Healthy foods are back on the agenda at the White House today. Building off the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health held in September, administration officials, food industry leaders and nutrition advocates will be discussing ongoing efforts to expand access to healthy foods and food as medicine.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will be in attendance. As with September’s White House conference, many new public-private partnerships announcements are expected to be announced today.
By the way: The International Fresh Produce Association will be represented by Alex DiNovo of DNO Produce. He’ll discuss IFPA’s 8-Point Produce Plan for a National Nutrition Strategy and push for expanding the fresh fruit and vegetable program to all low-income elementary, middle and high schools.
Tai insists USTR will take action with Mexico
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is back on Capitol Hill for a second day today, this time before the House Ways and Means Committee.
On Thursday, she promised the Senate Finance Committee the administration would continue pressing Mexico on its biotech corn ban. “I assure you it is not my intention to let this go on indefinitely,” she told Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, when he demanded the administration take the next step to challenge the ban under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and the committee’s top Republican, Mike Crapo of Idaho, both pushed Tai to confront Japan over its ban on fresh potatoes – the kind shoppers buy in the produce section. Tai said she would be “delighted to raise the potato issue” with the Japanese, but she notably stopped short of promising to demand an end to the ban in talks around the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
Why it matters: Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council, tells Agri-Pulse the industry could sell $150 million worth of table stock potatoes annually to Japan if the ban is lifted. Japan allows imports of U.S. chipping potatoes and is the largest foreign market for processed potato products, including frozen fries.
By the way: Ahead of today’s hearing, 20 GOP members of Ways and Means wrote President Biden, demanding that he change his trade agenda. “Not pursuing new tariff-reducing enforceable trade agreements breaks a four-decade-long bipartisan approach to trade policy and means we are missing out on opportunities to advance U.S. economic interests, U.S. security, and create jobs right here in America,” the lawmakers say.
Read our report on the Finance Committee hearing here
New bioeconomy report includes big goal
Replacing 90% of today’s plastics with biobased feedstocks is among the goals in a White House report seeking to boost the nation’s bioeconomy.
The Office of Science and Technology Policy’s report – prepared in coordination with USDA, the Energy Department and other agencies – also includes the bold objective of producing 3 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel within seven years that would achieve at least a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas lifecycle emissions.
The report says projects funded by USDA’s $3.5 billion Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program should help accelerate research into “climate-smart feedstocks with reduced carbon intensity, including emerging feedstocks such as hemp and camelina, and feedstocks that are derived from agricultural waste, tree removal and wildfire fuel reductions, and coproducts to support the circular economy.”
Millers: Count wheat as cover crop
The North American Millers’ Association is out with its farm bill priorities, and they include proposals that could promote the production of the small grains that its member companies need.
Among NAMA’s priorities: Allow harvestable winter wheat, barley and rye crops to be classified as cover crops for USDA conservation programs and climate-smart projects. NAMA also wants USDA to increase the number of counties where double cropping is eligible for crop insurance.
GOP eyes work rules in farm bill discussion
Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, says in an interview for this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers that Biden “needs to come to the table” to negotiate a deal to increase the debt ceiling.
She notes Republicans are specifically looking at tightening SNAP work requirements as a way to push people into the workforce. “I think that there is a win-win here to be able to grow our economy with these policies, and still reel in spending at the same time,” she said.
Newsmakers will be available today at
Lawmakers call for increased research funding
Three House members – Reps. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., Jill Tokuda, D-Hawaii, and Mike Flood, R-Neb. – are asking the House Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee for increased investments in agricultural research.
During a subcommittee “member day” session Thursday, Schrier asked for $500 million to support agricultural research infrastructure. She said the U.S. risks “losing its competitiveness” without additional funding to bolster universities. Tokuda and Flood asked for funding directed toward projects in their states.
Keep in mind: USDA research programs are largely funded through annual appropriations bills. However, the House and Senate Ag committees are being pushed to mandate additional funding in the next farm bill.
He said it. “The heat intensifies around the potato issue” – Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., after he and other senators pressed U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Thursday to reduce trade barriers to U.S. spuds.
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