With Democrats struggling to agree on their $3.5 trillion Build Back Better spending plan, a senior leader of the House Democratic caucus says the final vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure bill could be delayed. 

The vote is still planned for Sept. 27, per a commitment to House moderates. But House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said Sunday on CNN that the vote could come later. Top progressives continue to insist they won’t support the infrastructure bill unless they are satisfied with progress on the Build Back Better bill. 

“We are going to work hard to reach that goal (of the Sept. 27 vote),” said Clyburn. “And, sometimes, you have to kind of stop the clock to get to the goal. We'll do what's necessary to get there.”

Keep in mind: Further complicating matters for Democratic leaders is that Congress needs to raise the federal debt limit and act to keep the government funded after the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1. 

For more on the D.C. to-do list in the coming days, read our Washington Week Ahead

USDA bans hogs, pork from Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands to mainland US

The Department of Agriculture has banned the transportation of live hogs and pork from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to the U.S. mainland even though African swine fever has not been detected in either of the territories. 

The move comes as part of USDA’s effort to shield the mainland from the swine virus and ensure that even if ASF does make the leap from the Dominican Republic, it will not give foreign buyers cause to ban all U.S. pork.

The latest USDA actions are designed to create a “protection zone” against ASF and present it to the World Health Organization, also known by the French acronym OIE. Once that is complete, USDA will begin lobbying foreign countries to accept the zone and pledge not to ban pork from the mainland even if ASF is detected in the territories.

Lawmakers propose fix to jet biofuel provision
A bipartisan group of Midwest lawmakers is trying to ensure that renewable jet fuel made from agricultural commodities can be used in a pilot program for military aircraft. The lawmakers are proposing an amendment that would remove the restriction from the fiscal 2022 defense authorization bill, which is on the House floor this week. 
The House Rules Committee is meeting today to decide which amendments will get floor consideration.
Keep in mind: The airline industry recently joined the White House in setting a goal of using 3 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. But a green energy tax incentive package the House Ways and Means Committee approved last week also would block sustainable aviation fuel that’s made from ag commodities from qualifying for a new tax credit.
State ag commissioners meet in Louisville this week

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will address attendees at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s annual meeting in Louisville this week.

State ag directors and commissioners are coming together through Wednesday at the in-person and virtual event, being called “Redefining Agriculture,” which NASDA CEO Barb Glenn told Agri-Pulse “is what we need to be doing in the aftermath of a pandemic. It is what agriculture does best. We change, we pivot, we adopt innovation (and) technology, and we move ahead.”  

NASDA committees will also set policies regarding meat processing, trade, hemp, food and nutrition, and plants and pesticides.

China’s biofuel policies not driven by environmental concerns, FAS says
China will likely blend a little more ethanol into gasoline this year than it did in 2020, but the current blend rate of about 2.1% is still far below the peak of 2.8% 10 years ago, and that’s largely because of “uncertain policies and prices,” according to a new analysis from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Chinese President Xi Jinping “made an international commitment to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030,” FAS economists in Beijing said in the analysis. “While biofuels have the potential to be (a) tool in reaching this goal, there have been no specific directives or mentions of biofuels related to this commitment. This is the latest illustration that China’s biofuels policies are primarily driven by other policy goals beyond environmental concerns.”
Meanwhile, China is producing and exporting more biodiesel. The FAS bureau is predicting that, primarily due to “strong exports,” China will produce 1.7 billion liters of biodiesel this year – a 54% increase from 2020.
Chesapeake Bay dissolved oxygen levels bigger in August
Areas of low oxygen in the Chesapeake Bay increased to higher-than-average levels in August, a result of high temperatures, low wind speeds and heavy rains, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said in its monthly report.
This August was the third warmest on record, the state said. Citing the report, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said efforts to reduce nutrients, especially those flowing from farm fields in Pennsylvania, need to be increased substantially.

CBF and other groups, the states of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, and the District of Columbia all sued the Environmental Protection Agency a year ago to compel the agency to enforce pollution limits that are in a multistate blueprint for the estuary. So far, however, the lawsuit has not resulted in any action.

Farm Safety and Health Week features webinars, gets presidential proclamation 

Nonprofit groups and the Biden administration are highlighting the importance of farm safety as the fall harvest season gets underway.

The reason? It’s National Farm Safety and Health Week, and the agricultural sector is still the most dangerous in America with 573 fatalities, or an equivalent of 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers,” according to the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety in Iowa.

The Agri-Safe Network is holding a series of webinars on different safety topics this week, including tractor and vehicle safety today and stress and mental health on Tuesday.  

On Friday, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation that said the COVID-19 pandemic “has taken an incalculable toll on our nation’s farms and farming communities, with high rates of infections and illnesses affecting nearly every facet of our agricultural system. We must continue to reduce the risks of accidents, injuries, and fatalities … as well as the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to fertilizers and chemical agents. We must continue to get Americans vaccinated, so that our brave farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers can go to work free from the deadly threat of COVID-19.”

She said it: “Our new key phrase is ‘United we Thrive.’ I have no doubt that Ted McKinney is going to take NASDA to increasing heights.” — Barb Glenn, speaking about her successor, who takes over as NASDA CEO Sept. 27.

Questions, tips, comments? Email Steve Davies at steve@agri-pulse.com.