Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow is making clear she doesn’t like what the House Ag Committee did in its farm bill when it comes to commodity programs.

During an online conversation Wednesday with former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Stabenow cited estimates the House bill would more than double payments for Southern producers with cotton, rice and peanut base acreage.

Quoting an analysis by economists and policy analysts at the University of Illinois and Ohio State, Stabenow, D-Mich., said the proposal would “would basically put” the farm bill back to a system in place before the 2014 where “you get a government payment whether it’s a good time or a bad time.”

She said boosting payments by 70% would mainly benefit “big farmers” in the South.

“We’ve never had a 70% increase in the farm bill for anything,” she said in the conversation with Heitkamp during the One Country Project’s virtual Rural Progress Summit.

A House committee staffer says the bill’s reference price increases were based on changes in per-unit production costs to account for growth in yield and productivity.

Take note: Stabenow, who plans to retire at the end of the year, said she hopes to pass a farm bill before then, though likely not before the election. She added, however, that the one-year extension Congress approved last fall has “served pretty well thus far.”

After addressing anti-hunger advocates Wednesday morning, Stabenow told Agri-Pulse’s Rebekah Alvey that farm bill progress on the Senate side is “slow” at this point, and she has yet to see a proposal from panel Republicans. 

By the way: Senate Ag’s ranking Republican, John Boozman said Wednesday he plans to release his proposed farm bill framework in the next week or two. He told Alvey the document would be a “very detailed summary.”

Farm Bureau issues positive statement on proposed poultry rule

The nation’s largest farm group on Wednesday put out a statement showing some support for a newly proposed USDA rule that would guarantee poultry farmers a base price for their birds, create a “duty of fair compensation” to growers, and require companies to disclose additional information about financial opportunities and risks for growers when it comes to capital investments.

In a statement Wednesday, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said the organization "has long advocated for changes to ensure poultry farmers who contract with processing companies are treated fairly” and is "glad to see many of our concerns addressed in the new rule.”

“The current poultry tournament system puts tremendous pressure on farmers, while providing them little information and recourse throughout the contracting process. We are thoroughly reviewing the proposed rule to understand its full implications and look forward to submitting comments,” Duvall said.

USDA, Indian Country representatives to participate in trade mission

Thirteen tribal agricultural leaders and 15 agribusinesses will embark on a trade mission to Vancouver, Canada, June 17-20.

The mission, led by USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Alexis Taylor, will focus on expanding trade opportunities for tribal producers. American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian agricultural production is estimated to contribute $8 billion to the U.S. domestic food economy, USDA says.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Intertribal Agricultural Council Board President Harlan Beaulieu, and officials from the Maine, North Carolina, and Oregon Departments of Agriculture also plan to attend.

Former sustainable aviation fuel company CEO hit with prison time

A former CEO of sustainable aviation fuel company Alder Renewables has been sentenced to three years in prison after participating in a scheme to embezzle $5.9 million from the company and defrauding investors out of around $15 million.

Bryan Sherbacow pleaded guilty to wire fraud in February. Court documents say he transferred company funds without authorization to his personal bank account, used a company bank account to make unauthorized purchases and attempted to hide his actions using “falsified financial records”. 

His purchases included a vintage Mercedes-Benz sports car, a Range Rover sport utility vehicle, payments to an art auction operator, personal tax liens, personal credit card payments, rent payments on personal residences, payment to a beach club, electronics, and a down payment on a condo, according to a Justice Department press release.

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FDA, CDC open multi-state investigation into Salmonella outbreak

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have opened a multi-state investigation into an outbreak of a Salmonella strain potentially linked to cucumbers.

So far there are 162 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Africana reported from 25 states and the District of Columbia. There have been 54 hospitalizations and no deaths, according to the CDC investigation notice. Investigators have interviewed 65 infected people, and 72% report eating cucumbers. 

Earlier this week, Fresh Start Produce Sales Inc. voluntarily recalled whole cucumbers that were shipped to 14 states after the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture found a sample that tested positive for Salmonella. The product should no longer be available for sale in stores, according to FDA

CDC and FDA are advising people to avoid eating, selling or serving the recalled cucumbers while the investigation continues. 

Boozman co-leads delegation to Normandy

Ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee John Boozman, R-Ark., is leading a bipartisan delegation to Normandy, France, this week to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion by Allied forces during World War II. 

The delegation arrives in Normandy today to meet with veterans and pay their respects at the American Cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer, according to a release from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who is co-leading the visit. The delegation will also meet with American diplomatic and military leadership stationed in Europe throughout the trip, which goes through Sunday.

He said it: “I think you ought to go and talk to some of the Democrats who voted yes on this bill, and gently remind them about what's at stake here and make sure that they are with us when, if, this bill ever comes to the floor, which I hope it never does.” – Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., on the House farm bill that advanced out of committee with the support of four vulnerable Democrats. McGovern was addressing a group of anti-hunger advocates Wednesday.