High-level talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are entering their second week. Pelosi is baffled why food assistance is not mentioned in the GOP package.
“We had food in one of the early packages. SNAP, food stamps, those things – but not since, (Republicans) haven’t accepted it since,” she told reporters Friday.
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chair John Hoeven told Agri-Pulse that ag senators recognize addressing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has to be part of talks.
“That’s from the ag world, as that percolates up to the leadership and the rest of our caucus, we’re still working on that,” he said.
Democrats want to see a 15% increase in the maximum benefit for SNAP and the minimum monthly benefit increased from $16 to $30.
China could cut back on chicken imports
China’s pork production is recovering quickly, and that’s expected to dampen demand for chicken consumption and slow down imports, according to a new analysis from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. U.S. chicken exports to China skyrocketed in the first few months of this year, but that trade is now forecast to begin cooling off as China’s pork producers recover from African swine fever.
Chinese chicken imports are expected to drop to 775,000 metric tons in 2021, a 16% fall from the forecast 925,000 tons this year.
China lifted its five-year ban on U.S. poultry in November and since then “U.S.-origin chicken meat imports have boomed, making China the third largest destination for U.S. chicken meat exports from January to May 2020,” according to FAS.
Overall U.S. chicken exports to China may drop off, according to USA Poultry and Egg Export Council President Jim Sumner, but he tells Agri-Pulse that shipments of U.S. paws – a delicacy in China – will continue strong.
The U.S. shipped 20,688 tons of chicken paws to China in May, an 8% increase from April, according to USAPEEC data.
Report: House Ag Appropriations Chair allegedly misused funds
Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. D-Ga., the House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee chair, may have spent tens of thousands of dollars in campaign and official funds for personal use.
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) released a report Friday stating Bishop allegedly misused the funds for annual Christmas parties, golfing fees, and fuel use.
In one incident examining billing statements from January 2009 to September 2019, OCE found Bishop’s campaign committee paid $30,177.39 for monthly golf course “membership dues, range fees, locker fees, and unmet food and beverage minimums.”
“The Congressman recognizes that these mistakes should never have happened to begin with. Going forth, he intends to provide better oversight to ensure errors like this never happen again,” Bishop’s office said in a statement. His office said he has fully cooperated with the OCE’s review and proactively reimbursed many of the charges OCE identified as incorrect.
Biofuels group makes carbon capture credit case to IRS
A biofuels advocacy group is urging the Internal Revenue Service to offer credit for carbon dioxide captured for food and beverage purposes. Growth Energy has submitted comments on IRS proposed regulations on credits for carbon oxide sequestration.
“The ethanol industry has more than 50 projects that on average capture 99,000 to 153,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said.
In a letter, Skor argues including the food and beverage industry as an eligible commercial market for carbon dioxide would create an appropriate tax environment that incentivizes the buildout and operation of carbon capture capabilities. She said it would also help build resilience in this essential supply chain to external shocks like a pandemic.
Ag groups back rehearing of 9th Circuit dicamba decision
The American Farm Bureau Federation and grower groups, as well as CropLife America, have filed amicus briefs in the 9th Circuit supporting a rehearing of the court’s decision vacating the registration of three dicamba herbicides.
Bayer, Corteva and BASF have filed petitions for rehearing en banc, before a panel of 11 judges.
CropLife said the June 3 decision “failed to accord appropriate deference to EPA’s decision making” and that the registrations “are the product of both EPA’s rigorous scientific review under FIFRA” and investments of “tens of millions of dollars” by its member companies.
The Farm Bureau and grower groups, citing the court’s opinion, said it was not clear how FIFRA applies to “the alleged harm to the ‘social fabric’ of farming communities from crop-damage disputes and the purported economic effects of farmers feeling coerced into buying dicamba-tolerant seeds.”
The Farm Bureau, et al., brief is here. CropLife’s is here.
More supermarkets commit to cage-free eggs
Ahold Delhaize USA has committed to meeting federal to go fully cage-free in its egg supply by 2025.
The company, which operates nearly 2,000 Giant, Food Lion, Hannaford and Stop & Shop stores in the U.S., also said its companies are asking pork suppliers to transition to group housing and eliminate the use of gestation stalls for breeding pigs or sows by 2025 or sooner.
Those items are only samples from a wide-ranging sustainability announcement the company made Friday.
Meanwhile: The same day the parent company in the Netherlands announced plans to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2030.
USDA identifies some contents of the mysterious seed shipments
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is asking people to turn over unsolicited seed packages that have been arriving in the mail from China and so far, U.S. recipients have sent in a wide variety of the suspect packages.
“The seeds we have already identified are not uniform or of any particular type. They include a mixture of ornamental, fruit and vegetable, herb, and weed seeds,” APHIS said in a statement Friday. “It is important that we collect as many seeds as possible to determine whether they could introduce damaging pests and diseases that could be harmful to American agriculture.”
If you received any of the seeds that are arriving at doorsteps across the country, you can check out a fact sheet published by USDA and then turn them over to APHIS, which says it’s working with Customs and Border Protection, state governments.
She said it: “The one that gets me is food. I guess as a mom and an Italian American, food means a lot to me” - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said speaking to reporters Friday.
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