Report: Trump officials, meat companies knew workers at risk
A new congressional report says that in the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, the meat processing industry worked closely with political appointees in the Trump administration to stave off health restrictions and keep slaughterhouses open even as COVID-19 spread rapidly among workers.
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 of Agriculture for former President Barack Obama's entire administration. “We’re going to be a USDA that represents and serves all Americans,” Vilsack said after the vote. AdWith 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.
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.
Pompeo, Mnuchin among Cabinet secretaries who discussed 25th Amendment with staff, sources say
"The general plan now is to let the clock run out," said one former senior administration official aware of the discussions. A current senior administration official said Pompeo may have been gathering information in preparation for a Cabinet discussion, even if he himself was not willing to personally lead the effort. Beyond the exploratory conversations among the secretaries and their staffs, there was no formal advancement of the effort. More administration officials resigned Thursday. Chris Liddell, deputy chief of staff for policy coordination, has decided to stay in his role leading the transition to the new administration, according to another senior administration official.cnbc.com
Perdue seeks payoff from Trump loyalty in Georgia runoff
“He’s not flamboyant,” said Alec Poitevint, a Georgia businessman and GOP activist who serves as Perdue’s campaign chairman. Perdue's runoff campaign has focused on ensuring Trump's base shows up to vote again. Though Perdue hasn’t repeated Trump’s election fraud claims, he backed a failed Texas lawsuit that sought to invalidate Biden’s victory in Georgia. After the “Access Hollywood” recording of Trump boasting about groping women surfaced in the 2016 campaign, Perdue acknowledged that “this guy's no choir boy." Aside from rallies with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Perdue has sought to avoid the media spotlight.
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.
In Georgia, Republicans juggle Biden win and Trump loyalties
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)GAINESVILLE, Ga. – Twin Georgia Senate runoffs have Republicans in a quandary. They could admit President Donald Trump lost his re-election bid and turn all attention to salvaging a Senate majority to counter President-elect Joe Biden. “I’m here because I stand with President Donald Trump,” Pence declared in Gainesville, Georgia. Brian Kemp, himself a former Georgia secretary of state, on social media. The 60-year-old came to see Pence, Loeffler and both Perdues, but made clear she was there because of her loyalties to the president.
McEnany wears 2 hats as WH press secretary, campaign adviser
WASHINGTON – A White House press secretary who refers questions to the White House? Kayleigh McEnany is wearing two hats, one as a Trump 2020 campaign adviser and the other as the White House press secretary, charged with articulating the administration’s policies and positions to the press and the public. “Well, I haven’t spoken to the president about that, so that would be a question more for the White House,” she said. Joe Lockhart, who served as White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton, tweeted that McEnany’s “behavior is both outrageous and damaging.” He called for House lawmakers to conduct an inquiry. Bookbinder said McEnany bolstered her position by not taking a question about White House policy in the Fox interview.
Some Republicans attack Georgia votes, provide no evidence
ATLANTA – Some Republicans renewed their attacks Monday on Democrat Joe Biden's lead over President Donald Trump in Georgia, with U.S. Sens. Perdue and Loeffler offered no evidence and gave no specific examples of illegal votes or fraud, and their campaigns did not respond to requests for further comment. “Does it rise to the numbers or margin necessary to change the outcome to where President Trump is given Georgia’s electoral votes? "He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately.”Other Republicans have been more cautious, with Gov. “We must count every legal vote and cast out every illegal vote in the state of Georgia,” Sonny Perdue said.
Trump tests limits as Cabinet members fan out to key states
(AP Photo/John Flesher)WASHINGTON – Education Secretary Betsy DeVos planned a “Moms for Trump” rally in her home state of Michigan. It's long been one of the benefits of incumbency that a president can enlist his Cabinet to promote administration accomplishments. “The Trump administration has completely obliterated that line," said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, which describes itself as a nonpartisan watchdog organization. "The White House is now the seat of government, where the president lives, and one of his chief campaign props. “The Trump administration takes the Hatch Act seriously and all events are conducted in compliance with the law,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.
USDA head cited for breaking law by backing Trump reelection
WASHINGTON – A federal watchdog agency has concluded that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue violated the law in advocating for the reelection of President Donald Trump during an August visit to North Carolina. The Office of Special Counsel called on Perdue to reimburse the government for costs associated with his participation in the event. The Hatch Act prevents federal employees from engaging in political activities while they are on the job. The Trump White House has been dismissive of alleged violations of the act over the years. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Politico in late August that “nobody outside of the Beltway really cares” about Hatch Act concerns that were raised during the GOP nominating convention.
