A farm bill doesn’t appear to be headed anywhere in the Senate, even though Ag Committee Republicans have now outlined their proposal. Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., doesn’t think the House Ag Committee’s bill can pass the House and fears a Senate bill could face the same fate, she says on this week’s Agri-Pulse Newsmakers.  

“I don’t want to bring a bill out of the committee in the Senate that has the same fate” as the House bill, she says.

Stabenow has rejected the GOP proposals in part because of cuts to nutrition spending and their removal of climate guardrails on Inflation Reduction Act funding. “The way you get a farm bill is making sure everybody's happy. And so that recognition hasn't happened yet,” she said.

Republicans say Stabenow’s red lines are preventing them from addressing the needs of farmers. 

Newsmakers will be available today at Agri-Pulse.com.

Military food insecurity: Biden hit for fighting targeted pay raise

Rep. Don Bacon, a retired Air Force general, is ripping the White House for opposing a 15% pay increase aimed at junior enlisted service members. Bacon says the raise that’s included in the House defense authorization bill would ensure military members no longer make so little they qualify for SNAP benefits.

Keep in mind: A recent USDA study found that more than 25% of active-duty military members are food insecure, compared with 10% of adult civilians.

“We're taking care of our junior enlisted who are defending our country, trying to get them off SNAP so they don't have to go to food banks, and he (Biden) opposes it. That’s dumb,” Bacon, R-Neb., told reporters Thursday. Bacon chairs the House Armed Services Committee’s quality of life panel.

The White House says in its statement of administration policy that the 15% increase would cost more than $3.3 billion in fiscal 2025 alone.

Fetterman rear-ends car after going too fast, says he’ll slow down in future

Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman is promising to drive more slowly after rear-ending another car on a Maryland highway, which resulted in the driver, Fetterman and his wife all going to the hospital.

The Democratic Senate Ag Committee member was driving “well over the posted speed limit” of 70 miles per hour, according to the Maryland State Police report, posted online by The Washington Post. He was not cited at the scene, but was found to be at fault.           

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“I need to do better and do it slower — and I will,” Fetterman told the Post, which reported he had to attend driver’s improvement school after being caught in Pennsylvania in March going 34 miles over the limit.

The Post also reported that Fetterman’s staff are afraid of driving with him, since he often texts or uses FaceTime while driving. (Fetterman’s spokesperson called that “gossip.”)

Both cars were towed from the scene, and Fetterman and his wife, Gisele, also went to the hospital.

On X, Fetterman said he and his wife were all right, but that the events were “not the best way to spend our 16th wedding anniversary.”

House panel explores California locomotive regulation 

The railroad industry is warning lawmakers that a California Air Resources Board regulation requiring zero-emission locomotives could have a ripple effect across the nation and potentially lead to more high-emitting trucks on the road to transport goods.

During a hearing Thursday of a House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee, rail industry representatives asked Congress to urge EPA to deny California a waiver under the Clean Air Act, effectively blocking the CARB rule.

Some witnesses, along with panel Republicans, argue the rule would be a de facto ban on diesel locomotives across the country. They also contend the electric transition would not make enough impact on emissions to warrant the potentially high costs to the industry and supply chain.

“Economics 101 says rail transportation costs will be affected,” said Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads. “Inflationary pressure would shift freight to the highways, increasing emissions, increasing congestion and furthering damage to publicly owned infrastructure.”

Panel Democrats and a witness from Bay Area Air Quality Management District argued trains are responsible for a high number of emissions and pose higher cancer and health risks to those living near railyards.

National beef group responds to FDA study 

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says more scientific data is needed in response to a recent FDA multi-year study on the spread of bacteria to leafy greens grown in the West. 

The study found that airborne dust from concentrated animal feeding operations can spread bacteria like E. coli to produce. While the research was launched in response to a 2018 leafy greens E. coli outbreak, the agency has said the study did not identify the specific source and route of contamination in the outbreak.

 In a statement, NCBA said cattle operations “appear to be an easy target” but are already subject to many regulations to minimize the environmental impact and ensure food safety.

“Clearly, more scientific data is needed, but we must not allow ourselves to get ahead of science and play the blame game,” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall. “Farmers and ranchers dedicate significant resources toward identifying and implementing practices that protect the environment, while also supporting food safety.”

BLM director defends conservation lease rule

At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing on Thursday, Bureau of Land Management Director Tracey Stone-Manning defended a recently finalized rule that will allow mitigation and restoration leases on lands overseen by the agency.

“It is very explicitly clear that managing for fish and wildlife habitat, managing for natural and scenic values … is our responsibility,” Stone-Manning said, defending the rule from criticisms mounted by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Lee argued the rule is an example of a “museum approach” that he said has “taken over” the BLM.

“Increasingly, BLM under your leadership seems to have taken an approach that manages these lands like a museum,” Lee said. "It’s a you-can-look-but-you-cannot-touch sort of approach."

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