Missed some ag news this week? Here are seven stories to catch you up.
1. The Senate Agriculture Committee advanced former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's nomination to lead the agriculture department again on Groundhog Day. Vilsack, 70, served as Agriculture Secretary for eight years in the Obama administration. Climate change was a major theme of questioning during the hearing. Vilsack is expected to be easily confirmed by the full Senate. The hearing can be watched on C-Span. – The Hill, Farm Futures, Politico
2. General Mills and Cargill aim to work with farmers to grow crops in a way that is better for the environment. The companies are letting farmers decide how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve soil health. – MPR
3. Micheal Regan, President Biden's nominee to serve as EPA administrator, appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for three hours on Wednesday. Some Republicans asked him about Biden's plans to aggressively limit emissions from the nation's automotive and fossil fuel sectors. Members from both sides of the issue talked about the need to improve the EPA’s handling of the Renewable Fuel Standard and the small refinery exemption waivers. – The Washington Post, Farm Futures
4. A former grain co-op manager is going to prison for "spiking" soybeans. Calvin Diehl, 60, was sentenced to three months in federal prison. In November, Kenneth Ehrp, a former officer in the grain cooperative, pleaded guilty to the same charge. – The Kansas City Star
5. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will investigate COVID-19 in U.S. meatpacking plants. The committee has issued investigatory letters to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and food companies JBS USA, Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods. Nearly 54,000 meatpacking plant workers at 569 meatpacking plants have tested positive for COVID-19 and at least 270 have died. – USA Today, Wallaces Farmer
6. The Trump administration moved the ERS and NIFA offices out of Washington, D.C., to Kansas City and many experienced employees left. Unwinding the move is tricky for President Biden. -Listen to the audio at NPR
7. Easterday Ranches filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week after Tyson Foods alleged that the family defrauded it of more than $225 million related to 200,000 cattle that never existed. The Easterday family operates one of the largest agriculture operations in Washington. – Tri-City Herald
And your bonus.
As Valentine's Day approaches, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists are inspecting cut flower shipments arriving from overseas. Each year, hundreds of millions of flowers are shipped to the U.S. for Valentine's Day, the second busiest time of year for cut flower imports. The top imported flowers are mixed bouquets, roses, chrysanthemums, dianthus, and rose bouquets. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection