House Ag Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson and his counterpart on House Natural Resources, Bruce Westerman, headlined an ag-focused fundraiser for Donald Trump at the Capitol Hill Club Monday evening.

A number of other House members made appearances as did top agribusiness lobbyists. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also was on hand with his wife Callista, a former ambassador to the Vatican.

Kip Tom, who served as ambassador to the UN food and ag programs during the Trump administration and co-chaired the fundraiser, described the event as “very successful.”

Take note: In an interview with Agri-Pulse’s Steve Davies, Tom said additional events are planned around the country. There will be one in Pennsylvania, and there could be others around the Farm Progress Show in Iowa and Dairy Expo in Wisconsin.

“It's all about engaging, activating and making sure people are advocates, more than anything to get out and vote,” Tom said. “We can all talk about (how) we want to see this kind of policy and this kind of reform. The reality is if we don't get Donald Trump elected as president none of these conversations matter.”

Republicans pad House margin with Fong

Rep. Vince Fong, R-Calif., was sworn in Monday evening to the seat vacated by the retirement of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The heavily agricultural 20th District includes much of the southern Central Valley.

Republicans now have 218 seats to 213 for the Democrats. Four seats remain vacant. 

BASF applies to EPA for approval of Engenia 

BASF is seeking EPA approval of its dicamba herbicide product, Engenia, for use in soybean and cotton, according to a Federal Register notice published today.

The agency is accepting comments on the proposed label for 30 days.

Bayer already has submitted a proposed label for XtendiMax, its dicamba product. By yesterday’s deadline, there were 232 comments in the docket.

The companies have to apply because a federal judge vacated the registrations of the three dicamba products in February. The other herbicide is Tavium, made by Syngenta. All were registered for use in soybean and cotton. 

As it did with the Bayer submission, EPA said the latest application would be subject to a 17-month review period, which could threaten its use for growers in 2025.

EPA said because it “expects a large stakeholder interest in this application,” it included BASF’s proposed labeling in the docket.

Groups react to proposed poultry competition rule

Groups that are critical of consolidation in the poultry industry are welcoming a USDA proposal that would guarantee poultry farmers a base price for their birds. The proposal also would create a “duty of fair compensation” to growers, and it would require companies to disclose additional information about financial opportunities and risks for growers when it comes to capital investments.

Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform policy director Steven Etka called the rule an "important next step in bringing fairness to the contracting practices used by large poultry companies.” The National Farmers Union, Rural Advancement Foundation International and Food and Water Watch also praised USDA’s move.

But, but, but:  National Chicken Council president Mike Brown said in a statement that the “rule – which Congress never asked for – will lead to rigid, one-size-fits-all requirements on chicken growing contracts that would stifle innovation, lead to higher costs for consumers, decrease competition, and cost jobs by driving some of the best farmers out of the chicken business.”

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Select cucumbers recalled due to Salmonella concerns

Fresh Start Produce Sales Inc. of Delray, Florida, has voluntarily recalled whole cucumbers that shipped to 14 states last month due to potential Salmonella contamination.

Mini cucumbers and English cucumbers are not included in the recall. The recalled cucumbers shipped in bulk cartons from May 17 to 21 directly to retail distribution centers, wholesalers and food service distributors, according to a voluntary recall notice posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s site.

The recalled cucumbers shipped to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The company initiated the recall after the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture found that a sample tested positive for Salmonella. FDA is determining if this sample is related to an ongoing Salmonella outbreak.

Juror dismissed from child nutrition case after alleged bribery attempt

A juror was dismissed Monday from a child nutrition fraud case in Minnesota after allegedly being the subject of a $120,000 bribe attempt, multiple media outlets reported.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thompson said in the courtroom that a woman left a bag of cash with the Minnesota juror’s father-in-law and promised another if the juror would vote in favor of acquitting seven accused participants, according to the Minnesota Reformer.

The juror called 911 after arriving home and the FBI picked up the money, the report said.

FSA opens applications for Grasslands CRP signup

The Farm Service Agency is taking applications for the Grassland Conservation Reserve Program.

The signup will run through June 28, according to a press release. Grassland CRP allows farmers to graze the land they enroll, while land in the general signup can only be grazed in “emergency” conditions.

Some 8.64 million acres are now enrolled in Grassland CRP. The broader CRP program has 24.8 billion acres.