We’re headed toward the congressional Memorial Day break with little sign of progress in negotiations over a massive infrastructure package. 
The White House offered a counter-proposal on Friday, but Republicans quickly rejected the offer. Shelley Moore Capito, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement that the two sides “seem further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting” with President Joe Biden. 
The $1.7 trillion White House proposal reduced proposed spending on roads, bridges and broadband to the levels suggested by Republicans. Broadband funding was reduced to $65 billion from the $100 billion originally proposed by the White House. The White House proposal sticks to Biden’s original wish list on issues that Republicans oppose or think are excessive. Biden isn’t budging, for example, on spending for electric vehicles. 
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the proposal represented an effort to find “common ground.” Capito said Republicans would remain engaged in the talks. 
Take note: The Association of Equipment Manufacturers welcomed the White House offer as “a necessary part of negotiations.”
For more on what's on this week’s D.C. policy agenda, read our Washington Week Ahead. 
Lawmakers press USTR for action on Canada’s dairy quotas
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai recently stressed to her Canadian counterpart the importance of Canada fully meeting its USMCA commitments, including its allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas,” but a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pressing Tai to go further and take enforcement action.
“A core component of this agreement was USMCA’s promise of new export opportunities for America’s dairy industry and the introduction of fairer trade rules to ensure that American-made dairy exports can compete on a more level playing field and reliably access our neighboring trading partners,” the lawmakers said in a letter to Tai. “Unfortunately, those results have not yet been fully realized.”
The Trump administration took the first step of requesting consultations over the allegations that Canada is not upholding its dairy TRQ promises, but the Biden administration has not taken the next step of requesting a dispute panel.
Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wisc., Tom Reed, R-N.Y., Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., Glenn Thompson, R-Penn., Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., Jim Costa, D-Calif., and David Valadao, R-Calif., signed the letter.
Rice farmers tell USDA its acreage forecast is high
USDA is predicting farmers will plant 2.7 million acres of rice this year. That’s a drop from last year, but it’s also higher than what farmers will actually plant, according to a panel of USA Rice Federation officials that met virtually last week with officials from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Economic Research Service and World Agricultural Outlook Board.
USA Rice members representing farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas explained that they are expecting that “actual plantings for 2021 will be significantly lower than those estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the March projected plantings, with a total projected difference of 15 percent less acreage, due to a range of weather issues.”
The panel members also met with officials from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to get an update on trade with major importers like Japan and Colombia. FAS, the rice farmers said, informed them the agency is expecting “record consumption in 2021/22, outpacing production for the first time, as well as a contraction of global rice stocks.”
Arkansas June 30 dicamba cutoff blocked by state judge – for now
 Arkansas regulations allowing dicamba use until June 30 have been temporarily blocked by a state judge who said it could harm farmers’ crops, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
 On Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Morgan Welch also set a hearing for today on a request for an injunction from farmers and environmentalists, the newspaper reported, while another judge in the same court scheduled a hearing for Tuesday in a similar case.
The state plant board earlier this month to extend the spraying period from last year’s May 25 cutoff.
Take note: Farmers in the state have until Friday this week to file claims for a payout from the $300 million dicamba settlement that Bayer agreed to.
Real estate agents indicted for rigging farmland auction
A federal grand jury in the Western District of Kentucky has indicted two Kentucky real estate agents for conspiring to rig bids in a 2018 farmland and timber estate auction.
The indictment alleges Barry Dyer and Mackie Shelton accepted a $40,000 payoff from competing auction participants to stop bidding, which artificially suppressed the sales price of the land.
“Collusion and bid rigging at farmland auctions undermine our nation’s vital farming industry, robbing farmers and their families of a fair price for their land,” said Richard Powers, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. The agents have been charged with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act and if convicted, could face 10 years in prison plus a $1 million fine.
Customs discovers watermelon surprise at the border
Truckloads of watermelons and other fruit coming across the border from Mexico are not uncommon, but a recent shipment had an undocumented load hidden amid the crates of summertime fruit: 1,100 pounds of methamphetamine.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection says officials found 193 plastic containers filled with the narcotic and estimated its street value at about $2.5 million.
“We don’t frequently see seizures of this size, but they are certainly a risk in the cargo environment,” said Anne Maricich, acting CBP director of field operations in San Diego. “Stopping over 1,000 pounds of methamphetamine is a critical act for the security and health of our nation.”
He said it: “We have taken no position on any of the proposals offered by producers or Congress as we believe any changes to how cattle are marketed or sold in the U.S. should be determined solely by producers.” – A spokesperson for meatpacker JBS offered that statement to Agri-Pulse to describe its thoughts on current efforts to reform the cattle markets.
The company made news late last week when it decided to end its membership in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Questions? Tips? Contact Bill Tomson at bill@agri-pulse.com