Congressional Republicans Deploy Election Observers to Watch Tight Races, Investigate Irregularities

Determined to use their oversight authority to ensure election integrity, House Republicans are deploying dozens of trained observers to key races around the country while dispatching letters putting federal and state officials on notice to look for any shenanigans in the midterms.

The effort led by Rep. Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, includes investigating how federal agencies are implementing President Joe Biden’s executive order instructing the U.S. government to expand voter registration, along with the training and deployment of House staff as observers under the authority of Congress.

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House Republicans Request Government Watchdog Investigate Foreign Investments in American Farmland

More than 100 House Republicans are asking a government watchdog to probe foreign investments in U.S. farmland, including those by China, which they say may present national and food security concerns.

Led by Reps. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania and James Comer of Kentucky, the lawmakers on Saturday called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study foreign farmland ownership and how the U.S. government is monitoring acquisitions, a letter shows. There has been an uptick in foreign investments and ownership, which may be “underreported” due to the U.S. Agriculture Department’s (USDA) unreliable data, the Republicans say.

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Biden and Fried Approve Tampa Christian School’s Lunch Money Application After Lawsuit

The Biden administration and Florida Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried approved the lunch money application for Grant Park Christian Academy in Tampa just days after the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Christian school.

The school was being denied children’s lunch funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program, which Fried administers. The program benefitted 56 low-income children at the Christian school by providing them with free meals.

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Miyares, 22 Other Attorneys General Sue USDA

Attorney General Jason Miyares is one of 23 attorneys general suing the USDA over expanded guidance adding discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity to its application of Title IX rules for the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which provides federal funding for food assistance programs including school meals.

“The Biden Administration is attempting to use the power of the federal government to force Virginia to choose between nutrition assistance for vulnerable children or advancing an extremist agenda,” Miyares spokesperson Victoria LaCivita said in a statement.

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DOJ, Envigo Settlement Ends Beagle-Breeding-for-Testing at Cumberland Facility; ‘Huge Win for Humanity,’ Says Sen. Boysko

Envigo and DOJ officials announced a settlement in the government’s lawsuit against the Cumberland beagle-breeder-for-medical-testing; 4,000 beagles will be relinquished to the Humane Society of the United States and Envigo will be permanently prohibited from engaging in activity at the facility requiring an Animal Welfare Act license.

“This settlement brings to an end the needless suffering caused by Envigo’s blatant violations of animal welfare laws at this facility,”  Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) said in a Monday press release. “We will continue to vigorously enforce animal welfare laws to ensure that animals are provided the humane care that they are legally owed and deserve.”

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Court Allows Envigo to Complete Contracts for Dogs Amid Ongoing Federal Lawsuit

U.S. District Court Judge Norman K. Moon granted beagle-breeder-for-testing Envigo a partial win on Friday, allowing the facility to complete contracts for more than 500 dogs while a Department of Justice lawsuit against the Cumberland facility proceeds.

“Those dogs have been abused, and the right thing to do would be to let them be adopted and have a loving home like those who have been adopted,” Senator Jennifer Boysko (D-Fairfax) told The Virginia Star.

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USDA Approves School Nutrition Grant, Rural Development Loans for Virginia

The USDA approved nearly $1 million for a Virginia grant to assist with food and nutrition services in public schools and more than $9 million worth of rural development loans to two Virginia programs.

A $982,827 grant to the Virginia Department of Education will help the department with their nutrition staff to implement meal pattern standards for schools in the next year, according to a USDA news release. The grant is called the “Team Nutrition Training Grant for School Nutrition Professional Readiness and Retention.”

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USDA Agents Raid and Seize Dogs at Beagle-Breeder-for Testing Envigo

USDA agents and other authorities raided beagle-breeder-for-testing Envigo’s Cumberland facility and seized 145 dogs that were in “acute distress” on Wednesday, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Christopher Kavanaugh.
The attorney is representing the U.S. against Envigo, alleging that the breeder is violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

“In less than a year, the company has amassed over 60 citations for non-compliance with the AWA, which have affected thousands of beagles. More than half of those citations were deemed ‘critical’ or ‘direct,’ the most serious types of AWA citation,” the complaint states. ” As relevant here, a ‘critical’ noncompliance is one that has a ‘serious or severe adverse effect on the health and well-being of the animal[s].’ [….] A ‘direct’ noncompliance is a critical noncompliance that is having a serious or severe adverse effect on the health and well-being of the animal at the time of the inspection.”

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Bird Flu Outbreak Spreads to 25 States

The number of commercial and backyard flocks with confirmed avian flu increased by 36% in the past week, according to data on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website.

Three of the 57 new cases reported were in Missouri, bringing the state total to nine cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu Influenza (HPAI) in seven counties—Bates, Dade, Gentry, Jasper, Lawrence, Ralls and Stoddard. Approximately 421,000 birds were in those flocks.

