More than a year after courts forced the Agriculture Department to shut down a debt forgiveness program for minority farmers, Congress is set to give USDA wide open authority to aid borrowers of all races while providing additional aid to victims of past discrimination.
The Democratic-controlled Senate on Sunday passed an historic package of financial incentives for cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, including a dramatic increase in farm bill conservation programs aimed at spurring farmers to adopt climate-related farming practices.
The landmark climate deal Democrats hope will clear Congress in coming days would upend the coming debate over the next farm bill, satisfying demands for new conservation spending but leaving farm groups still scrambling to fund enhancements in commodity programs.
Senate Democrats don’t have a vote to spare this week as they try to pass their historic climate package, including more than $20 billion aimed at helping farmers adopt practices that reduce greenhouse emissions.
Battles for key farm-state seats in Congress are taking shape after primaries this spring, but there several intraparty fights still to be decided in coming weeks in states such as Missouri, Minnesota and Washington.
The Senate Agriculture Committee approved bills Wednesday authorizing USDA to mandate minimum levels of cash trading in cattle and establish a special investigator’s office in USDA to probe allegations of unfair marketing practices.