WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2016 - Farm groups are cheering Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s loss in Tuesday’s primary, but it could worsen divisions in the House Republican caucus. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, a coalition of several dozen hardline conservatives, lashed out yesterday at the “party insiders” and “big money special interests” who he says teamed up to defeat Huelskamp. 

Those special interests Jordan is referring to would be the national and state farm organizations that came out in opposition to Huelskamp along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

“At times, Tim’s commitment to fighting for smaller, more accountable government required him to stand up and say no to ‘business as usual’ in Washington,” Jordan said. “For this, he was punished by the same party insiders and special interests that Republican voters across the country overwhelmingly rejected at the ballot box throughout the presidential nomination process.”

Jordan said Huelskamp’s loss had “significantly damaged the ability of House Republicans to keep a united front against what he called the “Obama-Clinton agenda.” 

Huelskamp loss seen as warning to conservatives. Roger Marshall, a physican, won the Kansas race going away, 57 percent to 44 percent.  And farm groups expressed confidence that he will be a strong ally. Kansas Farm Bureau President Rich Felts said Marshall will work to “promote and strengthen agriculture, and forge a positive consensus to move ahead the business of governing.”

Tim Alberta, a writer for the conservative website National Review, said Huelskamp’s loss showed that voter anger at Washington is not a mandate for lawmakers to pursue ideological purity over their district’s interests. “Even small-government voters want government to work well for them,” Alberta wrote

Sign of the times: USDA is holding a town hall meeting for employees next Tuesday on awareness and response to an active shooter situation.

Sign in USDA's South Building. 

Growers seek governors’ help on reform. Farmers are searching for a way to get Congress to take a second look at immigration reform. One strategy being considered is to pull together a bipartisan group of governors and former governors to make a new proposal. 

Tom Nassif, president and CEO of the Western Growers Association, said reform advocates know that a new approach is needed because lawmakers will return next year with the “same passions and prejudices” on the issue. 

The hope is that governors could give lawmakers the political cover they need to move legislation in the next Congress. “The states are the ones that have the heavy burden here. They know what the economic and social impacts are in their states,” Nassif said. 

A spokesman for Western Growers says it’s too early in the process to share specifics about it, including which governors might be involved. 

Meanwhile, Western Growers is joining the American Farm Bureau Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other pro-reform groups in launching an effort to start putting grassroots pressure on Congress to address the immigration issue. A new website will allow reform supporters to send videos to Congress that make the case for the benefits of immigration.

Clinton rules out replacing RFS with low-carbon standard  Reuters is reporting that advisers to Hillary Clinton approached California regulators about the idea of adopting that state’s low-carbon fuel standard as an alternative to federal biofuel mandates.

In a statement to Agri-Pulse, the Clinton campaign confirmed the meeting with California regulators but said the candidate is committed to getting the Renewable Fuel Standard “back on track” and doesn’t support replacing it with a low-carbon standard. 

Instead of mandating the use of biofuels as the RFS does, California sets limits on carbon emissions and leaves it to the market to decide how to meet the standard. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley warned, however , that “any proposal that opens up or undermines the RFS” is a non-starter.

USDA rule could reduce environmental reports. USDA has finalized changes in its environmental review policy that could lessen the number of studies it does. The Farm Service Agency is implementing a screening process and exemptions that should “substantially reduce” the number of environmental assessments required for farm loans and other programs. 

One interesting note: In responding to comments on the plan, the department firmly rejected the idea of ending loans to concentrated animal feeding operations. USDA says CAFOs “provide a cost effective means of livestock production,” make efficient use of land and labor and ensure the country has a reasonably priced supply of meat and diary products. 

He said it. “It’s a question of preparing the debate, getting our facts together, so when the door opens, we’re prepared to walk through it..” - Randy. Johnson, Chamber of Commerce’s senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, on the effort to send videos and messages to Congress about the need for immigration reform

Spencer Chase contributed to this report. 



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