Farm bill is chance to develop a new model for prosperity, says Vilsack
Congress should build into the new farm bill pathways that will allow small and midsized producers to make a living from the land rather than having to rely on off-farm income, as is common now, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. In a speech to the National Farmers Union convention, Vilsack used the administration's initiatives to develop markets for climate-smart products, expand local meat processing and encourage local marketing of farm goods as examples of ways to create or increase farmers' revenue streams.
USDA’s Equity Commission calls for department-wide reform
From its top officers down to its local offices, the Agriculture Department needs to institutionalize equity in its programs and its operations, said an administration-appointed commission on Tuesday after a year-long study of the USDA. Sometimes called "the last plantation" because of racial bias in its operations, the USDA has paid $3 billion since 1999 to resolve lawsuits by Black, Native American and Hispanic farmers.
SNAP is a bulwark for low-wage workers, says Vilsack
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack bristled at the “notion of picking on SNAP” when millions of Americans are locked into low-wage jobs and need help buying food. “We never have that conversation,” he said on Thursday. Cuts to food stamps have become a frequent suggestion by conservative Republicans in Congress in debates over the farm bill or raising the debt ceiling.
‘Precision nutrition’ to combat diet-related diseases, says Vilsack
The USDA said it would accelerate research into diet-related diseases on Monday as part of President Biden's "Cancer Moonshot" to reduce the cancer death rate by at least half over the next 25 years. "Precision nutrition," to fine-tune individual diets for health, will be one of the areas of study, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
USDA unveils nutrient management initiative
The USDA will direct additional funds toward voluntary nutrient management projects on the farm and streamline the process of applying for funding, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. Vilsack said nutrient management would "help farmers address local resource concerns and global food security issues while also improving their bottom line."
Vilsack adviser nominated for U.S. chief agricultural negotiator
In his second attempt to fill the post, President Biden nominated Doug McKalip on Wednesday to be the U.S. chief agricultural negotiator, working with U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai. The post has been vacant since Biden took office, to the increasing dismay of farm-state lawmakers and the agribusiness sector.
Vilsack: Transform food system with more processors and local marketing
The pandemic exposed the weaknesses of a food system built around large-volume production and national supply chains, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. As a remedy, he said, the USDA would help independent processors start up or expand their operations and encourage local marketing.
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.
‘Stay tuned,’ says Vilsack as dairy demands retaliatory tariffs
The United States was "greatly disappointed" by Canada's refusal to allow larger imports of U.S. dairy products despite a USMCA trade ruling, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. Vilsack expressed solidarity with U.S. dairy groups that called for retaliatory tariffs on Canadian goods, telling reporters, "Stay tuned."
Crop farmers to see $6 billion in disaster aid — USDA
Beginning later this month, farmers across the nation will receive around $6 billion in disaster relief for losses due to catastrophic weather and wildfires, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. The money, part of $10 billion earmarked for agricultural disasters, would be paid through the new Emergency Relief Program (ERP) to offset lower yields and value losses, said the Agriculture Department.
Vilsack recuperating from Covid-19; ‘thankfully, my symptoms are mild’
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “will continue his official duties” while isolating and recovering from Covid-19, said the Agriculture Department on Saturday. Vilsak is the latest among Washington officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Attorney General Merrick Garland, to test …
Bird flu losses may be significantly less than 2014 -’15 epidemic, says Vilsack
U.S. poultry producers have strengthened their safeguards against disease, and the nation may see "significantly less" damage from this year's outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. The 2014-'15 bird flu epidemic killed more than 50 million birds, mostly chickens and turkeys, in domestic flocks and created spot shortages of eggs in grocery stores.
Vilsack sees ‘no significant’ gains from opening Conservation Reserve
The United States stands ready to provide food aid overseas if it is needed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a letter to grain merchandisers. At the same time, the letter closed the door to suggestions for the emergency planting of crops on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve, saying it would be impractical.
SNAP enrollment up, costs down in 2023
Food stamp enrollment will remain high well into 2023 due to the lingering effects of the pandemic and its disruption of the U.S. economy, said the Agriculture Department in its proposed budget for the new fiscal year. It estimated an average 43.5 million people would receive food stamps during fiscal 2023, a 3 percent increase from this year.
Half of USDA’s undersecretary posts are yet to be filled
Nearly a year after Tom Vilsack became agriculture secretary, his corps of sub-cabinet executives, the eight undersecretaries who oversee each wing of the USDA's activities, is just half filled. The White House has yet to announce candidates for two of the posts, and two other nominations await Senate action.
USDA is ‘lone wolf’ inventing climate program on its own, says GOP
The senior Republican on the House Agriculture Committee accused the USDA of exceeding its authority — "We're the ones that authorize programs"— by launching a $1 billion initiative to develop climate-smart commodities on Tuesday. A senior Republican on the committee joined the attack, asking, "How can a $1 billion program even be described as a pilot program?"
USDA says it again: 2021 was a record year for farm exports
Although sales are forecast to dip this year, U.S. farm exports hit a record $177 billion during 2021, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday. The previous calendar-year record was $154.5 billion in 2014, at the end of the seven-year commodity boom.
Rural America needs ‘circular economy,’ says Vilsack
Congress could use the 2023 farm bill to promote a “circular economy” that creates jobs and income in rural America rather than relying on rural areas for raw materials that are processed elsewhere, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. “That's an important component of any farm bill discussion of the future,” he told reporters.