House bill would bar racial favoritism at USDA
Motivated by opposition to $4 billion in debt relief for minority farmers, two Republican representatives announced legislation on Thursday to prevent the USDA from considering race or gender in operating its programs. “All American farmers constitute a minority, and they are hurting right now as a direct result of the pandemic,” said one of the sponsors, Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah.
Climate change slowed growth in agricultural productivity
Global agricultural productivity is 21 percent lower than it could have been without climate change, according to research published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Thursday. The reduction is the equivalent of losing seven years of the gains recorded in farm productivity since the 1960s, say the researchers.
Today’s Quick Hits
Rural renewables plan: Public comments will be accepted until April 29 on a Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program that would provide financial assistance to communities looking to develop renewable energy projects. (USDA)
Swine fever is back: A resurgence of African swine fever has killed at least 20 percent of the breeding herd in northern China, a setback for a plan to rebuild the national pig population after huge losses in 2019. (Reuters)
Ghost cattle scam: A rancher in Washington State could face up to 20 years in prison for defrauding meatpackers out of $244 million they spent buying and feeding nonexistent cattle. (DTN/Progressive Farmer)
Ag trade barriers: The Biden administration “will continue to engage foreign governments” over barriers to U.S. agricultural products that range from tariffs to opaque approval processes for GE products. (USTR)
Bees hitch a ride: A swarm of 15,000 honey bees buzzed into the back seat of a car in a New Mexico parking lot while the driver was making a quick grocery run. (New York Times)