A million adults over age 50 could lose SNAP benefits under the debt-ceiling bill House Republicans hope to pass this week, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a research and advocacy group.

The bill would expand SNAP work requirements to able-bodied adults as old as 55. The cutoff is currently 49.

A significant number of people who would be affected by the change “would likely lose benefits because they are out of work or they are working insufficient hours, the state failed to screen them for an exemption they should have qualified for, or they were unable to navigate the verification system to prove they are working,” CBPP says.

Ag Committee urged to retain climate funding in farm bill

The House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition’s Climate and Agriculture Task Force is urging the House Ag Committee to keep the $19.5 billion in climate-smart funding in the next farm bill.

The Inflation Reduction Act investments in conservation programs and technical assistance are "critical to fighting climate change, and the next farm bill represents a significant opportunity to strengthen climate-resilience,” the SEEC Climate and Agriculture Task Force said in a letter Monday. The 18-member task force is led by Reps. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Kim Schrier of Washington.

Coming soon: USDA’s regional food business centers

In coming weeks, USDA will be announcing grants for a series of regional food business centers, says Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA’s undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. 

Moffitt told the North American Agricultural Journalists that the centers will provide localized technical assistance to small and medium-sized producers and businesses “who too often haven't been able to navigate the USDA process” and qualify for federal grants and loans.

USDA received $1.8 billion in applications for the $400 million program, she said.

Why it matters: “USDA’s not just about farms. It's about keeping food businesses alive in small towns. It's about keeping all businesses alive in small towns,” she said.

FSA Administrator looks for disaster program flexibility to help flooded California dairies

Farm Service Agency administrator Zach Ducheneaux said Monday that the agency is looking for ways to provide more flexibility in its disaster programs for California dairies and other producers dealing with flooding in the West.

Ducheneaux, speaking at the North American Agricultural Journalists annual meeting in Washington D.C., said the agency’s “tools” need to be adjusted to better fit current conditions. One challenge, he said, is that income limitations are embedded in several of these programs, creating a challenge for California dairies, which tend to be larger than dairies in other parts of the country.

“Hopefully we can continue to find the flexibility in all of our programs to better meet the need that’s actually out there,” Ducheneaux said.

Appeals court says WOTUS ruling applies to Kentucky, business groups

An appeals court has clarified that its ruling blocking implementation of the Biden administration’s WOTUS rules does not apply nationwide.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that its order applies only within the Commonwealth of Kentucky and to members of the business groups that also challenged the rule. Those groups include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

EPA had asked for the clarification and the other parties did not object. Briefing on the appeal is scheduled through May 5.

APLU likes choice of Misra for NIFA

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities praised USDA’s choice of Manjit K. Misra to be the next director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“Dr. Misra brings a unique and distinguished background to the role as a researcher, inventor, and administrator at a land-grant university focused on addressing the broad array of challenges facing agriculture, APLU Vice President for Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Doug Steele said Monday.

“We look forward to working with Director Misra as public and land-grant universities work to deepen their partnership with NIFA to support groundbreaking research and outreach to enhance the productivity, viability, and competitiveness of American agriculture,” the group said.

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Misra will start May 8. He has been the director of the Seed Science Center at Iowa State for 30 years.

Sorghum bran found to improve gluten-free bread

Scientists at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service say they’ve found a way to make big improvements to gluten-free bread: Add sorghum bran. The cheap sorghum milling byproduct adds significant taste and texture to what can be a bland loaf, say researchers who added sumac sorghum bran bread they made in laboratories.

Ryan Ardoin, a researcher at ARS’s Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research Unit, said "In our study, we used optimization models to create a gluten-free bread with enhanced dietary fiber while preserving other desirable bread attributes such as color, texture, and flavor. This meant finding the optimal amount of sumac sorghum bran to use in the bread to get the nutritional benefits without compromising taste and texture."

The researchers published their findings in the Journal of Food Science. Many consumers simply choose to avoid gluten in their diets, but about 2 million people suffer from the celiac autoimmune disease and cannot eat the protein found in wheat, barley and rye.