Ag Policy Blog

USDA To Hold Listening Session for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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USDA will hold a listening session with beginning farmers and ranchers on Thursday to hear how those producers were affected by COVID-19 and highlight other policy changes that could help those producers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the department will hold a virtual listening session on Thursday for beginning farmers and ranchers to learn how COVID-19 impacted their farming operations and to get their feedback on USDA assistance.

The listening session will take place on May 6 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Central time.

"We invite beginning farmers and ranchers to share their experiences in navigating USDA's resources for assistance after the pandemic," said Gloria Montano Greene, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.

"We need to understand what worked well and where we can improve, while deepening our understanding of how farmers were affected by the pandemic and how they are modifying their operations," said Mae Wu, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

Montano Greene and Wu will be joined by Zach Ducheneaux, administrator for the Farm Service Agency, and Sarah Campbell, coordinator of USDA's National Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program.

The department stated that feedback will inform USDA preparations for outreach strategies, programmatic needs, technical assistance and accessible program delivery for beginning farmers and ranchers through Pandemic Assistance for Producers.

To register and attend, see www.farmers.gov/newfarmers

Meatpackers Praise Biden Decision to Increase Refugee Allotment

The North American Meat Institute today praised President Biden's decision Monday to increase the number of refugees admitted to the United States -- 62,500, up from the Trump administration's limit of 15,000.

In an email to The Hagstrom Report, the Meat Institute said, "President Biden's decision to increase the number of refugees is positive news for the meat and poultry industry. Meat packers and processors have employed those in the refugee community because they are hardworking and dependable. Finding a stable workforce is always a challenge, especially since the H2A program is not available to the industry."

Biden said Monday, "Today, I am revising the United States' annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500 for this fiscal year. This erases the historically low number set by the previous administration of 15,000, which did not reflect America's values as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees. The new admissions cap will also reinforce efforts that are already underway to expand the United States' capacity to admit refugees, so that we can reach the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions that I intend to set for the coming fiscal year."

Biden had come under criticism for not raising the refugee admissions cap earlier.

In 2020, the Los Angeles Times noted that the meatpacking industry is dependent on refugees as employees.

- WhiteHouse.gov -- Statement by President Joe Biden on refugee admissions https://www.whitehouse.gov/…

Boozman Skeptical of Carbon Bank Concept

A day after the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, a coalition of major farm and environmental groups, urged USDA to develop pilot projects that could be the basis for a carbon bank, Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, reiterated his concern that the evolving concepts described as a "carbon bank" do not consider whether the secretary of Agriculture has the authority to pursue such proposals without congressional authorization.

Boozman issued a brief statement on the subject.

"I appreciate the interest from food and agriculture organizations to develop proposals intended to provide for a greater role for agriculture in addressing climate change. The reality is that the secretary does not have the authority to create and operate a 'carbon bank' as proposed by the Biden administration. Since it was first proposed, the concept of a so-called 'carbon bank' has shifted many times. Today, it is unclear whether the term 'carbon bank' is a noun, a verb, or an adjective," Boozman said.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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