Thompson mulls using farm bill to override animal regs

 Lawmakers may make a run at blocking California from enforcing its Proposition 12 regulations on animal housing. 

 House Ag Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson tells Agri-Pulse he’s considering putting a provision in the farm bill that would apply not only to Prop 12 but to similar state laws that regulate how food animals are produced. The Supreme Court upheld Prop 12 earlier this month, rejecting a challenge by the National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation.

 “I’m very disappointed in these justices,” Thompsons said. “It's very clear to me that interstate commerce, interstate transportation — that's at the federal level. No state should be able to control that."

 Thompson notes that similar provisions were considered in both the 2014 and 2018 farm bills. 

 Take note: Senate Ag Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., tells Agri-Pulse it’s “too early to speculate” on a possible Prop 12 provision. The top Republican on the Senate Ag Committee, John Boozman of Arkansas, says he supports the idea. 

 Glickman: Leave work rules to the farm bill

 Former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman says SNAP work requirements shouldn’t be part of the negotiations over the debt limit. 

 “The problem with this debt ceiling is by and large, the Republicans want to add a whole bunch of substantive provisions to a debt ceiling bill, where there'd been no hearings, no legislative discussion of these kinds of things,” he said in an interview for Agri-Pulse Newsmakers. 

 “It's not inappropriate to deal with it (the work requirement issue) in a farm bill setting, because some of the concerns may be legitimate,” he said. 

 Keep in mind: Glickman was ag secretary when USDA wrote the regulations for the SNAP work requirements mandated by the 1996 welfare reform law. 

 This week’s Newsmakers will be available today at

 Ag groups push Torres Small confirmation

 A broad array of farm groups are urging the Senate to act quickly to confirm Xochitl Torres Small as deputy agriculture secretary. Torres Small is currently USDA’s undersecretary for rural development.

 In a letter to Senate leaders, the groups say: “This confirmation will be a well-deserved reflection of Undersecretary Torres Small’s commitment to rural Americans, not only through her administration of USDA’s Rural Development mission, but through her work to improve economic outcomes by addressing challenges within the agricultural supply chain and the country’s infrastructure.”

 Electric co-ops fight GOP rescission

 The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is appealing to the House Appropriations Committee to drop a proposal to rescind $3.25 billion in clean energy funding. The rescission of Inflation Reduction Act funding for electric co-ops is included in the fiscal 2024 spending bill Republicans pushed through the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday

 The IRA funding is needed to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining affordable, reliable electric service in rural America,” says an NRECA letter to the full committee. “These projects will be designed specifically for communities we serve and will include carbon capture, energy storage, nuclear, renewable energy, and generation and transmission system efficiency improvements.”

 Take note: The bill also would rescind $2 billion in farm loan forgiveness provided by USDA and claw back $500 million in unspent COVID-19 funding. 

 FDA mulls hiring experts for feed additive reviews

 Officials at FDA say they’re working on improving the approval process for new animal food ingredients, especially ones that may have environmental benefits such as reducing emissions or food safety benefits of lessening pathogens. 

 The director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, Tracey Forfa, told the American Feed Industry Association’s board this week that the agency has “pushed very hard to recognize that there are a lot of novel feed ingredients coming down – that is the future.” According to AFIA, Forfa also said CVM is working hard to “figure out how to make the process for reviewing those keep up with the times.” 

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 Forfa said CVM is examining hiring regulatory experts to keep pace with or slightly ahead of innovation. 

 China cancellations push down weekly corn, soy export data

 Export sales of corn and soybeans were particularly low for the week of May 5-11, and contract cancellations by Chinese buyers were a major reason, according to the latest weekly trade data from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

 Export sales for corn dropped to a negative 339,000 metric tons for the week – making it a marketing year low for 2022-2023. Relatively small purchases by Japan, Colombia and Guatemala were negated by larger cancellations by China, Mexico and others. China cancelled 271,200 tons. Other cancellations included 85,600 tons for “unknown destinations” and 30,800 tons for Mexico.

 WIC funding targeted to unreached eligible participants

 Almost 6 million moms, babies and young children are missing out on critical benefits through the Women, Infant and Children program, and USDA is trying to do something about it. 

 USDA’s deputy undersecretary for food and nutrition and consumer services, Stacy Dean, on Thursday announced $16 million in American Rescue Plan funding for 36 projects testing innovation outreach and modernization strategies to “bridge the gap” in WIC enrollment. Only 50% of eligible individuals participate in WIC.

 Dean says the WIC modernization and innovation efforts also include improving the WIC shopping experience, including implementing mobile pay in WIC farmers markets. 

 She said it. “The country lost a great leader … and as former staff, we lost an amazing mentor and friend. There will never be another like him.” – Lisa Van Doren, writing on her Facebook page about the late Rep. Charlie Stenholm, a Texas Democrat who died Wednesday. Van Doren, a former Stenholm staffer, is a senior official with the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. 

 Read Jim Webster’s obituary for Stenholm here

 Noah Wicks, Bill Tomson and Jacqui Fatka contributed to this report.