Kevin McCarthy faces his first test as House speaker as Republicans consider a package of rules changes, the first action scheduled in the chamber since McCarthy won the post in the early hours of Saturday.
Take note: Veteran farm bill lobbyists tell Agri-Pulse they expect McCarthy to be forced to allow for a more open process on amendments when the farm bill is on the floor. That means farm groups and the crop insurance industry could be forced to fight amendments that they didn’t face in 2018, when the GOP leadership tightly limited what issues would be debated. Critics of crop insurance could try again, for example, to impose payment limits.
One lobbyist, who didn’t want his named used, said he was still optimistic of passing a new farm bill. “If we articulate the needs well, I feel confident we can seize opportunities for better policies that gets us away from ad hoc (disaster assistance), and avoid bad amendments,” the lobbyist said.
Read our report on the implications of McCarty’s prolonged speakership battle.
Deere's David Gilmore and AFBF's Zippy Duvall at the signing of the "right to repair" MOU.

Vilsack headlines AFBF
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Puerto Rico for two days. Today, he’ll address the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting in San Juan. Tuesday, he’ll tour agriculture on the island.
On Sunday, AFBF President Zippy Duvall announced a memorandum of understanding with Deere and Co. that he said will allow farmers to identify and repair problems with equipment themselves or with the help of an independent mechanic. Deere executive Collis Jones says the “right-to-repair” MOU addresses existing confusion and misunderstandings around the country about Deere’s policies.
Take note: The policy doesn’t allow farmers to get the data they would need to modify equipment.
What’s next: Sam Kieffer, AFBF’s vice president of public policy, says the Farm Bureau wants to get other manufacturers to make similar commitments. “The intention of our organization is to continue the conversation with other manufacturers. We've been engaged in multiple conversations with several manufacturers, and it just so happens that the conversations with John Deere progressed the furthest and the fastest.”
Biden in Mexico with AMLO, Trudeau
President Biden will be in Mexico today and Tuesday for meetings with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A White House summary of the trip didn’t say whether Biden would raise one of the biggest trade concerns in agriculture right now: Mexico’s planned ban on biotech corn.
Today, Biden and López Obrador will talk about “strengthening our supply chains to make our hemisphere even more competitive (and) discuss our shared security, including our joint actions to address fentanyl, and how we can continue to tackle irregular migration together,” the White House said.    
Farm bill listening session postponed to Friday because of House Speaker votes
A listening session scheduled for this weekend at the Pennsylvania Farm Show to kick off farm bill discussions was postponed because House Republicans had to be at the Capitol to elect a leader.
By the time Kevin McCarthy was chosen as speaker on Saturday, the session slated for that day by incoming House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania had been shifted to Friday, Jan. 13, also at the farm show in Harrisburg from 1-3 p.m. Eastern.
Among those scheduled to attend to hear from “a variety of farmers, producers, agriculture educators” are: Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree of Maine, Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania and Jimmy Panetta of California, and Republicans Jim Baird, Indiana; Dan Meuser, Pennsylvania; Austin Scott, Georgia; Doug LaMalfa, California; Mary Miller, Illinois, and member-elect Derrick Van Orden, Wisconsin.
Ukraine: Russia still slowing Black Sea grain exports
Grain is flowing out of Ukraine’s three Odesa ports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, but more slowly than it should, according to Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry. Russian officials involved with the initiative are still slowing inspections in the Bosporus Strait, says the ministry, which points to 102 grain-laden vessels waiting to leave the Black Sea.
“Russia slows the process down by any means, restricting the export of Ukrainian products to global markets,” the ministry said in a tweet.
The Joint Coordination Center, a body made up of officials from the United Nations, Ukraine, Turkey and Russia, was set up under the Black Sea Grain Initiative to inspect ships that load grain at the Odesa ports.
Check out an Infrastructure Ministry video of a ship arriving in Ukraine to load grain here.
US pork exports got November boost
U.S. pork exports are still tracking lower for 2022, but the industry saw an increase in trade in November, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. The U.S. shipped out about 246,000 metric tons of pork in November, 3% more than in the same month in 2021. The value of U.S. pork exports in November reached about $725 million, a 10% increase.
Buyers in China, South Korea and the Philippines were all importing more U.S. pork in November, but the biggest spikes in shipments were to Mexico and the Dominican Republic, USMEF said in the report released Friday.

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“I cannot say enough about the tremendous performance of the Mexican market and its importance to the U.S. pork industry,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “U.S. pork faces heightened competition in Mexico, especially with the recent suspension of import duties. But U.S. industry efforts to educate the trade and consumers about the outstanding quality, consistency and value of U.S. pork continue to pay dividends and elevate overall demand.”
Increasing snowpack good news for Colorado River
The Colorado River basin has seen snow over the past few weeks, which is being welcomed in the drought-parched region. But more precipitation will be needed over the winter to replenish the river’s shrinking supplies. 
The Colorado River Basin had 139% of its median snow-water equivalent on Sunday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. 
Take note: California last week saw heavy rains that are expected to continue this week as the state prepares to see a “relentless parade of cyclones moving across the Pacific,” the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center says. The rainfall the state has seen so far, however, has not been enough to fill California’s reservoirs to their normal levels.
He said it: "It will ensure farmers everywhere are able to repair our own equipment. This will enable you and your independent mechanics to identify and fix problems. You will have access to the diagnostic tools and information you need. And you’ll get it at a fair and reasonable price.” – American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, on the Deere MOU, at the group’s convention in San Juan Sunday.

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