Sign on Letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding California Drought
July 17, 2014
The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave NW
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
As the impact of the severe drought in California widens, we are grateful to you to call attention and action to the crisis by traveling to Fresno tomorrow.
We continue working with National Hmong American Farmers, Inc. (NHAF) to support their emergency efforts to reach and assist the Hmong and other diverse producers in the region who face this sudden and growing loss of their crops and their livelihoods.
Our Board member, Chukou Thao of NHAF, has already been working with state and local USDA officials and other agencies on a solution oriented approach to the emergency. We have attached the fact sheet assembled from a recent interagency meeting that NHAF has begun using to help make families aware of the resources and support available to them.
We fear that given the scale of the situation, the resources and action identified will be insufficient to address the most immediate needs. We therefore recommend the following additional actions:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Proclaims August 3-9 National Farmers Market Week
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared August 3 through 9, 2014, "National Farmers Market Week". Throughout the week, USDA will celebrate our nation's thousands of farmers markets, farmers who make them possible and the communities that host them.
The declaration was made via an official proclamation signed by Secretary Vilsack. This year marks the 15th Annual National Farmers Market Week recognizing the important role that farmers markets play in the agricultural and food economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture began declaring National Farmers Market Week in 2000.
"National Farmers Market Week is a great opportunity for farmers markets across the country to host special events to showcase all the tremendous services they provide," said Secretary Vilsack. "Farmers markets play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support family farms, and help grow rural economies. They bring communities together, connecting cities with the farms that support them and provide Americans across the country with fresh, healthy food."
In honor of National Farmers Market Week, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo will be at the Dane County Farmers Market located on the grounds of the State Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, August 2. The Madison farmers market is the largest producer-only farmers market in the U.S. On August 8, the USDA Farmers Market, located at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC, will host a Healthy Back-To-School Challenge to show kids and their families how to cook simple, healthy, and delicious snacks with seasonal ingredients. Other USDA officials will be at other farmers market locations across the country throughout the week.
White House to Convene First-Ever Rural Opportunity Investment Conference
Initiative is Part of the Obama Administration’s Commitment to Grow Rural Economies and Expand Opportunities for All Americans
WASHINGTON, July 18, 2014 -- The White House Rural Council will host the inaugural Rural Opportunity Investment conference next week to promote potential investment opportunities that exist throughout rural America.
The two-day conference will be held on July 23 and 24 in Washington. Top leaders from the business community and financial institutions, senior government officials, economic development experts and others from across the country will come together to discuss potential investments in rural business and infrastructure projects in rural communities. Opportunities for private investment exists in energy, biofuels, biobased product manufacturing, transportation, water systems, telecommunications, health care, manufacturing, local and regional food systems, and other sectors in rural America.
The Rural Opportunity Investment Conference is part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing efforts, through the White House Rural Council, to promote investment in rural America and grow the U.S. economy.
In Agriculture news, yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "reminded producers that changes mandated through the 2014 Farm Bill require them to have on file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification (AD-1026). He said, "It's important that farmers and ranchers taking the right steps to conserve valuable farm and natural resources have completed AD-1026 forms on file at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office." FSA recently released a revised form AD-1026, which is available at USDA Service Centers and online at: AD-1026.
Today, Wednesday, July 23 at 9:30 a.m. in room 328A of the Russell Senate Office Building, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, will convene a Committee hearing, “Meeting the Challenges of Feeding America’s School Children." The hearing will examine school meal programs across the country – from purchasing and procurement to planning and preparation – and where opportunities exist to continue strengthening these programs to better support America’s school children.
Tomorrow, Thursday, July 24 at 2:30 p.m. in 1300 Longworth House Office Building the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, and Nutrition will convene for the hearing, "To examine the role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in relation to other Federal Assistance Programs." To watch the webcast, click here.
In Immigration news, U.S. Senate Democrats have cut $1 billion from President Obama's $3.7 billion request and instead "are preparing legislation to allocate $2.7 billion this calendar year to deal with the surge of unaccompanied children and families entering the country from Central America."
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, believes, "It's too much money still. It would be more money, same problem, if we don't change the law."
