The Senate Finance Committee is focusing today on how to fund a massive infrastructure package. The witnesses at today's hearing will include Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, who will be offering some options for structuring funding mechanisms. 
Keep in mind: President Joe Biden’s rural broadband proposal prioritizes funding for local governments, non-profits, and cooperatives, as opposed to private providers. 
 Bloomfield argues that there is room for private partnerships with local governments but says it’s a bad idea to let local governments provide broadband that competes with local, private providers. 
US and EU agree to work out steel trade disputes
The U.S. and European Union signaled this week that they’re preparing to enter talks to resolve their disputes over steel and aluminum trade that continue to impact the U.S. ag sector because of retaliatory tariffs. The EU is levying about $3.3 billion of import taxes on U.S. goods such as orange juice, cranberries, corn and rice in retaliation for U.S. tariffs Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum.
Cheap steel and aluminum imports are a threat to both the U.S. and EU, according to a statement released jointly by U.S. and European trade officials. The officials said they “agreed that, as the United States and EU … are allies and partners … they can partner to promote high standards, address shared concerns, and hold countries like China that support trade-distorting policies to account.” 
Rangeland, winter wheat suffer amid drought
This spring’s drought continues to take its toll on western rangeland and the nation’s winter wheat crop. Some 44% of U.S. pasture and rangeland is listed in poor or very poor condition, up from 16% at this time last year, according to USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report
Some 74% of Arizona’s pasture and rangeland is in very poor condition and 14% is rated as poor. Other states having the worst problems include North Dakota, where 47% is in very poor condition; Washington at 38%, Montana and Oregon at 32% and California at 30%. 
Meanwhile, 19% of the winter wheat crop is rated in either poor or very poor condition. Oregon is in the worst shape, with 55% rated as poor or very poor. Some 35% of the Texas crop and 30% of Colorado’s is poor or very poor. 
USTR confronts Canada over dairy quotas
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng Monday – outside of the USMC Free Trade Commission meetings taking place this week – and took the opportunity to press her on “the importance of Canada fully meeting its USMCA commitments, including its allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas.”
Dozens of U.S. dairy groups and companies sent a letter to Tai Friday, asking her to demand Canada stop misusing the quotas. Canada agreed under USMCA to increase U.S. access to Canada’s market for milk, cheese, cream, skim milk powder, butter, ice cream and whey by establishing new quotas, but the American industry says Canada has been manipulating those quotas for months to block the entry of products like cheese.
Take note: Tai also confronted Mexico’s secretary of economy in a separate conversation over Mexico’s refusal to approve new genetically modified plant traits. Tai, in a statement, said she emphasized the need for “an immediate resumption of authorizations of agricultural biotechnology products.”
China buys more US new crop corn
The USDA announced Monday an export sale of 1.7 million metric tons of U.S. corn to China for delivery in the 2021-22 marketing year. It’s just the latest in a recent series of substantial Chinese commitments to buy more of the next U.S. corn crop.
The Chinese committed to purchases of 5.1 million tons of 2021-22 corn from May 7 through May 14.
Lawmakers want to find out about status of DOJ probe into meat industry
Sixteen senators and congressional representatives are seeking updates from the Justice Department on an antitrust investigation into the meat industry that began about a year ago.
 Since DOJ sent civil investigative demands to the nation’s largest four largest meatpackers on May 22, 2020, “the American people have seen no public results from the investigation,” the lawmakers’ letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “In fact, there is no information to even suggest whether the investigation has concluded or is still ongoing.”
“Cattle producers, especially small feeders, are again experiencing difficult conditions that are threatening their ability to stay in business,” they said. “With a tight supply chain, any changes in processing capacity can have a dramatic impact on cattle prices, preventing producers from capturing margin from boxed beef rallies.”
Among the signers, who are all Republicans: Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota, and Reps. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, Randy Feenstra of Iowa, and Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
USDA extends period for commenting on ag supply chains
 The Agriculture Department has given the public another month to comment on agricultural supply chains, to assist USDA in preparing a report.
The comment period was due to end May 21 but now will end June 21. About 100 comments have been received so far, according to the online regulatory docket.
 Biden issued an executive order Feb. 24 directing Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to prepare a report within a year assessing the supply chains for the production of agricultural commodities and food products.
Biden heads to EV production plant
President Joe Biden is traveling to Dearborn, Michigan, to visit a Ford electric vehicle facility where he’ll get a preview of the new Ford F-150 Lightning, an all-electric truck being unveiled Wednesday night.
Biden will likely use the backdrop to promote his infrastructure proposal, which includes $174 million to boost electric vehicle charging stations across the country.
“We hope that (Ford) tells Biden that their goal is to rapidly scale up production so that it can be available in stock at every Ford dealer across all 50 states,” Joel Levin, executive director of Plug In America told Agri-Pulse.
The company plans to start production next spring.
Meanwhile: If you want to learn more about what impact electric vehicles could have on the biofuels and liquid transportation industry, listen to Agri-Pulse Deep Dive, available at
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