WASHINGTON, March 4 – Will front-runner Mitt Romney pick up enough delegates on “Super Tuesday” to finally seal the deal on the GOP presidential nomination? The Romney “camp” certainly hopes they can build on momentum earned from five straight victories in Maine, Michigan, Arizona, Wyoming and Washington state to cruise to victory in the 10 states that on Tuesday will decide how more than 400 delegates get allocated.


However, Romney’s challengers: Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum , all appeared on Sunday talk shows and outlined plans for catching the former Massachusetts governor. Polls show that Romney is at a virtual dead heat in Ohio, a crucial swing state. Gingrich is leading in his home state of Georgia.


Romney got another boost from the conservative wing of the party when House GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor endorsed him Sunday. Cantor is from the Super Tuesday state of Virginia, where only Romney and Rep. Paul are on the ballot because former Santorum and Gingrich failed to qualify for the ballot.


"He is the guy I believe that will be our nominee and we will have a clear choice as a country as far as the vision forward in growing this economy with Mitt's plan versus that of the president's record," Cantor said on NBC's "Meet the Press."


Other fiscal conservatives are starting to line up behind the Romney camp, including Sen. Tom Coburn, a GOP senator from another Super Tuesday state: Oklahoma.


The focus on jobs, which has been the main talking point for most of the presidential “wannabes”, will also take center stage in the U.S. House of Representatives this week. In a twist of events, it appears that both parties might actually find some common ground. In the House, Republicans plan to focus on the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. The measure is made up of six bills and four of those have already passed the House.


In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to end debate on a bipartisan transportation bill that would authorize $109 billion in spending over the next two years. Rather than trying to wait longer and reach an agreement on amendments, Reid scheduled a Tuesday vote to end debate on the bill. The Senate voted 85-11 to proceed with the bill in February, and members of both parties have said that despite the fight over amendments, the bill has broad support.


Agriculturists from all across the country will be on the Hill this week to celebrate National Ag Day. Every year, producers, associations, agribusinesses, universities, federal agencies and others join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture to the U.S. economy and to the world. There are a series of events scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday, in between hearings and meetings for the Senate and House Agriculture Committees.


For a list of scheduled floor action, hearings and events, see the list below:


Monday, March 5


9:00 a.m., Committee on Biotechnology & 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) Meeting: March 5-6 Washington, DC 


3:00 p.m., Hearing: Budget Hearing - Federal Trade Commission - Chairman and Commissioner Committee on Appropriations: Financial Services and General Government


Agriculture Secretary Vilsack will address the National Farmers Union to discuss the strength of the agricultural economy and hold a press conference to highlight new conservation efforts while in La Vista, Nebraska.


 Deputy Secretary Merrigan will participate in a Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass “tweet up” at the White House.


Tuesday, March 6


Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.,  said he would file cloture on the pending highway bill in an attempt to cut short debate and the amendment process. He is expected to schedule the vote for Tuesday.

Secretary Vilsack will speak to the general session the National Association of Counties during its Legislative Conference in Washington, DC


10:00 a.m. Committee on Appropriations | Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, Hearing: Budget Hearing - Department of Agriculture - Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, 2362-A Rayburn


10:00 a.m., Host: Committee on Natural Resources | Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Hearing: Oversight Hearing on "Effect of the President’s FY 2013 Budget and Legislative Proposals for the Office of Surface Mining on Private Sector Job Creation, Domestic Energy Production, State Programs and Deficit Reduction," 1324 Longworth House Office Building


12:00 p.m., Healthy Waters Initiative to Release Recommendations for Farm Bill Reauthorization, National Press Club, Washington, D.C.,


2:00 p.m. Committee on Science, Space, and Technology | Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Hearing: An Overview of NOAA and EPA FY13 Budget, 2318 Rayburn HOB

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business, including:

·         H.R. 4105 - To apply the countervailing duty provisions of the Tariff Act of 1930 to nonmarket economy countries, and for other purposes (Suspension, 40 Minutes of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp / Ways and Means Committee)

·         H.R. 2842 - Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2011 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton / Natural Resources Committee)


·         H.R. 3606 - Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Fincher / Financial Services Committee)


Wednesday, March 7


9:00 a. m. School Nutrition Association, Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant moderates the closing general session panel with Former Secretaries of Agriculture John Block and Dan Glickman and Former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Charles Conner.


