave of Covid-19.
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."
The Democratic-controlled House Agriculture Committee approved its $66 billion part of President Biden's $3.5 trillion "build back better" bill on a party-line vote Monday, with Chairman David Scott saying he was confident that $28 billion will be added later for land stewardship and climate mitigation by farmers. Meanwhile, House Democrats said they would not alter a tax break that helps farmers pass land from generation to generation.