Early Thursday morning, the White House announced the freight rail companies and labor organizations had reached a tentative deal to prevent a national railroad strike. Negotiations began months ago as the existing labor agreement was set to expire on September 16. As the deadline neared, precautionary steps were taken, including pausing rail shipments of ammonia for fertilizer, as the likelihood of a strike increased.
On Wednesday, Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $2.8 billion in awards through the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding opportunity. Seventy projects will receive funding, including $65 million for the Texas Climate-Smart Initiative, of which USRPA was a major partner. This project, led by the Texas A & M Agrilife Research, will support a transition to climate-smart agriculture and forestry and help develop new markets for climate-smart commodities within the state. A list of all projects can be found here.
New Member Joins House Committee on Agriculture
On Wednesday, September 13, Ranking Member Glenn (GT) Thompson (R-PA), announced the addition of Representative Brad Finstad (R-MN) to the House Committee on Agriculture. Rep. Finstad joins the Committee as a current operator of his family’s farm and as a former State Director for USDA Rural Development in Minnesota. Rep. Finstad fills the seat of a former member, Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who passed away of cancer in February of this year.
USRPA Signs onto Letter in Support of Doug McKalip’s Expeditious Confirmation
USRPA joined commodity groups in signing a letter in support of the expeditious Senate confirmation of Doug McKalip to be Chief Agriculture Negotiator within the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Last week, the Senate Committee on Finance favorably reported McKalip’s nomination out of committee on a unanimous vote. McKalip has previously served in a variety of positions at the United States Department of Agriculture, most recently as a senior advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture. The letter goes on to explain how McKalip’s confirmation would benefit American agriculture by finally having a dedicated negotiator working to push for new agricultural markets and removing barriers to growth in existing marketplaces.