Senate Agriculture Committee

USDA trade nominee would pair market opening with enforcement

Asia is brimming with opportunities to win lifelong consumers of U.S. food and ag exports, said President Biden’s nominee for USDA undersecretary for trade on Thursday. At a Senate nomination hearing, Alexis Taylor said her priorities would be opening foreign markets to U.S. goods and the diligent enforcement of the rules governing trade agreements.

Senate committee approves two livestock marketing reform bills

The Senate Agriculture Committee quickly approved legislation on Wednesday that would require meatpackers to buy a portion of their slaughter cattle on the cash market — a step intended to ensure fair prices — and create a USDA special investigator to enforce fair-play rules in the highly concentrated meat industry.

Trust the farmer, says Vilsack, as senators warn of food shortages

Republican senators slammed the Biden administration on Thursday for high inflation nationwide and said the USDA should free American farmers to plant as much land as they want to avert a potential food crisis. “We’re all hammered with” inflation, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Senate Ag to kick off farm bill hearings in Michigan

The first Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the 2023 farm bill will be held in Michigan on April 29, announced committee leaders on Wednesday. Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow has said field hearings in Michigan and Arkansas would begin the process of gathering ideas for the bill.

Senate vote near for USDA farm subsidy and conservation chief

Three months ago, the Senate Agriculture Committee recommended Senate approval of Robert Bonnie to run the USDA's farm subsidy and land stewardship programs, which cost more than $10 billion a year. The nomination is set for a floor vote next week, after a series of delays forced by senators who put "holds" on it.

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."

We want a voice, too, say Republican senators

The 11 Republican members of the Senate Agriculture Committee asked chairwoman Debbie Stabenow on Thursday to open up the decision-making process on how to spend a potential windfall of $135 billion.

Senate Democrats will apportion USDA bonus funds by themselves

Whether they are Democrats or Republicans, members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees routinely say the panels are the least partisan in Congress, even if the harmony is strained from time to time. In the weeks ahead, the infighting over President Biden's two-part infrastructure package will test that comity on the Senate panel.

USDA nominees Bonnie and Torres Small are cleared for Senate vote

Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said the Senate Agriculture Committee is making progress on stocking the USDA with President Biden's choices for sub-cabinet posts. The committee advanced two nominations to the floor on Tuesday, creating the possibility of confirmation votes before the Senate adjourns for its summer recess.

Wildfires and workplace are top priorities for Biden nominee to oversee U.S. forests

President Biden's nominee to oversee the 193 million-acre national forest system said on Thursday that he would focus on wildfire management and prevention and on eradicating racial and sexual discrimination at the Forest Service. "If confirmed, I will be the person responsible for providing leadership to ensure that everyone is treated fairly," said Homer Wilkes, a 41-year USDA employee.

Climate programs will be voluntary, incentive-based, says USDA nominee

The USDA's climate mitigation initiatives will be built on a simple rule: "If they don't work for producers and landowners, they're not going to work for the climate," said Robert Bonnie, the Biden nominee to run the USDA's crop subsidy and land stewardship programs, on Thursday. "Making sure we get that right is going to be a high priority."

USDA nominee will seek fair livestock marketing rules

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.

‘Oligopoly’ in cattle marketing demands action, say senators

With Sen. John Thune decrying an "oligopoly" in the beef industry, a handful of senators on Wednesday called for Congress to give cattle producers a fairer shake when they send their stock to market.

Biden tax plan puts U.S. farms at risk, says Boozman

Farmers could face huge tax bills if President Biden succeeds in raising capital gains tax rates and eliminating a loophole for inherited assets such as farmland, said the senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee. The proposals are unpopular in farm country and some Democrats in …

Fairness in cattle markets will be a top priority, says Hipp

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."

Bronaugh cleared for Senate vote to be deputy agriculture secretary

After nearly three months alone at the USDA, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is on the verge of being joined by a Biden appointee with sub-cabinet rank. On a voice vote with no objections, the Senate Agriculture Committee cleared Jewel Bronaugh on Monday for a floor vote to become deputy …

Lessons from the pandemic: Broaden child nutrition, be flexible on rules

The government should permanently adopt the innovations of the pandemic that made school meals available when classrooms were idle and allowed WIC interviews by phone and video rather than requiring applicants to appear in person, said Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow on Thursday.

Newcomer Warnock will chair Senate Agriculture subcommittee

One of the newest members of the Senate, Democrat Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who won a special election on Jan. 5, was named chairman of a Senate Agriculture subcommittee, announced committee leaders on Monday. Warnock, who faces re-election in 2022, will chair the subcommittee that oversees …

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