The Biden administration will announce a trucking “action plan” today that emphasizes the use of apprenticeships to beef up employment in the industry, senior administration officials told reporters in a virtual background call Wednesday evening.

The administration will accelerate the registration of those programs, which they touted as a way for drivers to “earn as they learn,” and roll out a pilot program that would allow 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds to drive heavy-duty trucks across state lines, but only while using enhanced safety equipment.

They also said the administration would work to streamline the process to receive a commercial driver’s license and seek to connect veterans to trucking jobs.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese will discuss issues facing the industry with business leaders today, the officials said.

The industry is facing a shortage of 80,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations. Read more on our website.

LA Port director says ocean shipping bill will be effective
Legislation passed by the House would indeed be successful in helping farmers get their commodities into containers so they can be exported, Port of Los Angeles Director Gene Seroka said Wednesday on a webinar hosted by the Blue Dog Democrats.
The House passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021 with a vote of 364 to 60 on Dec. 8, and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., said he hopes the Senate will manage to pass similar legislation early next year.
About three-quarters of ships leaving the Port of Los Angeles are carrying empty containers after vessel-operating common carriers refuse to load them, Seroka said.

Chinese exporters of consumer electronics, apparel, toys and other Chinese-made goods are paying ship owners extra to not wait for containers to be filled with Asia-bound ag products from the U.S.
The Ocean Shipping Reform bill would prohibit VOCCs “from unreasonably declining export cargo bookings if the cargo can be loaded in a safe and timely manner.”
FAS: Political turmoil threatens US ag exports to Nicaragua
U.S. ag exports to Nicaragua broke records this year as the country bought more corn, rice, soymeal, cotton and pork than ever before, but USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service is warning that “deteriorating economic conditions following sham November elections” could severely stunt trade.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega claimed victory in the November election. This will be his fifth term as president and his wife will continue on as his vice president.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and associated disruptions to global supply chains, U.S. agricultural exports to Nicaragua through September 2021 were $333 million, up 84% over the same period in 2020 and shattering the previous record high annual U.S. agricultural export value,” FAS said in a new report from its offices in Managua.
The U.S. exported $110 million worth of corn and $59 million worth of soymeal to Nicaragua in the first 10 months of this year. Those numbers, respectively, are 144% and 70% higher than the same time frame last year.
Danone extends final contracts for Northeast organic dairies 

Danone North America, owner of Horizon Organic, has met one of the demands of 89 organic dairies in New England with which the company is severing ties.

Representatives for the dairies said Danone agreed to extend the dairies’ final contracts for 18 months until Feb. 28, 2023, six more months than it initially offered. It also will provide a transition payment of $2 per hundred pounds of milk for six months.

“We hope to hear more specifics about how Danone plans to co-invest in solutions for Northeast dairy infrastructure,” said Kate Mendenhall of the Organic Farmers Association. “The region needs a new organic dairy processing facility to be able to secure a future for Northeast dairy and provide local milk for the Northeast.”

Danone announced in August it was moving its eastern operations west to Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.

Lawsuit filed in federal court targets regulation of treated seeds

The Environmental Protection Agency must address the issue of seeds coated with insecticides, a lawsuit filed in federal court says.

Center for Food Safety and Pesticide Action Network North America are seeking a court order that would require EPA to respond to their petition, which challenges a “loophole” in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act allowing treated seeds to escape regulation.

A lawsuit directly challenging that lack of regulation failed previously when a federal judge concluded that guidance issued by EPA did not constitute “final agency action” that he could review.

Webinar slated for today on local food assistance program

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is holding a webinar at 2 p.m. today to provide information about the recently announced Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA).

Eligible state and tribal governments have until April 5 to apply for the program, which will award up to $400 million for emergency food assistance purchases of domestic local foods.

The webinar will be held via ZOOM. Those interested in participating can register here.

Statistics service seeks some basic info from ag operations

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is asking around 75,000 producers nationwide to take about 10 minutes of their time to provide demographic and basic farm information.

NASS said it conducts studies like the 2021 Farm Producer Study “to improve knowledge and understanding of agricultural producers and help USDA improve services to them.”

Information can be provided online at or by mail. The response deadline is Jan. 18.

He said it: “Some.” — President Joe Biden, after being asked by a reporter about “what kind of progress” has been made in the Build Back Better negotiations.

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