St. Mary’s Food Bank Shares Alarming Rise in Families Seeking Food in Arizona

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.”

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Majority of Funds for Climate Change Program in Pennsylvania Went to Repave Bloomsburg Parking Lots

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is sending $740,000 to Pennsylvania for “critical infrastructure to combat climate change” – but most of the money will go toward repaving parking lots.

The USDA Rural Development program provides taxpayer money for all sorts of programs, from infrastructure to health care to environmental and economic concerns in the rural parts of America. In fiscal year 2022, it provided almost $1.5 billion for local projects.

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$20 Million in Federal Funds for Pennsylvania Preservation of Streams, Farmland

A grant program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will send $20 million to Pennsylvania to restore streams in central Pennsylvania and preserve farmland.

The funding is part of a $200 million initiative, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, “to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns.” The RCPP was created by the 2014 Farm Bill and has sent out almost 600 awards.

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Biden and Fried Approve Tampa Christian School’s Lunch Money Application After Lawsuit

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.

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Miyares, 22 Other Attorneys General Sue USDA

Attorney General Jason Miyares is one of 23 attorneys general suing the USDA over expanded guidance adding discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity to its application of Title IX rules for the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which provides federal funding for food assistance programs including school meals.

“The Biden Administration is attempting to use the power of the federal government to force Virginia to choose between nutrition assistance for vulnerable children or advancing an extremist agenda,” Miyares spokesperson Victoria LaCivita said in a statement.

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Tennessee AG Leads Lawsuit Against Biden Administration over School Lunch Benefits

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office is leading a lawsuit against the Biden Administration after the latter said that it will strip schools of certain government benefits if they do not conform to left-wing transgender ideology. 

“Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, leading a 22-state coalition along with Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, filed a lawsuit today in the Eastern District of Tennessee,” said a press release from Slatery’s office. “The lawsuit seeks to stop the Biden Administration from enforcing an expansive and unlawful interpretation of federal anti-discrimination laws under the threat of withdrawing key food assistance program funding.” 

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DOJ, Envigo Settlement Ends Beagle-Breeding-for-Testing at Cumberland Facility; ‘Huge Win for Humanity,’ Says Sen. Boysko

Envigo and DOJ officials announced a settlement in the government’s lawsuit against the Cumberland beagle-breeder-for-medical-testing; 4,000 beagles will be relinquished to the Humane Society of the United States and Envigo will be permanently prohibited from engaging in activity at the facility requiring an Animal Welfare Act license.

“This settlement brings to an end the needless suffering caused by Envigo’s blatant violations of animal welfare laws at this facility,”  Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) said in a Monday press release. “We will continue to vigorously enforce animal welfare laws to ensure that animals are provided the humane care that they are legally owed and deserve.”

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Rep. Diana Harshbarger Introduces Legislation to Block Biden’s USDA from Stripping Funding from Certain Schools’ Lunch Programs

Representatives Diana Harshbarger (R-TN-01) and Glenn Grothman (R-WI-06) introduced legislation to block President Joe Biden’s Department of Agriculture (USDA) from threatening to strip funding from the National School Lunch Program.

According to the lawmakers, the Biden Administration is attempting to force school districts to allow students to use whichever bathroom or play various sports they prefer, not based on biological sex.

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Andy Biggs Sends Letter to Department of Agriculture Challenging Gender Policy Changes

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.”

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Florida Orange Production Up, Cost of Orange Juice Below Other Food Prices Despite Inflation

There’s a silver lining to some of the hardship Florida citrus producers have faced over the past several years. Their projected crop production is an estimated 2 million box increase from the previous month, the cost for consumers to purchase Florida orange juice is lower than other food despite inflation, and their congressional delegation is advancing a bill to reform FDA standards to help growers.

Florida’s orange production is expected to surpass more than 40 million boxes in the 2021-2022 season, according to a USDA May production forecast, an increase of 2 million boxes from its April forecast.

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Court Allows Envigo to Complete Contracts for Dogs Amid Ongoing Federal Lawsuit

U.S. District Court Judge Norman K. Moon granted beagle-breeder-for-testing Envigo a partial win on Friday, allowing the facility to complete contracts for more than 500 dogs while a Department of Justice lawsuit against the Cumberland facility proceeds.

“Those dogs have been abused, and the right thing to do would be to let them be adopted and have a loving home like those who have been adopted,” Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) told The Virginia Star.

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USDA Approves School Nutrition Grant, Rural Development Loans for Virginia

The USDA approved nearly $1 million for a Virginia grant to assist with food and nutrition services in public schools and more than $9 million worth of rural development loans to two Virginia programs.

A $982,827 grant to the Virginia Department of Education will help the department with their nutrition staff to implement meal pattern standards for schools in the next year, according to a USDA news release. The grant is called the “Team Nutrition Training Grant for School Nutrition Professional Readiness and Retention.”

