Bright hopes, uncertain pace for industrial hemp

The 2018 farm bill legalized the production of industrial hemp and farmers are clearly interested in a potential new cash crop, but many obstacles must be overcome before the industry can take root, said lawmakers and federal regulators on Thursday.

USDA expected agency relocation would drive away employees

With the USDA on the cusp of moving two research agencies to Kansas City, a senior official said on Thursday that massive staff turnover — so far, 250 employees have declined to leave Washington — is par for the course for cross-country relocations. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow offered a different take: “This is not a relocation. It’s a demolition.”

Time for a deal with China, say farm-state senators

Half a dozen farm-state senators urged Trump trade officials on Thursday to speedily resolve the Sino-U.S. trade war that is compounding hard times on the farm. Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts brushed aside assurances of a rosy future when trade deals are completed. “Some farmers aren’t going to make it,” he said.

Looking for a presidential candidate? Try Senate Ag

According to Capitol Hill lore, the surest way to get a senator's attention is to shout, "Mr. President!" And the best spot to shout it this year would be a meeting of the Senate Agriculture Committee, where three of its 20 members, Democrats Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar, are running for president.

Roberts sees route for reauthorizing child nutrition this year

After warning against saddling small schools with big-city regulations, Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts said on Wednesday that Congress could act swiftly on the overdue renewal of child nutrition programs. The programs, headlined by school lunch and WIC, cost $30 billion a year.

Senators mull limits on ‘national security’ tariffs

Senate Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley has lots of company in considering limits on the president’s power to impose tariffs on national security grounds. In the coming weeks, Grassley expects to introduce a bipartisan bill to reform these so-called Section 232 tariffs.

Stabenow calls for USDA to withdraw SNAP proposal

Questioned for the second day in a row on Capitol Hill, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he has the authority to tighten food stamp rules for able-bodied adults even if lawmakers don’t like it. Senate Democrats pushed back, urging Perdue on Thursday to withdraw the proposal.

Back to square one for USDA nominees

Three nominations for senior USDA posts overseeing research, food safety, and civil rights died with the 115th Congress on Wednesday, and the path forward for those nominations in the two-year session that opened on Thursday is unclear.

Republican Hyde-Smith wins in final Senate race of the year

Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a down-the-line backer of President Trump, handily defeated Democrat Mike Espy in a run-off election on Tuesday that tarnished her reputation as a political trail-blazer with memories of the state’s grim racial history. Appointed to the Senate in March, …