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.
A bipartisan group of senators joined some Corn Belt farm groups in appealing to the Agriculture Department to ease restrictions on haying and grazing of cover crops that farmers will plant on acreage they were unable to sow to corn or soybeans this year.
Congress chose the Prairie Pothole Region to try out shorter-term Conservation Reserve Program contracts, infusing the 34-year-old program with lower-cost alternatives for farmers wanting to idle their least productive cropland.
A USDA savings account for rural electric and telephone cooperatives that allows them to earn substantially more interest than they could from private bankers has become a major source of potential funding for a new farm bill.
A bipartisan farm bill that would protect crop insurance and commodity programs as well as nutrition assistance from cuts passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin, 86-11, clearing the way for negotiations to begin next month with the House.
The Senate farm bill offers changes to crop insurance that could benefit the largest as well as the smallest farms while also clearing the way for research that could lead to premium discounts for conservation practices.
Leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee this week will seek to get a strong bipartisan vote for their farm bill draft from the panel, giving the measure momentum as it heads to the Senate floor in the following days.