House Democrats will soon be under new leadership.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she will step down from leadership along with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a lawyer from Brooklyn, is the front-runner to take over the party’s top leadership post in the new Congress. So, it will be important to see who gets his ear on ag issues. Among House Democrats, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, is one caucus member who could be influential with Jeffries, says former House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
Peterson tells Agri-Pulse he personally has a good relationship with Jeffries and believes he would be OK on ag issues as long as he listens to the right people.
Pelosi didn’t have a background in ag either, but she understood the political importance of the sector because of her tenure at the head of the California Democratic Party in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Peterson says.
Take note: Peterson has long credited Pelosi with getting environmentalists to agree to passage of the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007. “She was all about becoming energy independent,” Peterson says. “She saw ethanol and biodiesel as part of that potential.”
She also was speaker when the last child nutrition bill passed – the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – as well as the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act.
Read our 2019 report on Pelosi’s link to the RFS and other ag issues

Economist: ‘Heat-flation’ could threaten food production
A top U.S. agricultural economist is warning that rising global temperatures pose a serious threat to the world food production. Dan Basse, president of AgResource Co., acknowledges that more data is needed to confirm the trends. But he believes high temperatures are behind a stagnation in global crop yields that has occurred in recent year. He calls this “heat-flation.”
Speaking at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Glendale, Arizona, Basse noted that many different growing regions across the world saw extremely high temperatures this year. And now, the U.S. is in one of the driest periods in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor, which was launched more than 20 years ago. “This is where heat-flation is coming in and really causing crop yields to struggle,” he said.
Basse told Agri-Pulse he has shared his concerns with USDA. “I want to make sure we get a few more data points. It's scary for the world.”
House coalition releases farm bill climate change recommendations 
Expansion of USDA conservation programs and more research on mushrooms and biochar are among a broad range of policy recommendations in a report from the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.
The coalition’s ag task force, led by co-chairs Kim Schrier of Washington and Chellie Pingree, say in a letter to the House Ag Committee that the report identifies “opportunities within the Farm Bill to further tackle the climate crisis.”
Among the specifics: Make greenhouse gas emission reduction and carbon sequestration a purpose of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program; add soil health enhancement and GHG emission reduction to the criteria for ranking proposals for entry into the Conservation Stewardship Program, and add GHG emission reduction and carbon sequestration to the list of the top 10 practices that can qualify for higher EQIP payment rates.
Keep in mind: Democrats will be in the minority when House Ag starts work on the next farm bill.
Livestock groups seek answers on Scott bill
As livestock groups prepare for the 2023 farm bill discussion, key stakeholders want to know more about how the current House Ag Committee chairman, David Scott, D-Ga., plans to proceed on the Small Family Farmer and Rancher Relief Act.
The bill, introduced in July, would create an insurance program for ranchers with 100 head or less and provide indemnities when the farmer’s share of the retail dollar drops below 51.7%.
In a letter obtained by Agri-Pulse, the Livestock Marketing Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association asked Scott’s staff to answer 15 questions including how they reached the 100-head threshold, estimated costs, the impact on farm bill baseline funding, and who provided feedback on the draft of the bill, because they were not included in drafting discussions.
Ukraine humanitarian grain program kicks off with wheat for Ethiopia
Ukraine, working with funding from Germany and the United Nations, is starting its humanitarian “Grain from Ukraine” program with a shipment of 27,000 tons of wheat that’s destined for Ethiopia, according to the consulting firm APK Inform.
The “essence” of the program, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Yuriy Vaskov said in a Facebook post, “is to buy Ukrainian grain by developed countries for African and Asian countries that already do not have enough food.”
APK Inform says at least 10 ships per month are expected to deliver grain from Odesa under the program now that the Black Sea Grain Initiative has been extended.
FSIS to expand E. coli testing for beef products
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will expand testing for six types of e.coli on beef products in February.
The agency currently just tests beef manufacturing trimming samples. The proposed change would require inspection on other raw ground beef components like head meat, cheek meat, and esophagus meat, along with other types. These products are currently only tested for E. coli 0157:H7 and Salmonella, the agency says in a Federal Register notice today.
He said it: “Her leadership, her passion, commitment in that leadership position will be missed. I'm certainly glad to see that she's going to continue to serve in Congress, and I think she'll continue to play a very important role in nutrition issues.” — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to not seek re-election as party leader. 
Questions? Comments? Tips? Send an email to Steve Davies.