WASHINGTON, April 27, 2016 - Donald Trump is calling himself the “presumptive” Republican nominee after sweeping primaries in Pennsylvania and four other states yesterday. Hillary Clinton did what she needed to do to stay on track for the Democratic nomination, racking up victories in Pennsylvania as well as Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware. Bernie Sanders won Rhode Island.

Exit polls continue to buttress Trump’s argument that his attacks on trade policy are resonating with GOP voters. In Pennsylvania, more than half of Republican voters said that trade takes away jobs. Only about 40 percent think trade creates jobs. Pennsylvania Democrats were divided evenly on whether trade kills or creates jobs.

Trump is back in the nation's capitol today to make what is being billed as a major foreign policy speech.

House leader to candidates: Bring water. California’s upcoming June 7 primary offers a chance for the Central Valley to get some unusual attention from the Republican candidates. That’s because California’s GOP delegates will be allocated to results in each congressional delegate. 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who’s from Bakersfield, told reporters that to win the Central Valley the candidates should talk about how they’re to get the Senate to go along with drought-relief legislation that has passed the House. “If you want to win the Central Valley, you ought to show your solution to water,” he said. 

Elements of the House bill, which would overturn environmental restrictions on federal and state water projects, are included in an Army Corps of Engineers spending bill for fiscal 2017.

McCarthy won’t commit to TPP timing. The anti-trade tenor of the campaign has made it tough for congressional Republicans to take up the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But McCarthy says the problem is that the White House is still working on addressing concerns about several issues, including pharmaceuticals and tobacco. He won’t commit to taking up the trade deal this summer.

Meat and dairy seen escaping GMO labeling. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts told members of the North American Agricultural Journalists yesterday that one of the issues in negotiations over biotech labeling has been whether to apply it to meat and dairy products from animals fed GMO feed. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Debbie Stabenow, says she believes meat and dairy will be exempt, as they are in Europe and under the state labeling laws now on the books. 

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, tells Agri-Pulse his group has been “focused on making sure there’s no labeling requirement for dairy products.”

A leading advocate of mandatory GMO labeling, Jean Halloran of Consumers Union, says it doesn’t make sense to label meat and dairy. She puts it this way: Eating genetically engineered feed doesn’t make an animal a GMO any more than eating biotech food makes a human a GMO.

Scuse wants refinements in farm bill programs to aid farmers. After overseeing implementation of the 2014 farm bill, USDA’s acting deputy secretary, Michael Scuse, has some ideas for overhauling new programs for row crops and dairy that could benefit farmers. 

He says that the Agriculture Risk Coverage program should move away from county to individual farm coverage. He says that would address the complaints where farms in one county get bigger payments than those in a neighboring area. “I think it’s a more fair program if it’s farm-based,” Scuse told the National Association of Farm Broadcasters yesterday. 

Scuse says the Margin Protection Program for dairy producers needs to incorporate regional differences in production costs. 

Also on his wish list: Raising the cap on the Conservation Reserve Program to 30 million acres. The farm bill lowered the cap to 24 million acres. CRP’s good for the environment and generates revenue from recreation, he says. 

The Farm Service Agency is developing a survey for state directors and committees to gather their recommendations for the 2018 farm bill.

House to advance tariff relief, trade secrets protection. The House is scheduled to approve a pair of bills today that are important to pesticide manufacturers and biotech companies. The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act would set up a process for determining tariff relief on components that the pesticide industry need to import. The previous miscellaneous tariff bill, as it is known, expired in 2012. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation, CropLife America and several agribusiness companies, including Deere and Company, Monsanto, Syngenta, and Bayer CropScience, signed a letter asking Congress to pass the bill.

Also on the House schedule is the Senate-passed Defend Trade Secrets Act. It would allow biotech companies to file civil claims directly in federal courts against people believed to have stolen trade secrets. House passage sends the bill to President Obama for his signature.

He said it. “Who would come to see us? No one knows who we are.” - Rep. Collin Peterson talking to the North American Agricultural Journalists about a possible invitation for his bipartisan band, The Second Amendments, to play at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the Republican National Convention.


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