Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says he wants to see more spending by state and local governments to improve local marketing conditions for farmers and ranchers.
Vilsack spelled out his vision for the ag economy Monday, and it’s one that an aide says he plans to refer back to consistently as Congress preps the next farm bill. But his goals for diversified income streams for producers should also be pushed by state leaders who, he argued, are “sitting on a bunch of money” to make that goal happen.
“Why can't they invest in value-added opportunities? What's preventing them from encouraging ecosystem markets in their state? Why aren’t they investing in bio-based product manufacturing and creating opportunities for agricultural waste? How about using some of that money to support local and regional food systems? Maybe they can help with input costs,” Vilsack said.
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Farm groups to Congress: Don’t cut crop insurance
A broad array of farm groups is joining the crop insurance industry in urging the White House and congressional budget writers not to propose cutting the program’s funding.
“Given the challenges faced by rural America and the critical nature of crop insurance, cuts to the program should be avoided,” the groups say in a letter to the Senate and House Budget committees. “Farmers, agribusinesses, lenders and lawmakers agree that crop insurance is a linchpin of the farm safety net and is crucial to the economic and food and fiber security of urban and rural America.”
Similar letters went to the Biden administration and the House and Senate Appropriations committees.
Why it matters: Congress is due to write a new farm bill this year at the same time House Republicans are pushing for a budget-cutting deal with Democrats in return for supporting an increase in the federal debt ceiling.
Bipartisan Policy Center makes nutrition policy recommendations
There is bipartisan support for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to incentivize the purchase of healthful foods, according to a new policy analysis released today by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Food and Nutrition Security Task Force.
The report focuses on encouraging incentives, not food restrictions, to develop more nutritious eating habits, and says Congress should enhance SNAP employment and training programs.
Kicker: The task force report includes five key policy recommendations and more than 25 sub-recommendations to strengthen SNAP and other nutrition assistance programs authorized in the farm bill.
Six states propose Colo. River 'modeling alternative’ to Reclamation
Six Colorado River Basin states are proposing water reductions for protecting water supplies in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, but the plan lacks official support from California, the river’s largest water user.
The Bureau of Reclamation gave the basin states until today to agree on reductions.
Under the six-state plan, Arizona, California and Nevada would reduce their water use by 250,000 acre-feet if Lake Mead drops below 1,030 feet of elevation and by 200,000 acre-feet if it drops below 1,020 feet. Additional reductions would be taken as necessary to keep Lake Mead’s level above 1,000 feet.
Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming would be encouraged to make “additional voluntary conservation measures” under the plan.
Dry weather continues to impact Brazil’s southern soybean farmers
Very dry weather in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul continues to take a heavy toll on soybean fields there, while the harvest in the center-west region of the country is slower than normal, according to the consulting firm AgRural.
AgRural recently cut its forecast for Brazil’s soy harvest this year because of dryness in the south, and the firm says its likely to do so again.
Overall, Brazil has harvested about 5% of this year’s soybean crop, or about 8 million tons. Brazil had harvested about 13 million tons of soybeans at this time last year.

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Philippine demand for pet food is a growing opportunity for US exporters
The Philippines is a quickly expanding market for pet food, and U.S. exports to the country are expected to grow as families added even more dogs and cats to their household during the pandemic, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Total pet food sales in the Philippines reached $434 million in 2021, with a lot of that coming from the U.S. The U.S. exported a record-breaking $51 million worth of dog and cat food to the country last year, up from $37 million in 2020.
“Though more local manufacturers recently showed interest in selling pet food, most pure-breed pet owners prefer imported pet food,” says FAS.
Sesame labeling provokes CSPI petition
Food manufacturers are skirting new requirements to identify sesame as an allergen by deliberately adding it to their products, the Center for Science in the Public Interest said Monday, demanding FDA take action.
Under a new rule effective Jan. 1, sesame must be clearly identified as an allergen on food packaging when there is a risk of cross-contamination. But a petition filed by CSPI says at least five manufacturers, and likely more, “have quietly begun declaring sesame at the end of their ingredients list without explanation or comment.”
Even small amounts of intentionally added sesame may be enough to trigger an allergic reaction, CSPI said.
“If companies can do this with sesame, there is nothing to stop them from adding other peanuts, milk, or other major allergens instead of cleaning the lines for allergens in between products,” CSPI Director of Regulatory Affairs Sarah Sorscher said.
He said it: “You really do need to think about, if you were to implement the decree that you’ve signed as it’s currently crafted, it would limit your ability to purchase yellow corn from American producers, which … is two-thirds of the feed that you have available to your livestock industry.” – Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack in Agri-Pulse Open Mic interview, discussing what Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador should be considering as he contemplates banning imports of genetically modified corn.
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