A bill to require USDA reports on the number of cattle being delivered under contract for slaughter by meatpackers will be called for a House vote on Tuesday. It will be debated under provisions that prohibit amendments and require a two-thirds majority for passage, an approach usually reserved for bills that are noncontroversial.
Payments totaling $270 million are being made to so-called contract producers to offset revenue lost to the pandemic in 2020, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday. Previous aid programs were directed at the owners of livestock but not the farmers who produced hogs, poultry, and eggs under contract to them.
The USDA would work with farmers to reduce agricultural emissions of methane, said the White House in describing the domestic impact of the UN climate summit in Scotland. The United States also is a leader in the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate, designed to accelerate breakthroughs in climate-smart farm production.
A report from the nonprofit Ceres said that "food companies need to do more" to manage risks to the water they use to grow and process their products. The 38 major food companies in the Ceres analysis had an average score of 49 out of 100 possible points, while the average score in the meat sector was just 18 points.
Tracy Stone-Manning, a long-time environmentalist, will serve as the first Senate-confirmed director of the Bureau of Land Management in more than four years, winning a party-line roll call on her nomination, 50-45. Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, said Republicans resorted to character assassination in their attempts to defeat the nomination.
Buoyed by a Biden administration pledge to vigorously police agricultural mergers, the National Farmers Union launched the nationwide "Fairness for Farmers" campaign on Wednesday to restore competition in the marketplace. "This endeavor has clear goals: to curtail consolidation in agriculture and bust the monopolies, which negatively impact farmers, ranchers, and consumers," said NFU president Rod Larew.
At the same time the Taliban are taking control of Afghanistan, its farmers and herders, the backbone of the nation's economy, are hit by an ever-worsening drought, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The wheat crop is 15 percent below average while livestock herders may have to sell their animals because of high feed costs.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a mammoth USDA-FDA funding bill on Wednesday that includes $7 billion in disaster funds for crop and livestock losses in 2020 and this year. Almost immediately after the 25-5 vote, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell threatened to sidetrack the USDA and other appropriations bills in a budget dispute with Democrats, who control the Senate.
Biden nominee Jennifer Moffitt said she would strengthen USDA rules to give farmers more muscle in dealing with meat processors if she is confirmed as agriculture undersecretary for marketing. "Should I be confirmed, I do commit to supporting trade, to supporting fair marketplace practices," she told senators on Thursday.