Vilsack confirmation is slowed by Senate fight over rules
The Senate scheduled confirmation hearings for half a dozen of President Biden’s cabinet nominees this week but Tom Vilsack, seeking to become agriculture secretary for the second time, was not among them. The Agriculture Committee cannot consider his nomination until Senate Republicans and Democrats agree on how to divide power in the chamber, said Senate staff workers on Monday.
USDA withdraws proposals on poultry plant line speeds and SNAP
As part of the regulatory freeze announced by President Biden, the USDA withdrew proposed regulations that would have allowed much faster line speeds at poultry slaughter plants and would have ended SNAP benefits for 3.1 million people by tightening eligibility rules.
Highest grocery price inflation in nine years
Grocery prices rose by 3.5 percent during 2020, the largest increase since prices rose 4.8 percent in 2011, said the USDA on Monday. Beef led the parade of pandemic price increases, followed by pork and poultry.
TODAY’S QUICK HITS
Hurdles for SNAP shopping online: “A majority of Americans who depend on food stamps have no choice but to shop in person” because SNAP recipients face barriers to online grocery delivery, even though use of the benefits online has been approved in 47 states. (USA Today)
Seven new Republicans: House Republican leaders appointed seven new members to the Agriculture Committee — Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota, Tracey Mann of Kansas, Randy Feenstra of Iowa, Michael Cloud of Texas, Kat Cammack of Florida, Barry Moore of Alabama and Mary Miller of Illinois. (House Agriculture)
Pork forum goes online: This year’s edition of the National Pork Industry Forum, scheduled for March 3-5, will be held online due to the pandemic, said the sponsor, the National Pork Board. (Meat and Poultry)
Thompson heads USDA tribal office: Heather Dawn Thompson, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and an attorney specializing in American Indian law, was appointed director of USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations. (USDA)