Weekly Policy Roundup from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
THIS WEEK IN CONGRESS
07/02/10 Say It Ain’t So Mr. Secretary! One day. Two House of Representatives hearings. USDA schizophrenia. The Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill needs to pass and needs to pass soon. Congress punted last year and extended the programs to this year. Naturally, a big question at Thursday’s Education and Labor hearing on child nutrition was how to pay for the bill.
07/02/10 Child Nutrition Bill with Farm to School Begins to Move in House On Thursday, July 1, the full House Education and Labor Committee held its first hearing on Chairman George Miller’s (D-CA) Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act. Throughout the hearing endorsements for the Farm to School program were loud and clear, both from Committee members and from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
06/30/10 House Markups Ag Spending Bill The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee marked up and approved the annual spending bill for USDA and FDA for FY 2011. In a huge victory for sustainable agriculture, the Subcommittee bill adopts the USDA-requested level of $30 million for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) competitive grants program, a 50 percent increase over current year funding.
07/02/10 Farm Credit, Pigford Settlement Funding in House Supplemental War Spending Bill Late on Thursday, July 1st, the House adopted by key amendments to the 2010 supplemental war spending bill (HR 4899). The House amended a Senate-passed version of the bill from May. The Senate bill included $950 million worth of Farm Service Agency direct and guaranteed farm operating loans and guaranteed farm ownership loans, which the House did not alter. Thus, if the Senate can approve the House amendments when it returns from the July 4 recess week, then the badly needed emergency farm loan money will finally become a reality.
07/02/10 House Subcommittee Hearing Reviews Conservation Technical Assistance On Thursday, July 1, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research held a hearing to review the administration and delivery of conservation programs. Subcommittee Chairman Tim Holden (D-PA) emphasized the importance of accessible and efficient technical assistance for proper land management and implementation of conservation practices.
07/01/10 Vilsack: Farm Bill Should Emphasize Beginning Farmers A funny thing happened on the way to a Senate Agriculture Committee farm bill hearing to review progress on implementation of the 2008 Farm Bill’s commodity, crop insurance, and disaster assistance programs. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack did not read a single word or convey a single idea from his prepared written remarks on the day’s subject at hand. Instead, he used the opportunity to launch into an eloquent plea to focus significant attention in the 2012 Farm Bill on new and beginning farmers.
06/30/10 USDA/Department of Justice Hear from Dairy Farmers On June 25, USDA and the Department of Justice held the third in a series of workshops to hear about the impacts of market concentration and consolidation on farmers and ranchers around the country. The third workshop, held in Madison WI, focused on dairy farmers.
06/29/10 FDA Calls for Comments on Antibiotics Use Guidance On Monday June 28th, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a draft guidance entitled “The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals,” calling for public comment during the next 60 days.
07/02/10 Ohio Agress to Improve Farm Animal Welfare On Wednesday, June 30, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, the Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohioans for Humane Farms, The Humane Society of the United States, and other parties announced a landmark farm animal welfare agreement. This announcement came on the day that animal welfare activists were poised to submit 500,000 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State in order to place farm animal welfare issues on the November ballot.