7:00 am - 8:00 am Continental Breakfast for all Attendees
8:00 am - 10:00 am PSA Annual Business Meeting
Field Crop Reports
10:30 am - 4:30 pm PSA Annual Golf Tournament
1:00 pm - 3:30 pm Off-Site Optional Event (TBA)
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm President’s Reception
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm Banquet/Awards/Entertainment
Wednesday, February 16th
Hotel Group Block will open soon – watch the PSA Website and your emails!!
Scientists Develop the First CRISPR/Cas9-Based Gene Drive in Plants
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — With a goal of breeding resilient crops that are better able to withstand drought and disease, University of California San Diego scientists have developed the first CRISPR-Cas9-based gene drive in plants.
While gene drive technology has been developed in insects to help stop the spread of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, researchers in Professor Yunde Zhao’s lab, along with colleagues at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, demonstrated the successful design of a CRISPR-Cas9-based gene drive that cuts and copies genetic elements in Arabidopsis plants.
Breaking from the traditional inheritance rules that dictate that offspring acquire genetic materials equally from each parent (Mendelian genetics), the new research uses CRISPR-Cas9 editing to transmit specific, targeted traits from a single parent in subsequent generations. Such genetic engineering could be used in agriculture to help plants defend against diseases to grow more productive crops. The technology also could help fortify plants against the impacts of climate change such as increased drought conditions in a warming world.
Biden, Harris Meet with Western Governors About Drought
President Biden and Vice President Harris met on June 30 with governors from the western states, Cabinet officials and private sector partners to discuss the drought and forest fires, reported The Hagstrom Report. Cabinet officials attended in person, but the governors and other federal officials participated virtually.
The White House announced pay increases for firefighters. The firefighters will not make less than $15 an hour this year; permanent firefighters working on the front lines paid at up to a GS-9 level will receive up to a 10% retention incentive; and temporary workers who commit to continue this season would receive a $1,000 Spot/Star Award this year.
“These are short-term solutions to support our federal wildland firefighters, especially due to the multiple impacts of COVID and climate change this year,” the White House said. “The administration will work with Congress on longer-term much needed compensation, benefit, and work-life balance reforms for federal wildland firefighters.”
DTN/Progressive Farmer reported that the Secretary spoke at the WSJ Global Food Forum and was asked to explain what USDA can do to help farmers during the drought. The secretary said the magnitude of drought right now goes beyond most of the aid programs in USDA's toolbox. "If people don't understand the significance and importance of climate, they need to go to the western part of the United States."
Mr. Vilsack said USDA has some drought relief that can come through its conservation programs as well the crop insurance program to help crop farmers, and the Livestock Indemnity Program can provide some aid to livestock producers in those states. But that's not going to address some of these current challenges, he said.
"We have programs that are small -- they're small -- and I've been suggesting to Congress, the need for us to take a look at ways in which our support systems and programs need to be redesigned to meet the reality of longer-term weather incidents and climate related incidents that create not just for six months, three years, problems and decades problems," he added.
Secretary Vilsack Participates in White House Climate Meeting
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was one of the participants in a meeting of the National Climate Task Force that was convened by National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy.
In a readout, the White House said, “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke about ongoing efforts to combat wildfire and drought, including a focus on forest management and natural solutions.”
“He emphasized the Agriculture Department’s focus on building resilience to these challenges through climate-smart agriculture and forestry management. This approach is mirrored in President Biden’s American Job’s Plan, which includes an investment of more than $50B in resilience in the face of a changing climate.”
House Republicans Form Climate Caucus
More than 50 Republicans have formed a Conservative Climate Caucus that’s intended to give the GOP a voice in shaping climate policy, reports Agri-Pulse. The caucus includes at least seven members of the House Agriculture Committee, including ranking member Glenn ‘G.T.’ Thompson.
Also in the caucus is West Virginia Rep. David McKinley, who is reintroducing a bipartisan bill to create a clean energy standard. The bill would require utilities to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, a much longer glide path than President Joe Biden wants.
“Proposals to reduce emissions and be good stewards of the earth do not have to hurt the American economy – in fact they do the opposite,” said Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) who is chairing the caucus.
USDA to Review ‘Product Of USA’ Label Following FTC Vote
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will review the “Product of the USA” label for meat managed by the Food Safety and Inspection Service after the Federal Trade Commission voted to strengthen its enforcement of products labeled Made in the USA.
“Today, the Federal Trade Commission took important steps to enhance its ability to enforce the Made in USA standard,” Vilsack said in a statement. “I congratulate the FTC on strengthening this important protection for American consumers. USDA will complement the FTC’s efforts with our own initiative on labeling for products regulated by FSIS, an area of consumer labeling where USDA has a long tradition of protecting consumers from false and misleading labels.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association commended the USDA for announcing the review, but noted that it “has long-advocated for voluntary labels that meet consumer demand and allow producers to distinguish their products in the marketplace.”
The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association added, “In 2019, USCA submitted a petition for rulemaking to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service requesting ‘Product of the U.S.A.’ claims refer exclusively to cattle born, raised and harvested in the U.S. We have reiterated that request to both USDA and FTC in public comment responses. During this review period, we ask that USDA work hand-in-hand with industry stakeholder groups to help shape the definition of what truly constitutes a U.S.A. Made product.”
Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Private Property Rights
In a ruling on June 23, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed that the government cannot force people to allow third parties to trespass on their land.
In Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, two California agriculture businesses challenged a state law that allowed unions to access private property three hours per day, 120 days per year to recruit new members. Pacific Legal Foundation represented the businesses at the Supreme Court, arguing that when the government allows a third party onto someone else’s private property without compensating the property owners, it violates their property rights.
“In a 6-3 decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the growers, holding that the ALRA’s access regulations were a per se violation because they allowed ‘physical invasion’ of the land without compensation," says Michael Droke, a senior partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney in its Food and Agriculture group.