FarmPolicy

July 24, 2019

Appropriations; Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Biofuels; Labels; Data; and, Regs

House Appropriations Committee Passes Ag Spending Measure

David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “It was the first lady vs. the ‘lunch ladies’ at the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday morning as Republicans pushed ahead with their plan offering school districts a one-year waiver to opt out of improved nutrition standards promoted by Michelle Obama.

“The action came as the panel approved a $142.5 billion farm and food safety budget for the coming year, including $20.9 billion in new discretionary appropriations for the operations of the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration.

“From vending machine junk food labels to the merits of fresh white potatoes in the diet of low-income mothers and their young children, nutrition items dominated the meeting. But the school meals fight drew the most attention, given the first lady’s prominence, and the key 29-22 committee vote followed a spirited debate that approached two hours.”

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Appropriations- Nutrition; Ag Economy; Farm Bill; Biofuels; Regs; and, Immigration

Appropriations- Nutrition Issues

The House Appropriations Committee will markup the FY15 Agriculture spending bill this morning, the bill is available here, while the Committee draft report can be found here.

In part, the draft report states that, “The Committee is concerned about the challenges and costs that local schools face in implementing the various regulations from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Schools from across the Nation have expressed concern with increased food costs and plate waste coupled with decreased participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), all of which is resulting in at least half of all school food authorities to experience a decline in revenue. A February 27, 2014, GAO report found that student participation in the NSLP declined by 1.2 million students from school year 2010–11 through school year 2012–13. Additional meal requirements are scheduled to be implemented in the 2014–15 school year as well as the ‘Smart Snacks in School’ interim final rule.

“To address the concerns of local schools, the FY 2014 conference report directed the Secretary to establish a waiver process for schools incurring costs to provide more time to comply with some of these regulations. On March 14, 2014, the Secretary responded he did not have the statutory authority to grant such waivers. Therefore, the Committee includes bill language that provides schools with flexibility by allowing schools experiencing a financial loss for at least a six-month period to seek a waiver from compliance with the final regulations. The Committee directs USDA to implement this provision in a timely and streamlined manner. Schools receiving a waiver under this provision shall, at a minimum, implement the nutrition standards in effect prior to the final rule issued on January 26, 2012. The bill language does not provide for a change in reimbursement rates and only applies to the 2014–15 school year.”

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CNN OutFront- Lawmaker: Healthy lunch rules ‘go beyond reason’

Categories: Nutrition

From CNN OutFront- May 28- “It’s rare that the first lady gets publicly involved in a political fight. But she has some major beef with House Republicans who want to enable schools to opt out of the nutrition standards that the first lady fought for.

“‘The last thing we can afford to do right now is play politics with our kids’ health,’ she said. ‘Now is not the time to roll back everything that we have worked for. Our kids deserve so much better than that.’

“Republican Congressman Robert Aderholt– He’s backing the bill that would let cash-strapped schools opt out of the nutrition regulations.”

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Farm Bill; Nutrition Issues; Ag Economy; Regs; and, Immigration

Farm Bill- Conservation

AP writer John Flesher reported yesterday that, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture is teaming with businesses, nonprofits and others on a five-year, $2.4 billion program that will fund locally designed soil and water conservation projects nationwide, Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.

“Authorized by the new farm law enacted earlier this year, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program is intended to involve the private sector more directly in planning and funding environmental protection initiatives tied to agriculture [see related USDA video].

“‘It’s a new approach to conservation that is really going to encourage people to think in very innovative and creative ways,’ Vilsack said.”

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USDA Video: Venture Conservationist -USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Categories: Farm Bill

From USDA, May 27- “USDA announces a new approach to conservation — a partnership program to recruit new partners and leverage additional investments for conservation projects in local communities.”

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Appropriations; Biofuels; Biotech; Immigration; CFTC; Tax Extenders; Data; and, the Ag Economy

Appropriations- Nutrition, and Conservation

Tom Hamburger reported in today’s Washington Post that, “First lady Michelle Obama is set to take an unusual, high-profile step Tuesday into the center of a legislative battle by delivering White House remarks taking issue with makers of frozen pizzas and french fries and other companies seeking to scale back school lunch standards.

