Some advocates of the newly-enacted debt relief provisions for minority farmers have called it a form of reparations. But House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, who is African American, strenuously objects to that characterization. He says the $4 billion just makes up for the fact that white farmers primarily benefitted from the billions of dollars in recent farm payments.

“This is nothing to do with slavery and reparations. There’s nothing we can do about that,” Scott said in an interview with Philadelphia radio station WURD. Black farmers “haven’t gotten the money that the white farmers got last year,” he said.

Scott says he’s planning additional legislation aimed at expanding Black farmers’ share of ag markets and crop acreage.
Biden set to announce infrastructure package

The massive infrastructure package that President Joe Biden is announcing today will include spending for broadband, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Tuesday.

“There's more we can do on broadband and ensuring that the far-too-large percentage of the American people that don't have access, have access, and we invest in that,” Psaki said. She also said the plan will have a focus on “clean energy, and clean energy jobs.”

She reiterated that the huge package is going to be paid for with tax increases, and suggested the emphasis would be on corporate taxes. Even so, that’s likely to drive away Republican support, who say they aren't going to help pass the Green New Deal.

Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., tells Agri-Pulse that additional tax revenue will be necessary to avoid more deficit spending. “Unlike the Republican tax proposal a few years ago, this isn't going to pay for itself, and neither did that proposal pay for itself,” he said.

For more on the infrastructure and the political challenges it faces, be sure and read this week’s Agri-Pulse newsletter.

Farmers could plant record corn and soybean crop this year

USDA will release its Prospective Plantings report at noon today, and an economist says the big number to watch is whether farmers intend to plant more than 182.5 million combined acres of corn and soybeans. That would be a record.

“The only other time we’ve been over a 180 million (acres) of both corn and soybeans was back in 2017, and we came in at 180.3 million,” said Ben Brown, senior research associate at the University of Missouri.

At USDA’s Ag Outlook Forum in February, the department estimated farmers would plant 182 million combined corn and soybean acres in 2021. The average trade estimate is now 183.2 million total acres.

UK trade chief to call out cheaters at G7 meeting

British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss says she’s going to use a G7 trade ministers meeting today to “champion free and fair trade for all nations and call out unfair trading practices,” according to a spokesperson.

China was not mentioned by name, but U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is expected to attend and she has been discussing trade frictions with the Chinese to allied countries like the UK.

“Public trust has been corroded by pernicious practices, from the use of forced labor to environmental degradation and the stealing of intellectual property,” Truss said without calling out any individual country.”

Corporate sustainability interest strong despite pandemic

Brands and retailers in the clothing sector believe consumer interest in sustainability is growing despite the pandemic, according to a cotton industry survey of 1,000 companies. Some 61% of the companies surveyed said customer demand is increasing for environmentally sustainable business practices and goods and services.

Half the companies surveyed expect to see more consumer spending on sustainable clothing over the next year, according to the survey conducted by the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, which is managing the industry’s sustainability program.

Take note: About two-thirds of the companies said that data was important to meet their sustainability goals.

JBS to pay $20M to settle pork antitrust claims

JBS has agreed to pay $20 million to a group of “indirect purchaser plaintiffs,” including consumers and eateries, in a pork antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota.

The deal, which has yet to be approved by a judge, also includes JBS’s cooperation in the ongoing litigation against the other defendants: Agri Stats; Clemens Food Group, The Clemens Family Corp., Hatfield Quality Meats, Hormel Foods, Indiana Packers Corp., Seaboard Foods, Smithfield Foods and Triumph Foods.

“The $20 million settlement represents $1 million for each point of market share – putting the value of this case well over $100 million at this stage in the litigation,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said in a brief supporting the settlement. “This is an outstanding result.”

Hidden in the veggies. (CBP photo)

Eat your broccoli, but say no to drugs

 U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents made a startling discovery in a truck full of broccoli coming across the southern border: dozens of shiny, brick-shaped packages full of methamphetamines.

All in all, the load of healthy veggies was providing camouflage for 421 pounds of meth, worth roughly $8.4 million. It’s safe to say that’s a lot more than the broccoli was worth.

“With the use of high-tech equipment such as our x-ray systems, our officers are able to detect anomalies within shipments and target those areas of interest, which can produce positive results such as this significant interdiction,” CBP said in a statement.

She said it. “The president believes it's responsible to propose a way for paying over time for his vision for investing in infrastructure and our economy and American workers.” – White House press secretary Jen Psaki, reiterating that Biden planned to propose tax increases to pay for his infrastructure plan.

Questions? Tips? Contact Philip Brasher at