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USDA farms out economists whose work challenges Trump policies

The Agriculture Department is moving nearly all its researchers into the economic effects of climate change, trade policy and food stamps – subjects of controversial Trump administration initiatives – outside of Washington, part of what employees claim is a political crackdown on economists whose assessments have raised questions about the president’s policies.

USDA researchers quit in droves as Trump administration plans relocation

A plan to move Agriculture Department researchers out of Washington has thrown two small but influential science agencies into upheaval. Federal employees at the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) have quit in unusually large numbers since August, when Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced he would relocate the offices.

Farmers eagerly await Trump’s trade aid plan but concern grows that it may disappoint

American farmers are eagerly awaiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest trade aid plan, but there are concerns that producers of corn and wheat could lose out with the package that could top $15 billion. “Details on the new trade mitigation program will be forthcoming shortly, but we want to be clear that the program is being designed to avoid skewing planting decisions one way or another,” USDA said.

Japan lifts restrictions on U.S. beef

USDA announced on Friday U.S. beef will now have full access to Japanese markets for the first time in more than 15 years. The U.S. and Japan have agreed on new terms and conditions that eliminate Japan’s restrictions on U.S. beef that have been in place since December 2003, USDA stated.Those restrictions followed the detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in a Washington state dairy cow.At that time, Japan immediately banned U.S. beef and beef products, and U.S.

Trade aid could reach $20B: USDA calculating 'legally defensible' trade damage done to producers

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that a second trade aid package for farmers may total $15 billion to $20 billion, the latter figure $5 billion higher than President Donald Trump has suggested. Perdue said that USDA would calculate "the legally defensible trade damage done to our producers," give that estimate to Trump and would be "prepared to defend those amounts" to the World Trade Organization, where the United States could face charges that it has violated rules on subsidies.

USDA opens signup for new On-Farm Trials effort

 USDA is investing up to $25 million per year over the next five years to help support the adoption and evaluation of innovative conservation approaches on agricultural lands. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting proposals through July 15, 2019, for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, a new, additional sub-program created by the 2018 farm bill for the USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants program. On-Farm Trials include a Soil Health Demo Trial, also created by the 2018 farm bill.

Michigan farmers blast Trump trade policies amid new Chinese tariffs

Frustrated Michigan farmers blasted the Trump administration's trade policies Monday, hours after China announced new tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. imports. "The noose is getting tighter," said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association."We have lost market opportunities. We're not shipping soybeans around the world like we normally would. We're not shipping them to China.

FCC Rural Broadband Fund Would Move Funds From Existing Program

The rural broadband fund that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed last week would rely on funding from an existing broadband program slated to expire next year, while also setting higher standards for internet speeds, according to the FCC. Around $2 billion has been available annually in recent years through the Connect America Fund and that same amount would be shifted to the new fund, dubbed the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, said Mark Wigfield.

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