Editor’s Note: Weekly Agriculture is a weekly version of POLITICO Pro’s daily agricultural policy newsletter, Morning Agriculture. POLITICO Pro is a policy intelligence platform that combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the biggest stories of the day. Take action on the news with POLITICO Pro.
– Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has pledged to work to pass an immigration overhaul, with particular emphasis on the H-2A program.
– Sen. Cory booker plans to focus on the country’s nutritional crisis in his new roleon the Senate Subcommittee on Nutrition and Special Crops.
– Other farmers sued USDA and direct debt relief paymentsfor Farmers of Color under the Covid Relief Bill.
HAPPY MONDAY May 3! Welcome to Morning Ag where your host found this little one goat on a boat be the perfect content palette cleaner to start the week. Send advice to [email protected] and @ximena_bustillo, and follow us @Morning_Ag.
WALSH URGES THE PATH OF CITIZENSHIP: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh practically joined the “We Are Home” campaign, advocates and immigrant workers on Friday in urging Congress to act to create a path to citizenship for working people in the United States. Walsh also called for changes to the H-2A guest worker program.
“President Biden has said it very clearly. On the first day of his term, he sent Congress a comprehensive immigration bill, ”Walsh said. “He supports the Agricultural Workers Modernization Act to reform the guest worker program. We need to improve the H-2A program to increase protection for agricultural workers and prevent abuse. “
It’s time for a complete overhaul: Walsh has said he will push for a Senate immigration bill. He said he wanted to ensure workers were protected regardless of their status, while also establishing a path to citizenship, as well as improvements for guest worker programs.
During a round table, various immigrant workers spoke to Walsh about their hopes for a path to citizenship and better working conditions during the pandemic.
Rigoberto Arteaga, a dairy worker from Vale, Ore., Was one of the many “essential” workers on the call. He spoke to Walsh about the lack of protections during the pandemic.
“Secretary Walsh, I ask you to use your position to help farm workers and those in the dairy industry have an immigration process,” Arteaga said. “I’ve been waiting for help or help to be here legally for 30 years.”
Reality check: Biden’s US citizenship law was introduced in the House and Senate but lawmakers did not propose the bill. Meanwhile, the Agricultural Workforce Modernization Act is still in negotiations in the Senate after passing the House in March, but Republicans are firm that they do not support the House version of the bill and are working to make changes.
BOOKER TO TAKE NUTRITION: The new chair of the Senate agriculture nutrition and special crops subcommittee said he plans to focus on the country’s food justice and nutrition issues. Cory booker (DN.J.) cited worsening rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related illnesses – pressing public health concerns that disproportionately affect low-income consumers and communities of color .
“I’m bringing it,” Booker said of his new position as chairman of the subcommittee in an appearance Friday at the annual meeting of North American agricultural journalists. “I will focus on food justice and the nutritional crisis that sends generations of our elders to premature death and robs our children of too many of their precious potential.”
“We urgently need to rethink the way we approach food and nutrition policy,” he said.
White House Conference: Booker told reporters he supported the call for a second White House conference on food, nutrition and health. The last conference took place in 1969, under former president Richard Nixon.
Bring back the food boxes: Booker said he supports the creation of a permanent USDA Special Crop Food Box program to pay “a fair price” to farmers and deliver fresh food to low-income neighborhoods across the country.
The USDA recently decided to suspend the Trump administration’s Farmers to Families Food Box program effective May 31, citing a wide variety of errors and complications with the program.
MIDDLE WEST FARMERS ARE TRACKING DEBT IGNITION PAYMENTS: Five other white farmers are sue USDA and Farm Service Agency, claiming they did not have access to debt relief payments for farmers of color under the Covid-19 relief program. The plaintiffs – farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Ohio – claim they would have qualified for the payments without the color of their skin. As with a previous lawsuit, this one is also supported by a conservative cause: the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
The US Department of Agriculture released a statement saying it is reviewing the lawsuit with the US Department of Justice, but there are no plans to stop payments that benefit farmers of color, according to the Associated Press.
– Senator Bill Cassidy told Fox News on Sunday lawmakers were closer to a traditional infrastructure deal, but that means some priorities will be left up to the cutting room floor. POLITICO Myah Ward Reports.
– DOJ says Tyson was not asked by the federal government to continue production during Covid-19 outbreaks at facilities, even as the company accused federal guidelines of continuing to operate, Food Environment Reporting Network reports.
– The demand for chicken sandwiches and supply chain disruptions in the event of a pandemic are the source of the current chicken shortage in the United States. The Washington Post has more.