Some results from Tuesday’s primaries have implications for agricultural policy. The top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, John Boozman, fended off a challenge from his right in Arkansas. The Associated Press called the race around 10 p.m. EDT with Boozman well above the 50% threshold he needed to avoid a runoff.
Boozman, who is favorite to win in November, would be in line to chair the Agriculture Committee if Republicans take control of the Senate.
In Georgia, soccer great Herschel Walker won the GOP nomination to face Ag Senate member Raphael Warnock in November. Walker’s GOP challengers included Georgia Ag Commissioner Gary Black.
The formula crisis takes center stage on Hill
FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and two deputies responsible for food safety today face controversy from lawmakers over the current shortage of infant formula. They will be followed at the House Energy and Commerce committee hearing by formula makers executives.
Joining Califf will be Frank Yiannas, the deputy commissioner for food policy and response, and Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
The House Farm Appropriations Subcommittee also has a hearing on the crisis today.
Ukrainian family farmers fight food shortages
More than half of Ukraine’s 14.7 million households produce dairy products, beef, pork, fruit or vegetables and bring what they do not consume to local markets. This is a factor that makes the country much less susceptible to food shortages, even in times of war, according to USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has become an ultimate test of the resilience of Ukrainian agriculture,” according to the report from the FAS office in Kyiv.
“Rural families have long viewed their vegetable gardens and farm animals as a safety net to provide families with stable food…or income in the event of extraordinary events such as major economic crises, temporary unemployment, epidemics or a war”.
Take note: Organizations like the United Nations and the United States Agency for International Development are still providing food as well as agricultural aid, such as seed potatoes, farming equipment and inputs.
Senator: Dual-culture incentives probably won’t help
Sen. Chuck Grassley, one of the few members of the Senate with an agricultural background, doubts the Biden administration’s efforts to increase dual cropping will have much impact. The USDA plans to increase the number of counties where double cropping is an insurable practice.
But Grassley, R-Iowa, thinks most farmers who can double their harvest will do so without additional incentives.
“If the administration can spend X dollars to encourage more double cropping, I’m not going to fight that,” Grassley told reporters Tuesday. “But I’m a little lost thinking that all the farmers who could do that aren’t already doing it.”
For more on the challenges facing the administration’s plan, read this week’s Agri-Pulse newsletter. We also check the status of the Climate Solutions Growth Act, which is stalled in the House, and examine how food inflation figures in mid-term campaigns.
From industry to EPA: Keep RFS critics away from review board
A major ethanol industry group is trying to block critics of the renewable fuel standard from being part of a peer-review panel of the EPA’s three-year report on environmental impacts of the RFS.
“Some of these candidates have long-standing histories of ideologically biased statements and positions, questionable scientific work, and conflicts in funding sources that can lead to sponsorship bias,” said the Renewable Fuels Associationannouncing that it had submitted comments to the EPA.
The agency is in the process of selecting up to nine reviewers from 20 applicants. The three candidates that RFA wants the EPA to reject are Tyler Lark, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin; Jason D. Hill, professor in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota; and Tim Searchinger, senior fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at Princeton University.
Enviros plan tracks APHIS grasshopper spray
Two environmental groups have announced plans to file a lawsuit against the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for insecticides used in its grasshopper spray program.
Xerces and the Center for Biological Diversity claim APHIS violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service when the rangeland pesticide program was reauthorized in 2019 and when APHIS began using two new pesticides, the diflubenzuron and chlorantraniliprole.
The groups state in their letter that many species potentially susceptible to these pesticides have been listed by the ESA since the program was approved by the FWS in 1995.
APHIS uses authority under the Plant Protection Act to deal with grasshopper outbreaks, such as the one that devastated parts of the west last year, through its Grasshopper program and Mormon Crickets. The program treated about 805,000 acres of land last year and will likely spray more this year as the west grapples with another massive epidemic.
That‘that’s not all : The center also submitted a petition to the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs requesting changes to pesticide labels. The group wants the EPA to require all pesticide labels to be provided in both Spanish and English, “since many Spanish-speaking farm workers do not read English.”
He also wants to see universal endangered species warning labels for all pesticides used outdoors.
He said it. “There has never been a more important time than now for farmers to have a good harvest, as we face a world threatened by food shortages and food insecurity.” – Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, criticizing the Department of Justice’s position in a pesticide case.
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