A broad array of national and state farm organizations is appealing to Congress and the Biden administration to provide $40 billion in new funding for climate-related and ag research infrastructure.

The groups want the money included in a climate and infrastructure package that Biden is trying to get through Congress.

“This once in a generation opportunity to significantly fund food and agriculture research, innovation, and infrastructure is crucial for the United States to reclaim our global lead in food and agricultural science and rise to meet today’s crises and those in the future,” the groups say in separate letters to President Joe Biden and congressional leadership.

POTUS heads to Europe

Biden leaves on his first overseas trip today, heading first to England for the G7 Summit. Biden will be in Europe through next week; he’s scheduled to meet June 16 with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ahead of the trip, ag and biotech groups have been urging the administration to address trade concerns with the EU, including new restrictions on dairy exports.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says he expects Biden to push Putin to crack down on ransomware attacks like the one that shut down JBS USA packing plants last week. If Putin doesn’t intervene, he could face new U.S. sanctions, Grassley says.

For more on the dairy issue, be sure and read our weekly Agri-Pulse newsletter today.

We also look at a White House council’s environmental justice recommendations that have implications for agriculture, and we report on the airline industry’s push for biofuel incentives that could intensify the competition for vegetable oils.

Biden ends talks with Capito

Biden has ended negotiations with a group of senior Republicans over the infrastructure package. The lead GOP negotiator, Shelley Moore Capito, announced that development after a call with Biden on Tuesday.

But the White House said Biden talked separately Tuesday with GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and two swing Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. Biden will be in contact with them by phone while he’s in Europe, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Capito complained that Biden continued to insist on funding infrastructure with tax increases.
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Senate Ag preparing hearing on cattle market

The top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, John Boozman, says the panel’s leadership is working toward holding a hearing on cattle pricing as soon as possible.

"What I would like to do is get people that are very respected by everyone on a panel … (to) see if we can find common ground,” Boozman told Agri-Pulse.

Sens. Grassley, Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., met with Boozman and Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., on Monday night.

Grassley told reporters that he hoped a hearing would come before August. Stabenow said they are still deciding on a date.

By the way: Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., introduced a bill similar to Fischer’s Senate cattle market transparency bill Tuesday. Hartzler’s bill would require minimum cash-trade levels, expand packer reporting, and create a contract library.

Hartzler also joined several of her colleagues in a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a civil investigation into the nation’s top four meat packers.

Take note: The committee has set a vote for Thursday on Janie Simms Hipp, Biden’s nominee to become USDA’s general counsel. She is not expected to have any trouble getting Senate approval.

Vilsack: No decision yet on appeal of line speed ruling

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack distanced himself from litigation over line speeds at swine slaughter plants, which a judge said in March need to be slowed at six plants operating under the New Swine Inspection System.

The pork industry has been urging USDA to appeal the decision, a course USDA appeared to have rejected last month when its Food Safety and Inspection Service said the six facilities should prepare to revert to their old speeds of 1,106 animals per hour at the end of this month, when the decision goes into effect.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Vilsack said no decision on whether to appeal has been made, and that in any case, that decision is up to the Solicitor General. But he also said, “I think the parties are talking, which I think is a good thing.”

But, but, but: Public Citizen attorney Adam Pulver, representing the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, told Agri-Pulse no one from USDA or the pork companies has contacted him.

By the way: Grassley is asking his Senate colleagues to sign a letter asking the Justice Department to appeal a court decision that will require pork processors to slow line speeds.

Propazine being phased out, aldicarb hit with court ruling

The registration of the herbicide propazine is being canceled at the request of the manufacturer, EPA says.

Used in sorghum in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, the product manufactured by Albaugh Inc. will be phased out over the next year. The environmental group Center for Biological Diversity called the announcement good news, citing an EPA analysis showing use of the chemical was “likely to adversely affect” 64 different threatened or endangered species.

Albaugh did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday vacated EPA’s registration of aldicarb for use on Florida oranges and grapefruit because the agency did not perform an endangered species consultation. Earlier this year, Florida rejected an application to use the insecticide to combat citrus greening.

US ethanol exports decline in April

U.S. ethanol exports dropped by 15% in April to 112.7 million gallons, down from 133 million gallons in March, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. China was the main factor, RFA says.

U.S. ethanol exports spiked in March to 48.3 million gallons and then dropped in April to 11.8 million gallons, a 76% drop.

Shipments to Canada and India also declined, but South Korea tripled its ethanol imports, taking 23.2 million gallons, and Mexico imported 3.4 million gallons in April, a six-month high.

They said it. “By providing solutions to short- and long-term challenges, research makes our food and agriculture sectors a powerhouse of the U.S. economy.” – Farm groups, in their letters asking for $40 billion in new research funding.

Questions? Tips? Contact Philip Brasher at philip@agri-