Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow is calling on farm groups to fight any cuts to farm bill programs as House Republicans work to reduce spending this year.
“I hope all of the agricultural groups will come together and support us” to oppose reductions, the Michigan Democrat says in an interview with Agri-Pulse Newsmakers. “This is an incredibly important bill, a must-pass bill, and we don’t want to get caught up in anybody else’s agenda or ideology.”
Bottom line: She doesn’t want a repeat of 2011, when House Republicans instigated a battle over the debt ceiling that eventually resulted in $23 billion in cuts to farm bill spending.
By the way: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is downplaying concerns that the GOP plans to use the debt ceiling to get a deal with Democrats on spending could hurt the economy. “We don’t want to put any fiscal problems to our economy, and we won’t,” he told reporters Thursday.
But, he said, “We’ve got to change the way we are spending money wastefully in this country, and we’re going to make sure that happens.”
Newsmakers will be available today at and airs Saturday on RFD-TV at 11 a.m. EST.
Ricketts gets Nebraska seat
It’s finally official: Former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts will take the Senate seat left open when Ben Sasse resigned to become president of the University of Florida. Nebraska’s new governor, Jim Pillen, announced Thursday he was appointing Ricketts to fill the seat for the next two years.
“We’ve got to hold Washington, D.C., accountable for the waste and fraud and make sure that we're running government like a business, just like we’ve done here,” Ricketts said during a news conference at the state capitol in Lincoln.
The seat will be on the ballot in 2024 and again in 2026.
Plant breeding said threatened by regulatory delays 
U.S. biotech regulations are making it harder for plant breeders to bring new gene-edited products to market, putting the country at a competitive disadvantage internationally, speakers representing researchers and seed and technology companies said at a federal listening session Thursday.
“Inconsistencies and delays at USDA for gene-edited products threaten to hamper U.S. competitiveness even at the field trial testing stage,” said Jerry Hjelle of Hjelle Advisors in St. Louis. He said biotech approvals in Brazil, which are done by a single agency, “are now consistently much faster than U.S. approvals.”
Jim Radtke, a senior vice president of biotech company Cibus, said USDA needs to streamline its review process for crops that result from multiple but simple gene edits.  He was speaking on behalf of the American Seed Trade Association.
Former Interior secretary: Cut ag water usage
Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is calling for the department to limit agricultural water deliveries in Arizona and California and break what he calls an “internal deadlock” from irrigation districts in these states.
Babbitt, in a column written for the Nevada Independent, says the Interior Department can use Section 417 authority to limit agricultural water deliveries to amounts “reasonably required for beneficial use.” He says the term “reasonable” has taken on a new meaning under current conditions on the river system, which he says is "at risk of collapse."
“It is now time for the Interior to use its Section 417 authority for an expansive review of all agricultural use contracts and to reduce allocations to reflect a fair measure of burden sharing,” Babbitt writes.
USDA lowers global soy production estimate
USDA has lowered its estimate for global soybean production for the 2022-23 marketing year.
Brazil, which just began its harvest, is expected to have a record crop, but production in the U.S., Argentina and Uruguay are all lower than previously expected, according to USDA’s latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.

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Brazil is now expected to produce 153 million metric tons of soybeans. That’s 1 million tons more than the December WASDE forecast, but USDA also lowered its forecast for Argentina’s production by 4 million tons. And in the U.S., farmers harvested about 116.38 million tons for the 2022-23 marketing year. That’s down by 1.85 million tons from USDA’s prediction last month of 118.27 million tons.
USDA also lowered its forecast for U.S. soybean exports due in part to a new, higher estimate for Chinese production. USDA said it cut its U.S. export forecast by 1.5 million tons because of higher-than-expected Chinese production and stiffer competition with Brazil.
Broiler welfare guidelines get update
The National Chicken Council has revised its broiler welfare guidelines, which NCC says “have been widely adopted by chicken farmers and processors to ensure all chickens are being properly cared for and treated humanely.”
First issued in 1999, the guidelines are updated annually and cover each phase of a chicken’s life. The latest edition includes an update on evaluating birds’ gait and their overall ability to move freely to feed and water.
Ashley Peterson, NCC’s senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, says, “Our approach to the well-being of birds is to focus on objective measures and welfare outcomes throughout the birds’ entire lives by carefully observing the chickens’ behavior.”
He said it. “What we went through last week will only make us stronger in the long run.” – House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on his struggle to win the speakership last week.

Note: The original version had Gov. Jim Pillen's first name incorrect. 

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