Washington Week Ahead: Senate farm bill will move, immigration next

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, June 10, 2013 - The Senate is expected to vote and approve its five-year farm bill (S.954) Monday night after dispensing with a non-controversial amendment.

The legislation is likely to be approved with a solid bipartisan vote.

Before final passage, the Senate will vote on the amendment, offered by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., which would create a pilot program within the existing Rural Utilities Service (RUS) broadband program to test investments in ultra-high speed gigabit projects in rural areas. The pilot program would allow RUS to invest in up to five gigabit projects in rural areas.

The House is expected to take up its version of the farm bill (H.R. 1947) later this month.

After the farm bill, the Senate is expected to resume debate of its comprehensive immigration reform bill (S.744), which is aimed providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented farm workers.

Lets Talk Food

The legislation would create a “blue card” visa program for experienced farm workers, and new versions of the current agricultural worker visa program.

Under the bill, undocumented farm workers would be eligible to obtain legal status through the blue card program.

Agricultural workers who can document working in U.S. agriculture for a minimum of 100 work days in two years would be eligible for the new program.

Then, the farm workers who fulfill blue card work requirements, pay all their taxes, have not been convicted of any felony or violent misdemeanor, and pay a $400 fee would be eligible for a green card. Those work requirements include performing at least five years of agricultural employment for at least 100 work days per year, or performing at least three years of agricultural employment for at least 150 work days per year.

The week's events include:

Monday, June 10.

The Senate will swear in Senator-designate Jeff Chiesa, R-N.J. 

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., and Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., will hold a news conference to launch the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program and discuss the importance of passing a new farm bill.

From June 8-15, USDA acting deputy secretary Michael Scuse, will lead a U.S. delegation of six state departments of agriculture and 20 U.S. companies on a trade mission to Turkey.

8:30 a.m. Rajiv Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, will deliver the keynote address for the “Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition” event, sponsored by the Bread for the World Institute and Concern Worldwide, at Fichandler Theatre, the Mead Center, 1101 6th St. S.W., Washington, D.C.

2:00 p.m. The Senate will convene to resume consideration of the motion to proceed to the immigration reform bill (S.744).

3:00 p.m. The House will meet in pro forma session with no votes expected.

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Crop Progress

5:30 p.m. The Senate will hold a roll call vote on final passage of the farm bill (S.954).

Tuesday, June 11.

Vilsack will participate in the “Feds Feeds Families” kickoff at the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C.

12:00 p.m. The House will meet for morning hour debate.

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

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

Wednesday, June 12.

10:00 a.m. The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a markup of several bills including H.R. 2166 in 1324 Longworth. The bill would direct the interior secretary and agriculture secretary to expedite access to certain federal lands under the administrative jurisdiction of each secretary for good Samaritan search-and-recovery missions.

10:00 a.m. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on “U.S.-Brazil Trade and Investment Relationship: Opportunities and Challenges” in 1100 Longworth.

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

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

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: WASDE

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Crop Production

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: World Agricultural Production

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Grains: World Markets and Trade

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Cotton: World Markets and Trade

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Cotton, Grains, Oilseeds, and World Agricultural Production Data

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: Season Average Price Forecast

Thursday, June 13.

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

10:00 a.m. The House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY 2014 agriculture appropriations bill in 2359 Rayburn.

 
10:00 a.m. The Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development will hold a hearing on “Crumbling Infrastructure: Examining the Challenges of Our Outdated and Overburdened Highways and Bridges” in 124 Dirksen.

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

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

Friday, June 14.

Vilsack will host a town hall meeting in Lubbock, Texas with local producers to discuss the importance of passing a comprehensive farm bill. He also will visit a local farm to view drought damage. 

9:00 a.m. The House will meet for legislative business.

1:00 p.m. USDA Report: Cotton & Wool Outlook

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