Vilsack Focuses on Poultry, CRP and Infant Formula Ads
During a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Thursday, May 26, in which he was the only witness, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack focused on recent USDA announcements regarding reform the poultry tournament system, facilitating the exit of farmers from conservation reserve program contracts, and advice to states on infant formula.
Meanwhile, committee members asked if the crop insurance system could be adjusted to address planting issues this spring and a myriad of issues important to their states.
Vilsack noted that the USDA released a proposed rule aimed at establishing greater transparency in poultry farming contracts and the compensation system known as “tournaments.”
National Farmers Union President Rob Larew said in a press release: “This rule will ensure a fair market for poultry farmers, free from retaliation. We will review the proposed rule and share other recommendations with the USDA to help ensure the final rule provides the protections aviculturists deserve.
But National Chicken Council Chairman Mike Brown said: ‘This is a solution in search of a problem. The last thing the Biden administration should do is impose regulations, red tape and increased costs on businesses at a time of record inflation and input costs, threatening food security and potentially driving up bills even further. groceries for Americans.
“There is a huge misunderstanding in this administration about how businesses work. Everything this administration has touched has driven up prices for consumers – whether it’s gas, home heating bills or infant formula. Chicken seems to be next.
Vilsack also told senators that the USDA will allow participants in the conservation reserve program who are in the final year of their contract to request voluntary termination after the end of the primary nesting season for fiscal year 2022. Participants approved for this one-time voluntary termination will not have to pay rent, a flexibility put in place this year to help alleviate global food supply problems caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other factors.
When questioned by the senators, Vilsack also pointed out that the CRP, which idles land for conservation and wildlife benefits, has mostly land that is “not really productive,” but that if farmers choose to withdraw their land from the CRP and put it back into production “we trust the farmers to make decisions about their own operations”.
Vilsack also said the USDA’s contribution to addressing the infant formula shortage is to encourage state agencies and their formula manufacturers to consider seeking temporary flexibility in their contracts to allow program participants special supplemental nutritional assistance for women, infants and children to purchase alternative sizes, shapes or brands of during the current shortage.
The USDA said it is quickly taking advantage of the new Baby Formula Access Act signed by President Biden and will cover the additional costs of alternative brand formulas in states that have contracts with Rickett Mead Johson or Gerber, if the contracted size, shape or brand of formula is unavailable.
In states with Abbott Nutrition contracts, Abbott covers this cost difference, the USDA noted.
Sen. John Hoeven, RN.D., said he and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Vilsack on Wednesday urging him to “provide support and certainty to producers facing to disturbances in spring sowing due to excess humidity.
In the letter, lawmakers pleaded for Vilsack to compensate for any loss in crop insurance coverage for growers who cannot enter the field before the final planting date, citing slow planting at scale. nationwide and stressing the need to incentivize greater U.S. agricultural production to help meet global food security needs.
“It is important to note that payments must come from sources other than the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) to maintain the actuarial soundness of crop insurance while protecting Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) from increased liability. “, reads the letter.
During the hearing, Hoeven said the money may have come from the Commodity Credit Corporation.
Vilsack said he hasn’t seen the letter yet and will consider their points, but he noted that making changes to crop insurance, which is supposed to be actuarially sound, is complicated.
Vilsack also assured Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, that the administration’s commitment to conserve 30% of the nation’s land by 2030 would respect private property rights and not restrict access for hunting and recreational fishing.
Of the many questions raised by senators about their states’ problems, perhaps the most notable was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.’s request for help with a storage facility for cereals destroyed by a storm in December. Vilsack said he was working on the issue and “pop-up” storage facilities are being considered for this year.
All interactions between Vilsack and the senators have been cordial, with the exception of an exchange with Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., who said the Biden administration’s policies, high prices and issues of supply chain to the solicitor general’s stance favoring state labeling of glyphosate, mean the administration is “not building back better” for Kansas farmers.
Vilsack replied that Marshall should consider the value of exports and the billions of dollars in aid the USDA has distributed.