Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett made clear in her introduction at the White House on Saturday that she maintain her textualist approach to interpreting laws.  She said “a judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., says the panel will start its hearings on Barrett Oct. 12, with plans to vote on her nomination Oct. 22. That schedule would leave one full week for the Senate to consider the nomination before Election Day. 

Keep in mind: Barrett doesn’t have the extensive record on federal regulatory issues that Justice Brett Kavanaugh had, because Kavanaugh served on the D.C. Circuit of Appeals. Barrett comes from the Chicago-based 7th Circuit. 

Democrats are arguing that the Affordable Care Act is at stake with Barrett’s nomination. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. told Fox News Sunday she fears Barrett “will be the vote that takes away health care for millions of Americans.”

Doud, Censky headline outlook forum

Today, Agri-Pulse and the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City will hold their annual Ag Outlook Forum on Monday. The speakers will include Gregg Doud, the U.S. Trade Representative’s chief agricultural trade negotiator, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Steve Censky, USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson, and former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Can ‘$1 trillion’ gap be bridged this week?

This is a key week for whatever slim hopes remain for a big new coronavirus relief bill. The White House indicated going into the weekend that there were discussions ongoing with congressional Democrats, and House members have been notified that they may take up a bill this week. 

“We're in very near agreement on all the COVID things that matter. What we're not in agreement on is about $1 trillion worth of other things,” Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt said on NBC’s Meet the Press, referring to the gap between the Democrats and Republicans on how big the bill should be. 

During an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker expressed optimism that there would be an agreement to extend assistance to the airline industry to avert mass layoffs starting Thursday. “We really do believe it can happen. … There's certainly not much time left, but there's enough time. “

For more on the issue, read our Washington Week Ahead

US rice sees boom in sales to West Bank

The USA Rice Federation is targeting Israeli-occupied West Bank with a new wave of marketing as sales to the region are booming. U.S. exporters shipped 23,800 metric tons of rice worth $23.7 million to the West Bank from January through July, according to USA Rice. That’s a 96% increase in volume and a 114% increase in value over the same period in 2019. 

A USA Rice official says U.S. growers are filling a void created by Australia’s limited supplies.

U.S. rice sales to the West bank totaled 19,900 tons in the entire 2019 calendar year, up from just 10,400 MT in 2018. 

US-UK trade talks to resume in October

U.S. and U.K. negotiators wrapped up their fourth round of talks last week and the fifth is expected to start in “mid-to-late October,” as hopes remain high in the U.S. ag sector that a deal is within sight that will create new customers for American farmers.

U.S. grain farmers are counting on lower tariffs as a result of a new free trade agreement and the U.S. meat sector is demanding primarily that the British agree to lift non-tariff barriers.

The National Pork Producers Council says it supports the talks as long as “the agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff trade barriers on pork, the U.K. acknowledges meat industry standards as equivalent” and the U.K. agrees to import product from any federally inspected facility.

WTO nations quibble over tariffs

As the World Trade Organization prepares for its 12th Ministerial Conference, member countries are having trouble reaching consensus on what some countries consider straight forward issues. Canada, Brazil and Australia on Friday proposed that, in the name of transparency and predictability for exporters and importers, nations should let other member countries know ahead of time if tariff rates will be raised, but it’s already facing pushback.

The U.S., Argentina, Ukraine, New Zealand and Uruguay said they supported the proposal – along with a similar one made by Russia – but India, South Africa and Egypt objected. Any kind of prior notice on tariffs, India argued, would be overly burdensome and could encourage hoarding and fraud.

The conference was originally slated for March in Kazakhstan, but it has been tentatively rescheduled for June of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cyclospora outbreak declared over without source IDed

A multistate outbreak of cyclospora infections in salad products has been declared over by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Investigators were never able to definitively pinpoint the source of the outbreak in south Florida. 

According to an update by FDA, the agency investigated multiple farms to try to determine the source of the parasite, which was found in a regional water canal west of Port St. Lucie. But FDA couldn’t prove that the cyclospora found in the canal was a genetic match to the clinical cases. 

The agency says state and federal officials and the industry need to work together to “better define the scope of the contamination” and identify risk mitigation measures.

Judge dismisses challenge to pesticide usage in refuges

Two environmental groups’ legal challenge to the national wildlife refuge system’s use of neonicotinoid insecticides and genetically modified crops has been dismissed on standing grounds.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., says neither the Center for Food Safety nor the Center for Biological Diversity could demonstrate legal standing to proceed with a lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the nation’s wildlife refuge system.

A 2014 memorandum from the head of the refuge system stated that the system would no longer use neonicotinoid insecticides in farming operations on the nation’s refuges, and would phase out the use of genetically modified crops. Two years later, FWS withdrew the memo, stating both the use of neonics and GMO crops would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Pandemic-affected packer receives small fine

The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Iowa Premium Beef $957 for what The Associated Press called a “minor recordkeeping violation” at the company’s Tama plant, where about 40% of its workforce contracted COVID-19.

The amount of the fine, half of what was originally proposed, was the result of a settlement between the agency and the company, AP reported. The processor allegedly failed to keep a required log of workplace-related injuries.

Company CEO Tim Klein said in an open letter to employees last week that they had been able to “rapidly adjust our processes and protocols to improve safety." 

He said it. “We can slow it down perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at the most, but we can't stop the outcome.” – Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., telling ABC News that there was little Democrats could do procedurally to block Amy Coney

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