The top Republican on the Senate Ag Committee, John Boozman, has laid out his proposals for a new farm bill. For the most part they mirror the bill the House Ag Committee approved last month, which means the partisan divide over policy and funding is no closer to being resolved.  

Boozman says the plan addresses the need to put “more farm in the farm bill.” But Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said the GOP proposal “spends significant sums without a way to pay the bill.” Vilsack noted that Republicans are simultaneously trying to use the appropriations process to cut spending at USDA. 

Some farm groups issued statements saying the release of the Senate GOP plan was “progress” or a sign of “momentum.”

For more details on the Boozman plan, go to We have more reaction to the plan in this week’s Agri-Pulse newsletter, plus a look at some ag districts that could help determine which party controls the House next year. 

House Appropriations Ag Subcommittee advances 2025 spending bill

The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee favorably reported a fiscal 2025 spending bill to the full committee Tuesday with no amendments.

Subcommittee Chair Andy Harris, R-Md., said the bill, which cuts funding for USDA, FDA and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission by 1.35% from the current year, reins in federal spending but also supports agriculture research in plant and animal health programs, invests in rural communities and ensures a safe food supply.

Subcommittee Democrats, however, predicted a tough path ahead, pointing to problematic provisions such as a steep cut in the Food for Peace program.

Take note: The draft text includes some provisions that could impact federal rulemaking. Sec. 742 restricts funds from being used to implement or enforce rules that would cut the maximum monthly allowance of milk included in the revised WIC rule. The dairy industry railed against the changes after they were finalized in April

Another provision restricts FDA from crafting final guidelines or regulations on long-term, population-wide sodium reductions that may apply to food manufacturers until an assessment on the impact of the short-term reduction targets is completed. 

Grocer group welcomes provision delaying traceability requirement

FMI-The Food Industry Association is applauding the spending bill for a provision that would delay compliance with FDA’s food traceability rule, set to go into effect in 2026.

“This legislation requires FDA to participate in pilot projects with industry utilizing different items on the Food Traceability List before the agency can begin enforcement,” Chief Public Policy Officer Jennifer Hatcher said.

“While we support efforts to improve traceability, we need to ensure that FDA can use the information required by the complex 596-page Food Traceability Rule to improve food safety before billions of dollars and millions of hours are invested that will drive up costs,” Hatcher said. 

Chiquita hit with $38.3M jury verdict for funding terrorists 

Chiquita Brands must pay $38.3 million to Colombians whose family members were killed by a paramilitary group that received money from the banana company, a Florida jury has decided.

Sixteen relatives of eight men who were killed by Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, or AUC, will receive the compensation.  

Chiquita, which is based in Cincinnati, said it would appeal. The company paid a $25 million fine to the U.S. government in 2007 after pleading guilty to paying AUC more than $1.7 million. The lawsuit by the victims’ families followed.

AUC disbanded in 2006, but not before it was labeled a terrorist group by the U.S. and other countries.

Bird flu in cows requires more attention, action, veterinarians say in op-ed

The dairy industry needs to put aside “cultural and operational differences” and begin broadly testing cows and workers for highly pathogenic avian influenza, three veterinarians say in an opinion piece in Scientific American that warns of devastating consequences without quick action.

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“Turkey and egg-laying farms are in peril, as bovine flu, which is caused by a specific strain of H5N1 …, has infected these birds at alarming rates,” they say in the magazine. “We have lost more than 13 million laying hens in the U.S. in the past two months. And if we do not control this virus, it will soon be too difficult or expensive to produce eggs or raise turkeys.”

More testing and monitoring is necessary, say vets Carol Cardona, Kay Russo and Michelle Kromm. 

“With the virus crossing species barriers, the specter of human exposure and emergence of a human-adapted strain is rapidly intensifying,” they write. “This outbreak in dairy cows has the potential to spiral into a human epidemic or even a catastrophic pandemic—the signals of which we may already be seeing.”

Pecans don’t get enough in promotion funding, senators say

A group of Republican senators are expressing “strong concern” about trade promotion funding from USDA they say “heavily favors the almond, walnut and pistachio industries over the pecan industry."

The pecan industry, the senators say in a letter to Vilsack, only received $1 million in funding through the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program, while almonds got $10 million, walnuts $7 million and pistachios $5 million.

They added that the U.S. produces around 80% of the world’s pecans, but only exports 28% of its supply, which “highlights the dire need for expanded market access in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America."

Signers include Sens. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma.

Lawmakers tout small farm crop insurance bills 

Lawmakers are pushing bicameral legislation that aims to improve access to disaster assistance programs and crop insurance for small farms. 

Connecticut Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy announced the Save Our Small Farms Act of 2024 on Tuesday after introducing it in the Senate last week. House Agriculture Committee member Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., led her state delegation in introducing a companion bill in the House.  

Last year, Connecticut farmers experienced unprecedented flooding that resulted in significant crop losses, according to a release from Blumenthal. Still, barriers to crop insurance prevented many farms from getting the necessary federal assistance. 

“Climate change has made it abundantly clear that we need a stronger safety net that better supports farmers facing the unique challenges plaguing New England farms,” said Blumenthal in the release. “Our measure makes necessary reforms to programs that simply do not work for farmers by making coverage and assistance more accessible and affordable than before.”

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