House easily passes stopgap funding bill, averting shutdown
The final agreement gives the administration continued immediate authority to dole out Agriculture Department subsidies in the run-up to Election Day. This is cash flow to mom and pop businesses all over rural America," said Texas Rep. Michael Conaway, top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee. Trump announced a new $13 billion allotment of bailout funding at a political rally in Wisconsin last week. But the financial fix had been passed before, and other Democrats, including endangered House incumbents in states like Iowa and Minnesota, pressed for it. In the past, both Democrats and Republicans have sought to use government funding deadlines and must-past temporary funding bills as leverage to try to win concessions elsewhere on Washington's agenda.
Trump convention blurs official business and politics
But if the event were held in the West Wing or in another area of the White House that is regarded as a federal room, White House officials would be prohibited from attending even while off-duty. The officials said the events on the White House grounds were consistent with previous presidents using the White House residence for political videos. Any government employees who may participate will do so in compliance with the Hatch Act, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. "Political parties come and go, but it doesnt belong to one political party or the other.The Trump administration is hardly the first to mix business with politics. The Trump administration has repeatedly stepped over the line, ethics experts said.
Iowa farmers unsure what's next after winds flatten corn
Licht said the extent of damage to Iowa corn is probably worse than during a 2012 drought. Corn damage varies. About 95% of Iowas corn crop was insured. Although Struthers' corn is leaning at a 45-degree angle, he expects he'll be able to harvest it. Licht, the Iowa State professor, said hes concerned about the physical and emotional toll such losses could mean for farmers.
US Sen. Stabenow urges USDA to extend food program waivers
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will not continue to provide food program waivers that have ensured students are fed while schools are closed during the coronavirus pandemic unless Congress acts, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan warned Tuesday. Some children get their only meals at school. Should Congress choose to go in this direction, USDA stands ready to provide technical assistance.The USDA did not return a request for further comment Tuesday. She said she hoped it was not coming from the Trump administrations push to put students back in schools for in-person instruction. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
Thousands of chicks arrive dead to farmers amid USPS turmoil
PORTLAND, Maine At least 4,800 chicks shipped to Maine farmers through the U.S. Postal Service have arrived dead in the recent weeks since rapid cuts hit the federal mail carrier's operations, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said. The Postal Services media contact for the Eastern U.S. did not immediately return a Press Herald reporters message Wednesday. The Postal Service is the only entity that ships live chicks and other small animals and has done so since 1918, according to the services website. Rural Americans, including agricultural producers, disproportionately rely on USPS for their livelihoods, and it is essential that they receive reliable service, Pingree said.
Thousands of chicks arrive dead to farmers amid USPS turmoil
PORTLAND, Maine At least 4,800 chicks shipped to Maine farmers through the U.S. Postal Service have arrived dead in recent weeks after rapid cuts hit the federal mail carrier's operations, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said. Postal Service. The Postal Service is the only entity that ships live chicks and other small animals and has done so since 1918, according to the services website. Rural Americans, including agricultural producers, disproportionately rely on USPS for their livelihoods, and it is essential that they receive reliable service, Pingree said.
Worker advocates file meat plants discrimination complaint
A group of worker advocacy organizations has filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging that meat processing companies Tyson and JBS have engaged in workplace racial discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic. The complaint alleges the companies adopted polices that reject U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on distancing and protective gear on meat processing lines. The complaint says the operating procedures have a discriminatory impact on mostly Black, Latino, and Asian workers. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, file)Several worker advocacy organizations have filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging that meat processing companies Tyson and JBS have engaged in racial discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic. Tyson has received more than $109 million from USDA programs this year and JBS more than $45 million, the complaint said.
Trump Cabinet members look to reassure battleground voters
With President Donald Trump confronted by skyrocketing joblessness and the coronavirus pandemic as he campaigns for reelection against Democrat Joe Biden, members of his Cabinet are busy making time in pivotal states. They are carrying a message to voters about what the Trump administration is doing for them. A Trump campaign spokesperson did not respond to questions about the Cabinet members' trips. Biden campaign spokesperson Michael Gwin accused the Trump administration of focusing on "scoring political points, not delivering for the people they work for. It was unclear whether the Trump campaign or the federal government paid for Bernhardt's costs on the trip.
