Washington Week Ahead: Farm bill talks to step up as clock winds down

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2013 - Negotiations over a long-term farm bill are likely to intensify this week as House lawmakers return to town and top conferees huddle to strike a deal by the end of the year.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., held a few meetings and phone discussions before the holiday break.

The conferees reported no significant progress, leaving several thorny issues unresolved. Stabenow said last week the farm bill titles are still open with disputes ongoing over the commodity title, dairy policy, nutrition, crop insurance, and conservation compliance, among other things.

With the amount of outstanding issues, the discussion of another extension of current farm policy will increase as time is running out on the congressional clock. The Senate is not in session this week and returns next week. Both chambers are hoping to recess for the year by Dec. 13.

Stabenow and other senators have repeatedly said they do not want another extension. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., recently sent a letter to farm bill conferees urging them to reach an agreement on controversial provisions rather than consider another long-term extension. Thune said, “An unfinished farm bill will continue the highly uncertain future for agriculture producers, ag-related businesses, consumers, rural economies, and the stewardship of our land and water brought about by last year's extension.”

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On another front, House Republicans are expected this week to keep up their criticism of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, through hearings and floor statements.

Meanwhile, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will travel this week to Vietnam and Malaysia for government meetings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In addition, Froman will travel to Bali, Indonesia to participate in the ninth annual World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference.

The week's tentative events include:

Monday, Dec. 2.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will travel to Vietnam for government meetings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

2:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: U.S. Agricultural Trade Outlook

6:30 p.m. The House will vote on bills dealing with space launch liability, firearms and fire hydrants.

Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Froman will travel to Malaysia for government meetings on the TPP.

Froman will travel to Bali, Indonesia to participate in the ninth annual World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference through Friday.

10:00 a.m. The House will meet for morning hour debate.

10:00 a.m. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade will hold a hearing on “The Federal Trade Commission at 100: Where do we go from here?” in 2123 Rayburn.

12:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Dairy Products

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (WAOB)

Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Froman will participate in the WTO's opening plenary session in Bali, Indonesia.

9:00 a.m. The Farm Foundation Forum will hold a discussion on the future of federal conservation programs and what the programs mean to land owners and conservation work on the land. The event will be at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

10:00 a.m. The House will meet for morning hour debate.

10:00 a.m. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on the “Challenges of the Affordable Care Act” in 1100 Longworth.

12:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Announcement of Class and Component Prices

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: National Dairy Products Sales Report

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Broiler Hatchery

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Latest U.S. Agricultural Trade Data

Thursday, Dec. 5.

8:30 a.m. USDA Report: U.S. Export Sales

9:00 a.m. The House will meet for legislative business with votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m. USDA Report: Livestock & Meat International Trade Data

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: U.S. Agricultural Trade Data Update

Friday, Dec. 6.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Apples, Grapes, and Pears: World Markets and Trade

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Peanut Prices

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