Editor's note: Thursday is Veterans Day, so the next Daybreak will will appear on Friday. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says his three-day trip to the international climate conference in Glasgow showed the importance that agriculture will play in the Biden administration’s plans to address climate change.

He says it was also important to make the case that agriculture can contribute to reducing methane emissions globally through voluntary measures. “We want to make sure that people understand that you don't have to reduce the amount of animal agriculture production,” Vilsack tells Agri-Pulse in an exclusive interview. “You just have to make it more sustainable.”

Take note: He says that agriculture and forestry are expected to contribute about 20% of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that President Biden has promised. Biden has committed the U.S. to cutting emissions by at least 50% by 2030.

The $27 billion in conservation funding that’s in the Build Back Better Act pending in the House could lead to 100 million acres of land being put under conservation in the U.S., he says.

For an in-depth look at what has transpired in Glasgow, plus a look at how important provisions in the new infrastructure bill will be implemented, check out our weekly Agri-Pulse newsletter. Cosco Ship

White House announces supply chain action plan

The White House has unveiled a new plan for addressing supply chain bottlenecks, mostly by accelerating the awarding of grants for ports, waterways and freight networks.

Within 45 days, the administration plans to launch programs “to modernize ports and marine highways with more than $240 million in grant funding.” The Transportation Department will award $230 million in funding for the Port Infrastructure Development Grant program and $13 million for the Marine Highway Program to support waterborne freight service.

The White House also says it will identify projects for Army Corps of Engineers construction at coastal ports and inland waterways within the next 60 days, providing “a roadmap for more than $4 billion in funding to repair outdated infrastructure and to deepen harbors for larger cargo ships.”

In addition, the administration will “prioritize key ports of entry for modernization and expansion within the next 90 days.”

H-2A growth spurt continues in FY21

The latest data from the Labor Department shows demand for H-2A workers grew sharply again in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The number of jobs certified under the program increased about 15%, from 275,430 in fiscal 2020 to 317,619 in FY21.

Florida had the most of any state in FY21, with over 44,000 H-2A certifications in FY 21, Farmworker Justice said in an analysis of the numbers.

Georgia was second with about 35,000, and California third with about 32,000. Rounding out the top five were Washington state with nearly 29,000 and North Carolina with about 23,500. unloading corn

USDA cuts soybean production, boosts corn

Corn and soybean futures rose somewhat Tuesday after USDA released its monthly supply and demand estimates.

USDA raised its forecast of the 2021 corn harvest by increasing the estimated average yield to a record 177 bushels per acre. At the same time, USDA lowered its estimate for ending stocks by 7 million bushels.

USDA lowered its estimate of soybean production to 4.42 billion bushels, down 23 million from last month’s forecast.

January soybean futures rose about 2% in trading Tuesday; December corn futures were up 3 cents, or about 0.6%.

LMR a possible, but risky, path for livestock bill

Supporters of a new beef cattle industry compromise bill hope to piggyback the measure on the upcoming reauthorization of USDA’s livestock mandatory price reporting (LMR) system.

Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, one of the four senators who released the bipartisan framework Tuesday, told reporters he wants to tie the bill to the LMR reauthorization “because we’ll never get time for this bill as a separate bill on the United States Senate floor.”

But Scott Bennett, the livestock lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the “timing isn’t ideal.” LMR reauthorization is our “no. 1 priority …. not the provisions in this compromise bill being force-fed into a reauthorization.”

Keep in mind: The inclusion of other provisions would require broad industry support, which this latest bill doesn’t have given the opposition of the North American Meat Institute, which represents packers.

Judge keeps Biden's vax mandate in place

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ruled against 20 U.S. government employees seeking to block the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said in her opinion that each of the employees who are suing over the mandate has a pending exemption request and so hasn’t any disciplinary action taken against them yet.

The plaintiffs are thus “complaining of a compulsory inoculation they may never need to take, and of adverse employment actions they may never experience,” she said.

Meanwhile: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering a challenge to the administration’s vaccine mandate for businesses of 100 or more employees, ordered the government to respond today to Texas’ request to halt enforcement of the OSHA mandate.

He said it. “Given where we had been on this issue over the last four or five years, I think it was important to send a very strong message that we're taking this very seriously and we want to be part of global leadership in addressing this.” - Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack on the impact of his participation in the Glasgow climate conference, which ends Friday.

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