Joaquin Castro Asks USDA to Look Into How San Antonio Events Firm Landed $39M Federal Deal
Screen Capture / C-SPANU.S. Rep. Joaquin CastroA second Texas congressman has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to review the controversial $39 million contract issued to San Antonio-based events company CRE8AD8 to distribute food to needy families.Joining U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who asked that the company be stripped of its federal pact , U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro is demanding that the agency probe how contracts were awarded under its Farmers to Families Food Box Program, designed to feed families financially harmed by the pandemic.Both congressmen are Democrats representing San Antonio.In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Castro questioned why food-distribution novice CRE8AD8 was award a contract ahead of experienced companies with years of industry experience. "At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to put food on the table, USDA is wrong to bet the success of vital food safety net programs on neophyte food distribution companies," Castro wrote. "Food banks, nonprofits, and needy families should not have to hope and wait to see if a distributor can deliver as promised. "A recent Express-News investigation revealed that CRE8AD8, beyond its lack of food-distribution credentials, touted work for clients who claim never to have done business with the company.CRE8AD8 has until June 30 to distribute 750,000 boxes of food to needy families but has yet to distribute a single box, according to Doggett's letter to the USDA. The USDA selected the event planner over experienced San Antonio wholesalers, including River City Produce and Big State Produce, the daily also reportssacurrent.com
White House officials guest star in private virtual fundraisers for Trump and the GOP during pandemic
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a ceremony honoring veterans ahead of the Memorial Day holiday at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2020. An RNC official confirmed in a statement that White House advisors are involved with fundraising events but only as "special guests." "Any White House official who takes part in a Trump Victory event with supporters does so in their personal capacity in accordance with the law. A spokesman for the White House declined to comment. A representative for the Department of Agriculture referred questions about Perdue being a virtual fundraising guest to the campaign.cnbc.com
Congressman Demands USDA End Controversial $39M Contract With San Antonio Event Planner
click to enlarge Wikimedia Commons / White HouseU.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett is asking USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue (right) to explain how his agency selects vendors for contracts. However, "to date it has apparently failed to distribute a single box. "The USDA oversees the Farmers to Families Food Box program, designed to distribute surplus produce to needy families. San Antonio families cannot eat an IOU. USDA needs to cancel CRE8AD8s contract and we need a full accounting of how the administration so direly mishandled a necessary and widely-supported program, to the detriment of the most vulnerable.sacurrent.com
Carnes talks food supply on Fox News
The program, called the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, is being headed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and is intended to help maintain the integrity of the food supply chain, and ensure Americans have access to food. The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with Americas farmers and ranchers, Purdue stated. Carnes said the Farmers to Families Food Box program, which pays farmers to provide food for food banks, is a great program, and noted they had been directly involved with it for weeks. Were learning a little bit about our supply chain, Carnes said. Carnes said he hopes that government officials will realize how vital farmers and farm laborers are to the food supply chain in the United States.uvaldeleadernews.com
Meatpacking safety recommendations are largely unenforceable
FILE - In this May 7, 2020, file photo, workers leave the Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Logansport, Ind. Federal recommendations meant to keep meatpacking workers safe as they return to plants that were shuttered by the coronavirus have little enforcement muscle behind them, fueling anxiety that working conditions could put employees' lives at risk. Major meatpackers JBS, Smithfield and Tyson have said worker safety is their highest priority. The pandemic is the most massive workers safety crisis in many decades, and OSHA is in the closet. After Trump's executive order developed with input from the industry the Labor Department and OSHA said OSHA would use discretion and consider good faith attempts to follow safety recommendations.
Ivanka Trump tours launch of USDA's family food box program
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump, wears a mask as she speaks with employees following a tour of Coastal Sunbelt Produce, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Laurel, Md. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and White House adviser Ivanka Trump on Friday toured a Maryland food service distributor that's participating in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. At a brief ceremony marking the program's launch at Coastal Sunbelt Produce in Laurel, Perdue gave credit to President Donald Trump. Perdue, Ivanka Trump and Maryland Gov. After Coastal Sunbelt Produce received a USDA contract, the company was able to recall 50 furloughed employees to work on the food box program, she said.
Why are hundreds of people in big cities receiving bailout money meant for farmers?
