The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement will take two major steps toward reality this week when President Donald Trump signs the U.S. implementing bill into law and the Canadian government starts to move its companion legislation.
Trump will sign the measure at a White House ceremony on Wednesday in what could be a welcome distraction for Republicans from the Senate impeachment trial that resumes this week.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told members of his Liberal party last week that ratifying the trade pact, which updates the North American Free Trade Agreement, will be his “very first priority” this year. He plans to unveil the Canadian implementing bill on Wednesday when the Canadian parliament goes into session.
"We need to make sure that we move resolutely and rapidly to put into reality this new NAFTA deal that is so good for Canadians from coast to coast to coast,” Trudeau said.
Mexico ratified the trade pact earlier.
The U.S. House and Senate both approved the American implementing bill by margins of about 90%.
After signing the USMCA bill on Wednesday, Trump will head the next day to Warren, Mich., where he will speak and tour a Dana Inc. manufacturing plant. Dana makes parts for the automotive industry.
Meanwhile, Tuesday is the deadline for comments to be filed with USDA on its new regulations for hemp production.
USDA has posted more than 2,100 comments so far.
The department has already received appeals to delay some "unworkable" portions of the interim final rule that was released last fall. In a recent letter to USDA, Minnesota Ag Commissioner Thom Peterson said the Oct. 31 deadline for states to switch over from pilot programs to USDA-approved plans wasn’t practical.
The rule took effect Oct. 31, with an original deadline for comments of Dec. 30. That was subsequently extended a month.
Among other things, the rule imposes testing requirements for THC, the psychoactive compound found higher amounts in marijuana..
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission will meet to approve a $20.4 billion, 10-year plan to subsidize rural broadband. The Rural Opportunity Fund would fund projects through a reverse auction. The higher-speed applicant would be selected for funding when the “clearing price” is reached for the auction.
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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the plan is the “biggest step the FCC has taken to date to close the digital divide.”
About 6 million people live in areas that would be eligible for bidding for the funding, the agency says. California has the most locations eligible for the program at 421,000, followed by Texas (381,000), Michigan (286,000), Wisconsin (271,000), Illinois (246,000), and Missouri (236,000).
The first $16 billion would be targeted to areas that currently have no high-speed service, but the decisions would be based on existing maps that are widely considered to be inaccurate. Updated maps would be used to distribute the remaining funding.
Also at the White House this week, the Office of National Drug Control Policy will host an event on Friday to release a new tool to help rural leaders curb the effects of the opioid crisis.
Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:
Monday, Jan. 27
Tuesday, Jan. 28
10 a.m. - House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on implementation of conservation programs in the 2018 farm bill, 1300 Longworth.
10 a.m. - House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, “Out of control: The impact of wildfires on the power sector and our environment,” 2123 Rayburn.
Wednesday, Jan. 29
Comment deadline on interim final rule for USDA’s hemp production program.
10 a.m. - House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, “Improving safety and transparency in America’s food and drugs,” 2322 Rayburn.
10:30 a.m. - House Ways and Means Committee hearing, “Paving the way for funding and financing infrastructure investments,” 1100 Longworth.
Thursday, Jan. 30
8:30 a.m. - USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
10:30 a.m. - Federal Communications Commission meeting to consider the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, 445 12th St. SW.
Friday, Jan. 31
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