Leading farm groups are supporting Field to Market President Rod Snyder to become EPA’s agriculture adviser. Field to Market has played a leading role in developing and promoting sustainability metrics and organizes a popular annual conference.

“Snyder is uniquely qualified for this role based upon his nearly two decades of working at the intersection of agricultural and environmental issues. Over the years, he has gained the respect and confidence of stakeholders ranging from farmers to environmental NGOs and would be an asset to EPA as you oversee key agricultural policy within the Agency,” the ag groups say in a letter prepared for EPA Administrator Michael Regan. A copy of the letter was obtained by Agri-Pulse.

Snyder previously held policy positions with the National Corn Growers Association and CropLife America.

Stabenow: ‘Very strong’ ag support for climate funding

It’s still far from clear how and when Congress is going to move an infrastructure bill – and whether it’s going to be bipartisan. But Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow says she working toward getting a substantial increase in funding for conservation as well as agricultural research included.

Stabenow has indicated that she’s seeking $50 billion in conservation spending, and this week farm groups called for $40 billion in new research funding.

“We would love to see additional investments in agricultural research, which has really been weakened in the last number of years as well as other support for local communities,” including rural broadband, Stabenow told reporters Thursday.

She went on, “We have very, very strong support from the agriculture and forestry community to move forward on investments, and in conservation that allow them to go to the next step in meeting the climate crisis.”

Keep in mind: A bipartisan group of senators said Thursday they reached a tentative agreement on the framework of an infrastructure package Thursday, but Republicans stressed that the details were fluid.

By the way: Janie Simms Hipp’s nomination as USDA general counsel is ready for a final Senate vote. The Ag Committee approved Hipp by voice vote Thursday.
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Sen. Jon Tester

Bill would set up competition office

The Ag Committee is preparing to hold a hearing, perhaps yet this month, on cattle marketing pricing. And lawmakers continue to try to keep the heat on meat packers.

Today, Sen. Jon Tester is announcing a bill that would amend the Packers and Stockyards Act to establish a USDA Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also are sponsoring the measure.

Groups ask Biden to end Trump’s 232 tariffs

President Joe Biden and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will be in Brussels next week, and more than 30 U.S. industry groups representing diverse members are hoping the president will use the summit there to bring an end to Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

The tariffs, initiated by the Trump administration continue to invoke retaliatory measures from the European Union, China and elsewhere.

Our members rely on the movement of their goods and inputs without constant government intervention that causes delivery delays and arbitrary price spikes,” the 33 groups said in a letter to Biden. “We encourage you to work with our national security and trade allies during your meetings in Europe in the coming weeks to lift the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs.”

The groups on the letter include the Pet Food Institute, U.S. Apple Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

Take note: One group that didn’t join the letter but is also pleading for an end to the 232 tariffs is the National Pork Producers Council. China still hasn’t lifted its 232 retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork, despite the “phase one” trade pact and that’s slowing down U.S. exports, says NPPC President Jen Sorenson.

“China continues to struggle with African swine fever and while U.S. pork exports to China have increased, these tariffs put the U.S. pork industry at a serious disadvantage as (China) seeks reliable sources of pork.”

By the way: Ahead of the G7 Summit that starts today in England, Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a joint statement covering a range of issues. The statement mentions trade policy mostly in passing, committing only to settle the commercial aircraft dispute. There was nothing about a bilateral trade deal.

The leaders said only that they would “work closely to identify and pursue opportunities to deepen our already extensive trade relationship.”   

US beef exports remain strong going into June

U.S. beef exports hit a marketing-year high for the week of May 28-June 3, and shipments to China remain strong, according to the latest trade data out of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The U.S. shipped 21,100 metric tons of beef across the globe for the seven-day period – a 70% increase from the previous week – and 4,600 tons of that total were sent to China.

The data builds on a rosy trade report released earlier this week by the U.S. Meat Export Federation that showed the U.S. exported a record-breaking amount of beef to China in April. The U.S. shipped 17,233 tons, valued at $130.6 million, to China in April. That’s up from 1,367 tons ($11.5 million) in April of last year.


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US Drought Monitor this time last year


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Drought Monitor this week

Crops remain in drought risk

Some 45% of the country is in a moderate or worse drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. That’s compared to 39% at the same time last year. (See the maps above)

According to USDA, about 35% of the U.S. corn crop and 31% of soybean acres are in regions experiencing drought, along with more than 80% of the sunflower, durum wheat, and spring wheat production area. Some 57% of alfalfa hay production also is in drought.

Most of northern Iowa and southern Minnesota are now in a moderate drought with parts of northwest Iowa and South Dakota in a severe drought. North Dakota continues to experience extreme drought.

Conditions are declining in Oregon, Idaho and eastern Washington while extreme and exceptional drought conditions are increasing in central and northern California, including the Central Coast.

She said it. “I know there's bipartisan support to really take a deep dive into what's going on for farmers.” – Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., on the need for a hearing on cattle market concerns. She said there are “serious weaknesses in the supply chain.”

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