9:30 a.m., Senate Agriculture Committee, Farm Bill Hearing: Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production, and Nutrition, 216 Hart Senate Office Building. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify.


10:00 a.m., Committee on Appropriations, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, Hearing: Budget Hearing - Department of Agriculture - Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, 2362-A Rayburn


10:00 a.m., Committee on Ways and Means, Full Committee, Hearing: Camp Announces Hearing on the Treatment of Closely-Held Businesses in the Context of Tax Reform


10:00 a.m., Committee on Agriculture, Full Committee, Hearing: To consider the Budget Views and Estimates Letter of the Committee on Agriculture for the agencies and programs under jurisdiction of the Committee for FY2013, 1300 Longworth HOB


1:00 p.m., Committee on Small Business, markup of its Views and Estimates on the Small Business Administration’s FY 2013 budget request and six small business contracting bills; Room 2360 Rayburn House Office Building. The legislation that will be marked up includes:


•           H.R. 3850 -- The GET Small Business Contracting (Government Efficiency Through Small Business Contracting) Act of 2012, sponsored by Chairman Graves and Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY)

•           H.R. 3851 -- The Small Business Advocate Act (SBAA) of 2012, sponsored by Chairman Graves

•           H.R. 3893 -- The Subcontracting Transparency And Reliability (STAR) Act of 2012, sponsored by Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce Chairman Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC)

•           H.R. 3980 -- The Small Business Opportunity Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations Ranking Member Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR)

•           H.R. 4121 -- The Early Stage Small Business Contracting Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR)

•           H.R. 4118 -- The Small Business Procurement Improvement Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Mark Critz (D-PA)


3:30-5:00 p.m., U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, The Future of Food and Farming: An Agriculture Day Dialogue. Is technology in agriculture creating environmental improvements
and economic growth or perpetuating public fears?
Hart Senate Office Building, Room 902.

5: 30 – 7:30 p.m., Agri-Pulse Agriculture Appreciation reception Hart Senate Office Building, Room 902.


Thursday, March 8

On Thursday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.

8:00- 8: 45 a.m., Ag Day Coffee At USDA with Krysta Harden, Chief of Staff to Secretary Vilsack, USDA Whitten Building Patio


9:30 a.m., Host: Committee on Oversight and Government Reform | Full Committee, Hearing: Food Stamp Fraud As A Business Model: USDA's Struggle To Police Store Owners, 2154 Rayburn HOB


10:00 a.m., Committee on Small Business | Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations, Hearing: Powering Down: Are Government Regulations Impeding Small Energy Producers and Harming Energy Security?


10:30 a.m., Committee on Appropriations | Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, Hearing: Budget Hearing - Department of Agriculture - Under Secretary for Food Safety, 2362-A Rayburn


11:30 -1:30, Ag Day Mix & Mingle Luncheon with Rep. Collin Peterson, R-Minn, 1300 Longworth.


5:30 p.m., Ag Day Dinner at USDA’s Whitten Building. Secretary Vilsack will speak.


Deputy Secretary Merrigan will travel to California to host a White House Business Council event


Friday, March 9

On Friday, no votes are expected in the House.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan will speak at the Natural Foods Expo West in Anaheim, CA


9:00 a.m., House Agriculture Committee Field Hearing: Farm Bill; North Country Community College, Sparks Athletic Complex 23 Santanoni Ave Saranac Lake, NY.




For more Agri-Pulse news, go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com