Congress continues to move toward a showdown on federal spending this week. But first, the Senate is going to take up a package of three fiscal 2024 spending bills, including the measure to fund the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration.

Why it matters: The bipartisan spending package should pass easily, but the Senate is expected to have a fairly open amendment process that could allow votes on issues related to farm programs.

Meanwhile, the House is back in session this week after a long summer recess. House Republicans will be struggling to reach an agreement over a continuing resolution that will be needed to fund the government after the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Also this week: The House is scheduled to vote on the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act, a bill that would block states from banning or trying to phase out motor vehicles with internal combustion engines. The California Air Resources Board finalized regulations last year that would require all new light-duty vehicles to be zero emission by 2035.

Because many states link their standards to California’s, the ban on gas-powered cars could have a broad national impact, and Republicans want to head that off.

The regulations still need EPA approval. In March, EPA gave California authority to require that half of all new heavy-duty vehicles sold in the state by 2035 be electric.

Why it matters: The bill has no real chance of becoming law, but it will give Republicans a chance to signal what they might do on electric vehicle policy should they win control of Congress. 

For more on the challenges facing Congress this week, read our Washington Week Ahead. 

Vilsack addresses NFU members

The National Farmers Union comes to D.C. today for its annual legislative fly-in, where the hosts will be Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small.

Torres Small will welcome the NFU members to USDA this morning, and Vilsack “will deliver remarks highlighting USDA’s ongoing efforts under the Biden-Harris Administration to build more, new and better markets, increase competition, strengthen farm and food businesses, grow producer income, advance equity at the department, bolster the food supply chain, and create more jobs and economic opportunities,” the department said.

The fly-in runs until Wednesday and will feature visits with key lawmakers and briefings from Capitol Hill and White House staff.

Kroger, Albertsons to divest over 400 stores in merger

Kroger and Albertsons will sell 413 stores across 17 states and the District of Columbia, along with the QFC, Mariano’s and Carrs brand names, to C&S Wholesale Grocers as part of its merger plan to achieve antitrust approval. 

C&S is a supplier to independent grocery stores and supplies more than 7,500 independent supermarkets including Piggly Wiggly and Grand Union stores.

Don't miss a beat! Sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in agriculture in Washington, D.C. and around the country, click here.

In the $1.9 billion deal, C&S will also receive eight distribution centers and two offices. If needed to secure Federal Trade Commission approval, Kroger says it may require C&S to buy up to an additional 237 stores. The company said the “merger remains on track to close in early 2024.”

Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of The Kroger Co., said, “C&S’s strong operational focus and financial resources, along with a comprehensive operational infrastructure included as part of the divestiture agreement, will position it to successfully operate and continue to grow these iconic brands for years to come.” 

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said it would review the latest development “fairly and objectively.”

“The UFCW and all our locals remain absolutely united to using every tool we have to protect our union members’ livelihoods and their families’ future health and well-being,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said. UFCW has previously voted to oppose the merger.

The companies said they would honor all existing collective bargaining agreements.

Corn growers urge Treasury to use GREET model for aviation fuel tax credits

The National Corn Growers Association and several of its state-level affiliates are urging the Treasury Department to adopt the Argonne National Laboratory’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation model when implementing the Inflation Reduction Act’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel tax credits.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the groups said the GREET model is the “most robust and updated model or methodology for transportation lifecycle assessment” and that it takes into account agricultural production practices adopted by farmers. They pointed to a statement President Joe Biden made in a recent speech that said farmers will provide “95% of all the sustainable airline fuel” in the next 20 years.

“Judging from the comment,” they wrote, "the president is not only clearly aware of the environmentally important role biofuels play in reducing aviation emissions, but he also understands that turning to corn farmers for this resource will be critically important to rural economies."

US, India further tighten trade ties with tariff cuts

The Biden administration announced Friday that India has agreed to cut more of its tariffs on U.S. ag commodities after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Biden to New Delhi for a G20 summit.

India, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced, has agreed to slash tariffs on turkey, duck, blueberries and cranberries. Tariffs will drop from 30% to 5% on imports of U.S. turkey, duck and cranberries. Duties drop from 30% to 10% on U.S. blueberries. India agreed in June to cut tariffs on chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts and apples.

“The National Turkey Federation applauds the efforts by the U.S. and Indian governments to significantly reduce the tariffs. This move creates an important new market for U.S. turkey producers and will give Indians more affordable access to a nutritious, delicious protein,” said Joel Brandenberger, president and CEO of the National Turkey Federation.

The poultry industry had been also hoping for cuts to India’s much steeper 100% tariffs on U.S. chicken.

For more news, go to