Rural Americans are on the wrong side of the digital divide, with persistently lower rates of access to broadband service than their metropolitan counterparts. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue discussed the gap during an Axios interview this week, saying, “One of the things we’re really focusing on at USDA for rural development is broadband.”
With the closure of a payment company looming at the end of this month, Senators urged the USDA to explore all options so SNAP recipients can continue to shop at farmers markets. The company, which processes 40 percent of SNAP sales at farmers markets, is ending service on July 31 and a successor company says it will take several weeks to get its equipment in place.
The USDA says monthly SNAP participation has dropped below 40 million people, continuing a long decline in enrollment. The anti-hunger group Food Research and Action Center said enrollment of 39.6 million people in April, the latest month available in USDA data, was the lowest since February 2010.
Scott Hutchins, an executive at DowDuPont, is President Trump’s choice for USDA chief scientist, announced the White House on Monday. The post of chief scientist, which doubles as undersecretary for research, has been vacant since Trump took office.
The Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting Thursday on the safety and labeling of alternative “meat” proteins produced with animal cell culture technology. In a packed room, FDA employees, industry stakeholders, and scientists discussed current trends in the controversial sector, which some imagine could reshape how Americans consume meat. (No paywall)
Bowing to complaints that high-frequency traders are profiting in the 1 or 2 seconds after it releases its market-moving crop reports, the USDA said on Tuesday that it would no longer allow news agencies to look at the reports before they are released. The news agencies transmit their reports at the same instant that USDA makes its data public.
The Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service in June released its annual International Food Security Assessment (IFSA), an outlook for global food security for the coming decade. The report estimated that global food security would improve over the coming 10 years, with a decline in the number of food-insecure people from 782 million in 2018 to 446 million in 2028.
Based on a more accurate reporting process, the USDA estimated an error rate of 6.3 percent nationwide for SNAP in fiscal 2017, compared with the 3.66 percent rate reported in 2014. The error rate is a measure of how often benefits are either overpaid or underpaid.
On Thursday, budget director Mick Mulvaney unveiled the federal reorganization plan that President Trump set in motion in his second month in office. Under the proposal, SNAP and WIC would be moved from the USDA to a new agency, the Department of Health and Public Welfare.
A Trump administration plan to reorganize the federal government would include consolidating food stamps, now run by the USDA, and other social safety net programs at the Department of Health and Human Services, said Politico.