Over the coming months, the government will disburse a $19 billion bailout package for farmers hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. Doug Sombke and Bob Kuylen oversee the farmers unions in North and South Dakota with more than 50,000 farmers and livestock producers. It's the lawyer you hire to set up a paper farm that's designed to absorb as much federal money, as much Trump payment, as possible. Lesley Stahl: That's a lot. Secretary Perdue said if farmers are exploiting weak subsidy laws to get money they shouldn't, it's Congress' fault.cbsnews.com
Trade war relief money mostly going to large farms
They lost their export market to China in retaliation for trade war tariffs and then watched most of the U.S. trade payments go to the largest farms. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue defended the program and, in particular, its large payments to big farms. "These payments aren't just going to farmers who are out there climbing up on a tractor every morning. "The stresses out there now four or five generations of their family and they're the ones that lost the farm? What do you think that's going to do to their mind?cbsnews.com
Trump administration aims to buy milk, meat to help farmers hit by coronavirus: Perdue
FILE PHOTO: Holstein cows are shown after milking at Airoso Circle A Dairy farm in Pixley, California, U.S., October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake(Reuters) - The Trump administration plans to buy milk and meat from U.S. farmers as part of an initial $15.5 billion effort to help them weather the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Wednesday. In the United States, several beef and pork packing plants have shut down as workers fall ill or die from the virus. Some dairy farmers have also been dumping milk because of a loss of their regular buyers, and laborers and truckers are in short supply to work farms and deliver produce, according to Reuters reporting. Lawmakers and other industry groups have also supported the idea of government purchases of farm goods.feeds.reuters.com
China buys more US farm products amid plunge in trade
The Asian giant imported 35.56 billion yuan ($5.08 billion) worth of U.S. agricultural products in the first quarter, according to its customs agency. The volume of soybeans imported also doubled and that of pork increased more than six times, the agency said, while Chinese imports of cotton rose 43.5%. From a price perspective, China imported 21.88 billion yuan worth of soybeans, twice that of a year ago. That of cotton was 1.59 billion yuan, a 17% increase. Many also worry that the coronavirus outbreak might hamper the ability of both countries to fulfill the trade agreement.cnbc.com
In San Antonio, Ag Secretary Perdue Tells Nations Farmers to Plant
However, [Trump] will not let farmers suffer if trade continues to be disrupted by any kind of force, Perdue said. Perdues talk followed a pre-recorded address from Trump in which the president said he is committed to supporting farmers. As the cabinet secretary for the agency that manages the nations public policy on food, agriculture, rural development, and nutrition, Perdue thanked farmers for feeding and clothing the world. Weve got a social responsibility to provide affordable, available food, not only for our people but for the world. So, in 2020, Im telling you all to do what you do and plant for the market.therivardreport.com
USDA proposes changes to school lunch program requirements
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing new guidelines for an Obama-era lunch program, which would broaden which fruits and vegetables are allowed on students’ plates. Rollback proposed for Michelle Obama school lunch guidelinesU.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the goal is to provide more foods students are willing to eat and avoid waste.
Importance of Free Lunch Stressed as U.S. Ag Secretary Visits San Antonio School
NEISD students at the 29 campuses that offer free lunch campus-wide benefit tremendously, said Sharon Glosson, the districts executive director of school nutrition. Roughly 45 percent of these kids would still be eligible for free meals and 51 percent would likely be eligible for reduced-price meals. NEISD officials said the district never received a response to Maikas letter and they expect the proposed rule change to move forward. Outside of Glossons request, the proposed rule change did not come up during the 40-minute roundtable discussion. The public will be able to comment on the proposed new rule changes starting Tuesday.therivardreport.com
Trump administration moves to remove 700,000 people from food stamps
