Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has settled on a running mate and it turns out to be a California lawyer with a strong interest in regenerative agriculture. RFK Jr. has virtually no chance of winning the presidency, but polls show he could draw enough votes to be a factor in a close race between President Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Nicole Shanahan, 38, is a fellow at The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics and founder of ClearAccessIP, a patent management firm. The Kennedy campaign called her an “attorney, tech entrepreneur and philanthropist.”

Shanahan “cares about healing our children, protecting our environment, restoring our soils, and getting the chemicals out of our food,” Kennedy said.

Take note: Shanahan heads Bia-Echo Foundation, which funds projects related to “reproductive longevity and equality, criminal justice reform and a healthy and livable planet.” One of those projects involved studying and promoting planting of prairie strips in the Midwest. The foundation also helped fund the work of the White House Hunger Task Force.

Shanahan was married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, one of the richest people in the world.

According to RealClear Polling, which looks at an average of polls, Trump is 1.6 points ahead of Biden in a two-way race but 5.4 points ahead with RFK Jr. in the race.

USDA details new EU ag flexibility

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service is out with a summary of the regulatory changes that the European Union is making in the wake of this winter’s farmer protests.

Among the changes being made: The EU is removing a requirement that farmers either fallow a minimum share of arable land or put it in hedges and trees. Member countries will instead “be required to establish an eco-scheme which would reward farmers who choose to keep these non-productive areas,” FAS says.

EU countries also will be getting some flexibility on crop rotation requirements. Countries can choose to either rotate or diversify their crops, a move that will help farmers manage periods of drought or excessive rainfall. There also will be more flexibility on the timing of soil cover requirements. “Farmers have been complaining about ‘calendar farming,’” FAS says.

U.S.-Kenya trade talks continue

Negotiators from the U.S. and Kenya are scheduling a fourth round of talks next month, starting on Tuesday. The negotiations, which will take place in Washington, will cover agriculture, workers’ rights and environmental issues.

The U.S. delegation will be led by Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Constance Hamilton. The next round will continue through April 12.

The negotiators last met in person in January in Nairobi.

Corteva can defend Enlist herbicides in federal legal challenge

Corteva Agriscience has been allowed to intervene in a lawsuit challenging EPA’s approval of the company’s Enlist One and Enlist Duo herbicides.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ruled that Corteva’s interests were sufficient to grant intervention. But U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly also ruled against CropLife America’s motion to intervene.

“CropLife will not contribute any additional, necessary information to this litigation,” the judge says in her opinion.

The Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, and Alianza Nacional de Campesinas sued EPA last year, alleging the agency failed to consider the impacts of the herbicides on humans and the environment, and on endangered species in particular.

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USDA announces new grazing land conservation initiative

USDA is putting $22 million into helping producers implement conservation practices on grazing lands. Under the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, the Natural Resources Conservation Service will sign cooperative agreements with nonprofits, farm organizations, state and local agencies, tribal governments and land-grant universities to provide technical assistance for livestock producers.

The program, according to a press release, was developed to “identify priority issues, find solutions and effect change on private grazing land." Applications will be accepted through May, 26.

Former House Ag Democrat retiring

New Hampshire Democrat Ann Kuster, who chairs the fiscally moderate New Democrat Coalition, will not be seeking reelection this year. 

Kuster, a former member of the House Ag Committee, said in a statement she would continue serving until her term ends next January. The statement cites her work on House Ag, saying she helped “negotiate two critical farm bills, delivering key resources for farmers, foresters, fishermen, and rural communities across the country. She also helped secure critical federal resources to strengthen [New Hampshire’s] food supply chain and support the agricultural industry.”

Kuster is also founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force and serves on the Congressional PFAS Task Force. 

By the numbers: Tobacco farms have all but disappeared

The latest Ag Census from USDA shows there are only 2,987 tobacco farms left in the United States. That’s down from 56,977 in 2002 and a drop of 95% since the tobacco buyout two decades ago, according to a University of Kentucky analysis.

Kentucky has 984 tobacco farms left, followed by North Carolina with 822. 

But, but, but: Not surprisingly, the tobacco farms that are left are a lot bigger than they used to be. In 2002, the average farm was 7.5 acres. Now, the average is 69.5 acres.