Biden chooses moderate Vilsack to return as agriculture secretary
Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary throughout the Obama years, is President-elect Biden’s choice to lead the USDA as farmers seek to recover from a trade war with China and the Covid-19 pandemic. A former governor of Iowa, Vilsack was a top backer of Biden in rural America during the fall campaign and would bring to the administration friendly relations with lawmakers and farm groups.
USDA should push for rural broadband, worker safety, say former ag secretaries
While the pandemic and climate change will be at the top of the agenda for the Biden administration, the USDA should pursue full access to broadband service in rural America, said three former agriculture secretaries on Tuesday. One of them, Mike Espy, also said the USDA should refuse to buy products from meat processors who fail to protect workers from the coronavirus.
Today’s Quick Hits
Coronavirus payments top $22 billion: With a deadline of Friday for applications, the USDA said it has paid a combined $22.1 billion through two versions of its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program since May, with $2 billion going to Iowa, followed by $1.56 billion to California and $1.5 billion to Nebraska. (FERN’s Ag Insider)
Electric tractor goes on sale: Startup Monarch Tractor unveiled a compact, battery-powered 40-horsepower agricultural tractor that the manufacturer says can run for 12 hours before needing a charge. (Farm Progress)
No more food boxes to give away: The Trump administration’s $4.5 billion food-box giveaway program was expected to run through the end of the year but it is ending a month early in some parts of the country because of high demand. (Washington Post)
Weedkiller dicamba detected in rainwater: University of Missouri weed specialist Mandy Bish says the weedkiller dicamba was detected in Missouri rainwater throughout the growing season in 2019. In the sites located in the southern corner of the state, rain concentrations were high enough to injure sensitive crops. (DTN/Progressive Farmer)