More than agriculture at USDA, but not in its name

It took little more than a shake of the head and a few reproachful words for House Agriculture chairman Kika de la Garza to sink a Clinton-era proposal to change the USDA's name to the Department of Food and Agriculture. "It would better reflect what USDA actually does and where the dollars are spent," said Dan Glickman, the agriculture secretary who brought the idea to Capitol Hill as part of a reorganization of the department and its myriad duties.

‘Justice’ bill would transfer up to 32 million acres to Black farmers

Black-owned farmland could expand sevenfold under a bill filed by three Democratic senators on Thursday to reverse decades of discriminatory practices by the Agriculture Department, sometimes called "the last plantation." The Justice for Black Farmers Act would enable Black farmers to acquire up to 160 acres apiece at no charge through a USDA system of land grants. (No paywall)

USDA exempts family farms from limit on farm subsidy recipients

In a reversal, the USDA said on Wednesday that family-run farms are not subject to a rule that tightens eligibility standards for crop subsidies — the opposite of what it announced three months ago. A small-farm advocate criticized the "correction," which applies to the bulk of U.S. farms, as a violation of the rule-making process and encouraged the incoming Biden administration to void it.

Progressive groups back Fudge for agriculture secretary

An array of farm, animal welfare, climate change, and environmental groups urged President-elect Joe Biden to select Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge for agriculture secretary. "She has long been an ally to farmers, food-chain workers, consumers, and rural communities," the groups said.

USDA moves its Outlook Forum online

Due to the pandemic and limits on public gatherings, the annual Agricultural Outlook Forum will be held online in 2021, said the USDA on Wednesday. The data-filled event includes the first USDA estimate of the year of farm income and early projections of crop and livestock production.

Merrigan, former No. 2 at USDA, ‘would welcome the opportunity’ to lead agency

Kathleen Merrigan, the deputy secretary of the USDA during the Obama era, said on Tuesday she “would welcome the opportunity to be considered” for agriculture secretary in the Biden administration. “Honestly, it is the job of a lifetime and I have been in training for it my …

Boost SNAP benefits by 15 percent, says Fudge, potential USDA nominee

On the same day President-elect Joe Biden urged Congress to pass additional coronavirus relief, Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge said on Monday “it is long past time to increase SNAP benefits by 15 percent” and devote additional funds to other public nutrition programs. Fudge, a leading …

Coronavirus aid to farmers tops $20 billion

The Trump administration has paid $20.5 billion to farmers and ranchers in coronavirus relief since the pandemic struck the United States last winter, said USDA data on Monday. Iowa was the leading recipient with a combined $1.9 billion, or more than 9 percent of the money. Nebraska ranked …

Anti-hunger advocates expect Biden administration to bolster safety net

Anti-hunger advocates are celebrating the outcome of the presidential election, which they say creates a new opportunity to push back against escalating food insecurity in the United States — and they have plenty of ideas for what needs to be done. (No paywall)

Robust U.S. economy, higher commodity prices in 2021, says USDA

A resurgent U.S. economy will grow at its fastest pace in two decades after this year's coronavirus slowdown, helping to boost commodity prices almost across the board, said the USDA in its first projections for 2021. Growers will harvest a record-large crop of soybeans and the crop will sell for an average $10 a bushel for the first time in seven years, thanks to strong demand.