Former Rep. Torres Small is selected to lead rural development at USDA – June 21, 2021

Former Rep. Torres Small is selected to lead rural development at USDA

President Biden chose former Rep Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico to serve as agriculture undersecretary for rural development, overseeing a portfolio of $43 billion in housing, utilities and business and industry programs. Congress overrode a Trump-era reorganization of USDA to re-create the Senate-confirmed post in 2018.

Rural-urban poverty gap narrowed over past decade

The rural poverty rate has exceeded the urban rate ever since the government began tracking both in the 1960s. The difference, 4.5 percentage points in the 1980s, has narrowed to an average of 3.1 points over the past 10 years, said the USDA in updating its rural poverty and well-being webpage.

Today’s Quick Hits

River lawsuit dismissed: The Iowa Supreme Court dismissed, 4-3, a lawsuit by environmental groups that contended the state failed to protect water quality in the Raccoon River, a major source of drinking water for central Iowa. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Depth matters for carbon: The best approach to measuring soil carbon is to sample the entire crop-rooting zone, which is often deeper than the currently recommended 30 cm (12 inch) and to consider soil mass, rather than volume, said researchers. (CarbonPlan)

Fewer hemp farmers: The Kansas Agriculture Department issued 81 licenses to grow industrial hemp this year, down from 218 in 2020, a reflection of the challenge for processors to find a steady market for hemp fiber, oil and other products beyond the glutted market for CBD oil. (Kansas News Service)

Pilgrim’s gets bigger: Pilgrim’s Pride said it will buy the meat and meals business of Kerry Consumer Foods in Britain and Ireland for $952 million, which would position the company, majority-owned by JBS, “as a leading prepared foods and branded products player.” (Pilgrim’s)

Driest since 1976-77: Four years after a multi-year drought, California “has descended into dry conditions not seen since 1976-77,” exemplified by satellite images of the two largest reservoirs in the state, which are less than half their usual volume for this time of the year. (NASA Earth Observatory)

On The Calendar

USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report, 4 p.m. ET.

Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing, “Renewable energy: growth and opportunities for our rural economies,” 9:30 a.m. ET., 562 Dirksen. Witnesses include chief executive Emily Skor of Growth Energy and chairwoman Katie Sieben of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell is lead witness at House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing, “Lessons learned: The Federal Reserve’s response to the coronavirus pandemic,” 2 p.m. ET, 2154 Rayburn.
USDA releases monthly Cold Storage report, 3 p.m. ET.

House Agriculture subcommittee hearing “to review the efficacy of the farm safety net,” 1 p.m. ET, 1300 Longworth.
Senate Agriculture Committee, “Examining markets, transparency and prices from cattle producer to consumer,” 2:30 p.m. ET, 562 Dirksen.
Farmdoc Daily holds a webinar, “The business case for conservation: A summary of farm financial and environmental data from precision conservation management,”
Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee hearing “to examine existing programs and future opportunities to ensure access to affordable, reliable and clean energy for rural and low-income communities,” 2 p.m. ET, 366 Dirksen. Witnesses include Alejandro Moreno, deputy assistant energy secretary.
National Confectioners Association holds Sweets and Snacks Expo, through Friday, Indianapolis.

USDA holds a webinar, “Honey bees on the move: From pollination to honey production and back,” 1 p.m. ET, based on a report issued last week. “This report quantifies the seasonal flow of honey bees as hives are moved around the country in search of nutritious forage and in order to service pollination contracts.”
International Grains Council releases monthly Grain Market Report, London.
USDA releases quarterly Hogs and Pigs report, 3 p.m. ET.

USDA releases monthly Food Price Outlook, 9 a.m. ET. At present, food prices are forecast to rise 2.5 percent this year, in line with the 20-year average of 2.4 percent annually.
House Appropriations subcommittee votes on fiscal 2022 funding for USDA, FDA and related agencies. Time to be determined.
USDA releases monthly Cattle on Feed report, 3 p.m. ET.

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