Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says he wants the Senate to pass the massive Build Back Better bill by the end of the month. The roughly $2 trillion measure contains President Biden’s climate and domestic spending priorities. But Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is still raising concerns about the impact of the bill on inflation. 
“I heard an awful lot over the Thanksgiving break that the prices were high, and people were very much upset about that, and they're concerned about whether inflation is going to get worse,” Manchin told reporters. 
White House advisers met with Schumer’s staff on Sunday night to discuss the legislation. “I can assure you we are moving forward full speed to get this done, and we expect action on it in the coming weeks,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.
Biden administration suspending enforcement of vax mandate till 2022

The Biden administration is urging federal agencies to suspend until after Jan. 1 any disciplinary action against employees who have yet to receive vaccinations for COVID-19.
The deadline for getting shots was Nov. 22, and 92% of federal employees have received at least one dose, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

According to figures released last week, USDA ranked at the bottom of the agency vaccination list, with 86.1% having received shots. However, 95.6% were considered to be in compliance, meaning that 4.4% have not acted on the mandate and the remaining 9.5% have requested or received a waiver.

In an email to agency officials Monday, Jason Miller, deputy director for management at OMB, and Kiran Ahuja, director of the Office of Personnel Management, encouraged agencies to continue their “robust education and counseling efforts through this holiday season as the first step in an enforcement process, with no subsequent enforcement actions beyond that education and counseling and, if warranted, a letter of reprimand, for most employees who have not yet complied with the vaccination requirement until the new calendar year begins in January.”

Ag groups voice opposition to dam breach plan

A bipartisan proposal supported by Reps. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., to remove four hydroelectric dams from the Snake River in an effort to protect salmon and steelhead fish runs has national and state ag groups, companies and port authorities worried about the impact on farmers and their ability to transport their crops.

The Agriculture Transportation Coalition, American Farm Bureau Federation, Farm Credit Council, Idaho Grain Producers Association, Nebraska Wheat Board and Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative are just a few of the many to sign on to a new letter to President Joe Biden, asking that the proposal be blocked.

“The Columbia-Snake River System is the third-largest grain export corridor in the world, transporting nearly 30 percent of U.S. grain and oilseed exports through a sophisticated navigation system, which includes seven grain export terminals, 26 up-country grain barge loading terminals, and eight dams that lift vessels a combined 735 feet to deliver high value farm products safely and efficiently to West Coast ports and consumers worldwide,” the groups, companies and port authorities said in the letter.

FTC seeks info from big food firms in effort to understand supply chain crisis

The Federal Trade Commission has ordered nine big companies, including Walmart, Amazon, Kroger and Tyson Foods to provide detailed information to help the FTC understand ongoing supply chain disruptions.

The commission issued the orders under a provision of the FTC Act, which authorizes “wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose,” the FTC said.

“In addition to better understanding the reasons behind the disruptions, the study will examine whether supply chain disruptions are leading to specific bottlenecks, shortages, anticompetitive practices, or contributing to rising consumer prices,” the commission said.
“The orders require the companies to detail the primary factors disrupting their ability to obtain, transport and distribute their products [and] the impact these disruptions are having in terms of delayed and canceled orders,” in addition to other information, the commission said.

The other companies being told to supply information are C&S Wholesale Grocers, Associated Wholesale Grocers, McLane Co., Procter & Gamble, and Kraft Heinz.

Sysco shareholders endorse net-zero GHG target

Shareholders of Sysco, the self-described “largest foodservice marketing and distribution organization in North America,” have voted overwhelmingly in favor of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by 2050 or sooner.

Ninety-two percent of shareholders approved the resolution, which calls on the company to align its GHG reduction efforts with the goal of the Paris climate agreement to keep worldwide temperatures from increasing more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The resolution was filed by As You Sow, a nonprofit shareholder advocacy group.
EU beekeepers optimistic for stronger honey protection

The European Commission is preparing to announce a revision of its Honey Directive, and the European ag sector is optimistic that the changes will provide stronger support for producers facing hard times and increased competition from imports.
EU honey imports rose by about 5% in 2020 while domestic production fell, thanks to rough weather – including severe drought and flooding, according to COPA-COGECA, the largest EU farm and co-op organization. Meanwhile, honey prices dropped as the cost of production rose.

“It is of the utmost importance to act promptly and fast, to strengthen the regulation and ensure better competitive playing fields for EU beekeepers, and especially to provide EU consumers with proper information regarding honey origins,” COPA-COGECA said in a statement.

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