The Senate Agriculture Committee is set to hold a vote this morning on the nominations of Robert Bonnie to be USDA’s Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm Production and Conservation and Xochitl Torres Small for Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development.
Members of the committee are expected to gather near the Senate floor in the Capitol when the first vote of the day is held to vote on both nominees, according to a statement released by Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., the top Republican on the committee.

Farm Bureau backs infrastructure bill

The American Farm Bureau Federation has thrown its support behind the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is expected to be considered on the Senate floor this week, calling attention to investments in roads, bridges, waterways and broadband in a letter from President Zippy Duvall to senators Friday.

“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act invests $110 billion in U.S. roads and bridges, $65 billion for broadband, and $17.3 billion for ports and inland waterways,” Duvall said, also mentioning “significant investments in western water infrastructure that [are] necessary to ensure future production opportunities for our members being negatively impacted by prolonged drought conditions.”

The bill has gotten bogged down in discussions over taxation of cryptocurrency, The Washington Post reported, and moderate House Democrats are expressing concern about Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stated desire to only pass the infrastructure bill if it’s accompanied by a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package.
Canada stresses dairy pricing compliance with USMCA
Canada is complying with provisions in the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement on how the country sets dairy prices and exports products, according to the country’s ag ministry, dismissing complaints from the U.S. dairy industry.
“Canada takes all of its international trade obligations very seriously, including its dairy obligations in the USMCA,” a spokesperson for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada tells Agri-Pulse
U.S. industry representatives have been complaining that Canada is sidestepping a USMCA provision to limit Canadian milk protein exports and eliminate the country’s class 6 and 7 milk pricing schemes.
“Canada understands that this issue is important to stakeholders in the U.S. dairy industry and we are confident that our practices align with our international trade obligations,” the spokesperson said.
US beef exports broke records in June
U.S. pork and beef exports dropped off a bit after May, but remained very strong in June, setting records for the first six months of the year, according to a new analysis released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
There were plenty of obstacles for trade in the first six months of 2021, said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom, “so the fact that first-half exports reached record levels speaks to the loyalty of our international customer base, strong consumer demand for high-quality, nutritious U.S. red meat and the U.S. industry's ability to adapt to a challenging and rapidly changing business climate.”
The U.S. exported 112,249 metric tons of beef at a value of $804 million in June. That pushed the six-month total up to 700,087 tons, worth $4.64 billion. Both of those figures set a new record for the first half of a year, which was last set in 2018.
The U.S. also shipped 238,935 tons of pork – valued at $697 million – to foreign buyers in June. That helped push pork exports above the record set last year for shipments in the first six months. The U.S. exported 1.58 million tons of pork worth $4.33 billion from January through June.

John Deere announces $250M purchase of Bear Flag Robotics

More companies are looking to invest in autonomous technology as skilled labor becomes increasingly hard to fine. The latest example presented itself on Thursday when John Deere purchased Bear Flags Robotics, which specializes in autonomous tilling systems.

Bear Flag will retain its name and California location for now, but will work closely with John Deere to further develop the company’s autonomous technology. 
"People want this,” Aubrey Donnellan, the founder and chief operating officer of Bear Flag, said at a press conference Friday. "Growers arguably need technology. And we're working as fast as we can to deliver it to them."
APHIS issues news requirements on dog imports to address risk of ASF
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is imposing new requirements on dogs imported for resale into the U.S. from countries where African Swine Fever exists, including restrictions on bedding and a requirement that dogs have microchips implanted.

Dogs and the containers they are shipped in “must be free of dirt, wood shavings, hay, straw, or any other organic/natural bedding material,” APHIS said. In addition, all bedding that accompanies the dogs during transit must be properly disposed of at ports of entry.

The National Pork Producers Council applauded the move.
“Each year, several thousand dogs enter the country for resale or adoption,” NPPC Chief Veterinarian Liz Wagstrom said. “If even one of these animals carried ASF into the country, it could put the U.S. swine herd and other livestock in jeopardy and have disastrous consequences for our nation’s agriculture sector.”
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