Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is looking for a new proposal from Mexico to change its looming presidential decree on barring genetically modified corn. Vilsack told reporters Thursday the Biden administration is prepared to challenge the decree through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement if Mexico doesn’t back down.

Vilsack’s comments came just ahead of a meeting today with Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and other officials from that country.
Vilsack said he hopes to see Mexico adhere to the rules of USMCA, but the alternative is “a process in which we trigger the dispute resolution (process) of the USMCA.”
Bennet’s Hail Mary on ag labor
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., says it would take a “Christmas miracle” to get a bill passed at this point to reform the H-2A visa program and provide a path to legal status for domestic farmworkers.
In an interview for this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, Bennet expressed frustration with Senate Republicans for not negotiating a compromise version of the House-passed Farm Workforce Modernization Act. “I need some Republican colleagues to step up and help get this done,” he said. He said many Republicans continue to insist on addressing border security first.
Bennet was joined at a Capitol Hill news conference Thursday by several farm groups, including the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, where he announced his new FWMA companion legislation. The bill includes some changes that would provide lower H-2A rates than the House bill.
Newsmakers will be available today at
Soy exports start December strong
The U.S. exported 1.1 million metric tons of soybeans to Chinese buyers in the week of Dec. 2-8, according to the latest data from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. China also committed to buying about 1.3 million more tons of U.S. soybeans during the week for delivery in the 2022-23 marketing year, which began Sept. 1.
Sales may actually be higher because FAS also reported another 1 million tons sold for “unknown destinations.” Those often turn out going to China. Of the 1.3 million tons reported sales to China in the Dec. 2-8 week, 197,000 tons were originally slated as “unknown destinations.”
Take note: The latest FAS weekly data shows the U.S. is selling rice to Haiti despite the chaos in the country caused by warring gangs. Haitian buyers committed to purchasing 7,100 tons of U.S. rice during the week, but no physical exports were reported.
Diesel fuel prices continue to fall
The price of diesel fuel fell 21.3 cents in the past week, the largest such decline since 2008.
The price now sits at $4.75 per gallon, though it remains 11.5% higher than the same week last year, according to the USDA’s Grain Transportation Report.
Take note: Prices have fallen 25.6 cents to $4.65 per gallon in the Midwest, the lowest price the grain-producing region has seen since March 7. 
USDA opens application process for new REAP funding
USDA is awarding $285 million in guaranteed loans and grants under the Rural Energy for America Program and launching a new round of REAP assistance using money from the Inflation Reduction Act.
REAP funds renewable energy and energy efficiency for farms and rural businesses. More than 75% of the annual grant and loans provided by REAP in recent years has gone toward solar projects.
The latest round of awards includes nearly $245 million in guaranteed loans and just over $40 million in grants. The grantees include Meadow Ridge Farms, a poultry operation in Pennsylvania that is getting $98,500 to install a 187-kilowatt solar energy system. The project is expected to save the farm $17,000 in energy costs. The farm produces eggs for flu vaccine production.

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USDA is offering $300 million in REAP loans and grants in the next round. Some $250 million will be funded out of REAP.
NASDA has plans for nearly $1M in ag promotion funds
USDA’s Emerging Markets Program funds ag promotion and research in countries showing good potential to be markets for U.S. farm goods, and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has big plans on how to use a $925,000 it was just awarded by USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service.
NASDA says it will focus its efforts on Southeast Asia and Africa, two regions of the world generally regarded as the biggest areas for growth for U.S. ag exports.
“NASDA members understand how important it is to spread the message about the value and quality of U.S. products and the benefits of innovation around the world,” said NASDA CEO Ted McKinney. “The first step in earning strong trading partners is establishing open communication and stewarding international relationships.”
He said it. “Maybe people are just too far away from the producers in their states to understand what a crisis this is, and the importance of doing this now.” – Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., on the difficulty of getting Senate colleagues to negotiate a deal on ag labor reforms.
Bill Tomson, Noah Wicks, Sara Wyant and Hannah Pagel contributed to this report. 

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