President Joe Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are heading to Minnesota Wednesday to kick off a two-week, nationwide effort to showcase how “Bidenomics” is helping rural America through investments in farming, ag production and rural communities, according to the White House. Cabinet members and other senior administration officials “will barnstorm across the country” to impress upon communities that “rural Americans do not have to leave their hometowns to find opportunity.”

After Minnesota, Vilsack is off to Indiana, where he’ll meet with the FFA to speak “about opportunities for the next generation of agricultural leaders.” Next, it’s on to Wyoming and Colorado, where he’ll be highlighting the administration’s plans for investing in rural America as well as efforts to “protect and conserve our lands for future generations.”

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is being dispatched to Arizona, where she’ll be talking about “historic investments to upgrade the electric grid to deliver clean energy to rural communities across the Southwest and the entire United States,” and U.S Trade Representative Katherine Tai is scheduled for a trip to Indiana to demonstrate to farmers the benefits of international trade.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will be heading to New Hampshire to “highlight how community colleges are preparing rural Americans for good jobs in industries across the country.”

Bayer winning streak in Roundup cases comes to an end

After nine straight court victories in Roundup cancer cases, Bayer (being sued as Monsanto) has now lost the last two, the latest when a jury awarded a Philadelphia man $175 million on claims that he contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using the weedkiller for years.

A jury in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas returned the verdict Friday. It includes $25 million in compensatory damages and $150 million in punitive damages for plaintiff Ernest Caranci.

In a decision earlier this month in Missouri in a separate Roundup case, a state court jury awarded $1.25 million to plaintiff John Durnell.

Bayer said it would be appealing both decisions. On the latest decision, a spokesperson said, “We respectfully disagree with the jury’s divided verdict and are confident we can get this unfounded verdict overturned and the excessive damage awards reduced through our appeal.”

Bayer alleged “significant and reversible legal and evidentiary errors made during this trial” and noted it is still 9-2 in the last 11 cases that have gone to trial.

NPPC: India’s removal of ban on US pork hasn’t opened up trade

Optimism was high when India announced early last year that it was lifting a ban on U.S. pork, but that still hasn’t resulted in any meaningful new market access, according to the National Pork Producers Council. 

It was soon after the lifting of the ban that India “proposed an additional export certificate with additional attestations that were not negotiated with U.S. regulatory authorities,” NPPC said last week in in its submission to the Office of the United States Trade Representative for its annual National Trade Estimate report. “Pork exports have been virtually zero since access was granted.”

Keep in mind: India wasn’t the only target of NPPC’s frustration. The group also complained about trade barriers that are hindering trade with countries like Australia, Brazil, South Africa and China. The Chinese, despite promises made to the Trump administration, still have not performed a risk assessment for ractopamine in pork. The country bans the use of ractopamine instead of following international regulations.

Equity Commission finishes its work; report to come next year

USDA’s Equity Commission will be releasing its final report early next year, USDA said Friday following the conclusion of the commission’s last meeting.

The commission has voted on more than five dozen recommendations since it was formed in February 2022, including ways to make county committees more inclusive.

The commission “is doing the hard work of identifying ways USDA can best support farmers, farm workers, and a food system that serves us all,” Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small said in a news release.

Members named to food safety advisory committee

Nine returning and 21 new members were announced Friday for the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF). The committee provides “impartial scientific advice and recommendations” to the secretary of agriculture and the secretary of health and human services on public health issues. 

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In its announcement about the appointment, the USDA said “NACMCF has made important contributions to a broad range of critical food safety issues. The committee reports provide current information and scientific advice to federal food safety agencies and serve as a foundation for regulations and programs aimed at reducing foodborne disease and enhancing public health.” 

NACMCF will hold a virtual public meeting of the full committee and subcommittees from November 14-16. “The committee will introduce a new charge from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service on genomic characterization of pathogens and continue working on the response to the Food and Drug Administration’s charge on (the Cronobacter pathogen) in powdered infant formula,” according to a constituent update.

The membership includes one individual with a consumer group – Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumer Reports. Five members are federal government employees representing the five federal agencies involved in the advisory committee. The remaining members represent universities as well as industry groups and companies in the meat and food sector. 

Steve Davies, Noah Wicks and Jacqui Fatka contributed to this report. Questions, comments, tips? Email