USDA puts $67 million to new program for heirs’ property owners

The Department of Agriculture on Thursday will announce $67 million in funding for owners of heirs’ property, aiming to address a leading cause of land loss among Black and low-income farmers. The money will be distributed through the agency’s new Heirs’ Property Relending Program (HPRP) that Congress directed the USDA to create in the 2018 farm bill.

Moore will be first Black chief of the Forest Service

Randy Moore, a career USDA employee who now oversees 20 million acres of national forests in California, will be the first Black chief of the U.S. Forest Service in its 116-year history, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday.

With eye to revival, USDA to revisit animal welfare rule for organic farms

Eleven months after President Trump took office, the USDA said it lacked the authority to implement livestock welfare rules for organic farmers, despite having spent years working on them. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday that the USDA will reconsider that 2017 interpretation, a step that could lead to a revival of the regulation to give chickens, pigs, and cattle on organic farms more elbow room than they commonly get on factory farms.

USDA to implement up to $4 billion in pandemic aid through mid-August

Biofuel producers, dairy farmers and meat processors will receive a major portion of up to $4 billion in coronavirus aid programs that will be implemented over the next 60 days, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Tuesday. He also said the USDA will take "a pretty unique approach," which could include a revolving loan program, to help small meat packers go into business or expand.

Vilsack aims for ‘transformational change’ in strengthening U.S. food system

The Biden administration earmarked $4 billion on Tuesday to strengthen the U.S. food system, including an expansion of local and regional food processing capacity. Aiming to increase competition, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he hoped to see "new entries" in the highly concentrated processing sector.

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 …

‘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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