USDA to give $2 billion to food banks, schools to stem rise in hunger
The agency will once again tap obscure legislation from the Great Depression to provide funds for more commodity foods and to connect food charities and schools with local farmers, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says.washingtonpost.com
President Joe Biden tours a Kankakee farm and talks about rising food and gas prices before a stop in Chicago to address electricians union
President Joe Biden tours a corn and soybean farm outside Kankakee and talks about efforts to confront rising prices and help farmer before a stop in Chicago to address the electricians union.chicagotribune.com
US plans $50B wildfire fight where forests meet civilization
The Biden administration says it will significantly expand efforts to stave off catastrophic wildfires that have been torching areas of the U.S. West by more aggressively thinning forests around “hot spots” where nature and neighborhoods collide.
Judge limits strikers' conduct at Deere plant in Iowa
A judge on Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order that details how picketing workers at the Deere & Co. plant in Davenport must conduct themselves. In seeking the injunction Wednesday, Deere officials alleged that striking workers had disrupted access to the Davenport Works plant and put others at risk. District Court Judge Marlita Greve ordered the union to allow only four picketers at a time near the gates of the plant.news.yahoo.com
Cattle producers have a beef with 35-year marketing campaign
“The American consumer is deceived at the meat counter and our checkoff funds do not do anything to help create clarity or answer the question of where was that sirloin born, raised and harvested,” said Karina Jones, a Nebraska cattle rancher and field director for the R-CALF USA trade group that is seeking to end the checkoff. Opponents of the beef checkoff program, which was established by federal law in 1986, are urging cattle producers to a sign a petition calling for a referendum vote on terminating the program. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last month granted an extension until Oct. 3 for them to collect the required signatures due to the coronavirus pandemic.news.yahoo.com
Fire officials aim to douse blazes fast, avoid megafires
U.S. officials said Thursday they will try to stamp out wildfires as quickly as possible this year as severe drought tightens its grip across the West and sets the stage for another destructive summer of blazes. Large fires were active Thursday in Arizona, California and New Mexico and more than a half-million acres already have burned this year nationwide.news.yahoo.com
USDA relocations curtail ag research, farmer confidence
Hiring at the Kansas City site remains well below the roughly 550 high-paying jobs local leaders had anticipated. However, he said those frustrations have dealt more with reports published by other USDA agencies, and that some farmers may be confusing them. For example, a two-year research project on pollinators such as honeybees was shelved because the entire team working on it left the agency rather than move to Kansas City. In October 2016 — before Trump's first year in office — ERS had 318 permanent employees, according to USDA data. “And here in the United States, what we do with groups like that — we can’t send them to Siberia, so we send them to Kansas City.”
A strike against global warming or a Big Ag giveaway?
They worry that what the administration is pitching as a bold step to confront warming could turn into a giveaway to Big Ag. As the Biden administration reviews every sector of the economy for its impact on climate, agriculture is a rich target. It is one of the nation’s largest drivers of global warming, accounting for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. Advertisement“The Environmental Defense Fund is still in early days of trying to figure out how to structure a carbon bank,” said Callie Eideberg, the group’s director of agricultural policy. “Lots of environmentalists got on board believing it has got to be better for the environment than fossil fuels,” he said.latimes.com
China seems to be living up to trade deal pledges, Biden's Agriculture secretary says
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack believes China is making good on promises it made as part of the landmark phase one trade deal it signed with the U.S. last year. Vilsack said that the deal allows for market conditions to dictate how much Beijing is required to purchase from U.S. farmers. The additional purchases are supposed to be in addition to the quantity of goods and services Beijing bought from the U.S. in 2017. Specifically, China agreed to purchase $12.5 billion worth of agricultural goods in 2020, followed by an additional $19.5 billion in 2021. Still, some reports note that China hasn't purchased the sums it promised before the Covid-19 pandemic, even if the rules of the trade deal allow for changes to the purchase amounts based market conditions.cnbc.com
A look at how Biden's Cabinet nominees fared Tuesday
(Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden's Cabinet is starting to fill out, with nominees for agriculture secretary and United Nations ambassador gaining Senate approval Tuesday. “And that’s what we intend to do.”Schumer couldn’t resist a jab at former President Donald Trump, saying that all Biden’s nominees are “undoubtedly qualified for their positions, a stark departure from the caliber of nominees the Senate was made to consider during the previous administration.”But one of Biden's nominees, Neera Tanden to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, is clearly in trouble in the evenly divided Senate. Currently California's attorney general, Becerra appeared Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “I'm not sold yet,” Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the ranking Republican on the health committee, said, addressing Becerra. ___INTERIORRep. Deb Haaland, Biden's nominee to lead the Interior Department, fielded sharp questions from Republicans over what some called her “radical” ideas that include opposition to fracking and to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Vilsack confirmed for 2nd stint as US agriculture secretary
FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2020, file photo former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who the Biden administration chose to reprise that role, speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)WASHINGTON – The Senate on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to confirm Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary, his second run at the Cabinet post. The former Iowa governor spent eight years leading the same department for former President Barack Obama's entire administration. In his testimony, Vilsack, 70, heavily endorsed boosting climate-friendly agricultural industries such as the creation of biofuels, saying, “Agriculture is one of our first and best ways to get some wins" on climate change. With systemic racial inequity now a nationwide talking point, Vilsack also envisioned creating an “equity task force” inside the department.