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Youngkin Signs Bills Tightening Restrictions on Breeders-for-Testing as New USDA Report Reveals Envigo Euthanized Dogs Without Anesthetic

RICHMOND, Virginia – Flanked by beagles and legislators, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed five bills tightening regulations on dog and cat breeders, a reaction to dramatic reports at beagle breeder-for-medical-testing Envigo, but a full ban on breeding for testing faltered in February.

“This is an important signing ceremony. And it’s important because it signifies how we’re supposed to work together,” Youngkin said from the steps of the Executive Mansion on Monday. “Behind me represents a very diverse group of legislators, legislators that oftentimes find themselves on different sides of issues. And this particular set of circumstances brought people together to do the right thing, common ground, reaching across the aisle working constructively to get things done in a comprehensive way.”

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USDA Report Details More Violations at Beagle Breeder-For-Research Envigo; General Assembly Legislators Introduce 11 Bills to Regulate or Ban Practices at the Facility

Seven legislators have introduced 11 animal welfare bills in the Virginia General Assembly after investigations by PETA and the USDA found troubling conditions at a Cumberland beagle breeder-for-research. A newly-published report of an October 2021 site visit to the Envigo facility lists violations including staff providing medication without veterinarian approval, dangerous kennels blamed for deaths of multiple puppies, and buildup of grime and feces. Poor record-keeping was blamed for untreated medical conditions, unrecorded deaths, and an inability to determine cause of death in other cases.

“There continue to be severe staffing shortages and currently there are approximately 32 employees at the facility, with only 17 staff members directly responsible for all husbandry, daily observations, and medical treatments for almost 5000 dogs,” the report states.

“Mortality records show that from 2 Aug 2021 to 3 Oct 2021, nine dogs […] were injured from having a body part (such as a limb or tail) pulled through the wall of the kennel by a dog in an adjacent kennel and bitten. The exact injuries varied in each case, however regardless of whether it was a minor or substantial injury, these nine dogs were subsequently euthanized. Dogs sustaining injuries from being pulled through the enclosure wall have experienced physical harm and unnecessary pain,” the report states.

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Another Judge Temporarily Blocks Biden’s Debt Relief Program Exclusively for Farmers of Color

Silhouette of man on a tractor during golden hour

A federal judge in Florida temporarily halted President Joe Biden’s $4 billion debt relief program exclusively for farmers of color, saying in a Wednesday order that the program was racially discriminatory.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard sided with Scott Wynn, a Florida-based white farmer who sued to block the program in May. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) program was originally passed in March as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, with the intention of providing relief to “socially disadvantaged farmers.”

“Section 1005’s rigid, categorical, race-based qualification for relief is the antithesis of flexibility,” Howard wrote. “The debt relief provision applies strictly on racial grounds irrespective of any other factor.”

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Commentary: Are Race-Based Government Programs on the Verge of Extinction?

United States District Judge William C. Griesbach sustained a motion last week for a temporary restraining order to block a program under the Department of Agriculture to forgive certain government loans for farmers belonging to at least one “socially disadvantaged group.” The Department of Agriculture identified groups eligible for this classification as “a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities . . . one or more of the following: Black/African American, American Indian, Alaskan native, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, or Pacific Islander.”

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Aldi, Wegmans Among Grocery Stores Recalling Peaches Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

Aldi, Wegmans, Kroger and Target stores are all recalling bagged and loose peaches from Wawona Packing Company out of an abundance of caution that those products may be contaminated Salmonella.

The peaches are being recalled after an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looking into a salmonella outbreak. The California fruit packing company is suspected to be the source of the illness of over 60 people in nine states.

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USDA: Error Rate in National Food Stamp Program Increases in 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reporting an error rate of 7.36 percent for its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for fiscal year 2019.

Despite the error rate, and after state government shutdowns over the coronavirus, the federal government significantly extended emergency SNAP funding for states to distribute.

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The Government May Require Almond Milk, Soy Milk to Use Non-Milk Names

Dairy Cow

by John-Michael Seibler and Taylor Chaffetz   If Washington politicians, bureaucrats, and lobbyists have their way, consumers of common non-dairy “milks”—such as almond milk and soy milk—may soon have to buy those products under obscure labeling such as “plant juice” and “tree-nut beverage.” In another unfortunate instance of overcriminalization, after efforts to make…

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Hundreds Of Federal Employees Will Be Moved Out Of Washington, D.C.

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by Tim Pearce   The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is moving two agencies and roughly 700 federal employees out of Washington, D.C., to save money and improve the department’s service to taxpayers. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and…

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Got ‘Scam?’ – Dairy Farmers Are Getting Milked By The USDA’s Checkoff Program

Dairy Cow

by Andrew Kerr    – Dairy farmers are forced to pay a tax that funds nonprofits dedicated to boosting dairy sales  – One dairy farmer says the nonprofits are doing a “pretty piss poor job”  – The nonprofit that takes the most pays its top executives salaries so lavish they may…

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