Federal Grant Gives College Nearly $500K to Increase ‘Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in STEM’

Alverno College in Wisconsin recieved a $499,983 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase “racial/ethnic and gender diversity in STEM.”

According to the NSF grant abstract, the money will be used to “directly engage” 400 students at the college who are currently enrolled in STEM courses and focus on connecting women and minority students to their “professional and social communities.”

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Wisconsin Representative Calls United States Department of Agriculture Masking Requirement in Small Town Meat Plant ‘Absurd’

Wisconsin Representative Thomas Tiffany (R-07-WI) said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) demand that employees at a small Wisconsin meat processing plant wear masks “absurd.” As was reported by Empower Wisconsin, the USDA warned Nolechek’s Meats that they would not conduct any inspections unless all employees were properly masked. Not having it’s products inspected would mean that the plant would lose any out-of-state business.

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Georgia Man Sentenced for Defrauding USDA COVID-19 Relief Program of Massive Amount

Federal officials have sentenced a Stonecrest, Georgia man for defrauding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Coronavirus Food Relief Program and attempting to defraud the IRS’s COVID-19 relief program. This, according to a press release that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia published this week.

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Gov. Walz Requests USDA Help During Minnesota Drought

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

Due to a severe statewide drought, Gov. Tim Walz sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, requesting assistance to aid Minnesota’s livestock producers by relieving the immediate impacts of drought on grazing land.

“Agriculture is the past, present, and future of Minnesota’s economy. We must do everything we can to address the challenges our farmers and ranchers are facing due to the severe drought conditions plaguing our state. That’s why I’m asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture for assistance,” Walz said in a statement. “The USDA’s ongoing support of Minnesota’s agricultural industry is well-recognized across the state, and with their continued assistance, our livestock producers will have a brighter outlook as we endure these harsh conditions and look forward to a thriving future.”

Walz supported implementing a plan to allow emergency haying and grazing on eligible Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land counties experiencing Level D2 or greater drought conditions, reducing forage pressures on Minnesota’s livestock producers. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor update on July 8 reported nearly 40% of Minnesota is suffering under Level D2 or greater drought conditions.

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Biden Administration Hasn’t Responded to Court Injunctions on Loan Forgiveness Excluding White Farmers

Man in a blue shirt standing in a cornfield.

The White House hasn’t addressed the court-ordered injunctions against President Joe Biden’s loan forgiveness program that excludes white farmers.  The latest ruling came late last week through a Tennessee farmer’s challenge to the program’s alleged racial discrimination. United States District Judge Thomas Anderson agreed with the Tennessee farmer’s take on the program’s discriminatory practices, ruling the program unconstitutional and issuing a nationwide injunction to halt it on Thursday in the case, Holman v. Vilsack et al. Another federal judge in Wisconsin issued a similar ruling last month, and a little over two weeks ago a federal judge in a similar Florida case offered a concurring ruling. 

The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) and Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) brought the case with the latest ruling on behalf of Tennessee farmer Rob Holman. According to the Biden Administration’s loan forgiveness program in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Holman was ineligible for forgiveness on his farm loans solely because he’s white. According to the law, only “socially disadvantaged groups” were eligible for the program granting up to 120 percent of loan forgiveness, re-application for government backed loans, and a cash gift of 20 percent of the loan’s value to cover any income tax liability. Socially disadvantaged groups were defined as those with members who faced racial or ethnic prejudice.

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Florida District Judge Halts Discriminatory Program by Biden Administration

Earlier this week, Florida District Judge Marcia Morales Howard issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against the Biden administration. The lawsuit was initiated by a farmer who said a debt relief program to “socially disadvantaged farmers” is discriminatory.

In the $1.9 billion stimulus packaged signed by Biden earlier this year, approximately $4 billion of the plan is designated to assist exclusively farmers of color for debt relief through direct payments up to 120 percent of the farmer’s outstanding debt.

The order by Howard prevents the USDA from distributing the payments directly to farmers enrolled in the program.

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Another Judge Temporarily Blocks Biden’s Debt Relief Program Exclusively for Farmers of Color

Silhouette of man on a tractor during golden hour

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.”

