Democratic members of the House Agriculture Committee met with Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on Wednesday afternoon and left reiterating concerns about the GOP farm bill proposal.

“What is clear is that the only way forward is an authentic, bipartisan farm bill that will require a substantial number of Democratic votes in order for it to pass the House,” Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters.

Stabenow, D-Mich., said her main message during the hour-long meeting centered on House Republicans’ proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as well as their intent to remove climate guardrails on $13 billion in Inflation Reduction Act conservation funding. Her alternative bill won praise from some House Democrats. 

“It is not some far-right or far-left leaning bill,” Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, told Agri-Pulse of Stabenow’s proposal. "It’s a bill that establishes that the farm bill is a nonpartisan issue."

Take note: After the meeting, Stabenow and House Ag’s ranking member, David Scott of Georgia, issued a joint statement, saying Republicans are “proposing policies that split the broad, bipartisan coalition that has always been the foundation of a successful farm bill.”

Does the bill have a future? House Ag Chairman Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., isn’t ready to talk about putting the farm bill on the House floor.  “The strategy for floor time needs to wait until we do the committee markup,” he said. “Then I'll have a better feel for my recommendation for a strategy for success on the floor.”

45Z guidance urgently needed, Treasury told

Farm and biofuel groups are joining the airline and railroad industries to push the Treasury Department to issue guidance as soon as possible for a clean fuels tax credit, known as 45Z, that takes effect next year.

letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen from 25 trade organizations says their “member companies and organizations may face significant headwinds and business risk if this guidance is not published promptly.”

The letter also notes, “The clean fuels marketplace is a complicated ecosystem that is tied in many cases to agricultural inputs and feedstock production, sales of fuel and futures, allocations to third-party marketers and other factors that require many months of advance understanding of the new tax structure.”

Keep in mind: The Treasury Department just released guidance for a temporary tax credit, known as 40B, for sustainable aviation fuel that expires at the end of this year, to be replaced by 45Z. Farm and biofuel groups hope the 45Z guidance will provide more flexibility for agricultural feedstocks. The 40B guidance requires corn used for SAF to be grown with a trio of climate-smart practices, including cover crops and no-till.

Beef groups seek some consideration from their own trade reps

Beef producers from the U.S., Mexico and Canada urged their top trade officials to hold South American trading partners accountable for health and safety standards when deciding whether to allow their producers’ beef into North America.

“Foot-and-Mouth Disease is present in South America, and we need our governments to prioritize the health and safety of our cattle over the expedience of winning friends in South America,” the leaders of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Canadian Cattle Association, and the National Confederation of Livestock Organizations say in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and her counterparts in Canada and Mexico.

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The industry leaders call it “disturbing” that Brazil and Argentina were allowed to access Mexico’s market “without thorough food safety and animal health audits, and most importantly, without consultation with the Mexican cattle sector.” In addition, Brazil and Paraguay gained access to the U.S. market despite opposition from the U.S. cattle sector, “who cited numerous science-based justifications for why these countries pose a risk to the health and safety of the U.S. cattle herd,” the industry leaders say.

Those actions and others have not resulted in “meaningful reciprocal trade for U.S., Mexican, or Canadian beef products,” the letter says. “If this trajectory does not change, it will put North American producers at a tremendous disadvantage to our competitors.”

Possibly on the horizon: The Senate passed a resolution by a veto-proof majority, 70-25, to overturn USDA’s decision to allow Paraguayan beef into the U.S. Now it’s up to the House, but no vote has been scheduled.

EPA advisory panel on CAFO pollution to meet May 30-31

The first meeting of a federal advisory committee looking at how to reduce water pollution from animal feeding operations will be held in two weeks.

The Animal Agriculture and Water Quality Subcommittee meeting will take place May 30 and 31 in Washington. Attendees can register to attend in person or virtually

The subcommittee will develop recommendations to inform EPA’s regulation of concentrated animal feeding operations. EPA formed the subcommittee in response to a petition it actually denied. Environmental groups who filed the petition wanted the agency to address its CAFO regulations now instead of continuing to study the issue.

Food & Water Watch and other groups are continuing to seek relief in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The subcommittee’s membership includes academic experts, representatives from the meat and dairy industry, environmental advocates, state agency officials, and others. 

Vilsack announces new funding for organic market development

USDA has announced an additional $10 million in funding to expand markets for organic products through the Organic Market Development Grant Program, and awards will be announced this summer.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service also awarded about $24.8 million for 23 projects to help develop new and existing organic markets.To date, the agency has invested $75.2 million in 93 projects through the program.

The Organic Trade Association and the Organic Center received $2.2 million in matching funds for a project that aims to educate consumers on the science-backed benefits of certified organic products and farming. 

“Consumers lack information about all that the USDA Organic label stands for and all the benefits it delivers for human health, the environment and businesses,” said OTA co-CEO Tom Chapman. “Our project aims to increase the consumption of organic by giving consumers access to more credible information about what organic production and processing means, and the advantages it provides.” 

Rebekah Alvey, Philip Brasher and Noah Wicks contributed to this report.