WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2017 - President Trump will lay out his agenda for the country to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, while the House Agriculture Committee launches a series of hearings as it prepares to write a new farm bill.

The Senate, meanwhile, resumes consideration of Trump’s cabinet nominees and is expected to confirm Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., as Secretary of Interior. The Senate has a final vote scheduled on Ross Monday evening and then will vote to advance Zinke’s nomination.

Zinke has been one of Trump’s less controversial nominees in part because wildlife conservation groups have praised his commitment to preserving federal lands.

On Tuesday, Trump will be making the case to Congress that he has been an “agent of change,” said spokesman Sean Spicer. “He came here to get things done, and he didn’t waste any time.”

Spicer said that Trump would lay out a “very strong blueprint of where he wants to take the country,” including ideas on infrastructure, health care and education. There also are expectations that he will talk about his ideas for tax reform, a top priority for congressional Republicans.

There will be two Democratic responses to the speech, one delivered in English by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and another in Spanish by immigration activist Astrid Silva, who was brought to the country illegally with her family. “While President Trump unleashes a cruel deportation dragnet on hard-working immigrant families, Astrid Silva personifies the values that have always made America strong,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

The House Agriculture committee plans to hold a series of subcommittee hearings  through April on the farm bill, starting with a pair on Tuesday on conservation programs and international market development.

House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said at the USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum last week that he doesn’t expect to move a new farm bill until the last quarter of this year or early 2018. He said he wants to make sure there is floor time available immediately after the bill comes out of committee.

Not an Agri-Pulse subscriber? Get our Daily Harvest email and Daybreak audio Monday through Friday mornings, a 16-page newsletter on Wednesdays, and access to premium content on our ag and rural policy website. Sign up for your four-week free trial Agri-Pulse subscription.

Conaway will talk about the farm bill again on Friday in San Antonio at the Commodity Classic, the annual convention and trade show for corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum producers.

Conaway said at the Outlook conference that he would address concerns about the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, a high priority for corn and soybean growers. At the Senate Agriculture Committee’s first farm bill field hearing last week at Kansas State University, corn and soybean farmers said Congress must address disparities in ARC payments between counties.

The farmers said the farm bill should require the Farm Service Agency to use the Risk Management Agency’s yield data when available for calculating ARC payments, rather than survey data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Here’s a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere:

Monday, Feb. 27

ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, through Wednesday, National Harbor, Md.

International Sweetener Colloquium, through Wednesday, Dana Point, Calif.

10 a.m. Natural Resources Defense Council hosts discussion titled “Taking Stock of Trump Administration.” NRCD office, 1152 15th St. NW

2 p.m. - Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., discuss President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress, National Press Club.

Tuesday, Feb. 28

10 a.m. - House Agriculture subcommittee hearing, “The Next Farm Bill: Conservation Policy,” 1300 Longworth.

10 a.m. - House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee oversight hearing on the Farm Credit Administration, 2362-A Rayburn.

2 p.m. - House Agriculture subcommittee hearing, “The Next Farm Bill: International Market Development,” 1300 Longworth.

2 p.m. - Farm Journal Foundation forum, “Revitalizing Agricultural Research and Development to Sustain US Competitiveness,” 328-A Russell.

9 p.m. - President Trump addresses joint session of Congress.

Wednesday, March 1

Commodity Classic, through Saturday, San Antonio.

10 a.m. - House Agriculture Committee meeting to consider its budget views and estimates letter, 1300 Longworth.

10 a.m. - House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on modernizing Western infrastructure, 1324 Longworth.

10 a.m. - Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, “Connecting America: Improving Access to Infrastructure for Communities Across the Country.” 106 Dirksen.

Thursday, March 2

Commodity Classic.

8:30 a.m. - USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.

All day - USDA-Office of Chief Scientist holds listening session, “Visioning of U.S. Agriculture Systems,” USDA Whitten Building.

Friday, March 3

Commodity Classic. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, speaks at the general session.


For more news, go to: www.Agri-Pulse.com