“Obama is scheduled to speak out against a House measure, backed by Republicans and pushed by the food industry and some school officials, that would allow some districts to opt out of federal mandates passed in 2010 to reduce sodium and increase whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables in school lunches. White House aides say she will announce the launch of a campaign-style push to fight the legislation.

“The effort fits with the spirit of Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign and other initiatives in which she has advocated for healthy eating and a reduction of obesity. Until now, however, she has largely shied away from direct confrontations with lawmakers and industry groups.”

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Agriculture Appropriations; Drought Legislation; Regulations; and, Food Prices

Agriculture Appropriations, Farm Bill 

The House Appropriations Committee will meet on Thursday this week to markup the FY 2015 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

Last week the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee approved spending language that “would require the Agriculture Department to waive requirements to serve fruits, vegetables and low-sodium and low-fat foods for schools that can show their lunch programs are losing money” (The Hill, “House panel cuts school nutrition standards.”).

And recall that last Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted fiscal year 2015 spending allocations for Agriculture.

David Rogers reported last week at Politico that, “[T]he [Sen. Appropriations] committee also opted for compromise and gave Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack some flexibility in addressing complaints from school districts regarding the level of whole-grain foods they must include in lunch and breakfast meals.”

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WSJ Video: “‘Pink Slime’ Returns as Beef Prices Spike

From The Wall Street Journal, May 23- “Just in time for the summer barbecue season, the finely textured beef product known as pink slime is making a comeback. WSJ’s Kelsey Gee joins the News Hub with Sara Murray.”

See also this related article on the front page of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.

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Senate Ag Appropriations; Farm Bill; Ag Economy; ESA; Water Bill; CFTC; Immigration; and, Food Safety- Friday

Senate Ag Appropriations

David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “Veterans, farm and food safety spending bills cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday even as Republicans charged Democrats with overstepping last December’s budget accord to fund domestic priorities.

“From white potatoes to Pacific salmon and even cigars, the nearly three-hour meeting had a bit of everything. And behind the scenes, first lady Michelle Obama pushed — with some success — for last-day compromises protecting nutrition standards for children.”

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ERS: China’s net grain imports surge in 2012 and 2013

ers

From USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), May 22- “China’s demand for imported grains, much of it from the United States, has surged recently, with imports of cereal grains rising to 16 million tons in 2012 and 18 million in 2013. Imports in 2013 included 3 million tons of corn and 4 million tons of DDGS (distillers dried grains with solubles; a co-product of U.S. corn ethanol production used for feed) from the United States. In 2013, the United States supplied 70 percent of China’s wheat imports and, for the first time, China became a major market for U.S. sorghum. China’s demand for feed grains appears to have reached a turning point, as a tightening labor supply and rising feed costs force structural change in China’s livestock sector. Labor scarcity, animal disease pressures, and rising living standards are prompting rural households to abandon ‘backyard’ livestock production and shift more production to specialized farm enterprises that rely more heavily on commercial feed. Because of this, China has switched from being a corn exporter to importing 3-5 million tons annually since 2009. Rising feed demand has also pushed up costs and motivated feed mills and livestock producers to explore new feed ingredients like DDGS and sorghum. Find this chart and additional analysis in ‘China in the Next Decade: Rising Meat Demand and Growing Imports of Feed‘ in the April Amber Waves.”

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Farm Bill; Legislative Issues; Climate; Ag Economy; and, Immigration

Farm Bill

Marcia Zarley Taylor reported yesterday at DTN that, “Producers of bulk commodities like corn, soybeans and wheat have made crop insurance a staple of their risk management plans, insuring about 85% of eligible acres nationwide. Unfortunately, specialty crops like fresh sweet corn lag far behind at a mere 21% of planted acres and fresh green beans at 3%. Now the Risk Management Agency hopes attractive new features in a Whole-Farm Revenue Protection policy will aid risk management for diversified specialty crop and livestock producers [related graph].

“‘Crop insurance provides a tremendous safety net for core crops,’ Risk Management Agency Administrator Brandon Willis told DTN. ‘This is just another example if someone wants crop insurance, we have something for them.’

“The new program combines elements of the existing Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) and Adjusted Gross Revenue-Lite (AGR-Lite) programs targeting farms selling two to five commodities. It also expands eligibility to new counties and states starting in 2015. In 2014, only 802 of those policies had been sold nationwide, a participation rate Willis hopes to significantly improve.”

