Congress is staring at a possible government shutdown next weekend as House GOP leaders try to win passage of a stopgap spending bill that’s combined with a one-year extension of the 2018 farm bill. 

The “laddered” stopgap measure released by GOP leaders on Saturday faces opposition from Democrats because it would set two different spending deadlines for departments and agencies, while some hardline conservatives are denouncing the bill because it wouldn’t force immediate cuts in federal spending. 

The farm bill extension, the result of a bipartisan deal worked out among the leaders of the House and Senate Ag committees, must pass by early January to avoid triggering laws dating back to 1938 and 1949, forcing USDA to take steps next year to dramatically raise the price of milk, wheat and other commodities. 

In a joint statement released Sunday, the chairs and ranking members of the Ag committees said, “As negotiations on funding the government progress, we were able to come together to avoid a lapse in funding for critical agricultural programs and provide certainty to producers. This extension is in no way a substitute for passing a 5-year Farm Bill and we remain committed to working together to get it done next year.”

But at least one GOP hardliner also is unhappy with the farm bill extension, which includes new money for some expired programs that have been left without funding.

The extension offers “status quo policies, and status quo funding levels,” House Freedom Caucus member Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, said Saturday evening in a post on X, formerly Twitter. “Disappointing is as polite as I can muster. I will be voting NO. Hopefully, the consensus will result in a more reasonable bill.”

The underlying stopgap spending bill is needed to prevent the government from shutting down after a continuing resolution that’s been funding the government since fiscal 2024 started Oct 1. expires on Friday.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said the stopgap bill “would place House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative victories. The bill will stop the absurd holiday-season omnibus tradition of massive, loaded up spending bills introduced right before the Christmas recess.”

The legislation would set two new deadlines for Congress to keep the government funded for fiscal 2024. Departments and agencies covered by the FY24 Agriculture, Energy-Water, Transportation-HUD and Military Construction measures would be funded through Jan. 19.The Agriculture bill provides annual appropriations for USDA, FDA and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 

Departments and agencies covered by the other eight annual appropriations bills would be funded under the CR through Feb. 2.

Meanwhile this week, lawyers representing the American Farm Bureau Federation and other ag and business groups will file amended complaints in North Dakota and Texas federal courts on Monday challenging the Biden administration’s revisions to its rule redefining the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. 

The modified “waters of the U.S.” rule issued in August is intended to comply with the Supreme Court’s Sackett decision this year that forced the administration to scale back the reach of the WOTUS rule. 

But the new filings by the ag and business groups, which amend lawsuits filed against the administration before the Sackett ruling, will argue that the new rule failed to fully implement the Sackett ruling, said Tim Bishop, a lawyer representing the organizations. 

Bishop told members of the American Agricultural Law Association at its annual education conference that the new rule was “plainly unlawful” under the Supreme Court ruling. 

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Elsewhere in Congress this week, the Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday to look at the potential for artificial intelligence in agriculture.

The witnesses will include Jahmy Hindman, the chief technology officer for Deere and Co.; Mason Earles, a former engineer for Apple who runs the AI Institute for Next-Generation Food Systems at the University of California, Davis; and Sanjeev Krishnan, chief investment officer for S2G Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in the food and agriculture sector. 

Also this week, the FDA’s new deputy commissioner for human foods, Jim Jones, plans to hold online his first large stakeholder meeting. Jones will answer questions about how he plans to accomplish his goals at the agency. 

Jones “brings a record of accomplishment while at the Environmental Protection Agency and has the advantage of having been part of the Reagan-Udall Foundation review of FDA’s food safety programs,” said Steven Grossman, Executive Director for the Alliance for a Stronger FDA. 

At a virtual event hosted by the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, stakeholders can ask their own questions of how Jones plans to accomplish the goals of the agency. 

On Tuesday, the concept of using food interventions to address diet-related diseases will be the focus of former Agriculture Secretaries Dan Glickman and Ann Veneman, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., at a virtual Bipartisan Policy Center event. 

The four have been part of a group that has been working since May to formulate recommendations on policies and actions needed to increase nutrition education and access to medically appropriate food. 

Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):

Monday, Nov. 13

Western Growers 2023 annual meeting through Wednesday, Kauai.

4 p.m. – USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report. 

Tuesday, Nov. 14

10 a.m. – Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on artificial intelligence in agriculture328A Russell.

11 a.m. – Bipartisan Policy Center webinar: “Healthy Eating Rx: Improving Nutrition Through Health Care.”

Wednesday, Nov. 15

National Association of Farm Broadcasting annual convention, through Friday, Kansas City.

1 p.m. – USDA Biotechnology Regulatory Services annual stakeholder meeting, virtual and in person, Riverdale, Maryland. 

5 p.m. – American Association for the Advancement of Science lecture by Joe Cornelius, CEO of Bill and Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations (Gates Ag One), “Reimagining the Arc to Impact,” 1200 New York Ave NW.

Thursday, Nov. 16

8:30 a.m. – USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.

Friday, Nov. 17

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