Major commodity programs are mounting a defense of federal checkoff programs, which are being targeted by a proposed amendment to USDA’s fiscal 2024 appropriations bill. The amendment filed by Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind., would bar USDA from operating the 22 programs. 

“Pork producers overwhelmingly support their checkoff and understand the immense value it brings to pig farmers across the country,” said Bryan Humphreys, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council. 

The American Soybean Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Milk Producers Federation also issued statements opposing the amendment. 

Keep in mind: The House Rules Committee is scheduled to decide today which amendments will be debated on the House floor. 

But House GOP leaders were still working Tuesday to try to get enough Republican support to bring the bill up for debate this week ahead of a long recess.  

Democrats seek heat standard from Biden administration

More than 110 members of Congress are calling on the Labor Department to adopt a heat standard to protect workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration asked for input two years ago on what an occupational standard might include but has yet to issue a proposal. 

In their letter to Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su, the Democratic senators and House members note that a recent Texas law overrides local ordinances requiring that workers get water breaks. 

“This bill repeals local laws that protect the interests of everyday people in sectors such as labor, agriculture, natural resources, and finance,” they said. “When this bill takes effect on September 1, local protections against extreme heat, such as the Austin and Dallas ordinances that require water breaks for construction workers, will be nullified.”

Take note: June was the hottest month in recorded history

Farm bill proposal offers manure management alternatives

Legislation introduced in the House and Senate would set up a new voluntary program to help livestock and dairy operations of all sizes reduce their environmental footprint.

The program, intended for inclusion in the next farm bill, would cover most of the cost of equipment and infrastructure “so producers can move to manure handling systems that achieve greater environmental benefits,” according to a fact sheet on the COWS Act – which stands for the Converting Our Waste Sustainably Act. The projects would offer farms alternatives to more costly methane digesters, one advocate says. 

The Senate version is sponsored by Democratic Sens. Alex Padilla of California and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree joined two Californians, Democrat Jim Costa and Republican David Valadao, in sponsoring the House version.

Bill pushes EPA to take USDA input on pesticides

EPA would be required to seriously consider feedback from USDA when it comes to pesticide regulation, under legislation introduced by Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas. The requirement would apply to proposed EPA registration decisions that impose “more restrictive changes to a pesticide label,” according to the bill.

Keep in mind: Marshall has said EPA failed to take USDA’s advice on proposed atrazine restrictions that have caused consternation in farm country.

In response to questions about those claims back in April, a USDA spokesperson said the department’s Office of Pest Management Policy and EPA “discussed the atrazine case and mitigation options under consideration prior to release of EPA’s mitigation document for comment. We appreciated the opportunity for discussion and made a number of suggestions, resulting in EPA making some adjustments to the mitigation.”

OPMP officials meet regularly with officials from EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, the spokesperson said.

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Russia vows to help Africa with wheat exports 

Russia is widely being condemned for terminating the Black Sea Grain Initiative and attacking Ukrainian port facilities, factors that are pushing global wheat prices higher, but Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry is now saying it will provide for African countries that rely on low-cost commodities. 

“Notwithstanding the sanctions, Russia will continue its energetic efforts to provide supplies of grain, food products, fertilizers, and other goods to Africa,” the Russian ministry said in a tweet Tuesday.

But Russia continues to bomb Ukrainian grain-exporting facilities – the latest on the Danube River, according to the Ukrainian foreign affairs minister, who urged “all nations, particularly those in Africa and Asia who are most affected by rising food prices, to mount a united global response to food terrorism.”

India export ban seen pushing up prices in Ukraine

The price of rice for Ukrainian consumers is expected to rise as a result of India’s recent ban on exports of long grain white rice, according to the consulting firm APK-Inform.

India, one of the world’s largest rice-producing countries, is also a major supplier to Ukraine. India exported 34,500 metric tons of rice to Ukraine from March 2022 through June 2023, which accounted for 30% Ukraine’s imports during the ongoing war with Russia, the firm said.

He said it. “It is a signal to the long-suffering public that the Congress does hear you when you complain about things.” – Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, defending House Republicans devoting floor time to resolutions aimed at overturning regulatory actions by the Biden administration.  

One Senate-approved resolution pending in the House would overturn the endangered species listing of the lesser prairie chicken. President Biden is certain to veto the measure. 

Steve Davies and Bill Tomson contributed to this report.