Conaway sprints to sell the farm bill – politico gasco abu dhabi careers


“We’ve got folks on the left of our spectrum, folks on the right of our spectrum to get into the fold and we’ll spend the weekend making that happen,” the Texas Republican said Thursday. Conaway said Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) didn’t share with him official numbers from the whip held Wednesday, but he has a list of members he believes he needs to win over, the Pro Ag team writes.

Sticking points: Republican lawmakers said Thursday there are still concerns about changes to work requirements in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the agricultural components of the farm bill. And some on the right flank are troubled by the continuation of a sugar program that keeps the commodity’s price high by using a complex system of price supports, production controls and import quotas.

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ENCOURAGING TRUMP TO TWEET: Conaway, Senate Ag Chairman Pat Roberts and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue were summoned to the White House Thursday to discuss farm bill progress with President Donald Trump. Following the afternoon meeting, Conaway said that Trump is “a really strong proponent of the work requirements being improved in SNAP.” He added that Trump “believes that work is a pathway to prosperity and that our program should help people get on that path and not trap them in some sort of public assistance program.”

No credit for I.O.U.s: Ryan also made it clear that a promise for a deal won’t do. “We have to have the paper — not just an agreement. We have to have the paper from USTR by May 17 for us to vote on it this year, in December, in the lame duck,” he said at a Wednesday event hosted by the Ripon Society, which backs the Republican Party.

USTR promises to dig in on dairy markets: Meanwhile, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers he is taking steps to tackle Canada’s milk pricing program, which U.S. dairy farmers would like to see killed in NAFTA 2.0, Adam reports. Canada, for its part, has fiercely defended its long-standing supply management system for the dairy industry, which caps production and restricts imports as a way to stabilize farmer income.

“We continue to press Canada on these high priorities for the United States,” Lighthizer wrote in an April 26 letter to lawmakers obtained by POLITICO. “The administration is also committed to maintaining the markets our dairy farmers currently have in Canada and Mexico.”

Can’t forget about China: The Trump administration is working to protect the agricultural industry amid rising trade tensions with China both through direct talks with Beijing and the use of government support, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday. Ross told members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that agriculture "featured quite prominently" in trade discussions with the Chinese delegation in Beijing that he participated in last week, Pro Trade’s Megan Cassella reports.

HOUSE COULD RESHAPE FRUIT AND VEG SNACKS IN SCHOOLS: There’s another nutrition issue bubbling up in the farm bill that’s been getting lost in the noise about SNAP work requirements. The House bill includes a provision that would allow canned, frozen, fried and pureed fruits and vegetables as part of a national snack program in low-income schools, which has historically been fresh-only.

Bubbling over blueberries: The provision has started to get more attention in the media in recent days as a priority of Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine), who represents wild blueberry country. The push has drawn sharp criticism from former Sen. Tom Harkin, who helped establish the program when he was in the Senate.

We’ve been here before, folks: This is yet another chapter in a long-running battle over which types of products should be allowed in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. For a throwback to the last big round of this fight from Pro Ag’s Helena Bottemiller Evich here.

United Fresh still not buying in: The United Fresh Produce Association continues to think adding all forms of produce into the program is a bad idea that will result in less fruit and vegetable consumption in schools. “Schools haven’t asked for this,” said Mollie Van Lieu, senior director of nutrition policy at United Fresh, adding that a recent pilot to test all forms in schools didn’t go very well.

— Perdue: Export RINs linked to small refinery waiver clawback: The EPA’s ability to allow ethanol exports to earn biofuel credits is linked to how the agency reallocates the ethanol blending obligations, Perdue told reporters on Thursday. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley wants EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reassign volumes it allowed dozens of small refiners to forgo blending when it gave them economic hardship waivers. More from Pro’s Eric Wolff and Blake Paterson here.

— Pruitt looks to rework air standards: EPA said Wednesday it would begin reworking the national ambient air quality standards in the Clean Air Act. Agriculture groups have complained that the standards could lead the EPA to regulate farm dust, reports DTN.

— Indoor farming needs power: Investment in indoor farming grew to $271 million in 2017 versus $36 million the year before, but the electricity and labor needed is proving to be too much for even the best-funded of indoor farms. The CEO of one company, Plenty, says it can prosper if it spend 3 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour on power, but the average price nationwide is 10.4 cents. More from the Associated Press here.

— Increased potential for El Niño: The possibility of El Niño, a warming of temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, this winter has increased to nearly 50 percent, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The Financial Times reports. El Niño can cause drought and floods, potentially affecting the prices of raw materials including wheat, rice, coffee, sugar and cotton.

— Wisconsin AG allows for CBD oil: Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said farmers who grow industrial hemp can produce cannabidiol, or CBD, oil from it — a reversal from a state Justice Department memo last month that said only doctors and pharmacies can distribute the oil and people can possess it only with a doctor’s certification. More from the AP.

— New faces at GMA: The Grocery Manufacturers Association has elected three new members to its directors: Steven Cahillane, CEO and chairman of the board at Kellogg Company; Bobby Chacko, president and CEO of Ocean Spray Cranberries; and Paul Chibe, president and CEO of Ferrero North America.

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