More than 50 years ago, the Nixon administration convened a conference on food, nutrition, and health that set the course for America’s anti-hunger efforts in the coming decades. Now, as the Biden administration prepares for its sequel this September, anti-hunger groups, health advocates, farm groups, and others are trying to get their priorities onto the agenda. (No paywall)
With the farm bill facing a test vote in the House today, the Trump administration called the bill "a step toward meaningful welfare reform" with its stricter work requirements for SNAP recipients. "The administration believes that work reforms like those in HR 2 are a critical component of any multi-year farm bill reauthorization," said the White House on Tuesday.
In a brief ceremony that mixed traditional holiday wishes with predictable humor, President Trump “pardoned” a 36-pound white-feathered tom turkey, Drumstick, from becoming a White House meal.
President Trump has nominated Kathleen Hartnett White, a current senior policy adviser at the free-market think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation, to serve as the White House’s senior environmental policy adviser. Hartnett has argued that calling carbon dioxide a pollutant is “absurd,” and that C02 should instead be considered the gas of life.
After a commercial fisherman pulled a live Asian carp out of a northern Illinois river that empties into Lake Michigan, authorities have expressed concern that more of the invasive species have made it past electric barriers meant to keep them out of the Great Lakes, says the LA Times.
The Trump administration has removed nearly all mention of climate change from the White House website, says Reuters, while publishing a call for increased energy development and fewer environmental regulations.
The Opportunity Project released 29 digital tools to help communities grow, including one, "FindYour.Town," intended to help rural communities attract investment and spur economic growth, said the White House. The project was launched in March so non-profits, companies and other non-governmental groups could create digital tools that dig into federal databases to benefit communities.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack indirectly turned thumbs down on the idea of running for the Senate with words that might also apply to election-season rumors of a possible job as White House chief of staff. "Here's what I know about myself. I'm an executive. I like making decisions," Vilsack said during a National Press Club luncheon.
Tom Vilsack is the longest-serving agriculture secretary in half a century, and there's already chatter about a continued role in government if Democrats retain control of the White House. "That will be up to Hillary Clinton," said Sen. Charles Grassley, who notes that fellow Iowan "Tama Jim" Wilson holds the record for cabinet tenure — 16 years.
As the Senate opened debate on the energy and water funding bill, the White House warned against using the bill as a vehicle to stop the EPA's Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation.
I attended Michelle Obama’s planting of the White House Kitchen Garden on Tuesday. I didn’t want to miss this event because I knew it was the last time the First Lady and her team of assistants would be setting young plants in soil.
Four food-policy advocates called on presidential aspirants to spell out their views on a coordinated U.S. food policy with the intention of declaring a National Food Policy within weeks of taking office in January 2017. "Production and consumption of food has a bigger impact on Americans' well-being than any other human activity," write Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador and Olivier De Schutter.
Obama administration officials suggested additional steps to help schools meet requirements to serve healthier meals during an hour-long meeting with nutrition, school and consumer groups. Sam Kass, senior nutrition advisor at the White House, said it was a "positive discussion" and Wendy Weyer of the School Nutrition Association said the meeting was "very solutions-oriented."
The School Nutrition Association turned down a request by Sam Kass, White House nutrition policy advisor, to speak at this week's national conference, attended by 6,500 people working in the school food industry, says Politico. SNA chief executive Patricia Montague says Kass, in a message passed through USDA, asked to speak at the conference "to rally the troops" on rules requiring healthier school meals.
The Agriculture Department is seeking White House approval of poultry inspection rules that would allow processors to speed up slaughter lines and direct USDA inspectors to devote more time to preventing meat contamination. Approval by the White House budget office would be one of the final steps before the proposal becomes official policy. Submission of the Poultry Inspection Modernization rule was reported by groups on both sides of the issue.
The White House announced changes in the federally subsidized crop-insurance program to cushion farmers against the ongoing drought in the West or other natural disasters. The changes broaden the number of crops and the area covered by the Actual Production History yield exemption and are estimated to generate $30 million in additional relief to farmers in the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1, and $43 million in the following fiscal year.
President Obama has nominated Jeffrey Prieto, a federal attorney since 1998, to be general counsel for the Agriculture Department, said the White House. The general counsel is USDA's chief lawyer.
Congress should overhaul the school meals programs to allow some local flexibility in serving healthy food, said Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts, who plans to hold down the pricetag - no new spending without an offset. "Our budgetary constraints are real," Roberts said during the committee's first hearing on reauthorization of child-nutrition programs costing $22 billion a year. The chairman said he intended to have a new law in place before the Sept. 30 expiration of the current programs, a fairly tight schedule to move legislation through both chambers of Congress and to the White House, with time out for the summer recess.
House Agriculture chairman Mike Conaway says that calls to reduce the cost of crop insurance are billed as reform, "but we know the real end game is to kill crop insurance."