A fiscal 2022 funding bill for USDA and the Food and Drug Administration is headed to the full Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill, which was approved Monday evening by the committee’s Agriculture subcommittee, includes about $7 billion in supplemental assistance for farmers who have been affected by drought and other natural disasters. 
The disaster funding includes $6.28 billion for USDA’s WHIP Plus program to cover losses in 2020 and 2021, and an additional $750 million targeted to livestock producer losses in 2021. 
USDA’s ReConnect broadband grant and loan program would get another $700 million. 

All together, the bill would provide $25.9 billion in total spending for the next fiscal year, a $2.46 billion increase from fiscal 2021. 
The full Appropriations Committee will consider the bill on Wednesday. 
Input costs, drought worry ag bankers 
Ag bankers are seeing significantly better loan repayment rates this year, a sign of the strong commodity markets. But Kansas City Fed economist Cortney Cowley says there are concerns about the impact of the drought across the West and upper Midwest. 
And she says bankers also are worried that increases in production costs could bite farmers if commodity prices come back down. 
“That's something that has bankers very concerned because there's a lot of uncertainty still surrounding commodity prices, and they know that if commodity prices come down we’re going to be stuck at these levels of higher input costs,” said Cowley. She was speaking Monday during the annual meeting of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. 
Fertilizer prices in particular have soared this year.
Loan repayment rates have improved significantly across five Federal Reserve districts - Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Louis. Dallas hasn’t shown as much improvement than the others, possibly because of issues in the livestock sector, Cowley said. 
EPA approves paraquat for use with some restrictions
The Environmental Protection Agency will continue to allow aerial applications of paraquat, a herbicide that is the subject of lawsuits around the country that allege exposure to it has caused Parkinson’s disease.
In its interim registration review decision made public Monday, EPA said “there is limited, but insufficient, epidemiologic evidence to conclude that there is a clear associative or causal relationship between occupational paraquat exposure” and Parkinson’s.
EPA said its decision includes new mitigation measures, including prohibiting pressurized handgun and backpack sprayer applications; requiring enclosed cabs or respirators for groundboom applications; and increasing the Restricted Entry Interval (REI) for several crops.
The agency initially proposed to prohibit aerial applications, but said based on new data it received, it would allow aerial applications on up to 350 acres within a 24-hour period for all uses except cotton desiccation.
Food companies form new group to address welfare of broiler chickens

Seven food and restaurant companies have formed a new group to improve the way broiler chickens are raised.
The U.S. Working Group for Broiler Welfare, facilitated by Compassion in World Farming and Blue House Sustainability Consulting, “aims to support members in exploring workable strategies and creative solutions for transitioning supply chains through the lens of the welfare standards outlined in the Better Chicken Commitment,” the group said in a news release. That commitment “sets a baseline welfare standard for breed selection, space allocation, environmental enrichments, slaughter method, and third-party auditing.”
The companies are Aramark, Compass Group, Nestlé USA, Panera Bread, Shake Shack, Sodexo and Target.
US chicken paw exports to China seen rising this year
The U.S. exported about 202,000 metric tons of chicken paws to China in 2020, and the swift pace of trade already this year has spurred USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to predict that the volume will be even higher this year. FAS said it now expects China to import more than 250,000 tons of the paws to China this year. That would account for nearly half of all China’s paw imports.
“U.S. exports of chicken paws to China have grown dramatically since the United States regained market access for poultry products after the signing of the U.S.-China Economic and Trade Agreement,” FAS said in the new analysis from its office in Beijing.
Selling chicken paws to China is extremely profitable for U.S. producers because there’s virtually no domestic consumer market for the product. U.S. producers would only get a fraction of the sales value if they had to sell the paws to renderers in the U.S.

DMC payments trigger for June

Producers enrolled in Dairy Margin Coverage will receive a payment for June.

The average margin for June was $6.24 per hundred-weight. Operations that selected tier 1 margin coverage between $7-$9.50 and tier 2 coverage levels between $6.50-$8 will receive a payment.

Payments are triggered when the difference between all milk price and average feed cost fall below the producer selected margin trigger. Previous payments have triggered in January, February, March, April, and May, according to USDA.

Cattle thief gets 12-year sentence

A Texas man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison after selling about $44,000 worth of stolen cattle at auctions in Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Jay Lee Parker was hired to care for 433 head of cattle by a Texas family that later discovered 83 head were missing. The Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and Arkansas Department of Agriculture investigated and found that Parker had secretly sold the cattle at auction.

He said it: “Carbon in the air, bad, carbon in the soil? Good. Pay the farmer.” That was former Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, quoting former Rep. Glenn English, D-Okla., with a whimsical definition of carbon sequestration at the Ag Media Summit in Kansas City on Monday.

The Monday morning edition of Daybreak reported African swine fever had been detected in Haiti; the virus has been detected in the Dominican Republic. 
Questions? Tips? Contact Bill Tomson at bill@agri-pulse.com