It’s not everything that farm groups wanted, but the broad array of agricultural provisions in a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that the House is expected to vote on Friday are likely to find many supporters in the Senate.
The leader of the House Agriculture Committee says he wants to see more money go into USDA’s Commodity Credit Corp., but he’s willing to oppose a funding increase without conditions giving Congress more authority over how the money is spent.
Farm groups are lobbying Congress and the Trump administration for a number of relief measures to help producers cope with the slide in many commodity markets that has deepened as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens.
The Agriculture Department’s inspector general is undertaking an extended investigation of the administration’s trade assistance programs, starting with whether USDA had the proper legal authority to make direct payments to farmers.
A senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee called the panel’s top Republican a racist on Twitter as the normally bipartisan committee was rocked by funding over a measure needed to fund farmers’ trade aid payments.
A House stopgap spending bill aimed at avoiding an Oct. 1 government shutdown would ensure that trade assistance to farmers continues and also would bolster specialty crop research and fund USDA’s coming hemp program.
Trump administration officials have been promising for months that Sonny Perdue’s Agriculture Department will protect farmers and ranchers from billions of dollars of tariffs from China, Mexico, Canada and the EU. But how much can USDA help?