Bob Dole’s death Sunday brought a slew of tributes for the Kansas legislator who helped expand the food stamp program and whose name is on a significant international food program.
The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which provides school meals and food for nursing mothers and young children, “saved the lives of countless young people who would otherwise have died in infancy — and brought dignity to tens of millions of families at home and abroad,” President Joe Biden said in a statement that hailed Dole’s bipartisanship.
“In the Senate, though we often disagreed, he never hesitated to work with me or other Democrats when it mattered most,” Biden said.
Sen. Jerry Moran, the Kansas Republican who uses Dole’s old desk on the Senate floor, called the former Senate Majority Leader “an exemplary statesman” who was a “leader on ending global hunger.” Dole helped create an urban-rural partnership to pass the 1973 farm bill, which expanded the food stamp program throughout the country.
Read more about Dole at Agri-Pulse.com
Senate Dems beef up ag climate funding
Agri-Pulse has obtained the text of the Senate’s ag provisions for the massive Build Back Better bill. The provisions would add more than $2 billion in conservation technical assistance to the bill as it passed the House, plus $150 million in additional funding for ag research.
The House-passed version of the BBB bill had just $200 million for technical assistance. The Senate version would bring that to $2.35 billion. It's not clear where Senate Democrats got the money for the increase.
Democrats on the Senate Ag Committee succeeded in getting the additional money for technical assistance. Advocates of climate-based farming practices have argued that it’s critical to provide farmers with the guidance and advice they need to apply for farm bill conservation programs.
Keep in mind: Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., wants to get the bill passed before the end of the year. Both Republicans and Democrats have been making their pitches to the two Democratic senators who are key to the bill’s fate: Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
If Manchin and Sinema don’t “get on board before Christmas there won't be a vote before Christmas," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Agri-Pulse this weekend.
For more on the D.C. agenda this week, read our Washington Week Ahead
Recommendations on labeling of new meat products diverge sharply
The sides have been clearly drawn in comments submitted to the Food Safety and Inspection Service on the labeling of lab-grown meat: Developers and proponents of the new technology want a short, simple descriptor, while industry and food safety groups would like to see more detail that clearly distinguishes products made from animal cells from “traditionally harvested meat,” as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association put it.
Upside Foods (formerly Memphis Meats), which counts Tyson as an investor and just opened a new production facility in California, and the Good Food Institute both say “cultivated” is the best term to use.
“‘Cultivated’ is … a neutral term that is not disparaging to either conventional products or those grown from cells,” GFI said in comments submitted Friday. The group also said a recent survey it conducted showed that 60% of companies using the cell-based method preferred use of that term.
NCBA, however, recommended “lab-grown” and the National Chicken Council said “cell-cultured” should be on the label and that such products should not be allowed to use names of parts such as “wing,” “leg” or “breast.”
The Center for Food Safety and Food and Water Watch saidproduct names “should clarify how different this new technology is from traditional meat and poultry. They favored “synthetic cell-cultured meat and poultry product” as the generic name, but would go further: “For example, ‘Made with synthetic cell-cultured protein derived from bovine cells.’ ”
The comments were submitted in response to a request from FSIS in September. Upside estimated about 70 companies around the world are seeking to make “cultivated” meat, Singapore became the first to allow the sale of it about a year ago.
China dominates US sorghum trade in late November
U.S. sorghum trade for the week of Nov. 19-25 was dominated by Chinese customers. The USDA reported net sales of 284,700 metric tons of the grain for the seven-day period, all of which was sold to Chinese buyers. The original total was 337,700 tons, but 53,000 tons in sales were canceled.
As for physical exports, the U.S. shipped 186,900 tons of sorghum to foreign buyers. All but 200 tons, which went to Mexican buyers, were shipped to China.
China was also once again the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans. Chinese buyers contracted to purchase 657,100 tons of U.S. soybeans – more than half the weekly total – and the U.S. shipped about 1.4 million tons to China.
Also of note: India was the biggest buyer of U.S. soy oil for the week of Nov. 19-25. Indian buyers committed to buying 30,000 tons of the total 49,300 tons sold during the week.
US misses out on growing fruit demand from Philippines
Consumers in the Philippines have been eating a lot more fruit during the pandemic, and the country has ramped up imports to meet that demand, but U.S. farmers and exporters are not getting any of that increased business because of supply chain disruptions.
Getting U.S. commodities on Asia-bound ships has been so difficult that U.S. fruit exports to the Philippines actually dropped by 35% to just $32.5 million in 2020, according to a new report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Meanwhile, overall imports by the Philippines rose 36% to $695 million. China and Australia saw their exports of fresh fruit to the Philippines rise by 80% and 17%, respectively, in 2020.
Chinese exporters remain a big part of the problem. U.S. demand for Chinese products is so strong that exporters in China are paying ocean carriers extra to return containers empty after they are unloaded at U.S. ports.
The U.S. primarily ships apples, oranges, grapes and cherries to the Philippines. U.S. cherry exports are the only category to increase last year and that’s because they are flown over to the country.
Bill Tomson and Philip Brasher contributed to this report. Send questions, tips or comments to Steve Davies