Infrastructure package is ‘monumental step forward,’ says Biden
America will have the best roads, bridges, ports and airports in the world when the new $1.2 trillion infrastructure law is fully implemented, said President Biden at a bill-signing ceremony on Monday. And he will be on the road to promote the benefits of the bipartisan package, beginning with a trip to New Hampshire to visit a structurally unsafe bridge that has been on the state’s “red list” since 2013.
California studies what a carbon-neutral future means for its lands
In a carbon-neutral future, California’s farmers could plant water-conserving crops enriched by composting, the result of widespread carbon farming. Socially disadvantaged farmers could become more empowered. Farmworkers could be healthier and better paid. An ambitious report from the California Natural Resource Agency proposes major potential changes to the state’s agricultural sector in response to climate change. (No paywall)
‘Father’ of organic ag law, Pat Leahy, to retire from Senate
One of the last of the “Watergate babies” elected to Congress in 1974, Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy said on Monday he will retire next year after eight terms in the Senate that included stints as chairman of its Appropriations, Agriculture and Judiciary committees. Leahy shepherded passage of the national organic standards law in 1990 and oversaw expansion of SNAP and the school lunch program.
Smithfield to develop preparedness plan for infectious diseases
The largest U.S. pork processor, Smithfield Foods, will pay a $13,494 penalty for failing to protect workers from the coronavirus at its South Dakota slaughter plant in 2020 and will develop a company-wide preparedness plan against infectious diseases, said the Labor Department on Monday. Smithfield closed the plant in Sioux Falls for 25 days during a Covid-19 outbreak that infected 1,294 workers and killed four of them.
Today’s Quick Hits
Skyrocketing farmland values: Farmland values in the five-state district of the Chicago Federal Reserve are 18 percent higher than a year ago, aided by low interest rates, large federal payments and higher-than-normal farm incomes; they are up by 14 percent in the Kansas City Fed district. (AgLetter)
Perdue didn’t pay: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue left office in January without reimbursing the government for misuse of federal funds when he promoted the re-election of President Trump during a supposedly nonpartisan trip, said the Office of Special Counsel. (The Hagstrom Report)
RMA leader named: Marcia Bunger, a South Dakota farmer, was appointed administrator of the Risk Management Agency, which oversees the federally subsidized crop insurance system. (USDA)
Tyson earnings soar: Tyson Foods, one of the largest meat processors in the world, reported a net income of $3.06 billion for fiscal 2021, nearly $1 billion above 2020, due to strong consumer demand for meat. (Tyson)
Tribal homelands initiative: The Biden administration announced a “tribal homelands initiative” to strengthen the role of tribal communities in federal land management; the Interior and Agriculture departments manage millions of acres previously owned by Native Americans. (Interior)