Lawmakers are returning from their Thanksgiving recess for what is shaping up to be a crucial December for President Joe Biden’s agenda. 
The continuing resolution that has been keeping the government funded since the 2022 fiscal year began Oct. 1 expires Friday. So, another government shutdown could be in the future unless Congress passes a new stopgap spending bill.
Democrats have been demanding that Republicans come to the table and agree on FY22 spending legislation. But Republican appropriators have so far refused to do so until Democrats relent on some policy concerns. 
Ahead of the recess, House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said in a Dear Colleague letter that it would be “reckless” and “irresponsible” to keep funding the government with stopgap bills that maintain funding at FY21 levels. 
Meanwhile: Democrats will be pressing to push Biden’s massive Build Back Better bill through the Senate before the end of the year. The bill, which would cost roughly $2 trillion, narrowly passed the House. 
For more on the D.C. agenda, read our Washington Week Ahead. 

USDA forecasts average food inflation for 2022
USDA has raised its forecast for supermarket prices in the wake of the continued surge in costs for meat and other products. But the department’s projected increase for 2022 of 1.5% to 2.5% is in line with the average annual inflation rate, 2%, over the past 20 years. 
The largest retail price increases in 2022 are expected to come in retail meat and poultry and in fresh vegetables. Increases for those segments are forecast at 2% to 3%.
Grocery prices rose 5.4% for the 12 months that ended in October, fueling Republican criticism of President Biden’s handling of the economy. 
Consumers had gotten used to pretty mild increases in food costs for several years before the COVID-19 pandemic. Supermarket prices actually declined in 2016 and 2017 before rising in 2018 and 2019 by less than 1% each year. Prices were up 3.5% in 2020. 
USTR to meet with Canadian Trade Minister
The top U.S. and Canadian trade officials will be holding a virtual meeting Tuesday.
Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng was in Washington for the recent meeting of North American leaders at the White House, but U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai was traveling, meeting with officials in Japan and India.
Mexico drives US corn export sales
The week of Nov. 12-18 was a big week for U.S. export sales of corn and Mexican demand was the biggest factor, according to the latest weekly USDA trade numbers.
Net export sales of U.S. corn reached more than 1.4 million metric tons for the seven-day period. That’s a marketing year high and a 58% increase from the previous week. Mexico was the biggest buyer, committing to purchases of 629,600 tons in the 2021-22 marketing year, according to the USDA data. Canadian buyers purchased 306,900 tons and the Japanese purchased 120,900 tons.
Mexico was also the biggest importer for the week. The U.S. shipped off 929,000 tons of corn for the week and 285,400 tons went to Mexico. But China was a close second. The U.S. shipped 281,500 tons to Chinese buyers.
Keep in mind: Nov. 12-18 was also a big week for U.S. soybean trade activity. Net export sales for the week totaled nearly 1.6 million tons – a 13% increase from the previous week – and China was by far the biggest buyer. The Chinese committed to purchasing 882,500 tons of U.S. soybeans during the seven-day period. Mexico came in a distant second, buying 168,200 tons.
As to physical exports, China was also the largest destination. The U.S. shipped nearly 2.3 million tons of U.S. soybeans during the week and about 1.4 million tons of that total was sent to Chinese ports.
California ag still beset by supply chain woes
Demand overseas for California farm commodities like almonds and walnuts is very strong, but delays in every part of the supply are plaguing the ag sector, according to a new report from the California Farm Bureau.

"We've got almonds and walnuts stacked to the ceiling right now," the Farm Bureau quoted Western Agricultural Processors Association President and CEO Roger Isom as saying. "In fact, we're running out of bins because they're not moving."

Bird Flu hits Hungary again
Hungary had thought it was finally clear after the last outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza. The country was pronounced free of the virus in June this summer, but new discoveries this month confirmed that bird flu is back, according to a new report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Animal health authorities in the country have confirmed new outbreaks in commercial duck and goose operations.
“Control measures are currently in place,” the FAS report said. “However, further cases are expected around the affected localities and in the neighboring counties.”
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