President-elect Joe Biden’s commitment to addressing climate change and the food and ag industry’s progress in coalescing on ag carbon proposals are increasing the chances that farmers could see new income streams developing through private markets and USDA programs.
Negotiations on a major new coronavirus relief package remain alive, but with the election less than two weeks away, Senate Republicans see little chance of passing a deal before a lame duck session in November or December at the earliest.
Since COVID-19 disrupted the meat supply chain in the spring, there has been a growing consensus between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill that the meat processing industry needs more competition, but that comes with a few barriers.
The Trump administration and House Democrats have yet to reach a coronavirus relief deal, and billions in agriculture funding and food assistance increases hang in the balance as the high-level talks move slowly.
A key senator involved in developing the Republican coronavirus relief package for farmers defended the broad authority it gives to USDA to spend $20 billion in farm aid, but he said the Trump administration likely will need to provide assurances about how the money will be spent.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pressed farm bill negotiators to finalize an agreement as quickly as possible, but House Republicans used the conference committee’s first formal meeting to continue to press senators to accept tighter work requirements for food stamp recipients.
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.