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Appropriations; WRDA; Policy Issues; Ag Economy; Biotech; and, Climate

Agriculture Appropriations- House

Erik Wasson reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “The House on Tuesday moved forward with legislation aimed at exempting some schools from lunch nutrition rules that have been a part of first lady Michelle Obama’s anti-childhood obesity initiative.

“An Appropriations subpanel approved language that would require the Agriculture Department to waive requirements to serve fruits, vegetables and low-sodium and low-fat foods for schools that can show their lunch programs are losing money.

“Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) said the temporary waivers are needed because some school districts are losing too much money and need more time to adjust to the requirement. He said a big problem is that students are refusing to eat the healthy foods.”

To listen to remarks on this issue from Chairman Aderholt at yesterday’s markup, just click here (MP3- 1:43).

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Appropriations; Farm Bill; WRDA; Ag Economy; Immigration; and, Biofuels

Agriculture Appropriations

David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “House Republicans proposed a $20.9 billion budget for agriculture and food safety programs Monday, an 82-page bill that challenges the White House on nutrition rules and denies major new funding sought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to better regulate the rich derivatives market.

“The CFTC fares better than in the past in that the GOP allows for a modest $3 million increase for information technology investments. But the $218 million budget is still $62 million less than President Barack Obama’s request and continues a pattern that has frustrated the administration’s ability to implement Wall Street reforms called for under the Dodd-Frank law enacted in July 2010.

“In the case of nutrition programs, the House bill seeks to open the door for starchy, white potatoes to be added to the list of qualified vegetables under the WIC supplemental feeding program for pregnant women and their young children. The Agriculture Department would also be required to establish a waiver process for local school districts which have found it too costly to comply with tougher nutrition standards for school lunch and breakfast programs.”

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Farm Bill; Tax Extenders; Ag Economy; Immigration; and, Political Notes

Farm Bill- Policy Issues

A recent update at fibre2fashion.com reported that, “Members of the Federal Senate, the Upper House of the National Congress of Brazil, have sought strong measures against the protectionism of cotton producers, adopted by the US Government under its new Farm Act, according to the senators who participated in a joint public hearing on the issue at the Committees on Agriculture and Agrarian Reform and on External Relations and National Defense.

The new Farm Act, with wider subsidies, assures revenues to the American cotton producer even if nothing is produced, the senators said, according to the information on Federal Senate website.

“At the meeting, Senator Ricardo Ferraco said, ‘The new American farm act is, in a rather disguised way, trying to violate a competitive international trade.’”

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Ag Economy; Farm Bill; Tax Extenders; WRDA; Transportation Bill; and, Organics

Agricultural Economy- Fed Districts Note Land Values Soften

Jacob Bunge reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “Farmland values fell in the first quarter in much of the Midwest, the latest sign of a downturn in the market after a yearslong boom fueled by rising commodity prices, according to Federal Reserve reports on Thursday.

“Average prices for agricultural land in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’s district, which includes parts of Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, fell 6% in the first quarter from the prior quarter, the bank said [related graph].”

Mr. Bunge explained that, “Prices for nonirrigated farmland in the Kansas City Fed district, which includes Kansas and Nebraska, declined 1.4% over the same period. Meanwhile, the Chicago Fed reported a 1% quarter-to-quarter decline, the first in five years for a district that includes Iowa, Michigan and parts of Illinois and Indiana [related graph].

“The reports indicate the U.S. farmland market has softened further, after cooling last year as U.S. grain and soybean prices fell sharply amid large harvests. Farmers produced the biggest corn crop ever last autumn, just one year after the nation’s worst drought in decades drove prices for the grain to record highs. Corn futures prices at the Chicago Board of Trade have fallen 24% over the past 12 months.”

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Consumer Price Index- Food Prices Rose in April

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted today in its monthly Consumer Price Index report that, “The food index rose 0.4 percent in April.”

The BLS added that, “The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 1.5 percent in April and has increased 3.9 percent over the last three months. The index for meats rose 2.9 percent, its largest increase since November 2003. The index for fruits and vegetables also continued to rise, increasing 0.7 percent. The dairy index also rose in April; its 0.5 percent advance was its sixth increase in a row.”

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