USDA has sharply raised its forecast for food inflation this year. The Economic Research Service now believes supermarket prices will be up 8.5% to 9.5% this year. In May, ERS had estimated grocery prices would rise by 7% to 8% in 2022.
USDA is forecasting double-digit increases this year for poultry, eggs, dairy and bakery products and fats and oils.
By the way: USDA says rapid increases in consumption of dairy products is driving recent price increases at the store. Prices for dairy products rose 2.6% in May are expected to be up about 11% this year.
Farm-level milk prices are forecast to be up as much as 33% this year over 2021.
Rep. Johnson: Ocean carriers already responding to OSRA
Ocean carrier companies are already showing signs that they are changing their ways when it comes to refusing to haul containers full of U.S. farm goods, even though the federal rule that is expected to compel them to do so is still months from enactment, according to Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.
“I’ve talked to numerous shippers in the last two weeks and … they have told me things have gotten better just at the prospect of (the Ocean Shipping Reform Act),” Johnson, who was the co-author of the original House version of OSRA, told Agri-Pulse. “I think things have gotten better. They are clearly nowhere near where they need to be, but I think clearly as (the Federal Maritime Commission) does rule promulgation, industry is going to take note.”
The FMC is now writing the federal rule required under OSRA to spell out when ocean carriers cannot unreasonably refuse to book space on ships for U.S. ag exports, and Johnson said he is doing what he can to make sure the rule will be as effective as possible. He said he has spoken to four FMC commissioners since Congress passed OSRA earlier this month.
SCOTUS decision leaves Vilsack ‘particularly concerned’ for rural women
Last week’s Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision granting women access to abortion drew comments from all over the political realm, including from Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.
In a statement Friday, Vilsack specifically called out his concerns for women and families in rural areas in light of the announcement.
“Yesterday, their health care options were limited. Today, the hurdles they face in accessing reproductive care have grown taller,” Vilsack said. “The department stands ready to explore the tools at our disposal to support them.”
A USDA spokesperson declined to elaborate on the “tools at our disposal” Vilsack mentioned.
Final WOTUS roundtable features input from Mountain West states
State and local authorities are best equipped to regulate waters close to home, representatives of farming groups and counties in the Intermountain West said at the last regional roundtable addressing the definition of “waters of the U.S.” in the Clean Water Act.
“In a place as large and diverse as the state of Nevada, it is in my mind impossible to write one set of rules that's going to cover every instance and every aspect and administer it from an elite bubble in Washington, D.C.,” said Bevan Lister, a farmer and Lincoln County, Nevada, commissioner. “We have state and local government … and that government closest to the ground knows the situation, is able to make the decisions and provide the certainty that our systems need.”
The roundtable was the last of 10 held virtually to gather input on implementation of WOTUS by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers, but also on any future rulemakings. Many on the panel said EPA and the Corps should delay any new rules until the Supreme Court issues its decision in the Sackett wetlands case to be argued in October.
H-2A redux: Amendment revived to allow year-round workers
It’s becoming an annual ritual. The House Appropriations Committee has once again adopted an amendment that would allow farmers to use H-2A workers all year, not just seasonally. However, the provision has little chance of making through the annual appropriations process and becoming law.
The amendment offered by Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., was added by voice vote to the committee’s fiscal 2023 Homeland Security spending bill on Friday. But previous versions of the amendment have been dropped during negotiations with the Senate.
Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., made clear she was opposed to the amendment, saying it “would fundamentally alter the H-2A visa program.”
Cuellar said his amendment would “just ensure that all agriculture is able to utilize this program.”
He said it: “The ocean carriers understand there’s going to be a new sheriff in town and there’s a much higher likelihood that they are going to be held accountable.” That was Rep. Johnson, speaking about the impact of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act that President Joe Biden signed into law this month.
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