The Biden administration is planning to use the upcoming international climate conference to promote the potential of agriculture to make food production more resilient. And in that vein, two House Agriculture subcommittees are holding a hearing today that will feature supporters of the use of biotechnology to improve agricultural productivity.

Fan-Li Chou, the American Seed Trade Association’s vice president for scientific affairs and policy, and Elena Rice, chief scientific officer at animal biotech firm Genus PLC, are on the witness list, along with Jack Bobo, CEO of food consulting firm Futurity, and Jon Oatley, an expert on animal genomics at Washington State University.

ASTA says Chou will “discuss opportunities and challenges associated with the latest plant breeding innovations, including gene editing.”

Bobo is the former spokesperson for biotech company Intrexon and served for four years on the board of AquaBounty, which developed a genetically engineered salmon approved by FDA in 2015 after a 20-year review process. It was the first GE animal to be approved.

Dems look to finalize deal

A key Senate Democrat, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, expressed optimism Monday that he could reach agreement with his colleagues this week on a final version of President Biden’s Build Back Better Act. Manchin declined to go into detail with reporters about the talks, saying there were still a “lot of moving parts.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., declared that Democrats “are on track” to finish the bill, which is expected to range between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion.Katherine Tai

USTR’s Tai to get questioned on chicken trade

 U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will be the special guest of the National Chicken Council Thursday at its annual conference, where she’s expected to get grilled on prospects for the industry to increase exports.

Tai has agreed to a “fireside chat” format for her appearance, and she’ll be sitting opposite Jim Sumner, president of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Export Council.

Prospects for exports to China – a major purchaser of U.S. chicken paws – is expected to be a major topic of discussion, but the industry is also hungry for more trade expansion across the globe. The U.S. exported $461 million worth of chicken paws and $731 million worth of broilers to China in 2020.

Brazil soy planting speeds up

 The Brazilian soy crop was 38% planted as of Thursday last week, according to the latest updated analysis from the consulting firm AgRural. A week earlier, the 2021 crop was only 22% planted.

The current planting frenzy is the second fastest pace ever, behind only the 2018 crop, says AgRural. Only 23% of Brazil’s soy crop was in the ground by this time last year.

“With good soil moisture, growers took advantage of last week's open weather to speed up planting,” the firm’s analysts said. “In (the states of) Mato Grosso and Paraná, the more advanced regions are already approaching the final stretch of planting.”

Lawmakers blast Danone decision to drop organic farms

Four Northeastern lawmakers are asking the CEOs of Danone and Danone North America to reconsider the termination of contracts with 89 organic dairy farms.

The farms were informed in August by Danone subsidiary Horizon Organic that they could renew their contracts through August 2022, but that Danone would not be purchasing their milk after that. Danone has said high transportation costs led to the decision.

The lawmakers, all Democrats, include Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden of Maine, Peter Welch of Vermont, and Annie Kuster of New Hampshire.

“By all accounts, your decision to sever the contracts of these 89 farms was one based solely on maximizing profits, regardless of the devastating consequences for the families and communities you cast aside and despite the reputational benefits and profit you gleaned from their work,” the lawmakers said in the letter.

The decision has already been criticized by groups representing organic farmers.

Senate Ag Republicans challenge industry giant

Seven Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee are calling on food industry giant Unilever to get its Ben & Jerry’s subsidiary to back off actions it’s taking in Israel. Ben & Jerry’s recently announced that it wouldn’t renew a contract with Israeli licensees who refused to stop selling products in the West Bank or parts of East Jerusalem.

“As strong supporters of Israel, we believe the actions taken by Ben & Jerry’s are an effort to advance the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel,” the senators say in a letter to Unilever. "We oppose the BDS movement and believe it is important for the United States to combat the movement as a number of countries have sought to isolate Israel, our sole democratic ally in the Middle East, through BDS actions.”

The letter was signed by the Ag Committee’s top Republican, John Boozman of Arkansas, as well as Roger Marshall of Kansas, John Thune of South Dakota, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mike Braun of Indiana.Gas Pump

Republicans propose to repeal RFS

A group of conservative House Republicans is proposing to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard even as the industry pushes the Biden administration to increase the annual blending mandates. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., and five other Republicans introduced the bill Friday.

A major ethanol industry group says it’s a bad time to take on the RFS. “It’s tone deaf to introduce legislation to repeal the RFS during a global energy crisis while Americans are facing rapidly rising fuel prices at the pump,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

The bill likely has little chance of getting out of the Democratically controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee.

He said it. “Next week is a is a critical week for President Biden, and for our leadership on the world stage as a country.” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., telling reporters that it is critical for Democrats to reach agreement on the Build Back Better bill and its climate provisions before the international climate conference that starts Sunday in Glasgow.

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