‘Legitimate reason’ behind debt relief for minority farmers, says Vilsack

The USDA will proceed with $4 billion in loan forgiveness for socially disadvantaged farmers despite lawsuits that want to add white farmers to the program, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. The assistance is intended to address the cumulative effect of ingrained discrimination against Blacks and other farmers of color, said Vilsack at the White House.

Before a USDA carbon bank, try some pilot projects, says climate alliance

A few weeks ago, USDA climate adviser Robert Bonnie used a variant of “walk before you run” to describe the Biden administration goal of bipartisan support for climate mitigation in agriculture. On Monday, a sector-spanning coalition said the USDA “needs to crawl before it can …

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Transplanted USDA agencies will stay in Kansas City, says Vilsack

Despite complaints the Trump administration needlessly uprooted them, two USDA research agencies will stay in Kansas City rather than return to the D.C. area, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. “What we’re trying to do is limit the level of disruption” and rebuild a workforce …

Land set-aside is part of climate progress, not greenwashing, says Vilsack

The Biden administration is launching a portfolio of projects to reach its goal of net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases on the farm, including a new focus on climate mitigation by the Conservation Reserve Program, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. During an Earth Day teleconference, he rejected the suggestion that carbon sequestration in the CRP was a form of greenwashing. (No paywall)

Vilsack still draws skepticism from farmers fighting agribusiness interests

During the Obama administration, Tom Vilsack presided over a USDA that promised to tackle concentration in the agribusiness industry. But after eight years, critics say, there was little evidence of reform. And that has led many to wonder whether there will be any meaningful changes during Vilsack's current tenure as secretary of agriculture, according to FERN's latest story, written by Clint Rainey. (No paywall)

USDA donations of produce and dairy to replace Trump food box

The Trump administration's much-criticized food box will be replaced for the moment by a $400 million dairy donation initiative and fresh produce distributed through a longstanding USDA program, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday.

Third round of pandemic payments begins to flow to farmers and ranchers

The Biden administration has begun sending pandemic payments of more than $5.6 billion to cattle and crop producers, opening the third round of coronavirus relief to farmers and ranchers in 10 months, said a USDA spokesman on Monday. The USDA, trying to reach minority farmers and others left …

Vilsack on ag trade with China: ‘They need us’

Although China has yet to fulfill its "phase one" promises of mammoth purchases of U.S. farm exports, "the fact is, they need us," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilscak during a digital news conference. He added that, with China back in the U.S. market, commodity prices are high enough that, "I'm not sure there's necessarily a need for any trade-related assistance [to farmers] at this point." 

Vilsack says a carbon bank fits into USDA’s portfolio

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 …