Biden nominates USDA climate adviser to oversee farm supports
Robert Bonnie, named USDA climate adviser on the same day President Biden took office, will soon be in charge of all farm support programs, from land stewardship to farm subsidies and crop insurance, if confirmed by the Senate. Biden nominated Bonnie for undersecretary for farm production and conservation, arguably the highest-profile sub-cabinet post at USDA, on Friday.
House GOP package allows donors to name climate projects
Five farm-state Republicans unveiled a package of climate bills that in one instance would allow private-sector donors to USDA conservation accounts to specify where the money would be spent and put “a name or a brand” on a project.
How an Iowa hog baron accrued power and built a CAFO empire that transformed his state
Since Iowa Select Farms was founded in 1992, the state’s pig population has increased more than 50 percent — while the number of farms raising hogs has declined over 80 percent. In the last 30 years, 26,000 Iowa farms quit the long-standing tradition of raising pigs. As confinements replaced them, rural communities have continued to hollow out.
Today’s Quick Hits
Western water shortage: The federal government could issue its first-ever declaration of a water shortage in the Colorado River basin in the coming months, threatening supplies to farms and cities in Arizona and Nevada. (Associated Press)
Do chickens go with veggies?: Researchers in California are trying to quantify the bottom line for organic vegetable farmers, in terms of revenue, soil health, insect control and food safety, of what used to be a common sight — chickens scratching in vegetable plots. (UC Agriculture and Natural Resources)
More land being sold: Farmers National Co., one of the largest U.S. farm-management and real estate companies, said it sold 59 percent more acres in the past six months than during the same period one year earlier, due to rising private sales and heightened interest among farmers and investors in good cropland. (Farmers National)
Tackling food inequity: Food banks are adjusting their offerings after the pandemic sharpened awareness of inequities between the foods they distribute and the diets of people of color. A Maine food bank is considering gift cards for ethnic grocers. (Food Bank News)
Pork and chicken power: Pork and chicken contributed mightily to a U.S. trade surplus in meat in 2020; broiler meat edged pork as the leader in export volume. (Economic Research Service)
On The Calendar
The House will vote on HR 1996, SAFE Banking Act, under rules that limit debate and bar amendments but require a two-thirds majority for passage, said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “The legislation would ensure that financial institutions could take on cannabis business clients without facing federal penalties,” says news site Marijuana Moment. The House passed similar legislation in 2019 but it died in the Senate.
The National CACFP Association holds National Child Nutrition Conference online, through Thursday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is to speak Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. ET.
USDA releases weekly Crop Progress reports, 4 p.m. ET.
The House Agriculture Committee votes on its annual letter of suggestions to the House Budget Committee and then holds a hearing, “Rural broadband: Examining internet connectivity needs and opportunities in rural America,” 10 a.m. ET, 1300 Longworth.
House Appropriations subcommittee holds a hearing online on proposed spending on USDA public nutrition programs in fiscal 2022, 10 a.m. ET. Deputy Agriculture Undersecretary Stacy Dean is the lead witness.
Three members of President Biden’s cabinet testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee on his $2 trillion infrastructure package, 10 a.m. ET, 106 Dirksen. Testifying are Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, EPA administrator Michael Regan and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
Senate Banking Committee holds hearing online, “An economy that works for everyone: Investing in rural communities,” 10 a.m. ET.
The National Restaurant Association holds public affairs conferences online.
EPA administrator Michael Regan is lead witness at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing online on proposed EPA funding for fiscal 2022, 10 a.m. ET.
Crop Life America and RISE hold regulatory conferences online, through Friday.
USDA issues Livestock Slaughter Annual report, 3 p.m. ET.
Earth Day, originally envisioned by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson as a 1970 nationwide “teach-in” on the environment, is marked for the 51st year. It became a worldwide observance in 1990. This year’s theme is “Restore our earth.” The organization Earthday.org describes itself as “the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement” with partners in 190 countries. Three days of activities are planned, beginning on Tuesday.
President Biden and more than three dozen world leaders take part in the U.S.-sponsored Leaders Summit on the Climate, through Friday. The White House aims for the summit online “to galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis.” Biden is expected to announce more ambitious emissions-reduction targets and urge other nations to follow suit, said the Council on Foreign Affairs.
Senate Agriculture Committee holds hearing on nomination of Jewel Bronaugh for deputy secretary of agriculture, 9:30 a.m. ET, 301 Russell.
Senate Finance Committee holds hearing, “U.S.-China relations: Improving U.S. competitiveness through trade,” 10 a.m. ET., 215 Dirksen.
Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City holds annual Missouri Showcase online, with speakers Brett Gegemann, chief operating officer of Bayer’s crop science division; Chris Daubert, dean of agriculture, food and natural resources at the University of Missouri; and Rob Kallenbach, associate dean for extension at the University of Missouri, 2 p.m. ET.
USDA releases monthly Cold Storage report, 3 p.m. ET.
House Agriculture chairman David Scott is lead speaker at a webinar on diversity, equity and inclusion in agriculture, 11 a.m. ET. For details, click here.
USDA releases monthly Food Price Outlook, 9 a.m. ET. At present, the USDA expects grocery prices to rise 1.5 percent this year, slightly below the long-term annual average of 2 percent. Grocery prices rose 3.5 percent last year, propelled by high meat prices due to the pandemic.
USDA releases monthly Cattle on Feed report, 3 p.m. ET.
National Association of Conservation Districts holds 65th Stewardship Week, with the theme, “Healthy forest, healthy communities,” through May 2.