USDA

The UN FOOD SYSTEM SUMMIT: Upside and Downside for US Agriculture

The UN Food System Summit (FSS), to be hosted by Secretary-General António Guterres as a part of the UN General Assembly this September, is generating increased attention for several reasons:   It’s fast approaching. Hunger is on the rise. The new Biden/Harris Administration is committed to international engagement and hunger reduction. US agriculture has much …

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three cows standing in a line

Packers and Stockyards Act: Cattle Sellers Gain New Protections with the Statutory Dealer Trust

John Dillard, a principal attorney in the USDA – Packers and Stockyards group, authored the following article on recent amendments to the Packers and Stockyards Act establishing a Statutory Dealer Trust. The article appears in Farm Journal’s mid-February issue.   Cattle dealers play an integral role of the movement of livestock by buying cattle, creating …

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Oh, SNAP! FNS Refuses to Comply with the 2018 Farm Bill

Nearly all – more than 98% – of the firms authorized by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are traditional brick and mortar supermarkets, groceries, and convenience stores.   Accordingly to FNS’s SNAP Retailer Manager Year End Summary, under 1% of SNAP-authorized firms are entities that serve …

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How Does Buying American Benefit U.S. Food, Agriculture, and Medical Products?

President Biden recently issued an Executive Order (EO) to harness the federal government’s purchasing power to bolster domestic manufacturing. The “Strengthening Buy American Provisions, Ensuring Future of America is Made in America by All of America’s Workers” intends to support American industry and American workers. Overall, this EO looks to close loopholes in existing “Buy American” policies …

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Food drive called

Oh, SNAP! SNAP Retailers Need to Watch Out for New FNS Entrapment Techniques

For decades, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has attempted to combat fraud by retailers and beneficiaries in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with varying success.  Fraud levels were dramatically reduced after FNS rolled out the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system and discontinued the use of paper food stamps more than fifteen years ago.  …

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The Debate?

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. How exciting – With the Presidential race headed for the finish line, we got to hear President Trump and Vice President Biden debate the issues.  What a waste of my time.  All they did was talk over each other with interruptions and insults.  Biden said Trump has been the …

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On the Farm

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. I have escaped the wild and crazy political wars of Washington, DC.  I am on my farm in Illinois.  My first time back since the virus hit.  My voice will sound a little different since I am on the phone.  I am so excited to look at our fields …

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Constitution Day and More

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. Did you know that September 17 this week was Constitution Day?  Our country has the longest continuous running Constitution in the world – 230 years.  We have endured a Civil War, a Great Depression and two World Wars and now a deadly pandemic.  In 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King …

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Government Gridlock & More

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. We have not heard much about the threat of African Swine Fever.  Even China seems to be recovering from that devastating disease.  But now the swine industry in Germany is worried.  Poland has been suffering swine fever losses and they are right up against Germany.  Germany is one of …

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Taiwan and More

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. Taiwan – Let us keep in mind that China claims the island of Taiwan as part of China.  But the citizens of Taiwan do not see it that way.  Eleven men and women between the ages of 16 and 33 bought a speed boat and departed Hong Kong headed …

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Corn

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. I want to open today by talking about corn.  There are a lot of crops planted in the Midwest, but none as important to the economy as corn.  When I grew up we fed the corn that we produced to our pigs, cows, and chickens.  Our yield per acre …

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This and That

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. There are a lot of balls in the air.  I will try to deal with a few select ones today.  I’ll start with aluminum tariffs – President Trump re-imposed a 10% “national security” tariff on imports of aluminum from Canada.  Was that justified?  I have my doubts.  We just …

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More Spending – More Aid

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. It was so easy and so fast in the Spring — when Republicans and Democrats came together and authorized big spending to support our people and the economy.  We didn’t have the money.  They spent $3 trillion anyway.  The pandemic still rages, and Congress is in the process of …

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Weather & Trade

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. All reports from the heartland tell us that this year’s crops look good.  Corn and soybeans on my farm are as good as I can remember.  However, they are not ready to harvest.  A hot dry August could do some serious damage.  Besides watching the weather, we keep an …

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Virus Relief Package

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. We have 2 parties – Republicans and Democrats in our Congress.  And then we have President Trump.  They all want to pass a new relief package to help us through our coronavirus recession.  Democrats want to spend $3 trillion while Republicans are talking about $1 trillion.  That is a …

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Pandemics Costs Money

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. We are trying to survive a global pandemic, trade disruptions, and trade conflicts.  Farm bankruptcies have been increasing for 5 years in a row.  And they are expected to continue to climb in the next 12 months.  Thank you to the federal government – farm support payments have jumped …

