Senate Ag member Roger Marshall, R-Kan., says border security concerns are going to make passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act an uphill battle in the Senate.

Marshall, who first voted against the bill as a House member in 2019, said farm labor has been a consistent issue presented by his constituents during his time in Washington, but the polarization caused by the U.S.-Mexico border security conversation has likely poisoned the well on more limited farm labor movement.

“I’m afraid the sides are further apart,” he said. “I really think this discussion starts with border security, and until we hear a conversation out of the White House saying ‘we’re going to secure the border,’ then I’m just afraid this isn’t going to go any further, and I would love for it to go further.”

“I want to solve the problem,” Marshall added, “but just in all frankness, we have to secure the border first.”

Two of Marshall’s colleagues – Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho – have been working to answer farm group calls for a legislative solution but have not come to an agreement on a bill.

Marshall discusses this week’s report on FDA’s human foods program, the cattle contract library and more topics on this week’s Newsmakers, posting later today on

More time to enroll in dairy risk management programs

Signup to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage or Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage programs next year, which supposed to end today, has been extended to Jan. 31.

“We recognize this is a busy time of year with many competing priorities, so we’ve extended the DMC enrollment deadline to ensure every producer who wants coverage for 2023 has the opportunity to enroll in the program,” said Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Early projections indicate DMC payments are likely to trigger for the first eight months in 2023. We all know that markets fluctuate, sometimes at a moment’s notice and sometimes with no warning at all, so now’s the time to ensure your operation is covered.”

FSA says about 18,000 dairy farmers who enrolled in DMC for 2022 coverage got about $76.3 million in payments.

Diesel prices drop for first time since October

The price of diesel fuel has dropped below $5 per gallon for the first time in nine weeks, USDA said Thursday. 

The U.S. average diesel fuel price dipped to $4.97 per gallon for the week ending December 5, which was 17.4 cents lower than the week before, according to the USDA’s weekly Grain Transportation Report.

The decrease is the first time since October that diesel prices have fallen below $5 per gallon, USDA said. 

Kentucky OKs hemp as feed ingredient for chickens, horses

Kentucky has become the first state in the nation to approve use of hempseed meal and hempseed oil as animal feed, representing a breakthrough for the industry.

The University of Kentucky’s Division of Regulatory Services approved a “self-affirmed Generally Recognized as Safe” submission from element6 Dynamics that will allow chickens and horses to be fed the products.

The meal can be used as ingredients in the state “in the diets of layer, broiler, and breeder chickens at no more than 30% of the diet, and in growing, maintenance, brood mare, and performance horse diets at no more than 20% of the diet,” according to the decision. For oil, the percentage is 12%.

Hunter Buffington, vice president of policy for element6, called the decision a “game-changer” in an article for the National Industrial Hemp Council’s latest newsletter.

“Hemp as an animal feed ingredient finally had its first-ever successful milestone that hopefully will help Kentucky farmers struggling with the rising costs of animal feed and consumers throughout the state, many of whom are seeing their grocery bills rising,” she said.

FDA has not made a decision on an application to allow use of hempseed cake and meal for laying hens.

US soy and corn export sales bolstered by strong sales to China, Mexico

Chinese and Mexican buyers bolstered U.S. soybean and corn sales in the latest weekly data out of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. FAS reported U.S. sales of 839,600 metric tons of soybeans and 209,400 tons of corn to Chinese buyers for the week of Nov. 25-Dec. 1.

As for Mexico, buyers there contracted to buy 333,100 tons of U.S. corn and 143,300 tons of soybeans. The latest data shows a continuation of strong corn sales and physical exports to Mexico, a country that is scheduled to begin sharply reducing corn in January 2024, thanks to a decree blocking genetically modified corn.

The U.S. shipped 344,200 tons of corn to Mexico and 474,900 tons of corn to China for the seven-day period.

The week was an especially big one for U.S. soybean exports. The U.S. shipped out a total of 2.2 million tons, with 1.7 million of that going to China.

DOE wants research on combining farming with solar energy

The Energy Department announced Thursday it will spend $8 million on research projects looking at how agricultural production and solar energy generation can co-exist on the same land.

The funding will go to six solar energy projects across six states and the District of Columbia. Recipients of the grants include Iowa State University, Rutgers University, the Solar and Storage Industries Institute, the Ohio State University, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the University of Arizona.

Take note: According to DOE estimates, the United States will need to quadruple the amount of solar energy installed per year by 2030 to achieve the Biden-Harris Administration’s renewable energy goals. 

Spencer Chase, Noah Wicks and Steve Davies contributed to this report. Questions? Comments? Tips? Email