Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said at a briefing on the proposed GIPSA (Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration) rule regarding livestock and poultry marketing practices that the department had received more than 60,000 public comments. USDA will take time to analyze and evaluate the comments. He also said that a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis will be conducted on the proposed rule. Last September in a letter to USDA, 115 congressmen had asked that an economic analysis be conducted on the proposed rule.

Ethanol and Biodiesel Tax Credits Extended — The recently passed tax cut/stimulus package extends the 45 cents-per-gallon ethanol blender credit and the tariff on imported ethanol for one year. The $1.00/gallon production tax credit for biodiesel is made retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010 and has been extended through 2011. The ethanol trade association, Growth Energy, said that extending the ethanol blenders tax credit will “provide certainty in the marketplace and give us a chance to work with Congress and the administration to enact longer term tax policy reforms that will level the playing field in the fuels market.” The American Meat Institute, which opposed the extension, said, “For 30 years, the American taxpayer has been subsidizing corn-based ethanol and unfortunately the Senate has failed to break that dependency relationship once again, even as this country teeters on the brink of a budgetary abyss. For yet another year, $6 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars will be diverted from hardworking families to the pocketbooks of the ethanol industry for production that is mandated by the federal government, despite the fact that the American people are crying out for fiscal responsibility.”

Food Safety Bill Sent to President — Congress passed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act, which increases FDA’s oversight of the food sector. The legislation expands FDA’s authority with mandatory recalls, increased inspection rates, collection of fees and requires all facilities to have a food safety plan. The legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature.

Child Nutrition Now Law — President Barrack Obama signed into the law the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.” The legislation reauthorizes federal child nutrition programs and provides an additional six cents/meal for the school lunch program. This is the first non-inflationary increase for reimbursement since 1973. In an effort to address childhood obesity, national nutrition standards will be established for all foods sold at schools.

House Agriculture Committee Chairs Named — Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK), chairman-elect of the House Agriculture Committee, named six members to serve as subcommittee chairman of the House Agriculture Committee for the 112th Congress. They are: Congressmen Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Conservation, Energy and Forestry; Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Department of Operations, Oversight and Credit; Mike Conaway, General Farm Commodities and Risk Management; Tom Rooney (R-FL), Livestock, Dairy and Poultry; Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Nutrition and Horticulture; and Tim Johnson (R-IL), Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture.

Baumes Named Director of Energy Policy and New Uses — Harry Baumes has been named as USDA’s director of the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses (OEPNU). Baumes will provide policy advice to the secretary of agriculture on energy and bioproduct issues. He has served as associate director of OEPNU since 2006. Baumes holds a bachelor of science degree from Cornell University, and a Master's and PhD degree in agricultural economics from Purdue University.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.