Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., continues to insist on passage of the Build Back Better bill by Christmas, despite ongoing concerns from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., about the package. 
The bill isn’t ready for a vote yet. Schumer said discussions with the Senate parliamentarian would continue this week over which provisions would be allowed to remain in the bill under the rules for the budget reconciliation process. 
“The work is not yet finished, but we’re working hard to put the Senate in a position to get the legislation across the finish line before Christmas,” Schumer said Monday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden supported Schumer’s goal. When one reporter suggested it seemed unlikely the goal could be met, she responded, “I don’t think we’re in a place to make that prediction from here, nor is anyone, of course.”
SCOTUS asks for government views on Bayer Roundup petition
Bayer will have to wait a bit longer to see whether the Supreme Court takes up its challenge to a federal appeals court ruling that upheld a $25 million verdict for a California man who said exposure to Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The court on Monday asked the Solicitor General, the administration’s top lawyer, to weigh in on the issues presented in the case — namely, whether federal pesticide law pre-empts state law claims such as failure to warn.
Bayer said it was encouraged by the Supreme Court action and said it would “not entertain any further settlement discussions with plaintiff lawyers that are representing a substantial number of Roundup claims” while the court decides whether to take up the case.
Why it matters: A favorable Supreme Court decision would help Bayer avoid liability in thousands of cases pending against it for Roundup exposure.
Report: US ag sector needs new free trade agreements
The Corn Refiners Association is releasing an analysis today showing just how far the U.S. has slipped when it comes to negotiating free trade agreements in order to unlock lower tariffs and new trade advantages.
The U.S. has completed four FTA’s since 2010 – including the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement – but China has locked in 10 FTAs, while Japan has completed seven and the European Union and Canada have each completed eight, according to the report titled “Trade Agreements and U.S. Competitiveness.
The new analysis from CRA is being released in conjunction with a virtual roundtable on the future of ag trade hosted by Farmers for Free Trade that features Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., Manuel Sanchez, China director for the U.S. Grains Council, Erin Borror, an economist with the U.S. Meat Export Council, and Robert Chesler, CEO of the United Dairymen of Arizona.
Blue Dog Dems tackle supply chain woes
The Blue Dog Coalition of 19 self-styled “fiscally responsible Democrats” in the House of Representatives is digging into how Congress can address supply chain disruptions.
Democratic Reps. Lou Correa of California and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia will be moderating a roundtable Wednesday to “focus on the nature and scope of recent supply chain disruptions, as well as potential solutions to secure the supply chain in the future.”
Port of Los Angeles Director Gene Seroka, Lundequam Development Vice President of Operations Joshua Beiter, Progressive Policy Institute Vice President Ed Gresser, and McKesson Senior Vice President Joan Eliasek will be joining the lawmakers.
Lawmakers seek to ease food donations
Lawmakers are pushing a measure they say could expand donations of excess food to the needy. 
The Food Donation Improvement Act, introduced first in the Senate and now in the House, would provide liability protections for food donors such as grocers, restaurants and farmers when food is given directly to a person rather than a non-profit intermediary, or when food is provided at a deeply reduced cost.  
The bill also would require USDA to set quality and labeling standards for donated products. 
The bill’s House sponsors include House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., as well as a pair of conservative Republicans and Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree. 
Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., said the bill would “enact logical reforms that will provide clarity and protections to farmers, retailers, and non-profits seeking in good faith to assist the hungry, helping those in need have access to food that would otherwise go to waste.” 
Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., are sponsoring a similar bill in the Senate. 
Ag groups ask government to ease limits on travel to US

More than 60 agriculture groups are asking the Biden administration to exempt South African farmworkers from a prohibition on travel to the U.S., despite the emergence there of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

H-2A workers in general, about 7,000 of whom come from South Africa, should be given a National Interest Exception exempting them from travel limitations, the groups said.

The groups also said the government should allow workers who have not been vaccinated in their home countries to receive shots in the U.S. A recent proclamation from President Biden restricts entry into the U.S. to those who have been fully vaccinated with a CDC-approved vaccine with limited exceptions, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, one of the groups supporting the requests, which are in a letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

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