WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2016 - Donald Trump’s five-year lobbying ban for his presidential appointees is raising concerns among lawmakers and others about whether it turns away the highly qualified people he needs to run USDA and other departments. 
The ban also will apply to members of the transition team as well as the launching teams that will be assigned to work at each of the departments over the coming weeks to prepare for the new administration to take over. The launching teams for domestic agencies, including USDA, EPA and the Interior Department, are expected to be assigned next week. 
Trump spokesman Sean Spicer says the lobbying ban will “ensure that service to the nation is truly first.”
But questions are being raised about whether the lobbying ban can even be legally enforced. And Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., says that being a lobbyist is not a bad thing, and that the administration will need agency heads that have expertise and experience. “If someone is facing a five-year ban they’re not going to sign on, but their advice should be heeded,” Roberts said. 
Another veteran lawmaker said privately that Trump risked being able to appoint only 2nd-tier administrators. One of the concerns about that is that Trump’s officials would have trouble overcoming resistance from the bureaucracy to policy changes. 
Sessions for AG? The Trump transition team may have dropped a hint about one key Cabinet position. Trump met yesterday with Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. Afterwards, the transition team released a statement, saying that “while nothing has been finalized” Trump “has been unbelievably impressed” with Sessions and his record as Alabama’s attorney general and as a U.S. attorney. 
Congress likely to pass another stopgap bill. It looks as if Congress is going to pass another continuing resolution to keep the government operating until March. That would allow the new Congress to pass spending legislation for the remainder of fiscal 2017, but it also will be one more major item in the workload that lawmakers will face early next year. 
The current CR expires Dec. 9. Trump “would like to have a say as to how spending is allocated in 2017,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters yesterday.
Roberts hopes to move farm bill in 2017. Roberts says he’s holding out hope that Congress can pass a child nutrition reauthorization bill next month so he can clear that off his committee’s agenda before the farm bill. 
The committee approved a nutrition bill in January but it never made it to the Senate floor. The bill would reauthorize nutrition programs for five years, would ease rules on sodium and on whole grains.
Roberts tells Agri-Pulse he hopes to begin moving a new farm bill before the end of next year so that it can get enacted in 2018 ahead of the mid-term election. “I think we’ll be able to put something together by the end of the year at least. We’ll have to.”
Obesity falls in low-income kids. There are signs of improvement in the obesity problem among young, low-income children. According to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the nationwide obesity rate among 2- to 4-year-olds who participate in the WIC nutrition program dropped from 15.9 percent in 2010 to 14.5 percent in 2014. 
Obesity rates fell in 31 states over that period and increased in only four. Virginia has the highest rate nationwide at 20 percent. Utah has the lowest, at 8.2 percent. About 4 million children nationwide participate in the WIC program. 
Farm wages up 3 percent. The average wage for farmworkers was up 3 percent in October from the year before to $13.25 an hour, according to USDA. Field crop workers saw the largest year-over-year raise at 4 percent. Employees in livestock operations got 2 percent more. 
Farm wages have been rising as the labor supply has tightened in both the United States and Mexico. 
U.S. farm hiring also is down. There were 798,000 workers hired directly by farms in October, down 5 percent from a year ago. In July, the workforce number was down by 4 percent.
States lose appeal on California’s cage-free egg rule. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has turned back an effort by Missouri and five other states to block enforcement of California’s cage-free requirements for laying hens. 
The 9th circuit panel says among other things that the states didn’t have standing to sue because they didn’t have an economic interest apart from those of private egg producers. The states had tried to stop the regulations before they took effect. The other states that were part of the case: Kentucky, Nebraska, Alabama, Iowa and Oklahoma.
Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, says the ruling indicates that the ballot initiatives that his group has been winning in California and other states “are constitutionally sound.”
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, who led the lawsuit, lost his race for governor last week.
He said it. “We’ve got a lot of priorities we would like to see changed relative to the Obama priorities.” - House Speaker Paul Ryan, on the need to delay the final fiscal 2017 spending legislation until after Donald Trump is in office.
Daybreak will be on vacation the week of Nov. 21 and return Monday, Nov. 28. The Agri-Pulse team wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!


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