WASHINGTON, April, 29, 2016 - Lawmakers are stampeding for the exits, so to speak, for a week-long break. But just before shutting down last night, the Senate cleared legislation that declares the bison the national mammal. The bill had passed the House earlier in the week. 

Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association, says the designation not only recognizes the historic role of bison in America but also “celebrates the resurgence of bison as an important part of the American environment, diet, and an emerging part of the agricultural economy.” Carter hopes the White House will have a ceremony for the bill signing.

The bison would join the bald eagle, the oak tree, and the rose as national symbols of the United States.

McConnell: Outlook for TPP ‘bleak’ this year. In an exclusive interview with Agri-Pulse’s Jeff Nalley, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that the attacks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the presidential campaign have made it virtually impossible to get trade pact through Congress before 2017. “It looks bleak for this year,” McConnell said.

McConnell said that, because of the presidential campaign, the political environment for trade policy on Capitol Hill is the worst he’s ever seen.

McConnell suggested that the next president could negotiate changes in the agreement.  “The good news is the deal does not go away. It’s still there. It can be modified,” he said. You can listen to the entire Open Mic interview, starting on Sunday.

Fuel tank provision dropped from Senate WRDA. A new water projects bill is moving forward in the Senate without a provision providing regulatory relief for on-farm fuel storage. The 2014 Water Resources Development Act temporarily exempted farms with between 2,500 to 6,000 gallons of above-ground oil storage capacity from EPA spill regulations.

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., who sponsored that 2014 provision, cast the lone dissenting vote against the new WRDA bill that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved yesterday. An EPA study released last June upheld the original regulation's 1,320-gallon threshold.

Good news on salmonella, drug resistance. The government’s latest data on rates of salmonella and antibiotic resistance in meat and poultry are showing some continued, broad improvement. The overall prevalence of salmonella in retail poultry hit its lowest level since testing started in 2002. 

Multi-drug resistance in salmonella dropped from 45 percent in chicken in 2011 to 20 percent in the first half of last year, the Food and Drug Administration says. The rate in turkey fell from 50 percent to 36 percent over that period.

Findings in retail chicken of salmonella resistant to one important antibiotic, ceftriaxone, plunged from a high of 38 percent in 2009 to 5 percent in the first half of last year, the Food and Drug Administration says. Ceftriaxone is used to treat people who are seriously ill.

Could Trump loss spark immigration reform? Donald Trump has tied his campaign so closely to immigration policy that a big loss in the general election could clear the way for congressional leaders to pass a sweeping reform bill next year, conservative columnist David Frum argues in The Atlantic. Frum’s theory is that a Trump loss would discredit hard-line opponents of immigration reform.

One of the Republicans who helped negotiate the Senate’s 2013 immigration bill, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, tells Agri-Pulse that he hopes a Trump defeat would change GOP views on the issue. “If you nominate Trump, you’re taking every problem we have with the Hispanic community and pouring gasoline on it,” Graham said. Graham went on to say that if Trump loses badly, and it’s still “not clear that we need to fix immigration in a more rational way … it will never be clear to the Republican Party.”

Although immigration is a signature issue for Trump, it’s not clear from exit polling how big of a factor it’s been in his race. For example, 51 percent of the GOP voters in Pennsylvania this week said illegal immigrants should be offered a path to legal status, and half those voters supported Trump. 

Scuse leading trade mission to Ukraine and Romania. USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse is leading a trade mission to Ukraine and Romania in June, and the department is now accepting applications to join the trip.

The Foreign Agriculture Service says the June 11-18 trip will be a “unique opportunity to forge relationships with potential customers and trading partners, interact with host government officials, and gather market intelligence” in a couple of key Eastern European markets.

She said it. ”Nothing happens here 19-1, not even a resolution on Mother's Day."  - The ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer of California, on the panel’s near-unanimous vote on the Water Resources Development Act.


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