Secretary Vilsack Announces New Funds for Rural Business

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the launch of two new private funds, known as Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs), which make equity investments in rural businesses, helping them grow and create jobs. This announcement is part of USDA’s ongoing efforts to help attract private sector capital to investment opportunities in rural America to help drive more economic growth in rural communities.

GDP Slow to Grow

Gross Domestic Product grew at a barely visible 2-tenths of one percent annual rate in the first three months of the year. PNC Senior Economist Gus Faucher partially blames the brutal winter but expects things to improve in the 2nd quarter:

Senate Ag Leaders Want Bipartisan Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill

Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow are working on a bipartisan child nutrition reauthorization bill. Stabenow is excited that children are receiving more access to healthier food options – but she wants to move forward by providing food to children after school and also during the summer. She views school meals as a national security issue – reported by The Hagstrom report. Stabenow says obesity causes large expenditures to fight preventable diseases – so she believes that money would be better spent on healthy foods. Roberts says schools need more flexible rules. He has been eating school meals across Kansas and the biggest thing he has heard is flexibility. Stabenow looks forward to creating a bipartisan bill – but is unsure if that is possible.

Groups Support Butterfield Pompeo Labeling Bill

Agri-Pulse reports close to 400 ag and food companies in the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food sent a letter to House lawmakers Tuesday to support the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act – introduced by Representatives Mike Pompeo and G.K. Butterfield last month. This legislation would establish a voluntary, national labeling law for genetically modified foods and products. The legislation also would require FDA to evaluate all genetically engineered foods before they enter the market. This would pre-empt state mandatory laws for GMO labeling. The groups say the bill will ensure food labeling in the U.S. is uniform and based on science. The coalition urges Congress to pass the bill this year to ensure people across the nation continue to have access to consistent science-based standards for food labeling.

 Honduras Development Agreement Signed

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden and Honduras Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock Jacobo Paz today signed an agreement to support agricultural development and trade in Honduras.Through the Food for Progress Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service will provide the government of Honduras with 30,000 metric tons of U.S. yellow corn and 18,000 tons of U.S. soybean meal, valued at approximately $17 million. The Honduran government will use proceeds from the sale of the commodities to implement projects aimed at improving agricultural productivity, enhancing farmers’ access to information and market skills, building government capacity, and strengthening local, regional and international trade in agricultural products.