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USDA Agents Raid and Seize Dogs at Beagle-Breeder-for Testing Envigo

USDA agents and other authorities raided beagle-breeder-for-testing Envigo’s Cumberland facility and seized 145 dogs that were in “acute distress” on Wednesday, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Christopher Kavanaugh.
The attorney is representing the U.S. against Envigo, alleging that the breeder is violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

“In less than a year, the company has amassed over 60 citations for non-compliance with the AWA, which have affected thousands of beagles. More than half of those citations were deemed ‘critical’ or ‘direct,’ the most serious types of AWA citation,” the complaint states. ” As relevant here, a ‘critical’ noncompliance is one that has a ‘serious or severe adverse effect on the health and well-being of the animal[s].’ [….] A ‘direct’ noncompliance is a critical noncompliance that is having a serious or severe adverse effect on the health and well-being of the animal at the time of the inspection.”

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Bird Flu Outbreak Spreads to 25 States

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.

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Youngkin Signs Bills Tightening Restrictions on Breeders-for-Testing as New USDA Report Reveals Envigo Euthanized Dogs Without Anesthetic

RICHMOND, Virginia – Flanked by beagles and legislators, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed five bills tightening regulations on dog and cat breeders, a reaction to dramatic reports at beagle breeder-for-medical-testing Envigo, but a full ban on breeding for testing faltered in February.

“This is an important signing ceremony. And it’s important because it signifies how we’re supposed to work together,” Youngkin said from the steps of the Executive Mansion on Monday. “Behind me represents a very diverse group of legislators, legislators that oftentimes find themselves on different sides of issues. And this particular set of circumstances brought people together to do the right thing, common ground, reaching across the aisle working constructively to get things done in a comprehensive way.”

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DeSantis, Fried Call on USDA for Special Disaster Declaration for Florida Farmers

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) have simultaneously called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue a Disaster Declaration for farmers and growers in counties impacted by the recent, uncharacteristic hard freeze.

DeSantis penned a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack where he reinforced Florida’s agricultural impact to the American economy, and how much Florida’s farmers have had to endure.

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United States Department of Agriculture Invests $1.4 Billion to Strengthen the Economy in Rural America

On Wednesday, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the department is investing $1.4 billion to help a diverse rural America keep resources and wealth right at home through job training, business expansion, and technical assistance.

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USDA Report Details More Violations at Beagle Breeder-For-Research Envigo; General Assembly Legislators Introduce 11 Bills to Regulate or Ban Practices at the Facility

Seven legislators have introduced 11 animal welfare bills in the Virginia General Assembly after investigations by PETA and the USDA found troubling conditions at a Cumberland beagle breeder-for-research. A newly-published report of an October 2021 site visit to the Envigo facility lists violations including staff providing medication without veterinarian approval, dangerous kennels blamed for deaths of multiple puppies, and buildup of grime and feces. Poor record-keeping was blamed for untreated medical conditions, unrecorded deaths, and an inability to determine cause of death in other cases.

“There continue to be severe staffing shortages and currently there are approximately 32 employees at the facility, with only 17 staff members directly responsible for all husbandry, daily observations, and medical treatments for almost 5000 dogs,” the report states.

“Mortality records show that from 2 Aug 2021 to 3 Oct 2021, nine dogs […] were injured from having a body part (such as a limb or tail) pulled through the wall of the kennel by a dog in an adjacent kennel and bitten. The exact injuries varied in each case, however regardless of whether it was a minor or substantial injury, these nine dogs were subsequently euthanized. Dogs sustaining injuries from being pulled through the enclosure wall have experienced physical harm and unnecessary pain,” the report states.

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John Deere Strike Poses Problems for Georgia Farmers

John Deere tractor in a field

Georgia farmers already weathering crop shortages from a deep freeze during the spring could face another challenge this harvest season, according to the Georgia Farm Bureau.

More than 10,000 John Deere workers are on strike at 14 plants across the nation, including in Grovetown, near Augusta. Farmers have reported having a hard time finding parts for tractors and planters, and the sale of some tractors is on hold amid negotiations between union workers and John Deere.

A spokesperson for United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), Brian Rothenberg, said Thursday negotiations with the company were “ongoing.” Workers are demanding more pay and better benefits. Some workers told Farm Journal Magazine the strike could go on until the end of the year. It is reportedly the largest private-sector strike in two years.

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Food Shortages Hit Fulton, Gwinnett County Schools

In what has become a nationwide trend, food and staffing shortages have reached two of the largest school districts in Georgia. 

Both Fulton County Schools and Gwinnett County Schools are facing inventory and food service issues, according to reports. 

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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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