The Senate confirmed Bill Northey as USDA’s undersecretary for farm programs after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, dropped a hold he had kept on the nomination for four months in a dispute over biofuel policy.
Historically, new farm bills have not been approved in a timely fashion and often expire before a new one is written. But both Agriculture Committee chairmen are committed to aggressive timelines in 2018.
A government shutdown threatens to continue into the work week with lawmakers and the White House deadlocked over a short-term funding extension amid Democratic demands for an agreement on legalizing the Dreamers.
President Trump, warmly embracing American agriculture in an appearance before the American Farm Bureau Federation, called for passing a new farm bill on time this year, expressed his support for crop insurance and warned that his achievements on tax and regulatory policy were at risk if Democrats get control of Congress.
Congressional Republications finalized a sweeping tax reform package that could cut tax rates for farmers and other small businesses while expanding the Section 179 expensing allowance and doubling the estate tax exemption.
A panel of witnesses spoke to the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday and all essentially delivered the same message: the current defense against pests, pathogens, and biosecurity threats to the food system needs work.
President Donald Trump’s repeated threats to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement have kept the U.S. ag sector on edge for months, and farm sector leaders are expressing concern that Trump may have no intention of allowing the current NAFTA negotiations to succeed.