However, The Atlantic reports, "Regardless of how Congress handles his request for more border resources, President Obama is moving toward a historic—and explosive—executive order that will provide legal status to a significant number of the estimated 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. One senior White House official says that while 'what's happening at the border will provide atmospherics for the [president's] decision,' it won't stop him from acting on the undocumented—probably before the midterm elections."
In Voting Rights news, a total of 33 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats are up for election November 4, 2014. Additionally, three special elections will take place in 2014 to fill vacancies that occurred in the 113th Congress (Hawaii, South Carolina and Oklahoma).
Senate Floor Schedule for Wednesday, July 23, 2014
The Senate stands adjourned until 10:00am on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.
Following any leader remarks, there will be a period of morning business until 10:45am, with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each and with the time equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders, or their designees.
At 10:45am, the Senate will proceed to a series of 3 votes on the following motions:
Cloture on Executive Calendar #851, Andre Birotte, Jr., of California, to be United States District Judge for the Central District of California
Cloture on Executive Calendar #852, Robin L. Rosenberg, of Florida, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida
Cloture on Executive Calendar #854, John W. deGravelles, of Louisiana, to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Louisiana
Following the cloture vote on the deGravelles nomination, the time until 12:30pm will be equally divided and controlled in the usual form.
The Senate will recess from 12:30pm until 2:15pm to allow for the weekly caucus meetings.
If cloture is invoked on any of the nominations, at 2:15pm, there will be a series of up to 3 roll call votes on the nominations.
2:15pm—up to 3 roll call votes:
Confirmation of Executive Calendar #851, Andre Birotte, Jr., of California, to be United States District Judge for the Central District of California
Confirmation of Executive Calendar #852, Robin L. Rosenberg, of Florida, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Florida
Confirmation of Executive Calendar #854, John W. deGravelles, of Louisiana, to be United States District Judge for the Middle District of Louisiana
(Cloture is the "the only procedure by which the Senate can vote to place a time limit on consideration of a bill or other matter, and thereby overcome a filibuster. Under the cloture rule (Rule XXII), the Senate may limit consideration of a pending matter to 30 additional hours, but only by vote of three-fifths of the full Senate, normally 60 votes.")
House Floor Schedule for Wednesday, July 23, 2014
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 4983 - Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx / Education & the Workforce Committee)
2) H.R. 5134 - NACIQI and Advisory Committee for Student Financial Assistance (Sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx / Education & the Workforce Committee)
3) H.R. 5111 - To improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking (Sponsored by Rep. Joyce Beatty / Education & the Workforce Committee)
4) H.R. 5081 - Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass / Education & the Workforce Committee)
5) H.R. 5076 - Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck / Education & the Workforce Committee)
6) H.R. 4980 - The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp / Ways & Means Committee)
7) H.R. 5135 - The Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem / Judiciary Committee)
8) H.R. 5116 - To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to train Department of Homeland Security personnel how to effectively deter, detect, disrupt, and prevent human trafficking during the course of their primary roles and responsibilities, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Mark Meadows / Homeland Security Committee)
9) H.R. 4449 - To amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 to expand the training for Federal Government personnel related to trafficking in persons, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney / Foreign Affairs Committee)
10) H.R. 2283 - Human Trafficking Prioritization Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith / Foreign Affairs Committee)
H.R. 3136 - Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2013, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon / Education & the Workforce Committee)
H.R. 4984 - Empowering Students Through Enhanced Counseling Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Brett Guthrie / Education & the Workforce Committee)
H.R. 4935 - Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins / Ways & Means Committee)
H.R. 3393 - Student and Family Tax Simplification Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Diane Black / Ways & Means Committee)
Possible Consideration of H.Con.Res. 105 - Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove United States Armed Forces, other than Armed Forces required to protect United States diplomatic facilities and personnel, from Iraq (Sponsored by Rep. Jim McGovern / Foreign Affairs Committee)
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First lady continues school lunch push as she urges people to drink water
First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated the success of her “Drink Up” campaign to urge people to drink water — and then used that example to make the case one more time that schools can serve healthy food and convince children to eat it if the people in charge of school meals try hard enough. …
California rural areas to get more access to drinking water as groups announce water commitments
