Some 300 corporations, including some industry giants in the agriculture and food industry, are calling on President Joe Biden to commit the U.S. to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 from 2005 levels.

The appeal comes as the administration is preparing to release a new climate commitment ahead of a White House summit next week.

“A bold 2030 target is needed to catalyze a zero-emissions future, spur a robust economic recovery, create millions of well-paying jobs, and allow the U.S. to “build back better” from the pandemic,” says the letter by the We Mean Business Coalition.

Take note: The letter goes on, “If you raise the bar on our national ambition, we will raise our own ambition to move the U.S. forward on this journey.”

The companies that signed the appeal include Bayer, Coca-Cola, Danone, Kellogg, Levi Strauss and Co., Mars, McDonald’s, Nestle, POET, Sodexo, Starbucks, Syngenta and Walmart. Most of these companies also have made commitments of their own to slash the carbon footprint of their supply chains.

Read our report on those corporate commitments here.

House Ag Appropriations Chair Sanford Bishop questioning then-Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue last year. 

Vilsack faces appropriators amid climate, COVID concerns

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is likely to get questions about climate policy as he testifies today before the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. The hearing follows the release of Biden’s fiscal 2022 budget outline. The president is proposing to boost USDA’s budget by 16%, with much of the increase going toward addressing various climate-related issues.

Vilsack’s also likely to be asked about ongoing issues with coronavirus assistance as well as pending organic standards.

By the way: Ahead of the hearing, USDA released more than $300 million in funding to help the food supply chain recover from the pandemic. The funding includes $170 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, $80 million in aid to domestic cotton users and $75 million in assistance to low-income Americans to buy fruits and vegetables.
 “The COVID-19 pandemic has created many gaps in our food supply chain causing far too many families to struggle to put food on their tables,” said Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Republicans put focus on inheritance taxes

Senate Republicans are letting congressional Democrats know that they’ll have a fight on their hands if they try to increase inheritance taxes to help pay for the president’s spending plans.

At his weekly news conference Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said farmers and small businesses would be harmed by a proposal to eliminate stepped-up basis and impose a new tax on intergenerational transfers of assets.

McConnell also made clear that Republicans would fight to preserve the tax cuts that were passed in 2017, which included an increase in the estate tax exemption and slashed taxes on corporations and small businesses. “We need to have an infrastructure bill as big as we're willing to credibly pay for without going back and undoing the 2017 tax bill,” McConnell said.

For more on the inheritance tax issues that could be in play, check out the weekly Agri-Pulse newsletter. We also have a report on the backlog of exports at Western ports.

Canola seed facing recall over biotech traits

BASF is working through its canola seed distribution channel on product recalls to prevent the planting of seed that two GMO traits that don’t yet have full market approvals.

The detected events, designed to increase Omega-3 fatty acid content in seed oil, are approved for cultivation in the United States, but haven’t been approved yet in some key export countries, BASF says.

In letters to BASF and NuSeed, which owns one of the traits, the Food and Drug Administration says it has no questions about the safety of the low levels of genetic material.

BASF says it doesn’t expect the recalls to cause a shortage of InVigor Canola varieties based on its current commitments for the 2021 season.

China finds more ASF infected pigs

China has notified USDA that new African swine fever cases have been detected in live hogs and that makes the fourth such notification since the end of January, according to a new report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

“Authorities indicated the detection occurred when authorities found the illegal transportation of live hogs from outside of Hunan Province,” FAS said. “There were 61 susceptible animals, of which 3 were sick and 3 died. The remaining animals were culled and disposed.”

Brazil close to wrapping up soy harvest

The soybean harvest is 85% complete in Brazil as farmers in states like Paraná, São Paulo and Minas Gerais are “advancing on the final plots,” according to the consulting firm AgRural. There are still weather delays in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, but progress there is expected to speed up soon.

“In Rio Grande do Sul, there is still a delay in relation to previous years,” the firm said. “But with dry weather on the radars, harvesters are expected to gain momentum this week.”

Meanwhile, Brazil is exporting soybeans at a record pace that’s expected to increase in the coming months, according to a new forecast by the Foreign Agricultural Service.

She said it. “He’s just made too many Dairy Queen stops, that’s what we’ll say. He needs to catch up.” – GOP Sen. Joni Ernst, telling reporters that she’s ahead of Senate colleague Chuck Grassley in completing their 99-county tours of Iowa this year. Ernst says she’s been to 50 counties so far.

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