The Trump administration said on Wednesday it will make it harder for states to keep residents in the U.S. food stamp program in a move that is projected to end benefits for nearly 700,000 people. President Donald Trump has argued that many Americans receiving food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, do not need it given the strong economy and low unemployment. We need everyone who can work to work, Perdue said. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File PhotoThe administration has sought to tighten requirements for food stamps without congressional approval after Congress blocked a Trump-backed effort to pass new restrictions through the Farm Bill last year. The latest rule will take effect next year and save the U.S. government $5.5 billion over five years by removing about 688,000 people from food stamps, said Brandon Lipps, a USDA deputy undersecretary.feeds.reuters.com
Food-stamp changes are about getting people back to work not kicking them out, says USDA chief
The Trump administration changed food-stamp requirements because it wants people to find jobs, not simply remove people from the program, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told CNBC on Wednesday. In 2018, there were 2.9 million single, able-bodied working adults who received SNAP benefits, according to the USDA. But following the 2008 recession and the uneven recovery that ensued, some states were granting waivers to make sure people could have access to food-stamp benefits. A study released last month by the Urban Institute argues that 3.7 million people would lose food-stamp benefits if all three went into effect. Craig Gundersen, an University of Illinois professor of agricultural and consumer economics, told NPR in April that there was no evidence to suggest that food-stamp benefits are a disincentive to keep people from working.cnbc.com
Agriculture secretary says Trump wants a US-China trade deal that's 'enforceable' and 'reliable'
President Donald Trump only wants a "phase one" trade deal with China that works for the United States, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told CNBC on Wednesday. In comments from this week's NATO summit, Trump said Wednesday that China trade talks are going well just one day after suggesting he may want to delay a China trade deal until after the 2020 presidential election. "We in agriculture are optimistically hopeful we can conclude this," Perdue said, reiterating concerns from some Trump officials that China won't follow through on its promises. Farmers were looking for some relief in the phase one deal, announced by Trump in October. Though would not signed, Trump said the deal will include purchases of about $40 billion to $50 billion worth of farm products by China.cnbc.com
Hong Kong rights bill unlikely to derail US-China trade talks, strategy firm principal says
A U.S. bill aiming to protect human rights in Hong Kong is unlikely to disrupt trade talks between Washington and Beijing, said Amy Celico, principal at Albright Stonebridge Group. "I don't think it's enough of an issue to derail the trade talks," she told CNBC's Sri Jegarajah at the Morgan Stanley APAC Summit. The "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act" cleared both chambers of Congress this week as Hong Kong remains engulfed in mass protests. The bill would require the U.S. State Department to annually certify that Hong Kong has enough autonomy to warrant its continued special status. The legislation would also look to impose sanctions on those responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong.cnbc.com
Trump promises more aid for farmers in 2020 'if necessary' as China trade war drags on
President Donald Trump on Tuesday promised farmers that China's increasing aggression against U.S. agriculture in the spiraling trade war "will not be able to hurt them" and vowed that "if necessary" he will give them more aid in 2020. The Trump administration has already given out billions of dollars in bailouts to farmers threatened by America's tit-for-tat tariffs with China. The Washington Post reported on Aug.1 that 9 out of 10 counties that supported Trump in the 2016 election have received subsidies related to the trade war. The stakes for farmers shot up Monday, when Beijing confirmed that it would stop buying U.S. agricultural products altogether. Trump assured in a tweet, however, that no harm would come to U.S. farmers.cnbc.com
Half million students could lose free meals due to food stamp changes
Andrew Burton/Getty ImagesWASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Bobby Scott says the US Department of Agriculture concealed data showing that its recent proposed changes to the food stamp program could result in more than 500,000 low-income students losing free meals. Scott writes that "the proposed rule will impact not only SNAP eligibility, but will also affect children's eligibility for school meal programs." The program, Scott noted, "allows schools to provide free meals to all students in high-poverty communities." The proposed rule, released last week, could end up stripping more than 3 million people of their food stamp benefits. It would curtail so-called broad-based categorical eligibility, which makes it easier for Americans with somewhat higher incomes and more savings to participate in the food stamp program.
