Agri-Pulse readers kept a keen eye on a whole host of developments throughout the year, but none more so than the fresh faces of a new administration and congressional efforts to inject new funds into farm country.

A look at the most viewed stories for each month of the year shows those topics dominated the news, but developments in trade, regulatory changes and even the sale of a cherished ag landmark also made headlines through the year.

Here’s a look at the top news stories on for each month of the year: 


Biden COVID package calls for extension of SNAP increase, back hazard pay for essential workers

A few days before President Joe Biden was inaugurated, his transition team revealed what would become the base framework for a congressional effort to pass additional coronavirus relief. The bill enacted in March would ultimately include key aspects of Biden's January proposal. 

Also in the news: 

FFA CEO Mark Poeschl resigns

Three new deputy undersecretaries named at USDA

Biden picks Bronaugh for USDA deputy post

Biden executive order seeks to involve ag in battling climate change


House Ag Democrats advance ag stimulus package as GOP attacks minority farmer debt relief

As congressional Democrats sought to make good on pledges of another COVID-19 relief package, the subject of whether or not to forgive 120% of the debt held by socially disadvantaged farmers – with the outstanding 20% going toward taxes and fees associated with the relief – dominated the conversation. The committee-passed language also included $4 billion in funds for the food supply chain as well as a temporary 15% increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

Also in the news: 

House passes $1.9T stimulus package with aid for food system, minority farmers

Stimulus bill offers minority farmer debt relief, aid to food supply chain

Minority advocates say debt relief provisions have legal backing

Wage rates for H-2A farmworkers up 4.5% in 2021


4-H to sell national conference center

Current and former 4-H members shocked to learn of the sale of the suburban Washington facility made this our most-viewed story of the year. National 4-H leaders said the loss of event revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced their hand, leading to the historic site – and temporary home for many a farm kid’s first trip to the nation’s capital – hitting the market. 

Also in the news: 

Senate Dems secure $1.9T stimulus bill, minority farmer debt relief survives GOP challenge

White House names Blazek as ag adviser

A ‘right-to-repair’ conversation with a John Deere exec 

GOP senators, school food directors push for easing nutrition standards


Five white farmers sue USDA over debt relief plan

Nearly as soon as the minority debt relief was enacted, it faced a host of legal challenges from across the country. This case was the second such lawsuit; Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller filed a class-action suit in his capacity as a private citizen just before this case hit the docket. USDA and congressional Democrats stood by their efforts, but one of the farmers filing the lawsuit said offering financial relief to certain races was “just wrong.”

Also in the news: 

Vilsack cancels Food Box program, citing cost, inefficiencies

Moffitt picked as next USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs undersecretary

Bonnie tapped to lead USDA farm programs

USDA raising CRP payment rates, expanding incentives


Cosby named Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief

As the team at USDA kept growing, many were happy to see Terry Cosby, a longtime Agriculture Department employee, named the top official at the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Cosby brought conservation experience from across the country to the position and was serving in an acting capacity before being elevated to NRCS chief by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  

Also in the news: 

Rural House Democrats challenge Biden’s inheritance tax

Top meatpacker JBS leaves NCBA

USDA sets strategy for expanding 'climate-smart' ag, ensuring all farmers benefit

Begemann retires from Bayer, Santos tapped as new COO


Ag community mourns the loss of Robert Holifield

Farm hands in Washington and across the country were stunned to learn of the sudden and unexpected passing of Robert Holifield, a longtime Capitol Hill staffer and co-founder of the Lincoln Policy Group. Holifield was staff director of the Senate Ag Committee under former Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.

Also in the news: 

Vilsack blasts farmers suing over minority debt relief

Biden picks Wilkes to head USDA's natural resources, environment mission area

USDA halts minority farmer debt relief after judge's order

Farm commodity prices: Is this the boom before a bust?


Rice theft threatens Haitian market for US exporters

The buying and selling of ag commodities overseas is always fraught with a host of concerns, but armed robbery was a surprising twist for a few shipments of American rice in Haiti. Over a three-week span during the summer, thieves made off with 500 metric tons of U.S. rice worth about $300,000. 

Also in the news:

Biden executive order targets consolidation in ag sector 

House Ag OKs $8.5B disaster aid bill

Bayer to remove glyphosate from lawn and garden Roundup products

Federal judge in Texas rules for white farmers on debt relief, certifies producer classes


Democrats tee up massive spending, tax plan with $3.5T budget resolution

After a summer of negotiations led to the splitting of a massive social and physical infrastructure bill into separate pieces of legislation, Democrats began work to pass the more partisan elements through the budget reconciliation process. The resulting reconciliation bill – and the efforts to pass it – would dominate the news for the rest of the year as Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., pushed back on several key provisions. 

Also in the news: 

EPA banning use of chlorpyrifos on food crops

Hours-of-service exemption extended for livestock haulers

Trump waters rule vacated by federal judge

Puerto Rico is new US battlefront against ASF


NCBA, Farm Bureau offer assurances that reconciliation bill won't tax cattle, pig emissions

One of the more bizarre moments of the Build Back Better reconciliation package debate was a GOP claim that the bill was set to tax livestock emissions at astronomical rates that would surpass the value of the animals themselves. Those claims forced farm groups to explain that the bill – which contained many provisions they did not support – would not, in fact, put producers out of business with a new tax.

Also in the news: 

Democrats’ tax package protects stepped-up basis

Document details $28B in conservation spending

Fire shuts down Nebraska JBS plant

Democrats' measure immediately pumps money into climate-smart ag, offers USDA loan relief


White House announces deal on $1.75T spending package vote

With key senators in mind, the White House announces a compromise budget reconciliation package to be trimmed into what would become the Build Back Better Act on Capitol Hill. The pared-down legislation slashed many priorities but kept the ag provisions of the original House proposal largely intact.

Also in the news:

USDA announces initial slate of FSA, RD state leaders

Corteva picks Magro as new CEO

Democrats' $1.8T Build Back Better deal funds climate-smart ag, creates clean fuel subsidy

Farm profits threatened by volatile fertilizer, pesticide costs


New estimates predict climate change is coming for crops sooner than expected

New estimates from NASA and Columbia University caught the attention of Agri-Pulse readers in November as a research team forecast reduced corn productivity by 2032 and cuts to soybean and rice by the end of the century. The team recommended some management changes and said the current food production systems “will soon face fundamentally changed risk profiles.” 

Also in the news: 

OSHA stops work on vax mandate to comply with appeals court's stay

House advances $1.7T Build Back Better bill, climate-smart ag funding

Saving the planet by saving the soil: Can cover crops fulfill their promise?

EPA finds herbicides may harm endangered species, angering ag groups


Making cover crops pay off: what it takes to cover the cost

The Agri-Pulse team launched an in-depth look at cover crops in late 2021 that delved into the agronomic and economic questions at play as well as the potential for the practice to increase farm profitability.

Direct checks could ignite cover crop surge; crop insurance may play role, too

House overwhelmingly passes Ocean Shipping Reform bill

Kentucky tornado destroys grain bins, poultry barns

Cover crops as cash crops: Farmers angle to profit off the practice

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