The U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking the first steps in handing out $2.2 billion to farmers, ranchers or forest landowners who experienced discrimination with USDA farm lending programs.
The Inflation Reduction Act that was signed by President Joe Biden in August 2022 authorizes the spending.
Determined to use their oversight authority to ensure election integrity, House Republicans are deploying dozens of trained observers to key races around the country while dispatching letters putting federal and state officials on notice to look for any shenanigans in the midterms.
The effort led by Rep. Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, includes investigating how federal agencies are implementing President Joe Biden’s executive order instructing the U.S. government to expand voter registration, along with the training and deployment of House staff as observers under the authority of Congress.
The Biden administration has announced $500 million in grant money to stimulate American-made fertilizer production.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack unveiled the new grant program, called the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program, on Sept. 27.
More than 100 House Republicans are asking a government watchdog to probe foreign investments in U.S. farmland, including those by China, which they say may present national and food security concerns.
Led by Reps. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania and James Comer of Kentucky, the lawmakers on Saturday called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study foreign farmland ownership and how the U.S. government is monitoring acquisitions, a letter shows. There has been an uptick in foreign investments and ownership, which may be “underreported” due to the U.S. Agriculture Department’s (USDA) unreliable data, the Republicans say.
Jerry Brown, director of public relations for St. Mary’s Food Bank, told The Arizona Sun Times that the number of families seeking food in Arizona has risen in recent months.
“To give you an example at St. Mary’s Food Bank,” Brown said Friday. “We’re still getting the final numbers in for August, but we’re going to come close to 150,000 families served just in the month of August. Something we didn’t do during the pandemic. The height of the pandemic. That’s not something we did during normal holiday years when we hand out a lot of turkeys. We do 18,000 turkeys for families around the holidays. Even those months didn’t result in 150,000 touches with families.”
The Biden administration and Florida Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried approved the lunch money application for Grant Park Christian Academy in Tampa just days after the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Christian school.
The school was being denied children’s lunch funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program, which Fried administers. The program benefitted 56 low-income children at the Christian school by providing them with free meals.
Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) recently sent a letter to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, challenging woke gender policy changes that threaten school meal plan funding.
“In an effort to appease the Left’s woke gender agenda, the USDA is now attempting to hold American schools hostage,” Biggs said in a press release. “USDA’s definition changes of ‘sex discrimination’ would only harm American students. The department is coercing American schools to adopt the Biden Administration’s radical gender equality platform or else it will strip student benefits from these schools.”
The number of commercial and backyard flocks with confirmed avian flu increased by 36% in the past week, according to data on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website.
Three of the 57 new cases reported were in Missouri, bringing the state total to nine cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu Influenza (HPAI) in seven counties—Bates, Dade, Gentry, Jasper, Lawrence, Ralls and Stoddard. Approximately 421,000 birds were in those flocks.
A federal judge in Florida temporarily halted President Joe Biden’s $4 billion debt relief program exclusively for farmers of color, saying in a Wednesday order that the program was racially discriminatory.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard sided with Scott Wynn, a Florida-based white farmer who sued to block the program in May. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) program was originally passed in March as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, with the intention of providing relief to “socially disadvantaged farmers.”
“Section 1005’s rigid, categorical, race-based qualification for relief is the antithesis of flexibility,” Howard wrote. “The debt relief provision applies strictly on racial grounds irrespective of any other factor.”
United States District Judge William C. Griesbach sustained a motion last week for a temporary restraining order to block a program under the Department of Agriculture to forgive certain government loans for farmers belonging to at least one “socially disadvantaged group.” The Department of Agriculture identified groups eligible for this classification as “a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities . . . one or more of the following: Black/African American, American Indian, Alaskan native, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, or Pacific Islander.”