Janie Simms Hipp, a member of the Chickasaw Nation and head of the Native American Agriculture Fund, will be nominated as general counsel at the Agriculture Department, the White House has announced.
“I have the utmost confidence and respect for Janie,” Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said, noting she served as his senior adviser for tribal affairs and then as director of USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations in the Obama Administration.
Hipp also has been national program leader for Farm Financial Management, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Risk Management Education, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development programs at USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

Haaland confirmed as Interior secretary
New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland was confirmed as Interior secretary by the Senate Monday night on a 51-40 vote, with four Republicans joining 47 Democrats to support her nomination.

Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska supported Haaland to run the Interior Department. She will be the first Native American in a Cabinet post.

House Dems look to block sequestration

House Democratic leaders are teeing up a debate this week on a bill to block the massive across-the-board spending cuts as a result of the newly enacted $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package.

Congress has to act to waive the PAYGO rules that would require the budget sequestration reductions that would hit farm bill programs as well as many other areas of the government.

Getting the bill through the House shouldn’t be a problem, but the measure will need at least 10 Republican votes to pass the Senate. Democratic leaders are likely to have to insert the waiver into a must-pass bill as was done after the 2017 tax bill.

Higher prices shape planting intentions
A planting intentions survey across 29 states suggests higher commodity prices are contributing to farmers planting more corn and soybean acres this year. 
Allendale Inc. released a report Monday suggesting farmers will plant 92.8 million acres of corn this year, up 2 million from 2020. The company expects 90.3 million acres of soybeans to be planted, which is a 7.2-million-acre increase.
“We are drawing in acres that have not been in production in recent years. In other words, high prices are encouraging some type of production increase,” Allendale Chief Strategist Rich Nelson said during a webinar.
However, in terms of the farm balance sheet, he said the numbers don’t change the general situation that dramatically.
The grain marketing firm estimates wheat acreage at 46.4 million acres, up 2.1 million over last year. All expectations are slightly higher than USDA’s Ag Outlook Forum predictions. The department will release its Prospective Plantings report March 31.
Mexico’s chicken imports seen recovering this year
While Mexico’s overall chicken imports were declining during the pandemic, its purchases from the U.S. rose and that business is expected to pick up again in 2021, according to a new analysis by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product dropped by 8.5% in 2020, but the country also did not renew a tariff rate quota for Brazilian chicken. The U.S. took advantage of that, pushing its 87% market share up to 95%.
Mexico’s economy is expected to begin recovering this year, and overall chicken imports are expected to rise to 860,000 metric tons, up from 842,000 tons in 2020.
US rice sales pick up at Costco stores – in Japan
Where’s the best place to find U.S. rice in Japan? It just might be at one of the 28 Costco big box stores in the country.
The USA Rice Federation says it has been doubling down on promotional efforts in Japan and taking advantage of a special tender system that allows “U.S.-origin rice to reach the Japanese consumer.” Costco’s use of the tendering system in 2020 grew by 83%, paving the way for the first U.S. exports of 5-kilogram packages of rice milled in the U.S. “for direct sale to consumers in Japan.”
Meanwhile, shoppers at Costco are being pitched on the new U.S. rice products and encouraged “to actually sample U.S.-grown rice,” said Jim Guinn, USA Rice director of Asia promotion programs.
Monsanto appealing Bader Farms decision

Monsanto is appealing a district court ruling that ordered the company — owned by Bayer — to pay $75 million in compensatory and punitive damages for damage caused by Xtendimax, the company’s dicamba herbicide, to peach trees at Missouri’s Bader Farms.

Summarizing its brief, the company said the court “did not require that the plaintiff prove that it was XtendiMax that actually caused Bader Farms’ alleged damages, and it allowed the jury to find Monsanto liable for third parties’ illegal spraying of herbicides not manufactured or sold by Monsanto prior to and after the release of XtendiMax.”

“The trial court also erred in the legal standards it applied in upholding the excessive compensatory and punitive damages,” the company said.

APHIS seeks to gather data on antimicrobial use, resistance in broilers

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service plans to conduct a study measuring and tracking antimicrobial use and resistance in the nation’s broiler chickens.

In a Federal Register notice published today, APHIS said it will evaluate the relationship between antimicrobial use and resistance measured in select bacterial species, quantify antimicrobial resistance genes in the litter of sampled broiler farms, and examine the relationship between these quantities and antimicrobial use patterns.

APHIS is asking the Office of Management and Budget to approve its request to collect the information, which is being conducted through a cooperative agreement with the University of Minnesota.

She said it: “My colleagues should know that Representative Haaland was named the most bipartisan House freshman in the last Congress. If that's what a hard-line ideologue looks like, maybe we should all aspire to the role model that Deb Haaland provides.” Minnesota Democratic Senator Tina Smith, addressing criticism of the Interior secretary 

Questions? Tips? Contact Philip Brasher at philip@agri-pulse.com