It’s up to the Senate to prevent a rail strike that President Biden says would be “devastating” to the U.S. economy. Ahead of a possible vote, Democrats will discuss the issue today with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
The House easily approved a bill backed by President Biden that would impose a new contract on rail workers, including four unions that rejected the agreement. The House also approved a separate bill that would add seven days of sick leave to the contract. But that measure got only three Republican votes, and it would need more GOP support than that to pass the Senate.
Senators have been hearing from the ag sector as well as other industries. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said he’s “heard from agricultural processors who rely on rail to get their product out of my state who are saying, you know, ‘We have got to start calling trucking companies and figuring out alternatives.’”
Said Kansas GOP Sen. Roger Marshall, “I certainly want to do what we can to support hardworking Americans as well. But this would have a huge impact if we don't get this across the finish line one way or the other.”
Keep in mind: Failure of the contract bill would be a big political embarrassment for Biden.

Message that Mexico needs US corn appears to have registered
The U.S. government and industry have spent months telling Mexico it needs American corn and that a ban on GMO corn would cause food shortages. That message now appears to have hit home with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, sources say following the latest engagement between the two countries.
According to a statement, Obrador told USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday he’d be willing to exempt feed corn – not white corn – from a ban on the GMO grain that’s scheduled to go into effect January of 2024. There’s no formal proposal, and the U.S. hasn’t agreed to anything, sources tell Agri-Pulse.
Threatening to ban GM corn when his country needs it has put Obrador in a box, says one U.S. source involved with the dialogue between the countries. The source says further talks between the U.S. and Mexico are expected in the coming weeks.

By the way: Mexico isn’t going far enough for at least one corn-state lawmaker: Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. “Any attempt by Mexico to ban imports of U.S. genetically modified white corn is wrong. It also goes against basic science. The Biden administration must make clear that there can be no flexibility here,” she said.
Senior appropriator optimistic on omnibus
As we head into the final month of this Congress, the respective party leaders have yet to even agree on topline spending levels for fiscal 2023. And a continuing resolution that is keeping the government funded at FY22 levels expires Dec. 16.
That leaves little time for negotiators to work out all the details of a massive government-wide spending bill that Congress needs to pass, leading to speculation that lawmakers might have to pass a full-year CR for at least some agencies.

But a veteran GOP member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, expressed some confidence Wednesday that an omnibus bill providing new spending levels for all departments and agencies will pass before Congress adjourns. “I think the likelihood of an omnibus is great,” Blunt said.

Oats, rye growers get expanded revenue protection
Oats and rye growers can take advantage of new revenue protection next year, matching protections already offered to barley and wheat growers, the Risk Management Agency says.
Before the program change, which went into effect last week, RMA established oats and rye prices up to 11 months before harvest. But in the 2021 and 2022 crop years, “oat prices increased about 30% during that time period, leaving oat producers with insurance coverage valued below the actual value of their crop,” RMA says. “With this expanded revenue protection, the insurance coverage price would have risen to follow the higher oat prices, providing coverage that better reflects the value of the crop.”

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RMA also has extended the end of the insurance period date for processing sweet corn from Sept. 20 to Sept. 30 in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. That matches the existing coverage for producers in Iowa.
Senators to SEC: Leave farmers out of climate disclosure
GOP Sens. John Boozman of Arkansas and Mike Braun of Indiana have introduced a bill to exempt farmers from an administration plan to require corporations to disclose greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chains. The Securities and Exchange Commission has received significant pushback from the ag sector since proposing the requirement in March.
The bill is a companion measure to House legislation introduced earlier by Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla.
Take note: Braun filed papers Wednesday to run for governor in Indiana. Braun has been a leading Republican advocate for addressing climate change, although through voluntary measures. He is chief GOP sponsor of the Growing Climate Solutions Act.
Boozman is the senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee and also sits on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that controls the SEC budget.
GAO: USDA needs to tighten ReConnect oversight
A new report from the Government Accountability Office says USDA has yet to set specific goals or conduct a fraud risk assessment for its ReConnect rural broadband program. GAO, which is the investigative arm of Congress, says that setting performance goals would help the department better understand whether the ReConnect program is meeting expectations.
USDA agreed with GAO's recommendations. 
He said it. “Leaders of the House and Senate recognize that if we don't resolve this, within the next few days, the consequences for millions of working people, for our economy, for our path forward, will be very, very negative.” – Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., on the rail dispute.

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