Today’s quick hits, December 20, 2019

House sends USMCA to Senate (FERN’s Ag Insider): The House passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on a bipartisan 385-41 vote and sent the “new NAFTA” to the Senate for final congressional approval, expected early next year. The trade pact preserves duty-free access to Canada and Mexico for most U.S. farm exports and is forecast to bring marginal increases in export sales.

Trump endorses Van Drew (FERN’s Ag Insider): House Agriculture Committee memberJeff Van Drew of New Jersey announced he was switching political affiliation to Republican during a White House meeting with President Trump, who endorsed Van Drew for re-election.

Reduced animal oversight at USDA (Washington Post): USDA has been issuing fewer citations to the 10,000 zoos, circuses, and other animal facilities that it oversees; former employees say the more lax approach is putting animals at risk.

Farm bill turns one (Senate Ag): On the first anniversary of enactment of the 2018 farm bill, the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee pointed to provisions that strengthened crop insurance and agricultural research programs, created a vaccine bank against epidemic livestock diseases, and greatly expanded funding for deployment of broadband service in rural America.

Chile accuses feed firms of price-fixing (Undercurrent): Antitrust officials in Chile are seeking fines of $70 million apiece from three salmon-feed suppliers for price-fixing from 2013-15; a Cargill subsidiary would be exempted from fines because it acted as a whistle blower.