Black farmers unconvinced by Vilsack's 'root out' racism vow
AdJohn Boyd Jr., a Virginia farmer who is president of the National Black Farmers Association, has voiced his concerns during several conversations with the nominee. AdSome Black farmers want Biden to sign an executive order they drafted halting foreclosures on Black-owned farms and making other civil rights reforms. But Vilsack's supporters contend lending to Black farmers was prioritized during his time at the department. At the beginning of Obama's first term, USDA made 557 direct farm loans to Black farmers, representing less than 2.4% of all direct loans. By 2015, that number had risen to 945 loans, with nearly 3.4% of direct loans going to Black farmers.
Iowa governor auctioned off access for pork barons' charity
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa Gov. AdThe records show Reynolds has supported policies Iowa Select has sought, made several appearances for the corporation and its charity, and routinely spoken with Jeff Hansen. Ad“From the top of the gold dome to the Governor’s office, you’ll be treated to a tour unlike any other!” it said. Weeks after he won the auction, Reynolds was a keynote speaker at Lynch's annual charity banquet in Decorah. Iowa Select spokeswoman Jen Sorenson said the company feels “an important responsibility” to educate elected officials on Iowa's multibillion-dollar animal agriculture industry, saying it leads to better policy.
Head of Black farmers group says he was "concerned" about Biden's USDA pick, urges focus on issues facing Black farmers
"But I do think he is going to be confirmed and hopefully, he will change and bring to the forefront the issues facing Black farmers." Civil rights leaders have long criticized the Agriculture Department for discriminatory practices against Black farmers. An average of 820 acres per day were seized from Black farmers between 1950 and 1969. In addition, Black farmers were also frequently shut out of USDA subsidies and farm lending programs. He also thanked New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker and other lawmakers for sponsoring the Justice for Black Farmers Act, a bill designed to strengthen accountability within the USDA and pave the way for Black farmers' inclusion in farming subsidies.cbsnews.com
Vilsack says he'll focus on climate change initiatives in second stint as agriculture secretary
Tom Vilsack, President Biden's nominee for secretary of agriculture, pledged Tuesday to focus on climate change initiatives and work to address racial inequities in agricultural assistance programs. If anything, this was an understatement, since Vilsack has already served as secretary of agriculture — for an eight-year stint during the Obama administration. Tom Vilsack testifies remotely during his Senate confirmation hearing on Feb. 2, 2021. "That's great, assuming you have a grocery store. But if you don't have a grocery store, what then?"cbsnews.com
Agriculture secretary nominee Vilsack endorses biofuels push
FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2020, file photo former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who the Biden administration chose to reprise that role, speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)WASHINGTON – Tom Vilsack, President Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of agriculture, pledged Tuesday to focus on climate change initiatives and work to address racial inequities in agricultural assistance programs. Vilsack, who testified before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, would bring much on-the-job experience to the position. In addition to serving two terms as the governor of Iowa, he spent eight years as President Barack Obama's Agriculture Secretary. But if you don’t have a grocery store, what then?”AdVilsack seems to enjoy bipartisan support and faced no serious criticism from Republicans on the committee.
Black farmers question USDA priorities as Black-owned farms decrease in the U.S.
Black farmers question USDA priorities as Black-owned farms decrease in the U.S. U.S. Department of Agriculture nominee Tom Vilsack faces criticism from Black farmers for not doing enough under the Obama administration to address systemic racism in farming. Meanwhile, the number of Black-owned farms in the U.S. continues to decline. Founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association, John W. Boyd Jr., joins CBSN's Tanya Rivero to discuss his experience and why he has hope for the Justice for Black Farmers Act.cbsnews.com
What Biden's Cabinet picks say about how he plans to govern
His Cabinet picks help demonstrate how he plans to deliver. Many have already begun meeting with interest groups and advocacy organizations, and his transition team has had what’s been described as an “open-door policy” toward advocacy groups for months. It’s a sharp contrast to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, which was dominated largely by white men with little experience in Washington. Biden’s aides say that was one of the goals he set in filling out his Cabinet: to signal that his presidency means a return to competent, stable leadership government. While Salguero recalled meetings with the Trump administration on key issues, he said the Biden transition team’s outreach already has gone further.