Trump administration unveils details of $16 billion aid package for farmers hurt by trade war, bad weather
Corn and soybean farmer William Hejl checks one of his soybean fields in Amenia, North Dakota, July 6, 2018. The Trump administration on Thursday outlined the details of a $16 billion aid package for farmers damaged by bad weather and the U.S. trade war with China. The U.S. Department of Agriculture program includes $14.5 billion in direct payments to farmers for a range of crops, administration officials told reporters. It also has a $1.4 billion food purchase program and a $300 million trade promotion. The USDA will base payments on factors such as specific crops and where farmers are located.cnbc.com
USDA Proposes to End Food Stamp Benefits for Thousands of Texans
click to enlarge Bartosz Wacawski (Freeimages)The Trump administration announced plans Tuesday to limit food stamp eligibility for Americans , which could end food stamp benefits for nearly 3 million people, including thousands of Texans.According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the proposed change will close a loophole in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program that allows Americans with higher income levels to receive food benefits.Though SNAP is a federally-funded program, states determine the eligibility guidelines and distribution, allowing many TANF-eligible households that would otherwise not qualify for SNAP to automatically access benefits.USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said the rule change would save the SNAP program an estimated $2.5 billion a year.For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint, he said.The rule change, and any updated eligibility guidelines, could also affect the number of recipients who qualify other USDA-led programs such as the free and reduced school lunch programs.The proposal will remain open to public input for 60 days, and Congress could choose to preempt or the rule before it becomes an effective policy.sacurrent.com
Trump administration's own study shows food stamp move may hurt poor
The study clashes with the administrations defense of the proposed rule change, unveiled on Tuesday, which it said would end widespread abuse of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by Americans with sufficient resources. The USDA research also said retailers would see a drop in their sales as a result of the proposed change. On Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue defended the rule change that would cut an estimated 3.1 million Americans from food stamp eligibility. He said the administration was closing a loophole that allowed exploitation of the program by Americans that had substantial savings and assets. The administrations latest push comes after efforts last year to pass new restrictions on SNAP were blocked by Congress.feeds.reuters.com
Trump administration study shows food stamp move could limit food access for many
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration proposal to tighten eligibility for food stamps could undercut access to basic nutrition for millions of Americans, according to an analysis conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which runs the program. On Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had defended the rule change that would cut an estimated 3.1 million Americans from food stamp eligibility. He said the administration was closing a loophole that allowed exploitation of the program by Americans that had substantial savings and assets. If enacted, the rule would save the federal government about $2.5 billion a year, according to the USDA. The administrations latest push comes after efforts last year to pass new restrictions on SNAP were blocked by the Congress.feeds.reuters.com
U.S. to pay $15 minimum per acre to farmers hurt by China trade war
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government will pay a minimum of $15 per acre to farmers hurt by President Donald Trumps trade war with China under an aid package to be unveiled before the end of the week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday. U.S. farmers, a key Trump constituency, have been among the hardest hit in the trade war between the worlds two largest economies. Soybeans are the most valuable U.S. farm export, and shipments to China dropped to a 16-year low in 2018. The USDA has redesigned last years aid program based on feedback. But Trump said on July 11 that China was not living up to promises to buy U.S. farm goods.feeds.reuters.com
USDA's plan to relocate research agencies to the Midwest unleashes a brain drain
Two critical federal research agencies are being gutted after workers were asked to relocate from Washington to the Midwest. But more than half the workers from the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture have declined to relocate or even respond to transfer assignments, creating a brain drain. In total, 72 ERS workers agreed to relocate to Kansas City, while 99 had declined, the USDA said last week. They've also cited the agency brain drain, since experienced workers are declining to relocate. Hunt works in the ERS and said even though he is from Missouri, he declined relocation.cnbc.com
Trump intervention delaying EPA biofuel waiver action, sources say
All three of the sources said that the 2018 SRE decisions were nearly finalized before Trump became involved. The EPA responded to a request for comment by saying it was implementing biofuel policy in accordance with the law. The Department of Energy provided the EPA its scoring results for the 40 outstanding 2018 applications in late April, sources told Reuters. Some refiners say they filed their applications far earlier than April, and say the EPA is already late. But it also allows refining facilities of less than 75,000 barrels per day to request waivers if they can prove that complying with the law would cause them disproportionate financial hardship.feeds.reuters.com
China is not budging ahead of Xi-Trump G-20 meeting
Flags of the US and China are placed ahead of a meeting between US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and China's Agriculture Minister Han Changfu at the Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing on June 30, 2017. BEIJING The Chinese Ministry of Commerce maintained a firm stance against the U.S. during a weekly press conference Thursday, less than two days ahead of a scheduled meeting between the leaders of the two countries. "We urge the U.S. to immediately cancel its pressure and sanction measures on Huawei and other Chinese companies, and push for the stable and healthy development of China-U.S. trade relations, Gao Feng, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said in Mandarin, according to a CNBC translation. Gao added that China is unchanged in its position on the trade war, as laid out by lead negotiator and Vice Premier Liu He in May. The three primary points are canceling all additional tariffs, not arbitrarily changing what the two countries' leaders agreed upon at the G-20 meeting in Argentina late last year and that a trade agreement must be on equal terms.cnbc.com