A compromise between the two leading dairy groups on how to best fix the federal milk marketing order remains weeks away.

At the end of January, International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes said his organization would move ahead with filing a petition with USDA requesting a hearing focused only on adjusting make allowances. At the time he said if a decision with the National Milk Producers Federation was not made by the week of Feb. 20, IDFA would move forward on its own.

NMPF is seeking a more comprehensive approach and likely will approve its own proposal at its board meeting March 7-8.

Matt Herrick, IDFA senior vice president of public affairs and communications, said IDFA continues to work with colleagues at National Milk “to seek alignment on priorities.” He adds a meeting has been scheduled for March 13. “We are hopeful that we can reach a united position,” Herrick says.

New executive order requires equity action plans

All federal agencies will have to submit equity action plans to the White House by September, and annually thereafter, according to a new executive order issued by President Biden.

The order, whose goal is to increase assistance for underserved communities, also says government agencies shall do what they can within existing law “to help rural communities identify and access federal resources in order to create equitable economic opportunity and advance projects that build community wealth.”

That could include “providing or supporting technical assistance; incentivizing the creation of good, high-paying union jobs in rural areas; conducting outreach to and soliciting input from rural community leaders; and contributing new resources and support to interagency programs such as the Rural Partners Network.”

USDA’s Equity Commission recently voted on interim recommendations to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to help advance racial equity in the delivery of farm programs.

Young farmers seek transition of 1 million acres of farmland to next generation

Access to land is the biggest hurdle for the next generation of farmers. The National Young Farmers Coalition has launched a One Million Acres for the Future Campaign which calls on Congress to invest $2.5 billion over 10 years to facilitate equitable access to 1 million acres of land for the next generation of farmers.

According to the 2022 National Young Farmer Survey, 59% of young farmers named finding affordable land to buy as very or extremely challenging, and 65% of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color farmers ranked it as very or extremely challenging. The campaign has funding support from Chipotle, according to a release from the organization.

Holly Rippon-Butler, Young Farmers land campaign director, says Congress needs to take a holistic approach to how it supports the next generation of farmers in the next farm bill.

“Land access is a complex, multidimensional issue that cannot be solved with a single policy change or law because its impact meets at the intersection of racial equity, food sovereignty, economic prosperity, public health, and climate resiliency,” she says.

National Young Farmers Coalition releases Farm Bill priorities

The National Young Farmers Coalition also is asking Congress to “establish a new initiative to fund community-led land access projects, as well as improving farmers’ access to credit and increase data-gathering efforts relating to land access in the 2023 Farm Bill.

The group said in its written policy framework that funding for the proposed community-led land project initiative may take the form of a “long-term forgivable loan that incorporates support for housing, infrastructure, farmer training, technical assistance and land stewardship practices” and should be available as a line of credit or grant prior to purchase.

The group is also calling on Congress to create a new office within the Agriculture Department’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area focused on “equitable access to land and centering the needs of small, beginning, urban and BIPOC farmers.”

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FY 2022 a record year for illegal meat smuggling

There are a lot of animal products that are illegal to ship to the U.S. from China, but that doesn’t stop people from trying, and the 2022 fiscal year was a record for confiscations by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

CBP agriculture specialists intercepted about 1 million pounds of Chinese pork, chicken, beef and duck products at the ports in fiscal 2022 – a new record and 7% more than the previous year.

“CBP agriculture specialists target, detect, intercept, and thereby prevent the entry of these potential threats before they have a chance to do any harm,” said Carlos Martel, CBP’s director of field operations in Los Angeles. “Prohibited animal products could seriously threaten U.S. agriculture, our natural resources and our economy.”

EU ag chief makes the rounds in US

European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski is in the Washington area this week, and he’s got a full schedule that includes visiting a farm in Maryland.

Wojciechowski, who pledged last year to work with the U.S. on strengthening global food supplies despite differences over the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy on overhauling European ag policy, will be in Washington today to headline an event at the Atlantic Council.

Tomorrow, Wojciechowski will be making a joint presentation with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at USDA’s annual USDA Agricultural Outlook in Arlington, Va., and then both of them will head to Carroll County in Maryland to visit “a family-operated farm.”

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