Transition stumbles test Biden's bond with Capitol Hill
FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2020, file photo, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, of S.C., speaks during a news conference about COVID-19, on Capitol Hill in Washington. President-elect Joe Biden brings more Capitol Hill experience than any president in decades. Biden's team swiftly adjusted, introducing Black, Latino and Asian American nominees as the president-elect vows to build the most diverse administration in history. Biden’s team incensed Hispanic and Asian and Pacific American lawmakers with its handling of Cabinet choices from their communities. “Democrats are always lecturing Republican senators about approving future Biden Cabinet nominees even if we don’t agree with them,” Grassley said.
Biden's challenge: Building Cabinet that meets all his goals
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)WASHINGTON – Shortly after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory last month, Cabinet hopeful Marcia Fudge pointedly noted that Black people are often typecast into positions such as housing secretary. He’s pledged to nominate the most diverse Cabinet in history and restore experience at beleaguered federal agencies. The GOP has barely acknowledged Biden's victory so the cooperation of its senators in the confirmation process is far from certain. “That’s why we are worried.”One prominent feature of Biden’s picks so far: deep ties to the Obama administration. Brent Colburn, a former Obama administration official who served in several agencies, encouraged Democrats to consider the bigger picture as they judge Biden's Cabinet.
Tom Vilsack faces new challenges as he returns to old job
President-elect Joe Biden has selected Vilsack to reprise that role in his administration. Vilsack “has the necessary qualifications and experience to steer the agency through these turbulent times,” said Rob Larew, the president of the National Farmers Union. Then mayor of Mount Pleasant in southeast Iowa, Vilsack volunteered for the up-and-coming Biden before he exited the presidential race. Despite that, in 2007, after his own brief presidential campaign, Vilsack endorsed Hillary Clinton, even with Biden also running. In his endorsement, Vilsack called Biden “a man with empathy, and a man who has the heart of a president.
Biden: Cabinet picks from Obama era mean 'bold new thinking'
Susan Rice, the Biden administration's choice to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council, speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. His choice for agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, served in the same post for Obama for eight years. Above all, they know how government should and can work for all Americans.”Relying too heavily on Obama administration veterans has already begun to draw some grumbling from members of Biden's own party, however. Mark Riddle, a Democratic strategist who founded a pro-Biden Super PAC during the 2020 presidential campaign, said there is no danger in relying too heavily on “all star” former Obama administration leaders. “If we come out of the box on jobs, jobs, jobs, I feel great.
Obama reunion? Biden fills Cabinet with former WH leaders
Increasingly deep into the process of selecting Cabinet members and other senior staff, the incoming Biden administration has a distinctly Obama feel. There's Denis McDonough, former President Barack Obama's chief of staff who Biden announced on Thursday would be nominated as the secretary of veterans affairs. Susan Rice, Obama's former national security adviser, was named the director of Biden's White House Domestic Policy Council. Jeff Zients, who did stints as acting Office of Management and Budget director and a top economic adviser in the Obama White House, will return as Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator. They're pressing Biden to focus in particular on the diversity of his Cabinet after several early picks were white men.
Biden taps Rice as domestic policy adviser, McDonough for VA
FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2020 file photo, former national security adviser Susan Rice takes part in a discussion on global leadership at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. President-elect Joe Biden is naming Susan Rice as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. The move marks a surprising shift for Rice, a longtime Democratic foreign policy expert who served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser and U.N. ambassador. In selecting Rice and McDonough, Biden is continuing to stockpile his administration with prominent members of the Obama administration. In choosing Rice to oversee the White House council, advisers said Biden is signaling the importance of domestic policy in his early agenda. McDonough was previously Obama’s deputy national security adviser, including during the Navy SEAL raid in 2011 that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and was a longtime congressional staffer.
AP sources: Biden to pick Katherine Tai as top trade envoy
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden is set to nominate Katherine Tai to be the top U.S. trade envoy, according to two people familiar with his plans. Biden's selection of Tai, who is Asian American, reflects his promise to choose a diverse Cabinet that reflects the makeup of the country. Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Tai earlier oversaw China trade enforcement for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, setting U.S. strategy in trade disputes with China. Biden’s trade representative will inherit a trade war with China, put on pause by an interim trade pact in January that left many of the hardest issues unresolved and U.S. taxes remaining on $360 billion in Chinese imports. As the top trade staffer at Ways and Means, Tai handled negotiations last year with the Trump administration over a revamped North American trade deal.
