Many farm groups are calling on Congress to mandate more funding for agricultural research, arguing that the U.S. is falling behind China and other countries. But a top House appropriator says that funding for research decisions should continue to be left to the discretion of the lawmakers who write the annual spending bills for USDA. 

Mandating research funding in the farm bill could take research spending decisions out of the hands of the Appropriations committees, and Georgia Democrat Sanford Bishop, the senior Democrat on the House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee, says that’s a bad idea. In an interview for this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, he says that leaving funding decisions to appropriators allows them to more quickly respond to urgent research needs for pests, disease outbreaks and other challenges. “We should have that flexibility. We shouldn't be locked in,” he said.

Bishop also defends the existing funding levels. “Let me just say, without a shadow of a doubt we've got to have cutting edge research. In America, we have had that, and the Appropriations Committee has fully funded it,” Bishop said.

Why it matters: In an April 28 letter to the House and Senate Ag committees, a collection of commodity groups and research organizations called for the farm bill to mandate $5 billion in funding over five years for research facilities. An earlier, March 6 letter signed by many of the same groups called for mandating $8 billion in total ag research funding, including new money for facilities. “Investment in U.S. public food and agricultural research has fallen by one third since 2002. Since then, spending has declined to where it was in 1970,” the March letter says.

This week’s Newsmakers will be available today at

Raising insurance cap could boost specialty crop coverage, Stabenow told

Expanding crop insurance to specialty crops is becoming a significant issue in the development of a new farm bill. At a Senate Ag hearing Thursday on credit and risk management issues, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., indicated by her line of questioning she’s interested in using the Whole Farm Revenue Protection product to address the need, at least in part. 

William Cole, who chairs the Crop Insurance Professionals Association, suggested that raising or eliminating the coverage cap on the lightly used WFRP would attract interest from larger farms and ultimately “lower the cost and the rates for a lot of the specialty crop area.” 

Take note: WFRP triggers indemnities when a farm’s entire revenue falls below an insured amount. In a bid to increase enrollment, USDA last year doubled the maximum insured revenue to $17 million. 

By the way: Cole and other insurance industry representatives called on USDA to increase administrative reimbursements, which have not been increased for inflation since 2015. 

Farmers look to boost yields as crop prices remain high

North American farmers, like those worldwide, are taking advantage of higher-than-normal crop prices to stock up on fertilizer in an effort to maximize yields, says the CEO of a major phosphate and potash manufacturer and supplier. 

“In April. Mosaic’s volumes saw a significant rebound in the North American shipments for both potash and phosphate combined,” said Joc O’Rourke, CEO of The Mosaic Co., which announced first-quarter results Thursday.

Corteva Agriscience CEO Chuck Magro said the same in his company’s first-quarter earnings call. “As anticipated, we are seeing buying patterns normalized, something we haven't experienced in a few years,” Magro said. “This dynamic is not surprising and is healthy for agriculture in the longer term.”

Read about the earnings results and companies’ outlook at

Marshall touts narrow win on lesser prairie chicken listing

Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., concedes the votes aren’t there to override an expected presidential veto of a congressional resolution to invalidate the Endangered Species Act listing of the lesser prairie chicken. “But I certainly think that people back in Kansas will understand that he vetoed legislation that impacts their lives,” Marshall said Thursday. The Senate voted 50-48 to overturn the listing. A two-thirds majority is needed to override.

The White House said the day of the vote that President Biden would veto the legislation if it passes the House and gets to his desk.

One Democrat – Joe Manchin of West Virginia – joined Republicans in the majority. Two Democrats did not vote – long-absent Dianne Feinstein of California and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

A mixed week for corn trade

China and Japan were the primary movers for U.S. corn in the latest weekly trade data out of USDA, showing new lows and highs in the 2022-23 marketing year. Cancellations from Chinese buyers pushed export sales contracts into the negative, but strong shipments pushed physical exports to a marketing-year high, according to data for the week of April 21-27.

Total net sales for U.S. corn for the week were pushed to negative 315,600 metric tons after cancellations of 562,800 tons by China as well as other reductions more than offset purchases by Japan, Taiwan and others.

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U.S. corn exports, meanwhile, totaled a marketing-year-high of about 1.7 million tons. Japan, which imported 591,800 tons, was the largest destination for the week, but Mexico, China, Taiwan and Colombia were also big destinations.

Turkey jacks up tariffs on grain imports

Turkey played a key role in getting Russia to agree to allow Ukraine to resume its grain exports from Odesa ports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, but the Turkish government is now pivoting from supply concerns to fears of over-supply. Concerned about falling domestic prices, Turkey has raised its tariffs on imported corn, wheat, rye, oats and barley from zero to 130%, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

The current price of Black Sea wheat imports in Turkey, including insurance and freight, is $285 per metric ton, says FAS, while the average price for domestic supplies is $315 per ton. The Turkish Grain Board is expected to raise the domestic purchase price to as much as $400 a ton or more to compensate farmers for rising input costs, calling into question the sector’s viability, FAS says.

He said it. “That authority did not magically disappear.” – Senate Ag Committee member John Hoeven, R-N.D., supporting an appeal by the insurance industry to USDA to increase their administrative reimbursement. A cost-saving Standard Reinsurance Agreement that USDA negotiated with the industry set minimum and maximum subsidy levels of subsidy in 2011 and adjusted them for inflation through 2015.