Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow says she’s “very optimistic” that substantial new funding for farm bill conservation programs will be included in the $3.5 trillion spending agreement that Democrats have announced. Stabenow has been seeking $50 billion in new conservation funding to promote climate-friendly farming practices.
President Joe Biden pushed back against Republicans who are arguing his infrastructure bill has unrelated items in it. Projects related to clean water, schools and high-speed rail all qualify as infrastructure projects, he said.
In an interview with Agri-Pulse, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said he’s open to helping aspiring Black farmers acquire the acreage they need by tapping federal land holdings. Vilsack made clear that his goal as secretary is to address the impact of a legacy of discrimination against minority farmers. It’s no longer an issue of just compensating producers who were the victims of discrimination themselves.
Tom Vilsack’s return to USDA has been on hold for reasons because of delays in getting the 50-50 Senate organized. But incoming Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow tells Agri-Pulse she hopes to get Vilsack’s nomination for agriculture secretary approved “as soon as possible” once she takes over the committee.
Lawmakers have their focus on impeachment for now, but Democratic leaders are likely to try to pivot quickly over the next weeks as President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Climate policy as well as immigration and tax reform will be on the agenda for the Senate.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says he has had no part in any discussions with other cabinet members about invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to oust President Donald Trump from office and doesn't anticipate such conversations will take place.