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Commentary: Are Race-Based Government Programs on the Verge of Extinction?

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.”

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Joe Biden Ends Popular Donald Trump and Sonny Perdue Program to Help Farmers

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA-08) this week blasted the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden for ending the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which Scott described as popular. Scott said this in an emailed newsletter to his constituents.

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Legislators Pushing to Limit Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land

Tennessee’s Republican state legislators want to loosen foreign influence- a new bill being considered would limit foreign ownership of agricultural land. The bill wouldn’t limit foreign ownership of land for any other purposes. It also wouldn’t apply retroactively.

State Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) first introduced the bill, followed by State Representative Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station).

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Blackburn Applauds Federal Taskforce to Improve Telehealth Access for Rural Americans

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is applauding a federal initiative to grow the availability of telehealth for rural areas.

The Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services and the U.S. Department Of Agriculture last week announced they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Rural Telehealth Initiative.

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Aldi, Wegmans Among Grocery Stores Recalling Peaches Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

Aldi, Wegmans, Kroger and Target stores are all recalling bagged and loose peaches from Wawona Packing Company out of an abundance of caution that those products may be contaminated Salmonella.

The peaches are being recalled after an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looking into a salmonella outbreak. The California fruit packing company is suspected to be the source of the illness of over 60 people in nine states.

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USDA: Error Rate in National Food Stamp Program Increases in 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reporting an error rate of 7.36 percent for its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for fiscal year 2019.

Despite the error rate, and after state government shutdowns over the coronavirus, the federal government significantly extended emergency SNAP funding for states to distribute.

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Ellison Sues Trump Administration Over Food-Stamp Work Requirements

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison joined 15 attorneys general and New York City in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration over changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.

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Commentary: USDA Workers, Kansas City Is Better Than You Think

by Joshua Sharf   On Thursday, a gaggle of civil servants protested the proposed relocation of a couple of Agriculture Department bureaus from Washington, D.C. to Kansas City, Missouri by boldly turning their backs on a speech delivered by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Perdue announced that the Economic Research Service,…

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USDA Workers Turn Backs to Sonny Perdue After Announcing Relocation from D.C. to Kansas City

  American Federation of Government Employees turned their backs on Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue Thursday while he spoke after the USDA announced its plan to relocate workers from Washington D.C. to the Kansas City region. Perdue announced the same day the reason for moving the Department of Agriculture’s research agencies…

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Pushes Back on ‘Sensational Reporting’ of Food Inspections Being Stopped

by Michael Bastasch   Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue pushed back on what he called “sensational reporting” that the government shutdown had put a halt to food inspections. “Want to calm some fears because of somewhat sensational reporting on the shutdown,” Perdue said in a tweet Friday in response to alarming…

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The Government May Require Almond Milk, Soy Milk to Use Non-Milk Names

Dairy Cow

by John-Michael Seibler and Taylor Chaffetz   If Washington politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists have their way, consumers of common non-dairy “milks”—such as almond milk and soy milk—may soon have to buy those products under obscure labeling such as “plant juice” and “tree-nut beverage.” In another unfortunate instance of overcriminalization, after efforts to make…

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Hundreds Of Federal Employees Will Be Moved Out Of Washington, D.C.

moving

by Tim Pearce   The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is moving two agencies and roughly 700 federal employees out of Washington, D.C., to save money and improve the department’s service to taxpayers. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and…

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Got ‘Scam?’ – Dairy Farmers Are Getting Milked By The USDA’s Checkoff Program

Dairy Cow

by Andrew Kerr    – Dairy farmers are forced to pay a tax that funds nonprofits dedicated to boosting dairy sales  – One dairy farmer says the nonprofits are doing a “pretty piss poor job”  – The nonprofit that takes the most pays its top executives salaries so lavish they may…

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State Senator Jim Tracy Appointed to USDA Position by Trump Administration

State Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) was appointed to a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture by the Trump administration on Friday. Tracy was named as the new USDA Rural Development State Director for Tennessee by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a…

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