President Joe Biden removed any doubt and quashed a vote of the House and Senate to overturn his administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule, vetoing a joint resolution Thursday.
The veto likely spells failure for the Congressional Review Act resolution, since neither the House nor the Senate vote margins were near the two-thirds necessary to override.
Stay tuned: The Supreme Court will at some point issue a decision in the Sackett Clean Water Act case, which could affect the rule that went into effect March 20.
Courts have so far split on the rule. A federal judge in Texas has enjoined its implementation in that state and Idaho, but another judge in Kentucky rejected a similar challenge on standing grounds.
USDA inks MOU with American Society of Agronomy
The Agriculture Department has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the American Society of Agronomy allowing the society to recommend individuals for USDA’s Technical Service Provider Program, the agency said Thursday.
The TSP program allows private sector conservation experts to help producers draft management plans and implement conservation practices, duties normally left to Natural Resources Conservation Service staff.
USDA also said Thursday it was awarding $40 million this year for 31 new projects through its Conservation Innovation Grants. In addition, the department is spending $19 million on two nutrient management projects through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
Take note: The agency sees TSPs and other non-agency resources as an important part of meeting the demand for expertise expected to result from a $19.5 billion increase in conservation program funding. But some groups, like ASA, suggested reducing requirements for TSP applicants with professional certifications due to concern that current standards are discouraging people from enrolling in the program.
One more thing: The agency also signed an MOU with Land O’Lakes subsidiary Truterra to “explore opportunities” for expanding nutrient management adoption and technical assistance. Truterra has previously called for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to fully implement a 2018 farm bill provision allowing farmer-owned cooperatives and agricultural retailers to become TSPs.
Taylor to Mexico: GMO corn rooted in science

In an interview with Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor challenged the Mexican government’s health concerns about genetically modified corn.

The scientific evidence has “been around for decades,” she said. “We have confidence in the safety of these products.”
Mexico is trying to bar the imports of genetically modified white corn.

Taylor said it makes sense to continue moving forward with consultation under the USMCA trade dispute process, even though the proposed ban rests on principle, not any firm economic damage from a restriction already in place.

Newsmakers will be available today at

First-ever Netherlands ag trade mission planned
The U.S. is taking a trade trip to the Netherlands, which Taylor said will “provide promising export opportunities for the wide variety of products American agriculture has to offer, from soybeans and tree nuts to meat and sweet potatoes, snacks, distilled spirits, forestry products, and more.”
Taylor, USDA said Thursday, will lead a delegation of more than 50 business, trade associations and state government leaders on a trade mission from April 17-20. The mission will be headquartered in the Netherlands but also will include interests from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
Taylor called the Netherlands “the gateway into the European Union, offering great business potential for U.S. agricultural exporters.”
Who else is coming? Taylor will be joined by California Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross, Maine Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Amanda Beal, Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson, North Dakota Commissioner of Agriculture Doug Goehring, and officials from the Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Tennessee departments of agriculture.
EPA to share information with DOE to evaluate RFS pathways
The Environmental Protection Agency will share information about crop yields and other agricultural data, some of which may be classified as classified business information, with the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to aid in the evaluation of proposed biofuel pathways.
EPA conducts lifecycle analyses for the pathways under the Renewable Fuel Standard and has awarded a contract to DOE to aid it in that effort. The agency is considering 22 pathway petitions submitted under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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In a Federal Register notice today, EPA describes the other information it is passing along to the DOE lab as “nutrient input data, anticipated biofuel facility operational data such as energy sources and amounts used for processing feedstocks into fuels, and detailed descriptions of these processes to help practitioners understand the overall biofuel pathways being proposed by stakeholders.”
Technology poses a challenge for WIC, new report says
The technology used for enrollment into the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program has improved, but many WIC state agencies continue to face some of the same barriers that existed during the pandemic, according to a report from the National WIC Association.
“During the pandemic, WIC was allowed to provide remote services, and program staff adapted quickly to implement new technology,” said Jamila Taylor, the association’s president and CEO. “This resulted in an increase in enrollment and positive feedback from staff – enhancing the WIC participant experience for all families.”
The report, however, outlined challenges in implementing technology such as limited internet access, digital literacy, and language barriers.
“Efforts to scale up broadband access should be equity-focused, prioritizing rural, remote, and tribal communities,” the report said.
“WIC's digital divide remains a significant challenge, especially for participants in rural areas who struggle to benefit from the technological advances WIC has made,” Taylor said.
She said it: “By investing in technology and leveraging innovative state and local agency efforts, federal support can enhance technology and health equity for millions of families across the country." Jamila Taylor, National WIC Association president and CEO.
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