WASHINGTON, July 30, 2017 - The House Agriculture Committee goes on the road this week to hold a trio of listening sessions as lawmakers prepare to write a new farm bill later this year or early in 2018.

The first of this week’s listening sessions is Monday in San Angelo, Texas. Additional meetings will be held Thursday in Morgan, Minn., in connection with Minnesota FarmFest, and Saturday in Modesto, Calif.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, meanwhile, will speak on Saturday at the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines, an event organized by agribusinessman Bruce Rastetter, who put together a similar all-day conference in 2015 with the presidential candidates. Agri-Pulse Senior Editor Philip Brasher will moderate a panel on the farm bill.

The House is starting its August recess this week, facing a long list of unfinished business in September, including eight of the fiscal 2018 appropriations bills, the FY18 budget resolution and an increase in the debt ceiling. The Senate remains in session this week after reaching a stalemate Thursday on replacing the Affordable Care Act.

The committee’s listening sessions will be similar to the public hearings that federal agencies hold to field comments on proposed regulations. Farm group representatives and others who wish to speak will sign in at the beginning and will then be given two minutes to address the lawmakers.

House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, who represents the sprawling West Texas district that includes San Angelo, and other members of the panel will primarily be listening to the witnesses, said committee spokeswoman Rachel Millard.

“There will be plenty of time for the members to be talking about all this, but the point of (the listening sessions) is to hear from the people who know” the issues first-hand, said Millard.

Conaway will stay in San Angelo after Monday’s meeting to participate in the West Texas Legislative Summit, an annual conference that will focus on the farm bill this year.

Conaway has said he wants to move a new farm bill in the last quarter of this year or early in 2018.

Elsewhere this week, the Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public hearing in Washington Tuesday on the proposed 2018 biofuel mandates. The governors of Iowa and Nebraska and representatives of biofuel groups will attend and also speak to reporters on a conference call.

The hearing follows on the heels of an appellate court decision Friday that challenged the agency’s justification for writing down the Renewable Volume Obligations in previous years.

The Environmental Protection Agency was wrong in its interpretation of “inadequate domestic supply” when decreasing required renewable fuel blending, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday.

The court sided with biofuels groups in ruling that the agency wrongly interpreted its authority to waive the usage targets laid out in the 2007 energy law.

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

Monday, July 31

Agricultural and Applied Economics Association annual meeting, through Tuesday, Chicago.

House Agriculture Committee farm bill listening session, San Angelo, Texas.

4 p.m. - USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.

Tuesday, Aug. 1

9 a.m. - EPA holds public hearing on the proposed 2018 Renewable Volume Obligations, Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

Wednesday, Aug. 2

10 a.m. - Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on ways to increase water security and drought preparedness, 366 Dirksen.

Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant speaks at the Australian Grains Industry Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

Thursday, Aug. 3

House Agriculture Committee listening session, Morgan, Minn.

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

10 a.m. - Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on ways to reduce wildland fire risk to communities and enhance firefighting safety and effectiveness, 366 Dirksen.

10 a.m. - Senate Finance Committee hearing on the nomination of Gilbert Kaplan to be the Commerce Department’s undersecretary for international trade. 215 Dirksen.

Friday, Aug. 4

Saturday, Aug. 5

House Agriculture Committee listening session, Modesto, Calif.

Iowa Ag Summit, Des Moines, Iowa.



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