Young farmers face heightened risks from climate change

With this season’s severe flooding, raging wildfires, and delayed planting, many of the country’s farmers are struggling to adjust as climate change sets in. Yet young and beginning farmers face unique challenges, farmers and advocates say, with tenuous finances, relatively small operations, …

Where Perdue sees ‘flexibility’ in school food, critics see junk food

On his sixth day on the job in 2017, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made chocolate milk safe for schools again, along with white flour and salt, in the name of regulatory flexibility. Those revisions to the school food program became final in late 2018. The USDA will propose a new round of "common-sense flexibility" for school meals this week, says Perdue. Skeptics said it will mean more pizza, burgers and fries and fewer servings of fruits and vegetables.

States ask federal court to stop Trump limits on food stamps

A Trump administration regulation that would eliminate food stamps for 688,000 people is being challenged in U.S. district court by 14 states and the District of Columbia. Their lawsuit, filed on Thursday in Washington, asks for the rule to be overturned as unlawful and for an injunction to keep it from taking effect on April 1.

When USDA stops paying rent, idled land usually goes back into crops

A Reagan-era creation, the Conservation Reserve is the largest U.S. land retirement program, paying landowners an annual rent if they idle environmentally fragile cropland for 10-15 years. But when the contracts expire, most of the land goes back into crop production, says a USDA report that …

Digital shoppers face a barrage of pop-ups and promos for unhealthy food

Within a few years, the average U.S. household will spend $850 annually on food and beverage purchases over the internet, according to an estimate by Nielsen and the Food Marketing Institute. On Wednesday, a consumer group warned that digital grocers “are generally undermining Americans’ efforts to eat well” by flooding shoppers with pop-up ads and promotions for junk food.

USDA approves state hemp production plans

For all its cachet as a potential money-making crop for American farmers, industrial hemp ranked midway between safflower and flaxseed in plantings, with an estimated 230,000 acres in 2019, and industry leaders disagree whether 2020 will be a year of expansion or retrenchment. But the USDA is approving state plans to regulate hemp production and offering crop insurance for hemp growers, steps that could help establish the crop.

Poultry leads as U.S. meat consumption flies high

Despite a surge in sales of plant-based faux meat, Americans are consuming record amounts of meat and at the moment, poultry is driving the increase. Per-capita consumption will climb to 225.6 pounds in 2020, the highest total ever, with poultry accounting for half of it, according to the …

Trumps selects Lipps for long-vacant USDA nutrition post

After nearly three years in office, President Trump has a nominee for agriculture undersecretary for nutrition, Brandon Lipps, who has been running USDA’s public nutrition programs since July 2017. As a House staff worker, Lipps helped engineer $8.6 billion in food stamp cuts in the 2014 farm …

USDA opens enrollment as Conservation Reserve grows for first time since 2007

The Conservation Reserve signup that opens on Monday could see landowners idle the largest amount of fragile cropland in years, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, although some analysts say lower government payment rates will hold down enrollment in the program.

Stronger-than-expected sales to China buoy US ag exports

The China-U.S. trade war cut deeply into U.S. farm exports to China, but not as far as initially estimated, said the Department of Agriculture on Monday. The agency forecasted $139 billion in agriculture exports, the largest amount in three years and up 3 percent from 2019. A key reason for the …