House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is giving some serious attention to agriculture by spending time today at World Ag Expo in Tulare, California. McCarthy is due to hold a media availability and then participate in a farm bill listening session that the House Agriculture Committee is holding at the show.

We’ll be on site and listening for what McCarthy has to say about the next farm bill.

House Ag Chairman Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., will be at the listening session along with the panel’s California members, as well as Reps. David Rouzer, R-N.C., and John Rose, R-Tenn. California Democrat Jimmy Panetta is no longer on the committee but is also expected to attend.

Back at it: Lawmakers make another stab at blocking SEC rule

Republicans in the House and Senate have reintroduced legislation that would block the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring corporations to disclose the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture that are in their supply chains.

“The SEC can claim compliance will fall to the publicly traded corporations the SEC oversees, but the reality is it will be up to America’s family farmers and ranchers who will have to keep up with an unprecedented amount of unnecessary paperwork,” said Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, the top Republican on the Senate Ag Committee.
The bills have little chance of passing the divided Congress but could keep the pressure on the SEC to modify the proposed regulations issued last March.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has downplayed the impact the rule could have on farming.

Lawmakers seek to remove taxes on broadband funding

Four lawmakers are hoping to amend the Internal Revenue Code to keep broadband funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the American Rescue Plan from being considered taxable income. 

The bipartisan group of lawmakers — consisting of Reps. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., Mike Kelly, R-Pa., and Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., — reintroduced a bill that would exempt the broadband funding programs from federal taxation. 

Take note: The bill was also introduced during Congress's previous session, with four sponsors from the House and 15 from the Senate.

USDA’s Outlook forum to focus on farm workforce

USDA’s annual Ag Outlook forum February 23 and 24 will kick off with a panel on farmworkers that includes speakers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and a tomato company that is a member of the coalition’s Fair Food program.

The coalition has worked for decades to increase wages and improve working conditions for farmworkers, starting with tomato pickers in Florida. The Fair Food Program describes itself as “a unique partnership among farmers, farmworkers, and retail food companies that ensures humane wages and working conditions for the people who feed our families.” 

A representative of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission and a Michigan State extension economist who has published widely on farmworker wages also will speak on the opening panel, which will be moderated by Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Other panels the first day will examine climate-smart commodities and Vilsack’s oft-repeated goal of “more and better markets.” 

Blueberry farmers look to make an impact on farm bill

The North American Blueberry Council has hired a government relations agency to help Congress better understand the needs of its members and other farmers as lawmakers begin the process of drafting the next farm bill.

“As we move into 2023, NABC is focused on ramping up our presence in Washington D.C., to ensure members of Congress understand the scope, scale, and benefits of the highbush (blueberry) industry,” says NABC President Kasey Cronquist on why the group hired Monument Advocacy. “It is vital our members’ views are heard during the upcoming farm bill negotiation, and that legislators are informed about the needs of the industry, as well as the nutritional benefits of blueberries.”

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Expanding USDA procurement of blueberries, crop insurance, promoting research and supporting specialty crop block grants are just some of NABC’s priorities, a Monument official said.

US bests Canada to be largest pet food exporter to China

The U.S. is now the largest pet food exporter to China, pushing Canada into second place as U.S. shipments continue the rise that began after the U.S. and China signed the phase one deal during the Trump administration, according to a new analysis by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

FAS says data released by China’s General Administration of Customs shows the U.S. exported about $304 million worth of pet food to China in the first 11 months of 2022, a 197% increase over the same time frame in 2021.

The phase one deal helped open up the Chinese market further to U.S. exporters, but bird flu outbreaks in Canada and subsequent Chinese bans on Canadian products containing poultry severely restricted the country’s trade.

He said it: “It’s about the future, the research, the National Weather Service, the space program and moving back to the moon and on to Mars. By the way, we're going to need our farmers on both the moon and Mars eventually.” That was Rep. Frank Lucas, who chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, describing his committee’s work during the Crop Insurance Industry Annual Convention yesterday.  Lucas received a waiver to also serve on the House Committee on Agriculture, which he previously chaired.  

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