The status of COVID relief negotiations and votes on Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court are two of the big issues on the radar in Washington and the country today, just 15 days before Election Day.

Success on the first is iffy but on the second is virtually assured.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday the next 48 hours are crucial to getting a stimulus package before Election Day.

Asked whether Americans would get stimulus relief before Nov. 3, Pelosi told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos it’s up to the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has criticized Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for not bringing home “the bacon” and indicated he’d be willing to offer more than $1.8 trillion to the Democrats, who passed a $2.2 trillion bill Oct. 1.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, plans to bring a $500 billion relief bill to the floor Wednesday.

Speaking of bacon: The National Pork Producers Council riffed off Trump’s reference, saying “bacon farmers” need relief.

“Without federal assistance, we will lose more hog farmers and see our farm sector consolidate, limiting consumer choice and reducing what have been record production levels in recent years,” said NPPC President Howard A.V. Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wis.

Conventional, cell-based meat groups call for mandatory labeling

Key voices from new and innovative meat technology industries are calling for mandatory labeling of cell-based meat and for more sector feedback before those labels are developed.

The North American Meat Institute and the Alliance for Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Innovation are sending a joint letter to USDA and FDA food safety officials today to support “a labeling framework that fosters transparency, consumer confidence, and a level playing field while also aligning with longstanding law and policy.”

They say mandatory labeling requirements should also be informed by “more information and supporting data on finished product characteristics for cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products, particularly those that may require labeling.” The two groups recommend USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to collect that information.

USDA and FDA have agreed to a joint regulatory framework for the new technology with USDA handling labeling and retail issues. No cell-based meat products are currently on the market.

NCBA lays out price discovery framework suggestion

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is out with a voluntary price discovery framework the organization hopes can be used to avoid legislative or regulatory intervention on the subject.

NCBA’s plan is for a voluntary approach that calls for 75% thresholds for negotiated weekly trade through weekly and quarterly time frames as well as for packer participation. The calls for increased price discovery transparency have reverberated in the beef cattle industry for years, but intensified after the recent Holcomb, Kansas, packing plant fire and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Keep in mind: Other groups – and a few lawmakers – have suggested a mandatory approach through legislation. NCBA says they want to see a voluntary approach given a chance to fail before taking the issue to Capitol Hill.

Read more about NCBA’s suggested plan in our story on

More BLM plans at legal risk following judge’s order in Montana

Conservation groups plan to sue the Interior Department over resource management plans, or RMPs, covering 30 million acres throughout western states, following a Montana court ruling invalidating RMPs in Montana.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris agreed last month with the state of Montana that William Perry Pendley had served illegally as acting director of the Bureau of Land Management for more than a year. On Friday, Morris determined that the Lewistown and Missoula plans approved by Pendley are no longer in effect.

The judge declined to review other BLM decisions suggested by environmental groups who had sought to enter the case.

But the Center for Biological Diversity, one of those groups, said the judge’s ruling opens the door for them, the Western Environmental Law Center, Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians to “seek to overturn and invalidate” Pendley’s decisions approving at least 16 RMPs and other projects on 30 million acres of public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Idaho and Utah

Democrats outraise Republicans in key Senate races
Democratic Senate candidates in key rural states are outraising Republicans heading into the final stretch of the campaign before the November election.
According to third-quarter Federal Election Commission filings, in Iowa, Democrat Theresa Greenfield outraised incumbent Republican Joni Ernst 4 to 1, raking in $28.7 million to Ernst’s $7.2 million
“It is definitely quite a big haul and reflects a trend that we’re seeing across the country,” Kansas State University Political Professor Nathaniel Birkhead told Agri-Pulse.
In Kansas, Dr. Barbara Bollier raised $12.8 million compared to Republican Congressman Roger Marshall’s $2.8 million. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper brought in $22.6 million against $7.8 million for incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.  
Birkhead said the wide fundraising margins reflect that in this election cycle, Democrats think they can win and are willing to invest in that belief. The latest polls show Greenfield slightly ahead of Ernst, Bollier and Marshall neck and neck, and Hickenlooper with a comfortable lead over Gardner.
Farm group seeks COVID vaccine delivery options for rural Americans
The National Grange is urging the Food and Drug Administration “to consider any and all COVID-19 vaccine delivery options that prioritize the health and safety of those from rural walks of life,” including postal delivery of the vaccine.
“An effective COVID vaccine that might alleviate the necessity of office visits for each person, one that could be delivered through the mail, for example, would be a remarkable game changer,” Grange President Betsy Huber said in the letter to FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.
The group also said “an oral vaccine in pill form should be pursued alongside the traditional injection format.”
According to a New England Journal of Medicine study in July 2019, there are only 12 doctors per 10,000 people in rural America, half the number in urban areas.
Depending on whether current clinical trials are successful, a vaccine could be available in the spring, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said.
He said it: “I am confident that the cattle industry will meet this challenge as it always does: head-on and at full steam,” NCBA President Marty Smith on the industry’s price discovery efforts.

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