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 Biden, committee leaders plan more talks

 President Biden and leaders of the House and Senate Ag leaders discussed the farm bill for more than an hour Thursday evening and agreed to meet again in the “not-too-distant future.” That’s the word from the top Republican on the Senate Ag Committee, John Boozman of Arkansas. 

 In an interview with Agri-PulseBoozman described Thursday’s meeting as “very, very cordial.” “More than anything the president just wanted to get together to voice his support, that he knew the work we were doing was very important,” Boozman said.

Why it matters: It’s noteworthy that a president would call in the Ag committee leaders for a meeting this early in the process, although Boozman described the discussions as fairly general. In a joint statement, the four committee leaders said the discussion was about the “importance of passing a bipartisan Farm Bill this year.”

State animal housing rules prevail

 The Supreme Court’ Proposition 12 decision  appears to bring an end to challenges to the law, which bans the sale of pork in the state that comes from the offspring of sows raised in gestation crates. The California law, and a similar measure in Massachusetts that also had been delayed by state courts until the Supreme Court ruled, now can go into effect.

 The National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation petitioned the court to overturn a 9th Circuit decision upholding the law, which was approved by 63% of California voters in 2018.

 Animal welfare groups hailed the 5-4 ruling, while trade groups and farm-state lawmakers said California should not be able to “dictate the agricultural practices of the rest of the nation,” as GOP Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas put it.

Take note: Laura Fox, a professor at Vermont Law and Graduate School, and director of the Farmed Animal Advocacy Clinic, found it “remarkable that the highest court in the land has acknowledged that ‘[p]igs are not trucks or trains.”

 “Though this statement was made to clarify that restrictions on pig production should not be equated with transportation restrictions, the recognition that animals are distinct from inanimate property is a promising indicator,” she added.

GOP border-security bill passes with mandatory E-Verify

With a surge of migrants expected at the southern border, House Republicans won narrow passage of a border-security bill that includes a provision requiring all employers to use the E-Verify system to check the legal status of workers. Because of concerns raised by farm groups, GOP leaders added a provision saying it was the “sense of Congress” that the Homeland Security Department should “ensure any adverse impact on the nation’s agricultural workforce, operations, and food security are considered and addressed.”

But the Ag Workforce Coalition warned in a statement that the E-Verify requirement would harm farmers without additional reforms that would ensure an adequate supply of labor. “Reform has been consistently urged by farmers for decades. Without these vital solutions, this provision will harm many labor-dependent family farms across the U.S. and the consumers who rely upon them,” the coalition said. 

Rep. John Duarte, a California farmer who was one of only two Republicans to vote against the bill, said in a statement that Republicans needed to work with Democrats to develop a bill “that benefits our working families and strengthens our nation’s economy.”

Washington GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse, who’s also a farmer, voted for the bill but told Agri-Pulse he was concerned about the E-Verify requirement. "We would be putting farmers – making them essentially the police force, which is a problem. That's not something that we're equipped to do.”

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Why it matters: The bill has no chance of passing the Senate, which is good for ag, because mandating E-Verify without providing a. source of replacement workers is a worst-case scenario for the farm sector. 

Moran: Republicans will protect ag funding

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., says Republicans will protect farm programs from the spending cuts that GOP leaders are pushing President Biden to accept in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling.

“Republicans in particular are going to want to reach an agreement that is not harmful to agriculture,” Moran said in an interview for this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers. “In ag country, Republicans cannot afford to be seen as not caring about their farmers and ranchers and the communities that those farmers and ranchers live in and serve,” he added. 

Newsmakers will be available today at

Bayer, Nutrien adjust earnings predictions downward

Lower prices for glyphosate-based herbicides contributed to lower-than-expected sales and earnings in the first quarter for The Bayer Group, which adjusted its earnings forecast downward for the rest of 2023. The remainder of the year contains “potential risks mainly arising from the significantly reduced market price expectations for glyphosate-based products,” Bayer said.

Take note: On a call with investment analysts, Crop Science Division Head Rodrigo Santos expressed optimism about research on a new herbicidal mode of action to “complement” glyphosate, predicting a launch by the end of the decade.

 Meanwhile: Fertilizer giant Nutrien also lowered its earnings forecast for calendar 2023 The company reported tighter margins and lower sales volumes for potash, and “lower net realized selling prices for all major nitrogen products.”

 Nutrien Chief Financial Officer Pedro Farah said the results “reflect the impact of structural supply issues and shifting buying patterns that have contributed to an unprecedented period of market volatility.”

House Ag approves bill to funnel aid to Florida citrus

 The House Agriculture Committee approved a bill Thursday that’s intended to help deliver emergency aid to Florida citrus growers who saw their groves damaged last year by Hurricane Ian. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

Congress approved $3.7 billion in aid for farms that suffered from natural disasters, but this new bill is needed to make those funds available to specialty crop producers through grants, says Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla.

Take note: The committee also advanced a bill to keep funding in place though 2028 for the “Beagle Brigade” training center that teaches dogs to sniff out illegal food in passenger luggage at U.S. airports. The dogs are essential to efforts to keep foreign pests and diseases out of the U.S., said the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. David Scott, D-Ga.

She said it. “What is Florida, if not citrus?” – Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla.

 Steve Davies and Bill Tomson contributed to this report.