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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Republican senators question USDA funds for climate mitigation

President Biden lacks authority to tap a $30 billion USDA fund to pay for climate mitigation, said two senior Republican senators on Tuesday, potentially limiting the administration's role in combating global warming on the farm. Suggestions for a "carbon bank" at USDA to help farmers and foresters adopt climate-smart practices hinge on access to the fund held by an agency known as "USDA's bank."

Transplanted USDA agencies will stay in Kansas City, says Vilsack

Despite complaints the Trump administration needlessly uprooted them, two USDA research agencies will stay in Kansas City rather than return to the D.C. area, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. “What we’re trying to do is limit the level of disruption” and rebuild a workforce …

USDA awards $330 million for regional conservation

Seven dozen land stewardship projects across the nation will share a combined $330 million in federal funding for soil and water conservation on a watershed scale, said the USDA on Monday. “The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) is public-partnerships working at their best,” said …

Vilsack still draws skepticism from farmers fighting agribusiness interests

During the Obama administration, Tom Vilsack presided over a USDA that promised to tackle concentration in the agribusiness industry. But after eight years, critics say, there was little evidence of reform. And that has led many to wonder whether there will be any meaningful changes during Vilsack's current tenure as secretary of agriculture, according to FERN's latest story, written by Clint Rainey. (No paywall)

Calls for rural broadband and climate mitigation as pandemic aid hits $24 billion

Rural communities “must have access to broadband” to succeed and climate mitigation provides an opportunity for rural jobs, said a letter drafted for House Agriculture Committee approval on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the USDA said it has paid $24 billion in pandemic relief to farmers and ranchers …