AP sources: Biden picks Fudge for housing, Vilsack for USDA
WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden made two key domestic policy picks Tuesday, selecting Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge as his housing and urban development secretary and former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to reprise that role in his administration, according to five people familiar with the decisions. Vilsack spent eight years as head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Obama administration and served two terms as Iowa governor. A longtime member of the House Agriculture Committee and a fierce advocate for food stamps, Fudge was originally discussed to become agriculture secretary. After two terms, Vilsack ran a 10-week campaign for the 2008 Democratic nomination before withdrawing and throwing his support to Hillary Clinton, even as Biden remained among the field. Politico first reported the news of Fudge’s selection, while Axios was first to report Vilsack as agriculture secretary.
Biden to nominate Marcia Fudge to lead Department of Housing and Urban Development
Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge is President-elect Biden's pick to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, two people familiar with the decision told CBS News. Mr. Biden has also chosen Tom Vilsack as his agriculture secretary, according to a person familiar with the decision. If confirmed, Fudge, who represents parts of Cleveland and Akron and is a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, would be the second Black woman to lead the department. Patricia Roberts Harris held the job under Jimmy Carter, becoming the first Black woman to be a member of the United States Cabinet. Fudge currently serves on the Committee on House Administration, House Committee on Agriculture and House Committee on Education and Labor.cbsnews.com
Biden weighs pick for agriculture chief from diverse slate
Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio and former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are in the running for the Cabinet position. (House Television via AP)WASHINGTON – One leading candidate for agriculture secretary hails from Cleveland, has the backing of progressives and has worked for years to boost food stamp programs. Tom Vilsack, who served as Obama’s agriculture secretary for eight years, is also being considered. Biden has said he wants a diverse Cabinet, and some Black leaders have said he needs to do more to achieve that. “You won't find a better person thant Heidi Heitkamp,” Manchin said in a statement, adding that she would make a “tremendous” agriculture secretary.
Key departures signal agriculture shakeup for Capitol Hill
MINNEAPOLIS – The reelection defeat of U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson in Minnesota and some key retirements mean a shakeup is coming for the industry on Capitol Hill, with power likely to shift from the Midwest to the South and the coasts. Both the House and Senate agriculture committees will get new chairs, and there will be a new top Republican on the House panel. Fischbach plans to seek a seat on the Agriculture Committee, but she'll have to draw heavily on her legislative skills to have much of an influence as a freshman in the minority party. Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is the only one of the top four agriculture committee leaders returning in 2021. Neither Roberts nor Rep. Michael Conaway of Texas, the ranking Republican in the House committee, sought reelection.
Iowa again a battleground, sign of Trump's Midwest obstacles
But there are signs Iowa may be competitive again. Deep concerns about the economy and dissatisfaction with Trump's handling of the coronavirus have changed dynamics of the race. However, Iowa, where Trump won by 9.4 percentage points in 2016, echoes the trend in Ohio, where Trump won by 8 but is now in a pitched battle with Biden. “I believe it is a close race in Iowa," former Iowa Gov. In 2018, Democrats showed signs of resurgence, even though Republican Kim Reynolds became the first woman to be elected Iowa governor.
Biden's Iowa hires signal tightening in state Trump won big
DES MOINES, Iowa Joe Biden's presidential campaign has lined up a senior team in Iowa, a sign Democrats see the state where Republican Donald Trump beat them handily in 2016 as within reach. Joining Norris as Biden's Iowa campaign director is Lauren Dillon, who directed Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's 2020 Iowa caucus campaign. She was a senior advertising strategist for Democratic Senate candidates during the 2018 midterm elections after serving in several roles at the Democratic National Committee. The tightening in Iowa follows incremental gains by Democrats since Trump carried the state. The Trump campaign named a senior Iowa team almost a year ago, including Eric Branstad, son of former Gov.
Democrats fight for chance to take on GOP Sen. Ernst in Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa Four relatively unknown Iowa Democrats are competing in a primary Tuesday to take on Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, an endeavor viewed as a long shot when better-known prospects last year took a pass on running. But as Democrats are increasingly bullish about their prospects in places such as Arizona and Colorado, the Iowa race is getting renewed attention as a potential battleground that could help the party regain the Senate majority. Greenfield's fundraising prowess reflects a broad array of support among Iowa Democrats. As of a week ago, nearly 500,000 Iowa voters, about one-quarter of the states electorate, had requested absentee ballots, the highest number of absentee ballot requests for any Iowa election, primary or general. The influx of primary-voting Democrats, including those who have been less active in recent cycles, could signal a resurgence of Iowa Democrats.