USDA

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Farmers, lured by the promise of an easy, steady paycheck by raising chickens are told if they just keep the birds healthy, industrial poultry processors will take care of the rest.

As The Texas Observer reports, however, after growers sign an exclusive contract to build several 24,000-square-foot chicken houses, the companies that process the poultry sometimes require expensive improvements be made to the chicken houses that many growers can’t afford.

Updated 12:30 p.m. Nov. 2 — Sam Clovis, who ran President Donald Trump's campaign in Iowa, has withdrawn his nomination to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientist position. Clovis was linked this week to the federal investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Clovis sent Trump a letter, dated Nov. 1, that says the political climate "has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position" during his Nov. 9 Senate confirmation hearing.

USDA Won't Implement Tougher Meatpacker Rules

Oct 19, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture won’t go forward with rules meant to make it easier for small livestock producers to report possible unfair treatment.

The agency’s decision on the proposal, which came at the tail end of the Obama administration, was announced Tuesday and met with mixed response.

There’s a genetic technology that scientists are eager to apply to food, touting its possibilities for things like mushrooms that don’t brown and pigs that are resistant to deadly diseases.

And food industry groups, still reeling from widespread protests against genetically engineered corn and soybeans (aka GMOs) that have made it difficult to get genetically engineered food to grocery store shelves, are looking to influence public opinion.

Iowa’s secretary of agriculture is one step closer to a new post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bill Northey appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. He answered questions about a variety of farm-support and conservation programs he would oversee as undersecretary from the farm and foreign agricultural services.

smarterlunchrooms.org

A critique of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program aimed at getting students to eat significantly more fruits and vegetables suggests the benefits of the program have been exaggerated.

As The Denver Post reports, the critique, published on the academic platform PeerJ, alleges that researchers have exaggerated the benefits of the USDA’s Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, which has been adopted by over 30,000 U.S. schools since 2010.

USDA boosts forecast for wheat production

Jun 12, 2017
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday boosted its forecast for wheat production.

As Reuters reports, the USDA raised its forecast for overall winter wheat production from 1.246 billion bushels to 1.250 billion bushels

The report was expected to reflect a decrease in overall production to 1.239 billion bushels.

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Increased income limits through U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development may increase opportunities for rural families to own their own home.

As the High Plains Journal reports, the USDA announced the new 2017 income limits for its direct and guaranteed home ownership loan programs that may make more households eligible to obtain 100 percent financing.

President Donald Trump spent the campaign pledging to revive rural communities, where many voters have felt ignored by previous administrations. But after announcing staffing changes and budget plans that would make cuts to programs aimed at rural areas, critics are questioning whether the White House remains committed to that goal.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Several farm groups are opposing a reorganization of the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Bob, Robbie and Leah Maass ready equipment for planting season on their farm near Ellsworth, Iowa.Credit AMY MAYER / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIAEdit | Remove

Three months after his nomination, Sonny Perdue faces a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate Monday for the post of secretary of agriculture.

Andrew Harrer / The Washington Post

Sonny Perdue, Donald Trump’s appointee to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture, faced some tough questions last week during his confirmation hearing.

Farm and rural advocacy groups say cuts to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would harm rural communities, at a time when many of them need an infusion of cash.

In what’s being called a “skinny budget” because it sets an outline and contains scant details, Trump’s proposal calls for a 21 percent reduction in the USDA’s annual discretionary spending, and lays out rationales for why some programs are either eliminated or scaled back, calling some “duplicative,” or “underperforming.”

Creative Commons

Ag experts are expecting a revised farm bill this year, as a new administration takes control in Washington.

As Politico has noted, employees from the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation have begun to exert heavy influence over the young administration.

Feed & Grain

Many in the ag sector were cheered by Donald Trump’s selection of former Georgia Governor sonny Perdue to head the USDA. But now, as The Guardian reports, there is growing concern that Perdue will focus on global agribusiness to the detriment of American family farms.

Perdue’s history suggests he will prioritize the exporting of commodity crops for global markets. But this presents a couple of questions.

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Some regulatory freezes instituted by President Donald Trump could be damaging to the country’s farm belt, according to some agricultural groups.

As Reuters reports, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will delay implementation of this year’s biofuels requirements along with 29 other regulations finalized in the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to a government notice, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will delay rules affecting livestock.

Bruce Tuten / Wikimedia Commons

After a long wait that caused no shortage of nervous fidgeting among the ag sector, Donald Trump has finally selected a candidate for Secretary of Agriculture.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Soon-to-be-former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will join team dairy after he leaves his position as secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As Politico reports, Vilsack will become president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

President-elect Donald Trump appears to be closing in on a choice to head the Agriculture Department in his administration—and a few Texans are at the top of the list.

As Politico reports, Trump will meet with Former Texas A&M University President Elsa Murano today at the president-elect’s Florida resort, known as Mar-a-Lago. Trump also plans to speak tomorrow with controversial Texas ag commissioner Sid Miller.

More urban farms sprouting with USDA's help

Dec 29, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

Farming, a largely rural activity, is moving to the cities, as urban farms continue to grow with help from the federal government.

Michael Vadon / Creative Commons

Donald Trump’s search for a Secretary of Agriculture is drawing criticism from some important contingents within the ag sector. As Politico reports, it’s been six weeks since the election and Trump has yet to name his nominee for the position.

Trump spent a good deal of time during the election building a relationship with agribusiness representatives, but some of his potential choices for the USDA position have begun to fracture that relationship.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Controversial federal rules that would change the production of organic meat may not be finalized before President Barack Obama leaves office, leaving open the possibility that they may never go into effect.

Eric Gregory / Journal Star

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2016 Farm numbers were released last week. As Farm Futures reports, farm income for 2016 is forecast to drop by almost 15% from last year’s levels. This is the third straight year net cash farm income has dropped. Most of the income decrease can be attributed to a drop in income from livestock and animal products.  

Travis Morrisse / Hutchinson News/AP photo

Beleaguered outgoing Kansas congressman Tim Huelskamp says a person closely associated with president-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has contacted him about the possibility of becoming Agriculture Secretary in the new administration.

The world wheat market is showing signs of life, despite recent struggles.

Michael Flippo / Thinkstock

The United States Department of Agriculture is releasing up to five million dollars in grants to help create or strengthen farm-to-school programs, reports FarmFutures.com.

The competitive grants are part of a federal initiative further to increase foods from local farms and ranches in America’s school meals.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The country’s top agriculture official, Tom Vilsack, is declining to comment on some of the largest  mergers the farm economy has ever seen.

agpolicy.org

The US Department of Agriculture has been touting the recent expansion of the meat trade in the US. But the agency has only been highlighting the positives of the trade increase. As The Rural Blog reports, the nation has been importing more beef than it exports in recent months. In a recent column, two professors from the University of Tennessee said they understand that the USDA may want to put a positive spin on the situation.

USDA.gov

The US Department of Agriculture has launched a new fund that will invest millions in rural agriculture businesses, reports The Rural Blog. The Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund has the potential to pour as much as $100 million into rural food and agriculture. The fund also has high growth potential, the USDA said in a press release.

USDA Continues to Invest in Ogallala Relief

Nov 16, 2015
ne.water.usgs.gov

The US Department of Agriculture will invest $8 million next year toward helping farmers and ranchers conserve water from the Ogallala Aquifer, while still maintaining and strengthening agricultural operations, reports Agri-Pulse.

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