Lawmakers return for their lame duck session this week with some significant unfinished business, including agreement on an omnibus spending bill to fund the government for the rest of fiscal 2023.

Republicans and Democrats have yet to even announce an agreement on spending levels for FY23. A continuing resolution is keeping the government funded at FY22 levels until Dec. 16.

Meanwhile, a top priority for farm groups is Senate confirmation of two trade-related nominees: 
Doug McKalip, President Joe Biden’s pick to be chief agricultural trade negotiator at the U.S. Trade Representative, and Alexis Taylor, nominated to be undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at the Agriculture Department.

By the way: The House Rules Committee, which is chaired by anti-hunger advocate Jim McGovern, is scheduled today to 
approve a draft report on ways to improve food security.

“It is my hope we will develop ideas that Congress and the Biden administration can act to ensure we are tackling this problem legislatively and administratively because this is truly an all-hands-on-deck moment,” McGovern, D-Mass., says on the committee’s website.

For more on this week’s D.C. agenda, read our Washington Week Ahead.

Senate stays Democratic; House outcome still undecided

Victories by Democrats Mark Kelly in Arizona and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada guaranteed that the Senate would remain in Democratic control, no matter the outcome of a December runoff in Georgia between Republican Herschel Walker and incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock.

Meanwhile, the makeup of the House of Representatives remained in doubt, as Democrats won a handful of seats decided over the weekend. The margin on Sunday in completed races was 211-204 for the Republicans, seven shy of the 218 needed for a majority.

Projections by news organizations had the GOP gaining control but perhaps by as little as one vote. In one House race, widely predicted to be won by Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, only 1,000 votes separated her from challenger Adam Frisch 
with an unknown number of ballots reportedly left to be counted, according to CBS News. 

US lauds international efforts to combat fertilizer shortages
The U.S., European Union, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands have succeeded in putting together $135 million in public and private funds to pay for “fertilizer efficiency and soil health programs to combat fertilizer shortages and food insecurity,” the U.S. State Department said Saturday at the COP27 summit in Egypt.
The U.S. contributed $25 million and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power stressed that rising prices and shortages of fertilizer are especially dire in Africa. Farmers, she said, are being forced to plant less when they cannot afford inputs.
The impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has hit 
the availability of nitrogen fertilizers especially hard.
Ukraine grain exports moving strong through Black Sea
Russia’s decision to effectively pull out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and then resume its participation has not slowed down exports out of Odesa, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry.
The United Nations paused ship inspections for one day on Nov. 1, but resumed on Nov. 2, and exports have moved at a quick pace since then, the ministry said Saturday.
Fifty-one ships have arrived to load grain at Odesa ports and 21 have departed with grain since Nov. 2, 
the ministry said in a tweet. Ukraine has exported about 10.3 million metric tons of ag commodities since the Black Sea Grain Initiative was signed in July.
Cotton protocol reports sustainability advances
U.S. cotton enrolled in an industry-organized program to improve environmental practices through the value chain has topped 1.1 million acres, more than double the total since the program began in 2020, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol reported.
The protocol also said growers had reduced soil loss by 78%, greenhouse gas emissions by 21%, and energy use by 25%. “All 17 U.S. cotton-producing states are now represented [and] mill-and-manufacturer membership has increased significantly,” the group said.
Potato groups push USDA to update potato wart mitigation protocols
Concern about the potential spread of potato wart from Canada’s Prince Edward Island to the U.S. has prompted 13 potato groups to press the Agriculture Department to update its protocols for inspecting potato shipments from the island.
The groups — which include the National Potato Council and 12 state-level organizations — sent a letter to USDA Undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Services Jenny Moffitt on Friday saying the introduction of potato wart in the U.S. would have a $225 million direct impact. Billions more could be lost indirectly, the groups said.
Take note: In addition to calling for new protocols surrounding the inspection of PEI potato shipments, the groups took aim at federal officials' decision last year to reopen trade from the island, which they called “entirely premature.” They cited an Oct. 14 APHIS risk assessment saying potato wart is “almost certain" to be introduced to U.S. potato production areas without mitigation measures.
Sold: Iowa farmland for $30K/acre
tract of farmland in northwest Iowa has sold at auction for the astounding price of $30,000 an acre. The 73 acres went to a local farmer, according to Zomer Co. Realty and Auction.
By comparison, the average land value in Iowa rose nearly 20% this year to $9,350 an acre, according to an annual Iowa State University survey.
He said it: “The sum total of the actions my administration is taking puts the United States on track to achieve our Paris Agreement goal of reducing emissions 50 to 52 percent below … 2005 levels by 2030.” – President Joe Biden at COP27 climate conference in Egypt, Nov. 11.
Questions? Comments? Tips? Send an email to 
Steve Davies.