A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Sen. Cory Booker is calling on the White House to reject any effort by the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on plant-based beverages that use the term “milk.” 
The Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing proposed guidance on the “Labeling of Plant-based Milk Alternatives and Voluntary Nutrient Statements.” While the document hasn’t been released, the dairy industry and its allies in Congress have been pressuring FDA for years to stop plant-based products from using dairy names
"Any guidance, even if voluntary, that asks plant-based milks to identify differences without doing the same for animal milk is discriminatory towards the plant-based industry as well as the hard-working farmers who grow crops like oats and almonds,” the lawmakers say in a letter to OMB Director Shalanda Young
Booker, D-N.J., is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He was joined on the letter by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Reps. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., and Nancy Mace, R-S.C.
USTR meets top Taiwan official to talk trade
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met last week with John Deng, the Taiwanese minister in charge of trade, and the two “directed their teams to explore concrete ways to deepen the U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment relationship and to meet again in the coming weeks to discuss the path forward,” according to a USTR statement.
USTR did not mention the potential inclusion of Taiwan in the Biden administration’s proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, but more than half of the U.S. Senate is calling for exactly that. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and 50 other senators recently signed on to a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to include Taiwan in the proposed framework agreement designed to strengthen U.S. relationships in the region.
“Excluding Taiwan from IPEF would significantly distort the regional and global economic architecture, run counter to U.S. economic interests and allow the Chinese government to claim that the international community does not in fact support meaningful engagement with Taiwan,” the 52 senators wrote in the letter dated May 18.
WTO focuses on ag export ban for MC12
There have not been any major breakthroughs in negotiations on any agricultural agreements ahead of the World Trade Organization’s 12th Ministerial next month, but talks are intensifying on a deal to prevent nations from banning the export of food that the UN World Food Program needs to acquire for humanitarian aid.
The chair of the WTO Agriculture Committee this week announced that critical food security and hunger efforts are being put on a separate negotiating tract from other, more bogged-down issues, according to Geneva trade officials.
Meanwhile, India has gone on the defensive at the WTO in response to sharp criticisms over its recent decision to ban wheat exports. Rampant speculation is more to blame for the rise in global wheat prices than India’s actions, the country said.
EQIP better at encouraging cover crops than CSP, according to soybean group’s study
A study conducted by the nation’s largest soybean group says the Environmental Quality Incentives Program is more effective than the Conservation Stewardship Program at increasing cover crop acres on farms.
The American Soybean Association's study — an analysis of Natural Resources Conservation data from 2009 to 2020 — found that each $100 payment through EQIP increases acres planted with cover crops by 7%. CSP payments, on the other hand, corresponded to a decrease in cover crop adoption.
“While that seems counterintuitive, anecdotal evidence from farmers points to a reluctance to put all their acres into cover crops, as required by CSP contracts, compared to targeting certain acres under EQIP,” ASA economist Scott Gerlt said in a release.
Illinois actually gained — not lost — population in 2020, Census Bureau says
The state of Illinois actually saw a population increase of approximately 250,000 people in 2020 instead of the 18,000-person decline reported in the 2020 Census, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The agency said Illinois and five other states — Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas — were undercounted in the 2020 census. The populations of Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Utah were overcounted in the decennial survey, the bureau said.
Illinois was one of several agricultural states that lost a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives during reapportionment, though the Bureau still believes the 2020 Census was “fit for the purposes of apportionment and redistricting.” 
EPA holds second Midwest WOTUS roundtable
EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are holding another online, Midwest-focused roundtable today on the Biden administration’s plan to redefine the “waters of the United States.”
The event is one of 10 roundtables the agencies are conducting through June 24, and is the second to be focused on the Midwest. During a May 9 event, criticism was focused on farming practices that contribute to nutrient pollution.
Today’s event was organized by the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation and will be held from 4-6:30 pm ET.
Check out our Washington Week Ahead for more on this week’s policy agenda.
They said it: “FDA should not be using its labeling authority to harm a growing industry and the millions of American consumers for whom plant-based foods are an important part of their diet” – Lawmakers including Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Reps. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., and Nancy Mace, R-S.C., in a letter to OMB Director Shalanda Young.

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