Stepping ahead of Biden, progressives propose free school meals for all – May 10, 2021

Stepping ahead of Biden, progressives propose free school meals for all

More than three dozen Democrats in the House and Senate proposed a dramatic expansion of U.S. spending on school meals to provide free meals for all students, not just low-income children. “What we’ve seen during this pandemic is that a universal approach to school meals works,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a lead sponsor. “We cannot go backwards.”

China buys $400 million of U.S. corn

Importers are adding to the mountain of U.S. corn already headed to China with the purchase of 1.36 million tonnes of corn for delivery in the marketing year that opens Sept. 1. The purchase, reported by private exporters to USDA, was worth $400 million at current futures prices.

Today’s Quick Hits

‘Field of dreams’ tractor: The 1977 John Deere 2640 tractor driven by actor Kevin Costner in the movie “Field of Dreams” sold for $64,000 at auction in Beverly Hills, six times the usual price for a 2640 of that vintage. (Outsider)

Food prices up, again: The Food Price Index, a gauge of prices worldwide for commonly consumed food commodities, rose for the 11th month in a row in April and is at its highest level since May 2014. (Food and Agriculture Organization)

More farmland for sale: A “large and rapid run-up in land prices” is likely to combine with anxiety among landowners over potential changes in federal tax policy to bring farmland onto the market this year, said a large farm real estate management company. (Farmers National)

‘Swampbuster’ lawsuit is filed: In a long-running dispute, a South Dakota farmer has asked a federal judge to declare unconstitutional the “swampbuster” regulation that denies USDA subsidies to farmers to convert wetlands into cropland. (DTN/Progressive Farmer)

Deforestation increases in Brazil: For the second month in a row, deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil was larger than the same month in early 2020, a worrisome trend ahead of the annual burning season, from May to October. (Reuters)

On The Calendar

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visits Fulton Academy of Excellence in Aurora, Colorado, as part of the Biden administration drive to expand child nutrition programs, 1:30 p.m. ET.

Senate Agriculture Committee votes on nomination of Jewel Bronaugh for deputy agriculture secretary, 5:30 p.m. ET, S-216, The Capitol.

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

World Food Prize Foundation announces the winner of its $250,000 World Food Prize online, 9 a.m. ET. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and UN nutrition leader Naoko Yamamoto will speak during the event.

Chicago Council on Global Affairs holds annual Global Food Security Symposium online, 11 a.m. ET. Speakers include Mark Suzman, chief executive of the Gates Foundation.

Leaders of the Food Research and Action Center, the American Federation of Teachers and the American Academy of Sciences hold a teleconference to discuss childhood hunger and legislation for universal free school meals, noon ET.

Food Safety magazine holds an online Food Safety Summit, through Thursday.

USDA releases monthly Crop Production and WASDE reports, noon ET. The USDA makes its first estimate of the winter wheat harvest in May and releases its first projections of the fall harvest. The U.S. corn and soybean crops could be the second-largest ever, based on a March survey of farmers’ intentions. Traders have been hopeful that the rally in commodity prices will persuade farmers to plant more land to the two crops.

U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai is the lead witness at the Senate Finance Committee hearing, “The president’s 2021 trade policy agenda,” 9:30 a.m. ET, 215 Dirksen.

House Agriculture subcommittee hearing online, “Title II conservation programs: Exploring climate-smart practices,” 10 a.m. ET.

House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, “USDA research, education and economics mission area,” 10 a.m. ET.

Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, “The essential role of immigrant workers in America,” 2:30 p.m. ET, 226 Dirksen.

The House could vote as early as Wednesday on HR 297, calling on the USDA to conduct a study and report within three years whether a national forest should be established in Hawaii, say Democratic leaders.

Iowa State University holds annual Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference, Ames, Iowa.

The Labor Department releases the monthly Consumer Price Index report, 8:30 a.m. ET.

Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City holds a panel discussion online about agricultural sustainability, 2 p.m. ET. Speakers are Bill Hohenstein, environmental policy director at the USDA Office of the Chief Economist; Barb O’Brien, president of Dairy Management Inc.; and Phillippa Cross of consultancy firm Barkley.

Purdue University holds a webinar on the corn and soybean outlook, 12:30 p.m. ET.

It’s the USDA’s birthday; created on May 15, 1862, under a law signed by President Lincoln, who later described USDA as “the people’s department.”

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