Senate approves first Biden-era executive at USDA

On a voice vote, the Senate confirmed agricultural law expert Janie Hipp, who promised to be "a big voice at the interdepartmental table" in dealing with cattle prices and biofuels, as USDA general counsel. She was the first of President Biden's nominees for top-tier executive posts at USDA to see a Senate vote, but action could be near on others.

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.

Committee clears Biden nominee Moffitt for vote in Senate

Jennifer Moffitt, who would give farmers more leverage through USDA rules in dealing with meat processors, is one step away — a favorable vote in the Senate — from becoming agriculture undersecretary for marketing. Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee recommended her confirmation on a …

Carbon credit market needs better standards – report

Several programs exist to pay farmers for storing soil carbon, but a lack of standards has so far held back the burgeoning farm carbon credit sector, says a new report from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The Department of Agriculture should play a role in collecting data and building …

Lawsuit would overturn Trump-era rules on genetically engineered crops

The USDA “unconstitutionally delegated its own duties to protect farmers and the environment to GE crop developers” when it exempted most genetically engineered plants from pre-market reviews in 2020, said a coalition of farm, environment and consumer groups in a lawsuit filed on Monday. In it, …

Whitley promoted to FAS administrator

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack named Daniel Whitley to be administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service on Wednesday. He has been the acting chief of the agency, which tracks food and agriculture issues worldwide and promotes U.S. goods.

USDA tops $7 billion in pandemic aid in four months

With Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of coronavirus aid to logging and timber hauling businesses, the USDA will near $7.4 billion in allotments of pandemic assistance since the Biden administration put its mark on the relief programs. The aid ranges from “top …

USDA adds 101 counties to drought disaster list

In its largest set of declarations since mid-May, the USDA designated 101 counties in the Midwest and West as natural disaster areas due to drought. The designations make farmers and ranchers eligible for USDA emergency loans.

Opinion: The opportunity to unleash farmers to fight climate change

Producing environmental benefits will become an important enterprise for American farmers, giving them the ability to monetize their response to climate change and other environmental challenges. But as these new enterprises get going, farmers, agribusiness professionals, researchers, policymakers, and rural leaders need to ask how these solutions can be created by farmers — not just be something that happens to farmers.  (No paywall)

Preliminary injunction against USDA debt relief for minority farmers

A federal judge in Fort Worth agreed with white farmers that they were unfairly excluded by Congress from a loan forgiveness program for socially disadvantaged farmers and issued a preliminary injunction that bars the USDA “from discriminating on account of race or ethnicity” in running the …