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Pandemic Costs

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. In recent weeks, the news has focused on the number of cases of Coronavirus and related deaths.  We are aware of the large amount of money and support that our federal government has made available, but I’m not sure we have focused enough on the resulting family disruption and …

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Issues of the Day

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. For more than 2 years the U.S., Canada and Mexico have been negotiating a new North American Free Trade Agreement.  Finally, USMCA became effective this week.  Even with the new trade deal, President Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum.  I don’t think we need to do …

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China and More

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. I have, on more than one occasion, talked about President Trump and EPA in their effort to restrain President Obama’s Waters of the U.S. rule.  That rule was written to restrict farmers and ranchers from tiling wetlands and managing our private property.  Last Friday, we got a court ruling …

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Issues

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. I will cover some issues of the day that may not have gotten much attention.  The U.S. and Russia have a long-range nuclear arms agreement that will expire next February. The agreement was negotiated and went into effect 30 years ago.  It is time to renegotiate, and China will …

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Issues of the Day

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. President Trump held a meeting with farm leaders on Tuesday at the White House.  Secretary Sonny Perdue explained how the $16 billion aid package passed by Congress and signed by the President two months ago would be divided up.  This bill is the centerpiece of President Trump’s effort to …

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Mother on My Mind

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. Being in lock down like most of our citizens and trying to celebrate Mother’s Day made me think.  My mother was so dedicated to my 2 sisters, me and of course my dad.  Mom & Dad were married in 1934 and in 1935 I was born.  We were living …

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OFW’s John G. Dillard and Mason Weeda to Present the Food Institute’s COVID:19 Webinar on May 12

On May 12, OFW Principals, John G. Dillard and Mason Weeda will be presenting a webinar in collaboration with The Food Institute on the U.S. regulatory response in connection to the novel coronavirus crisis. The focus will be on the policies and practices implemented by USDA, FDA, OSHA, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of …

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New Beginning for Tribal Students Goes Live

By Julia Johnson The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has released its Request for Applications for the “New Beginning for Tribal Students” program. The program passed as part of the 2018 Farm Bill to support Native American education at land-grant colleges and universities. Congress appropriated $5 million to …

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Tough Times

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. The food industry is trying to cope with serious supply chain problems.  Coronavirus has forced dramatic change in our food production and distribution system.  Restaurants and schools are closed.  They did provide 40% of our food.  That food now needs to go to the grocery stores, but restaurant food …

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Cows relaxing in the meadow

COVID-19 Webinar: Federal Regulatory Changes Impacting the Food Industry – Recording Available

On April 22, OFW Principal John Dillard presented a webinar addressing the federal regulatory changes that have been implemented to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar also discussed guidance from USDA, FDA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Center for Disease Control as well as some of the best practices that have been …

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Supreme Court Building of the United States

Tough Year

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. Look back to when this year started – economists and ag experts were all predicting an increase in net farm income.  We had a trade deal with China which would give a dramatic boost to grain and meat exports.  Nothing could stop us.  Then came coronavirus.  In the beginning …

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John Dillard to Present Free Webinar on COVID-19 and Regulatory Changes Affecting the Food Industry

John G. Dillard, a principal at OFW. will be presenting a review of several federal agencies’ responses to the COVID-19 crisis that affect food producers and manufacturers. The webinar, “COVID-19: Regulatory Changes Impacting Food Production and Distribution” will be offered by the National Agricultural Law Center on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 12pm EST. John …

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Factory worker cleaning hands

Sanitation Measures to Control COVID-19 in Manufacturing Facilities

Facility managers – not just food facility managers – are being “encouraged” to take strong preventative measures to help mitigate the risks of COVID-19 for individuals within their premises.  Managers are also reminded that the actions taken need to be documented.  It is recognized that certain of the recommended measures made by the Center for …

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Food Industry Challenge

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. Let’s start with some good news.  Russia, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and other oil producing countries agreed to cut production by 10% – about 11 million barrels.  That should give us a modest lift in fuel prices which should help the price of ethanol and corn.  My judgement – …

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Challenging Times

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. There isn’t a lot of happy talk in the U.S. or around the world.  These are depressing times. The Coronavirus sickness and resulting deaths are all you see on tv, hear on the radio or read in the papers.  Concern about the virus and the health of our citizens …

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Virus and Low Prices

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. We have never seen anything like the Coronavirus.  It has been infecting countries all over the world.  I guess that reminds us that we live in a global economy. This virus is an infectious disease that knows no borders.  I am impressed how Americans – rich and poor, rural …

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Frozen Economy

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block. After months of uncertainty, the biofuels industry got some good news.  The EPA had been granting exemptions to small refineries so they were not required to blend ethanol with petroleum fuel.  A January ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court put a stop to EPA’s small refinery exemption.  Then …

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