National Ag News for May 18, 2023

House Ag Spending Bill Released, Markup Thursday

The House Agriculture Appropriations bill released this week provides $26.3 billion for total funding, $532 million below the 2023 funding level. The bill provides $17.1 billion to the Department of Agriculture, which is $8.6 billion below current fiscal year spending and $11.7 billion below the budget request. The bill also provides $8.1 billion in funding repurposed from unobligated balances from pandemic-era programs. Conservative leaders in the House say the bill reins in wasteful spending by redirecting billions in American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act funding to help America’s producers and rural communities. The changes include a $32 billion decrease in mandatory SNAP spending from FY23 levels due to the end of increased pandemic-era benefits and a decrease in participation rates. The proposal also eliminates funding for equity initiatives and climate change, and saves $1 billion by restricting the discretionary use of the Commodity Credit Corporation. The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee was scheduled to markup the bill Thursday morning.

Legislation Introduced to Protect Farms from Feral Hogs

Lawmakers this week in the Senate introduced the Feral Swine Eradication Act. The legislation would extend and make permanent a pilot program to safeguard public health, agriculture, and local ecosystems against the threat of feral swine. Senators Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican and John Cornyn, A Texas Republican, introduced the bill. Tuberville says, “Over the past five years, feral swine have impacted more than 173,000 acres in Alabama, yet the pigs are still running rampant throughout the South.” There are approximately six million feral hogs across the United States, which cause more than $1.5 billion in damages each year. The Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program was established in the 2018 Farm Bill to respond to rampant feral swine outbreaks and was implemented by the Department of Agriculture. The program includes feral swine removal, restoration efforts, and assistance to producers for feral swine control through grants with non-federal partners.

Senate Ag Committee Advances Torres Small Nomination

The Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday advanced the nomination of Xochitl Torres Small to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture to the full Senate for consideration. Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, says, ” Ms. Torres Small has a proven track record and a wide-ranging background that make her an ideal candidate to help lead the nearly 100,000 public servants at USDA.” Ranking Member John Boozman, an Arkansas Republican, added, “She has shown herself to be a thoughtful leader while overseeing the rural development mission, and I believe those qualities will be an asset in this new role.” Torres Small was confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as the Under Secretary for Rural Development on October 7, 2021. She was nominated to serve as Deputy Secretary by President Joe Biden in February following the resignation announcement by Jewel Bronaugh, who stepped away from the role to spend more time with family.

Truterra Pays $9 Million to Carbon Sequestering Farmers

Truterra, LLC Thursday announced the results of its carbon program for 2022, which paid more than $5.1 million to farmers for approximately 262,000 metric tons of carbon stored. In the first two years of the program, Truterra has paid more than $9 million to farmers for over 462,000 metric tons of carbon. Truterra President Tom Ryan says, “By working with and through farmer’s trusted advisor, the carbon program has continued to achieve great success in its second year.” The company reports that 273 farmers participating in the 2022 carbon program, receiving an average total payment per participating farmer of over $18,000. Truterra is a self-described leading sustainability solutions provider, advancing and connecting sustainability efforts throughout the food system at scale – from farmers to ag retailers to value chain collaborators, including food and fiber companies.  Truterra was launched in 2016 by Land O’Lakes, Inc., a member-owned cooperative that spans the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods.

Food Spending Decreased Unevenly Across States in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States disrupted the food industry in 2020, according to fresh data from USDA’s Economic Research Service. Inflation-adjusted total U.S. food expenditures were 6.6 percent lower in 2020 than in 2019. However, individual states experienced varying degrees of food spending decline. The ERS developed State-level Food Expenditure Series helps to illustrate annual food spending changes across States since 1997, including Washington, DC. From 2019 to 2020, each state saw decreases in inflation-adjusted, per capita total food spending. The smallest decreases in food spending were in Iowa, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The states that saw the largest decreases in inflation-adjusted, per-capita food spending were Hawaii, Washington, DC, Florida, and Nevada. These states typically have large out-of-state population inflows from nonresident workers and tourists. The spending changes occurred as health concerns and mobility restrictions during the first year of the pandemic led consumers to spend less at restaurants and other eating-out establishments.

Dairy Checkoff Building Trust with Youth 

The dairy checkoff is bringing a new approach to building trust with young Americans by helping high school curriculum writers across the country incorporate accurate science behind dairy farming. The “On The Farm STEM” experience is co-funded by National Dairy Council and Midwest Dairy. The effort brings leading science educators and curriculum directors to dairy farms to discover ideas that can fit into high school curriculum. Ultimately, the program, created in partnership with the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, will offer a science-based counterbalance to misunderstanding about how dairy is responsibly produced by farmers and its contributions to health and wellness. National Dairy Council’s Lindsay Datlow says, “With education and action, today’s youth will be empowered to understand how dairy foods fit into an overall healthy and sustainable food system.” Some dairy-focused classroom materials already are being used in school pilot programs. The curriculum is expected to be implemented in several states by early 2024.


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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