National Ag News for December 23, 2022

Senate Confirms Alexis Taylor to USDA Post

The Senate voted to confirm Alexis Taylor as the new USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Affairs. Taylor, the former director of Oregon’s Department of Agriculture, is the new top agricultural trade official with the agency. Food Business News says she’ll be responsible for overseeing international negotiations related to agricultural trade, developing America’s trade policies, promoting U.S. agriculture overseas, and opening up new markets for American commodities. At a nomination hearing in September, Taylor said her top priorities would be working with the U.S. Trade Representative on a path toward country-of-origin labeling that would be compliant with World Trade Organization rules. She also intends to hold Canada and Mexico to their commitments under the USMCA and will expand export markets for dairy and other farm products within the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. She’ll also be involved in food safety issues by working to contain highly pathogenic avian influenza cases without market disruption.

Group Says Congress Failed Farmers, Farmworkers, and American Consumers

Congress failed to include immigration solutions in the omnibus package and the American Business Immigration Coalition Action group isn’t happy with that. Coalition Executive Director Rebecca Shi (she) says they regret that this Congress failed to show the courage needed to advance immigration solutions for farmer workers and farmers, for Dreamers, the U.S. economy, and consumers. “There is a reason why Congress remains one of the most unpopular institutions in our nation,” Shi says. “At the end of the day, Republicans still prefer to complain about the border than to compromise on solutions, and Democrats have much higher priorities than standing up for hardworking immigrants.” The group says America’s farmers are struggling to find the amount of workers they need to stay in business, driving record-high food inflation. Bringing two million dreamers out of the shadows would create more than 1.4 million jobs for Americans and $46 billion in economic spending.

New Report Lays Out Priorities for U.S. Dairy Reform

A new report from the American Farm Bureau Federation lays out priorities, principles, and recommendations for reforming dairy policy. A Farm Bureau Working Group explored options for strengthening the dairy industry through the 2023 Farm Bill and modernizing the current Federal Milk Marketing Order. Some of the priorities for FMMO reform include returning the Class 1 mover to a “higher-of” formula, increasing the Class 1 differentials to reflect changes in the marketplace, and making cost surveys mandatory and have them audited by USDA, and several others. “America’s dairy farmers continue to meet the challenges of growing demand for milk products, even while the number of dairy farmers in the U.S. continues to shrink,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “These recommendations convey the needs of dairy farmers across the country.” Farm Bureau also says the report gives guidance to USDA as it prepares for future hearings on modernizing the FMMO system.

Groups Respond Positively to Taylor Confirmation

The Senate confirmed Alexis Taylor as USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, and U.S. ag groups reacted positively. “Alexis has a strong background in agriculture from growing up on a farm in Iowa and has a deep knowledge of trade issues,” says the U.S. Grains Council. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “Trade is critically important to U.S. agriculture, and she’ll be a strong advocate on the world stage and a capable leader for USDA staff.” U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom says Taylor will be a “tremendous asset to USDA and a champion for U.S. agriculture.” The American Soybean Association also reacted positively to the announcement. Stephen Censky, ASA CEO, says, “Alexis has a depth of knowledge about agricultural trade and public policy that will serve her well in this post.” Groups like NCBA and the National Milk Producers Federation welcomed the nomination.

U.S. Agencies Partner to Promote Global Food Safety

The USDA, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Food and Drug Administration launched the Food Safety for Food Security Partnership, also known as FS4FS. The initiative includes a $15 million investment over the next few years to support the availability and trade of safe food products to reduce poverty, hunger, and malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries. Foreign Ag Service Administrator Daniel Whitley says the initiative developed after the U.S.-African leaders summit, where many African heads of state asked for help in developing science-based measures and standards for food safety. “Through the new partnership, we will work together to address those needs, which are vital to ensuring greater access to safe and nutritious foods across Africa,” Whitley says. The agencies will also work to build on the success of Feed the Future and work with countries around the world to increase access to safe and nutritious foods and unlock trade opportunities.  

China is World’s Number One in Ag Research and Development

Public agricultural research and development funding has trended lower in the United States during the last several decades. However, a USDA report shows several of America’s top trading partners have increased their funding. The EU’s expenditures have grown since 2000, as have the funding pools in India and Brazil. But no country has experienced as rapid an increase in funding as China, which became the largest funder of agricultural R & D after 2011, surpassing the European Union. As recently as 2015, China was spending more than $10 billion yearly on agricultural R & D. That level was roughly twice what the U.S. spent in 2015 and nearly quintupled China’s own R & D spending in 2000. With China a major importer of U.S. agricultural goods and Brazil a competitor to the U.S. in global corn and soybean markets, these developments could have a significant impact on America’s export competitiveness.


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.

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