Senate Republicans want to advance a fiscal 2020 domestic spending package as soon as this week that would include funding for departments and agencies critical to agriculture and the food industry. Meanwhile, House Democrats are closer to a deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement
House Democratic leaders are aiming to push through a stopgap spending bill this week after threatening a fight with the White House, and potentially with some of their own rural members, over a plan that could jeopardize farmers’ trade aid payments.
The Trump administration is adamant that agriculture and all of the divisive policies and regulations that go along with it should be included in trade talks with the Europeans, but success could mean a long and arduous battle at a time when a trade war with China is being fought and other potentially lucrative trade pacts are being negotiated.
USDA is moving quickly to implement its planned move of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture out of Washington, D.C., requesting “expressions of interest” (EOIs) about new locations for the two agencies.
The Senate's nine farm bill negotiators include Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who wants the legislation finalized next month, as well as a Democrat facing a tough re-election race this fall, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
The Senate Appropriations subcommittee advanced a fiscal 2019 spending bill for USDA and FDA that would provide $425 million in funding for rural broadband expansion to add to the $600 million that Congress provided for this year.