Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are calling on the Biden administration to provide analysis and other documentation to back up the recent decision to replace the Trump-era rule that narrowed the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act
The senators are demanding — among other things — that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers define the “significant environmental damage” and “ongoing environmental harm” that the agencies say is resulting from Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule. 
In a letter to the agencies, the senators are seeking details of “implementation challenges” that EPA staff members say the NWPR is creating. The senators say a lack of detail about the administration's move “has contributed to only greater uncertainty for Congress, the states, and regulated entities.”
The NWPR replaced the “waters of the U.S.” rule implemented by the Obama administration that increased the number of wetlands and other features subject to federal jurisdiction. 
US joins global school nutrition effort
The Biden administration is joining a global effort to make school meals available to all children on earth by 2030. The coalition – spearheaded by Iceland, Finland and France with support from the UN World Food Program – will launch at the United Nations’ Food System Summit in September.
The Food Systems Summit is an effort to develop recommendations for meeting sustainable development goals over the coming decade.
Colorado Supreme Court blocks livestock ballot initiative
Livestock groups in Colorado are celebrating a state Supreme Court ruling to remand a ballot initiative that had the potential to dramatically shift acceptable livestock industry practices in the state.
On Monday, Colorado’s high court ruled the initiative violated the “single subject” rule in the state’s constitution. The initiative contained a number of tweaks to incorporate livestock into existing animal cruelty law, including expanding the definition of “sexual act with an animal.” The court said that redefinition added another subject to the ballot initiative.
“Because these subjects are not necessarily and properly connected, there is the potential for the very kind of voter surprise against which the single-subject requirement seeks to guard — here, voters might not understand that what is nominally a livestock initiative also affects the care of all animals, or vice versa,” the ruling noted.
Livestock industry proponents were concerned the initiative could end practices such as artificial insemination and livestock slaughter in the state. The Colorado Livestock Association called it “an unprecedented measure that will criminalize historic farming and ranching practices across Colorado.”
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Bill Cherrier
RECs: Remember us when writing energy policy
The nation’s rural electric cooperatives are appealing to lawmakers to take into account the needs of electric co-ops when crafting clean energy incentives. Bill Cherrier, executive vice president and CEO of Central Iowa Power Cooperative, will tell a Senate Ag subcommittee today that stable, baseload generation is still needed to back up wind and other sources of renewable power. 
Cherrier also will make the case for allowing co-ops to directly benefit from renewable power incentives. As non-profits, co-ops can’t make use of the existing tax credits, so they have to work through third-party companies that can. 
"This unworkable incentive structure impedes the ability of cooperatives to adopt new technologies in a cost-effective way. Congress should recognize this and make the existing tax credits direct-pay eligible for electric cooperatives,” Cherrier said in his prepared testimony.
Agricultural bank lending holds steady
Farm bank lending remained strong at $98.6 billion in 2020, a decrease of only 1.8% from 2019, according to the American Bankers Association annual report.
The report notes rising costs, supply chain bottlenecks, price volatility, and significant increases in federal cash payments caused demand for agricultural production loans to dip last year. Government payments also helped producers pay down loan balances.
ABA Chief Economist Sayee Srinivasan says the agricultural sector is expected to continue to face challenges as the economy reopens and recovers from the pandemic but “the strong asset quality and capital levels of America’s farm banks will help ensure that they continue to provide support to rural communities.”
According to ABA, the banking industry provides about half of all farm loans in the U.S. — $174 billion as of December 2020.
Smithfield hit with lawsuit alleging false claims about COVID safety, meat supply
Meat trade groups are pushing back against a lawsuit claiming Smithfield Foods has deceived customers about the state of the national meat supply chain and the company’s workplace safety practices.
During the pandemic, Smithfield “mounted an aggressive public relations campaign” based on two false claims, Food & Water Watch and Public Justice, which is representing it, said in a news release: “that the company was protecting workers at its facilities from COVID-19, and that meat shortages were coming if processing plants were forced to close.” 
FWW seeks a declaration that Smithfield misled and deceived consumers, and an order requiring Smithfield to correct its advertising. 
NAMI, NPPC respond: North American Meat Institute spokesperson Sarah Little said that by mid-April 2020, “pork and beef slaughter was down by about 50%” but the Centers for Disease Control had not yet issued specific guidance for the meat and poultry industry, and President Donald Trump had yet to sign his executive order designed to allow continued meat production.
 National Pork Producers Council spokesman Jim Monroe said “without a doubt, U.S. pork production was in crisis last year,” with more than 40% of U.S. pork harvest facility capacity unavailable at the peak of the pandemic. Many hog farmers “were forced to euthanize pigs to prevent suffering due to overcrowding on farms [and] the risk of a pork shortage was very real due to facility shutdowns or slowdowns.”

And Smithfield says: Chief Administrative Officer Keira Lombardo said the company could not provide a substantive response because it had not yet seen the complaint, but added that “our health and safety measures, guided by medical and workplace safety expertise, have been comprehensive as our teams have worked from coast to coast to protect the food supply during the pandemic.”
He said it: “We look forward to being part of a coalition that has the potential to bolster global food security, build resilience to future shocks, and foster multilateral collaboration in supporting the nutritional, health, and educational needs of children and adolescents worldwide.” — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, commenting on a global effort to make school meals available to all children on the planet by 2030.
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