USDA chief scientist slams WHO antibiotic recommendations

The USDA’s acting chief scientist, Chavonda Jacobs-Young, has publicly criticized the World Health Organization’s updated recommendations for curbing antibiotic use on farms, citing poor science.

Senators’ suggestion for GMO labels: Put it in writing

Americans have a right to know what’s in their food, said 11 Democratic senators in urging the USDA to mandate clear and easy-to-understand labels on food made with genetically modified organisms.

USDA will try again on update of biotechnology regulations

For the third time in a decade, the USDA is starting anew on modernizing its regulation of biotech plants. As part of the effort, the agency ditched a proposal that would have covered genome-editing techniques if the products created posed a plant pest or noxious weed risk.

Clovis keeps White House job, gives up hope of being USDA chief scientist

From the first day of the Trump administration, Sam Clovis was the White House liaison to the USDA. Although he is keeping that job, he is abandoning a divisive bid to be USDA chief scientist. Withdrawal of the nomination highlights the startlingly slow pace of the administration in providing an executive team to help Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue put Trump policies into play.

EWG updates farm subsidy database, calls for limits on payments

Farm subsidy costs are higher than projected when the 2014 farm law was enacted, said the Environmental Working Group, urging Congress to reduce payments to the largest operators. "“If Congress is serious about reducing the deficit, reducing farm subsidies to millionaires would be a good place to start,” said EWG analyst Anne Schechinger.

Organic board decides hydroponics, but not aeroponics, can be organic

For 15 years, USDA has allowed hydroponic crops to be sold as organic and, at a meeting this week in Jacksonville, Fla., the advisory National Organic Standards Board decided to let that practice continue. The board rejected, 8-7, a proposal to deny the USDA Organic label to hydoponics and aquaponics despite a long-running campaign to limit the label to plants grown in soil.

White House stands by Clovis for USDA chief scientist

President Trump supports the nomination of Sam Clovis to serve as USDA chief scientist despite court documents showing that his former campaign co-chair encouraged foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos to meet Russian officials surreptitiously, said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. The court documents put Clovis, the most controversial USDA nominee in 15 years, back into the public spotlight and may delay action on the nomination.

Wheat Growers president resigns, may get USDA appointment in Kansas

Eight months after he was elected president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, David Schemm resigned to pursue, in NAWG's words, "other professional opportunities in his home state of Kansas." The High Plains Journal said Schemm "has reportedly been tapped to accept the position of Kansas Farm Service Agency executive director," but there was no official word.

Perdue’s grade after six months as agriculture secretary: A*

On his first day at work, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told employees, "I don't cage too well." So it was apt that the peripatetic Perdue was on the road this week, speaking at the FFA convention in Indianapolis and touring the prairie pothole region of the northern Plains, when he reached his six-month mark at USDA. Ag leaders rate Perdue highly as an ambassador for agriculture and agree with his policy decisions.

Senate confirms Ibach as USDA undersecretary for marketing

On a voice vote, the Senate confirmed Gregory Ibach, the state agriculture director in Nebraska, as agriculture undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. Ibach is the third member of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's executive team approved to take office; five slots remain empty.