Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be announcing new funding today to expand domestic meat processing capacity. Sixteen states will share the assistance, including California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New York, Texas and Wisconsin.
USDA says the funding is part of an effort to make “agricultural markets more accessible, fair, competitive, and resilient for American farmers and ranchers.”
House showdown heads to third day
House Republicans are due to try again today to finally elect a speaker.
After losing a sixth round of voting earlier in the day, Kevin McCarthy finally secured a victory Wednesday night: The House voted 216-214 to approve a motion to adjourn, giving the Californian more time to work out a deal with the GOP hard-liners who are blocking him from the speakership.
Four of McCarthy’s strongest critics joined Democrats in opposing the motion.
Take note: Ahead of the adjournment vote, the hard-liners won a concession from McCarthy that could make it harder for him to block fringe candidates from winning GOP primaries. Under a deal with the conservative Club for Growth, the McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund said it will longer spend money in open primaries in safe Democratic districts.
Club for Growth President David McIntosh said his group would back McCarthy pending an agreement on new House rules.
Keep in mind: The internal GOP battle over the speakership is only a warmup for the high-stakes fight to come over the debt ceiling and federal spending.
House Ag veterans heading to Pennsylvania
House Ag Committee Chairman-elect Glenn Thompson on Saturday will be hosting the first bipartisan 2023 farm bill listening session of the year. The unofficial event will be held in his home state of Pennsylvania at the nation’s largest indoor agricultural exposition.
Although the committee’s membership won’t be named for a while, Thompson invited everyone who was a member of the panel in the last Congress to join him, as well as any lawmakers who want to join the committee.
The attendee list includes Democrats Chellie Pingree of Maine, Jimmy Panetta of California and Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania. Freshman Wisconsin Republican Derrick Van Orden will also be there, along with holdover GOP committee members Austin Scott of Georgia, Doug LaMalfa of California, Mary Miller of Illinois and Jim Baird of Indiana.
In a statement to Agri-Pulse, Thompson says he’s “thrilled” to have a diverse, bipartisan group of colleagues joining him at the show.
EU and UN look to avert Ukraine food crisis
The European Union and the United Nations are spending $15.5 million to restart small-scale farming activities in areas devastated by the Russian invasion. Millions of Ukrainians living in rural areas depend on local farming operations that were forced to shut down because of the Russian invasion. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says production needs to resume to avert a food crisis this year.
“The testimonies of the individuals and families who I met during my visits to the newly accessible areas, confirm the urgent need for immediate support towards restoring their household capacities and avoiding dependence on humanitarian assistance,” said Pierre Vauthier, head of FAO’s operations in Ukraine.
FAO will begin distributing grants of between $1,000 and $25,000 in March under the effort.
US-Taiwan talks on trade deal resume this month
U.S. and Taiwanese trade officials will meet again Jan. 14-17 in Washington to resume negotiations over a proposed trade agreement, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Farm groups have been generally supportive of a pact with Taiwan – the sixth-largest foreign market for U.S. agriculture commodities. But several groups lament the fact that the Biden administration won’t include market access provisions that would reduce tariffs. The average Taiwanese tariff on agricultural goods is relatively high at 15.12%.

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Rio Grande deal to be revealed
A judge has denied a request by the federal government to keep under seal the details of a deal brokered by Colorado, New Mexico and Texas over the Rio Grande River.
Federal Appeals Court Judge Michael Melloy, who was appointed as a special master in the case, determined that the decree the states signed contained little that was “novel or unique,” since it was based on publicly available data. The deal, which the Justice Department argued was crafted under a confidentiality agreement, will be made public on the special master’s docket on Monday.
Take note: The dispute began when Texas filed a lawsuit in 2013 claiming that New Mexico water users were “unfairly syphoning” water, leaving little for Texas to use. The three states, as a result, came together to iron out an agreement.
She said it. “They want us to fight each other. That much has been made clear by the popcorn and blankets and alcohol that is coming over there.”  Florida Republican Kat Cammack, complaining that Democrats were enjoying the division within the House GOP that delayed the election of a House speaker. Cammack was a staffer to former House Ag Republican Ted Yoho and served on the committee herself in the last Congress.

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