House Republicans remain unable to agree on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded in October. However, GOP leaders are going to try again to move the fiscal 2024 spending bill for USDA and FDA, along with some other FY24 measures.

After a flurry of negotiations that ran into the evening Thursday, the House Rules Committee scheduled a meeting today to consider a set of four FY24 appropriations bills, Agriculture, Defense, State-Foreign Operations and Homeland Security. GOP leaders tried but failed to bring the Agriculture bill to the House floor in July. 

Meanwhile, senators left town Thursday still unable to get agreement on bringing up a three-bill spending package that includes its version of the USDA-FDA bill. That appropriations minibus has gone nowhere for two weeks. 

Back in the saddle: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., needs every GOP vote he can get to pass either a CR or the appropriations bills. He will get some welcome relief when Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., is back in the Capitol next Wednesday. Lucas, a former chairman of the House Ag Committee, has been convalescing in Oklahoma since he was injured by a stray bull on his ranch in August. 

USDA offers $65 million to address ag workforce challenges

Agricultural employers can now apply for $65 million in funding under a new Farm Labor Stabilization and Protection Pilot Program launched by USDA to address challenges in obtaining agricultural workers. Through a competitive grant program, the pilot offers recipients $25,000 to $2 million to help defray the costs of getting workers into the United States and improving work conditions when they arrive. 

Ahead of the announcement, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told Agri-Pulse the pilot program offers ways for agricultural employers to creatively look for ways to attract and transport future workers, with a special focus on Central America. The grant window is 24 months, allowing employers to use the grant over the course of two production seasons. 

“We’re going to learn from this, and we’re going to see what works and what doesn’t work,” Vilsack said. 

Boozman: We need input on IRA funding

The top Republican on the Senate Ag Committee, John Boozman of Arkansas, says he’ll insist on getting input from colleagues and farm groups before bringing Inflation Reduction Act funding into the farm bill. 

Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack are insisting lawmakers ensure that the IRA funding for conservation programs continues to be restricted to climate-related farming practices. Boozman would like to ease those restrictions.

“I just feel very strongly that whatever we do in the farm bill … we have input from everyone,” Boozman says on this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers, available today at

Boost in farm loan caps proposed

Farm bill proposals are being introduced in the House and Senate to sharply raise limits on USDA farm loans. Under the House bill, the limit on guaranteed operating loans would rise from $2.04 million to $3 million, and from $2.4 million to $3.5 million for guaranteed ownership loans. 

The new limits under the Senate bill would be lower at $2.6 million for guaranteed operating loans and $3 million for guaranteed ownership loans. 

The cap on direct operating loans under both bills would go from $400,000 to $750,000. The limit on direct ownership loans would rise from $600,000 to $850,000. The cap on microloans would rise from $50,000 to $100,000. 

“FSA’s current loan limitations have failed to keep up with the rising land and input costs that have created a highly leveraged financial environment in farm country,” says Rep. Brad Finstad, a Minnesota Republican who’s introducing the House bill with Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn. 

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., are leading the Senate version.

By the way: The Farm Service Agency would be required to issue rules allowing distressed borrowers to refinance guaranteed loans into direct loans.

Federal government to assess social cost of GHGs in purchasing

The White House is ordering federal agencies to consider the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions in procurement and budget development.

“Agencies should consider procurements of large, durable, energy-consuming products and systems that could serve as pilots for incorporating the SC-GHG,” which the White House calls “a well-established metric for the known damages that greenhouse gas emissions cause across society.” 

The U.S. government is biggest purchaser in the world, spending more than $630 billion a year on goods and services.

Integrating the social cost of carbon into procurement can help the federal government reduce emissions and save taxpayer dollars, the White House says.

On the other hand: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., called the SC-GHG metric flawed. “The problem is the math doesn’t add up, and in fact, doesn’t exist,” she said.

Idalia cost Florida agriculture between $78.8M and $370.9M, early estimates say

University of Florida economists estimate Hurricane Idalia caused between $79 million and $371 million in damages to the state’s crops and livestock.

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According to a preliminary report, the storm caused between $31 and $123 million in damages to livestock operations, partially due to power outages, which caused dairy producers to dump stored milk, and damaged fences and sheds. Field and row crops are believed to have experienced between $31 million and $94 million in damages, while greenhouse nursery operations saw between $5 million and $69 million. 

Take note: The economists said widespread losses of citrus crops have not been reported, though “low-level” losses from citrus acreage in the storm’s path may add up to $21.9 million. 

USTR presses Mexico on steel, aluminum trade

The Biden administration is concerned about surging Mexican steel and aluminum exports to the U.S., a threat to the deal the two countries have that averts U.S. tariffs and potential Mexican retaliation. That was one of the messages delivered by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jayme White this week to Mexican Under Secretary of Economy for Foreign Trade Alejandro Encinas.

The Trump administration levied Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from both Mexico and Canada in 2019, but then lifted them as the three countries made progress in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement — subsequently called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

USMCA resulted in deals to boost U.S. dairy and poultry exports to Canada as well as updated sanitary and phytosanitary agreements between the three countries, but the primary goal of the U.S. ag sector was a continuation of the status quo of virtually zero tariffs under NAFTA.

He said it. “All of us are incredibly grateful for our rice farmers who play such a critical role in the fight against hunger” — Arkansas Foodbank CEO Brian Burton. Ten rice mills throughout out Arkansas are pledging to donate 240,000 pounds of the grain to food banks across the state. 

Jacqui Fatka, Steve Davies, Noah Wicks and Bill Tomson contributed to this report.