Debt relief is just the first step toward racial equity in agriculture, say senators – March 23, 2021

Debt relief is just the first step toward racial equity in agriculture, say senators

The federal promise of $ 4 billion in debt relief for minority farmers, part of the Biden administration’s $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, is a step toward justice, said three Democratic senators on Monday. They said the next step should be passage of legislation to root out discrimination at the USDA, transfer up to 32 million acres of land to Black farmers and assure producers of a fair price when they sell livestock to meat processors. (No paywall)

Vilsack says a carbon bank fits into USDA’s portfolio

The USDA has the authority to create a so-called carbon bank to encourage climate mitigation on the farm, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday, but he is waiting for farmers’ ideas on how the bank should operate.

Expect a bipartisan broadband bill, says House Ag chairman

High-speed internet will be the centerpiece of rural economic development legislation drafted by the House Agriculture Committee, said chairman David Scott on Monday. Scott said he expects the committee will call a hearing on rural broadband in early April with a bipartisan bill to follow.

TODAY’S QUICK HITS

Hydroponic is organic: The USDA is within bounds to certify hydroponic systems as organic, ruled U.S. district judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco in a dispute that dates from the 1990s over which products qualify for the organic seal. (The Packer)

Vela to retire: Five-term Rep. Filemon Vela, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said he will not run for re-election in 2022, becoming the second House Democrat to announce retirement this session. (Dallas Morning News)

Colorado River showdown: Everybody agrees on the wisdom of a regional plan for managing the Colorado River, but with the existing guidelines set to expire in 2026, states are jockeying for position to assure they keep all of their rights to the scarce water. (KUNC-FM)

At the food bank: Vice President Kamala Harris visited a food bank in Jacksonville, Florida, and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in touring a food bank in Des Moines on Monday to highlight nutrition funding that was part of the administration’s $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. (Ag Insider)

Shots in 28 states: Workers at food-processing plants, which included some coronavirus hot spots last spring, are now eligible for vaccinations in at least 28 states amid the rapid widening of eligibility for inoculations against Covid-19 for essential workers. (New York Times)

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