Register today for a free Agri-Pulse webinar, “Creating the path to more sustainable pork,” which will explore how pork producers are responding to sustainability challenges. Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant will moderate the event on Feb. 17 at noon EST.
Lawmakers are still far from an agreement on spending for fiscal 2022 more than four months into the budget year. So, the House is going to take up yet another stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded through March 11.
The measure will extend provisions of a continuing resolution passed in December that’s set to expire Feb. 18. The new extension is needed not just to keep the government funded but also to maintain legal authority for some programs, including USDA’s livestock reporting system.
“Our country needs a government funding agreement to create good-paying jobs, grow opportunity for the middle class, and protect our national security. We are close to reaching a framework government funding agreement, but we will need additional time to complete the legislation in full,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
Keep in mind: Unless Congress can eventually agree on funding for FY22, lawmakers will have to pass a full-year CR, which would freeze funding at FY21 levels.
New climate-smart program gets plaudits, prompts questions
Farm groups reacted positively to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of a new program to fund demonstration projects using climate-smart practices, even as a farm-state senator said USDA was bypassing the farm bill process.
“We share Secretary Vilsack’s optimism that this approach will support climate-smart commodities while unlocking new market opportunities, and we believe it will build confidence in the climate benefits of advanced farming and forestry practices,” the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, which has more than 80 members, said in a news release. The American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, National Farmers Union and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives are among the groups in FACA.
However: Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall immediately dashed off a letter to Vilsack questioning the department’s authority to create the program using $1 billion from the Commodity Credit Corp.
“It seems USDA is crafting its own farm bill by using the CCC to create its own programs and priorities that haven’t been established by Congress and to fund projects only USDA deems worthy,” Marshall said, asking for answers by Friday to a series of questions about the program.
New beetle data could loosen restrictions on use of Enlist herbicides, groups say
New data submitted to EPA on the effects of Enlist herbicides on the endangered American burying beetle could allow the agency to pull back county-level prohibitions that threaten large swaths of soybean, corn and cotton acres, commodity groups said in a letter to EPA Monday.
The agency’s seven-year registration for the weedkiller, issued last month, includes 217 counties where Enlist is prohibited because of the presence of endangered species.
“By one estimate, these prohibitions have affected more than 50 percent of the soybean acres in Oklahoma and nearly 20 percent of soy acres in Nebraska,” the letter from the American Soybean Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cotton Council and National Corn Growers Association said. “Based on recent cotton planted acreage data, the county prohibitions will impact over one million acres of cotton [and] nearly 50 percent of corn acres in Nebraska.”
“We urge EPA to swiftly make a registration amendment addressing the need for these county-level prohibitions should this new data find them unwarranted,” the groups said.
US and Japan end trade friction on metals
The U.S. and Japan have reached a deal to lift American tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminum, ending an irritant in what is otherwise a strong trading relationship. Unlike other trading partners, Japan did not retaliate against U.S. farm commodities in reaction to the tariffs levied during the Trump administration.
The U.S. considers Japan a close ally, and the deal struck Monday will bring the countries even closer, said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
“Today’s announcement builds on the deal we struck with the EU and will further help us rebuild relationships with our allies around the world as we work to fight against China’s unfair trade practices and create a more competitive global economy for America’s families, businesses and workers,” Raimondo said.
Heavy rains slow Brazil soybean harvest
Brazilian farmers are still hard at work bringing in this year’s soybean harvest, but heavy rains in key producing states are slowing things down, according to a new analysis by the consulting firm AgRural.
The precipitation is especially confounding in Mato Grosso – Brazil’s largest soybean state.
“In Mato Grosso, producers did their best to harvest in the intervals between the rains, fearing that newly predicted rainfall could cause quality problems in the ready-to-harvest fields,” the firm said.
Brazil was 16% harvested as of Thursday last week, AgRural said.
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