California may be experiencing a drought but people in some of the high-poverty agricultural communities in the state will get more access to drinking water courtesy of a program sponsored by the California Endowment and local municipalities, Annalisa Robles, a program manager at the endowment, announced today at the White House. …
USDA responds to GAO testimony on school meals payments
With a Government Accountability Office report citing inaccurate payment rates for school breakfast and lunch programs as two of the highest in the federal government likely to come up at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing Wednesday, the Agriculture Department today defended the integrity of the school meals program, but also noted it is striving to improve the payment accuracy rate. …
McCarthy meets with Senate Ag Republicans
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy today met with Republican members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and from the tone of the news releases from key members, she got an earful about the agency’s problems in rural America. …
Mikulski: Reduced border supplemental to include money to fight wildfires
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said late today that she will introduce an emergency supplemental funding bill Wednesday with $1 billion less than President Barack Obama requested to deal with the children seeking refuge at the Texas border, and that it will still include money for fighting wildfires. …
USDA: Lesser prairie chicken report almost ready
A report on the cost and effectiveness of measures to save the lesser prairie chicken is almost ready, an Agriculture Department spokesman said late Monday after House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and 11 other House Republicans wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking for the report. …
Clinton Global Initiative to discuss conservation financing
The financing of conservation efforts will be among the topics at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting this year and a number of agriculture and nutrition experts will be among the speakers, the Clinton Foundation announced today. …
House Ag subcommittees schedule hearings
Two House Agriculture subcommittees have scheduled hearings next week. …
Vilsack proclaims National Farmers Market Week
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has proclaimed August 3 to 9 National Farmers Market Week. …
O’Malia to resign from CFTC
Scott O’Malia, a Republican commissioner on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, announced Monday that he will resign effective August 8. …
WORC announces leadership change
The Western Organization of Resource Councils has announced that John Smillie will become the executive director on January 1, 2015. ...
Study: Students adjusted to new school meals over time
July 21, 2014 | Students who saw their school meals get healthier at the beginning of the 2012 to 2013 school year complained at first, but by spring most said they liked them, although there were variations among types of schools, according to an academic survey of school food administrators and staff released today. …
WOTUS: NFU says reaction tied to RFS, while Farm Bureau sends reaction to Congress
July 21, 2014 | The Democratic-leaning National Farmers Union and the Republican-leaning American Farm Bureau Federation asked roughly the same questions last week about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, but adopted different tones in their communications about the situation. …
USDA, Stabenow: Disaster aid for fruit growers available
July 21, 2014 | The Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency announced today that disaster assistance for bush or tree free growers due to frost or freeze during the 2012 crop year will be available starting Tuesday. …
USDA drought aid to help 25 rural California communities
July 21, 2014 | In a sign of the severity of the California drought, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday that USDA would provide $9.7 million in emergency water assistance to 73,000 residents in 11 California counties experiencing the driest year on record. …
Small Business subcommittee sets ag enterprises hearing
July 21, 2014 | IThe House Small Business Agriculture, Energy and Trade Subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday entitled “Modernizing Agriculture Producer Size Standards.” …
Perciasepe to leave EPA for C2ES
July 21, 2014 | Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe will leave his post next month to become president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions — C2ES. …
White House announces major rural investment conference next week
July 18, 2014 | The White House Rural Council will host a conference on Wednesday and Thursday to promote potential investment opportunities in rural America, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today. …
The Obamas continue school meals fight while hosting Kids’ State Dinner
July 18, 2014 | First Lady Michelle Obama continued her fight for nutritious school meals today, labeling the members of Congress leading the pushback as “complaining voices,” and urging the children attending the third annual White House Kids’ State Dinner to join her in the battle. …
House Ag subcommittee to hold SNAP hearing
July 18, 2014 | The House Agriculture Department Operations, Oversight, and Nutrition Subcommittee will hold a hearing Thursday “to examine the role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP or food stamps, in relation to other federal assistance programs,” the House Agriculture Committee announced today. …
Glenn to succeed Haterius at NASDA
July 18, 2014 | The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture announced today that its board has chosen Barbara Glenn to succeed Stephen Haterius as its CEO