(Washington, D.C.) U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today issued a statement applauding the Department of Labor’s final rule modernizing the H-2A visa program:
“This final rule streamlining and modernizing the H-2A visa process will go a long way in ensuring American farmers have access to a stable and skilled workforce, all while removing unnecessary bureaucratic processes. USDA’s goal is to help farmers navigate the complex H-2A program that is administered by Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department so hiring a farm worker is an easier process,” said Secretary Perdue. “These modernizations make the Federal government more responsive to our customers, ensuring American agriculture continues to lead the world for years to come.”
The final rule will streamline the H-2A application process by mandating electronic filing of job orders and applications. These elements are designed to bring the H-2A application process into the digital era, by harnessing the power of the FLAG electronic filing system to share information with other federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security while also sharing information with the State Workforce systems and domestic farmworkers.
Additionally, the final rule will provide additional flexibilities to cut down on unnecessary burdens on the agricultural employers that use the program. These flexibilities include the ability to stagger the entry of workers into the country over a 120-day period and allowing agricultural employers the flexibility to file a single application for different dates of need instead of multiple applications.
The Rural Coalition urges President-elect Joe Biden to select highly qualified leaders for Department of Agriculture politically appointed positions.
The group of more than 70 food and farming organizations sent the request to the incoming administration in a recent letter. The letter calls on Biden to choose USDA mission and agency leaders who deeply understand how to utilize the full range of USDA programs to achieve his goals of racial justice, climate change, and pandemic recovery.
The letter states, “We have the opportunity and imperative now to work together to make things happen in a way that didn’t happen before,” at USDA. Further, the organization says Biden should start doing so by nominating Native American Agriculture Fund CEO Janie Simms Hipp as the USDA Deputy Secretary. Hipp is the former senior advisor for tribal relations to former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and director of the Office of Tribal Relations. The letter adds, “We stand ready to work with a progressive and racially diverse leadership team at USDA.”
The Department of Agriculture this week announced the continuation of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says USDA will purchase an additional $1.5 billion worth of food nationwide through the fifth round of the program.
Set to expire at the end of 2020, the recent coronavirus aid package provided more funding for the program. In total, USDA has distributed more than 132 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Secretary Perdue says this new round will “go a long way in helping American families access nutritious and healthy meals.”
USDA will again purchase combination boxes to ensure all involved recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy, meat products, and seafood will also be included in this round. Contract awards are expected to be made by January 19. Deliveries will begin shortly after awards and continue through the end of April.
(Washington, D.C.)– The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognizes the achievements of longtime broadcaster Orion “Big O” Samuelson for six decades of contributions to agriculture journalism.
“There’s a saying that today’s news is tomorrow’s history,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Orion Samuelson’s decades of agriculture reporting has helped farmers understand the latest Washington policies and he has also helped all audiences appreciate the importance of agriculture to our communities and to the economy.”
Samuelson is retiring this month after 60 years in agriculture broadcasting with WGN radio in Chicago. There, he covered agriculture and food production, met with U.S. presidents, travelled to dozens of countries, and encountered many foreign dignitaries, all while reporting on the contributions of American agriculture to the U.S. and world economy. Samuelson is a 2003 National Radio Hall of Fame inductee.
The USDA and the Health and Human Service Department released the 2020 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Hagstrom Report says the guidelines will be in place for five years.
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “The theme of the guidelines is ‘Make Every Bite Count.’” In a news release, the two agencies say they didn’t deal with the most controversial recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which was a specific limit on alcoholic beverages for men and added sugar intake.
The release says, “Steeped in scientific evidence, the key recommendations look similar to those of the past and address two topics that garnered much attention throughout the development of the guidelines – added sugars and alcoholic beverages.”
Tom Stenzel, CEO of United Fresh, says, “Today’s reality of facing the COVID-19 pandemic brings greater urgency than ever before. No longer are we just thinking about poor diets leading to long-term chronic disease; now, we see clearly that healthy eating is a critical defense against communicable diseases such as coronavirus.” He says the Dietary Guidelines mostly repeat what we already know about healthy eating.
As expected the quarterly hogs and pigs report did show a slight drop in the US hog herd. This came as a result of steady slaughter and less gilt retention for breeding.
The full report breaks down as the United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2020 was 77.5 million head. This was down 1% from December 1, 2019, and down 1% from September 1, 2020.
US breeding hog inventory currently sits at 6.28 million head, down 3% from last year, and down 1% from the previous
US market hog inventory, at 71.2 million head, was down 1% from last year, and down 1% from last quarter.
The September-November 2020 pig crop, at 35.0 million head, was down 1% from 2019. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.16 million head, down 1% from 2019. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50% of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.05 for the September-November period,
compared to 11.09 last year.
Livestock market analyst Kyle Bumsted believes the report is positive at face value. However there was several revisions that need to be watched closely.
Catch the full report here: https://downloads.usda.library.cornell.edu/usda-esmis/files/rj430453j/7d279j76f/g445d5751/hgpg1220.pdf
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the second round of grants available through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The program is for infrastructure projects designed to help facilitate increased sales of higher biofuel blends to new and returning applicants.
In making the announcement, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue recognized “the importance of our ethanol and biofuels industries and the positive impacts they deliver to consumers and farmers with an affordable, abundant, and clean-burning fuel.”
Growth Energy’s unmatched network of large and small retail partners has already secured nearly $30 million in grants for over 290 sites selling more than 400-million gallons of gasoline every year. After USDA’s announcement of the second wave of grants, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said they’ve heard countless success stories from their retail partners about how HBIIP grants have helped them grow their E15 fuel offerings, strengthen their infrastructure, and increase store foot traffic and sales.
“In the face of COVID-19, these grants have been a welcome relief for our industry and our hardworking men and women across the country, and we stand ready to assist retailers who hope to take advantage of this growth opportunity,” she said.
Department of Agriculture Chief Economist Robert Johansson is on the move. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced this week Johansson will leave USDA to become Associate Director of Economics and Policy Analysis for the American Sugar Alliance at the end of January.
Perdue also announced that Dr. Seth Myer will return to USDA to be the new Chief Economist. Perdue stated, “Rob’s leadership and economic support over the past two years with trade disruptions and COVID-19 relief has helped us make evidence-based decisions when designing programs to assist American farmers and ranchers during their time of need.”
Meyer is a Research Professor and the Associate Director for the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. Meyer was previously the head of the World Agricultural Outlook Board in the Office of the Chief Economist, the agency at USDA charged bringing together USDA resources in the assessment of crops around the world.
Legislation to curb the rising rate of farmer suicides awaits the president’s signature as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. However, the bill’s future is still uncertain as President Donald Trump over the weekend threatened to veto the bill, despite the appearance of veto-proof support from lawmakers.
The Seeding Rural Resilience Act was included in the defense bill. The legislation creates three initiatives aimed at curbing the growing rate of suicides in rural America. The bill Implements a Farmer-Facing Employee Training Program to the Department of Agriculture to provide employees with voluntary stress management training.
The bill also forms a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and USDA to create a $3 million campaign to increase public awareness of farm and ranch stress. Finally, the bill directs the Secretary of Agriculture to work with state, local and other stakeholders to collaborate and determine best practices for responding to farm and ranch mental stress.