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Farm bill changes expand legal entities and family eligibility for commodity programs

While most of the focus on the House farm bill is on changes to nutrition programs, a new kerfuffle has cropped up over changes to farm programs that would benefit LLCs, S corporations and farmers who want to enroll cousins, nieces and nephews for commodity payments. The changes, if they become law, would expand the eligibility of pass-through entities for farm-program payments to include limited-liability corporations and S-corps, as a way to avoid adjusted gross income caps for commodity payments.

Even if Trump wants to rejoin TPP, that ship may have sailed

One week into his term, President Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which had been intended to help the U.S. and allies rein in China’s push for economic dominance. The U.S. withdrawal amounted to a unilateral gift to China. Now, 15 months later, in the midst of a bilateral trade face-off with China, President Trump announced during a meeting with farm-state agricultural interests that the U.S. may “rejoin” TPP and asked his advisers to prepare options.U.S. markets surged in response to the good news that the U.S.

ASPCA joins lawsuit over USDA organic rules

The ASPCA and Animal Welfare Institute have joined the Organic Trade Association in its lawsuit against USDA for not implementing new organic livestock standards. The original lawsuit, filed in federal court last September, was aimed at USDA’s repeated delays in implementing the standards that were finalized in the waning days of the Obama administration.

Trump says he’s in no hurry to finish NAFTA. That’s good because it may take awhile

Diplomats from the United States, Canada and Mexico had hoped to announce progress toward a replacement for the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement by Friday, when regional leaders are scheduled to meet in Peru for the Summit of the Americas. President Trump’s decision to skip the meeting to monitor the Syrian situation reduced pressure to make a public statement. “We don’t have as many concrete results as you may have expected,” said one individual familiar with the talks, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Immigration judge quotas will not eliminate the backlog crisis

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has established performance goals for the immigration judges in an effort to deal with the immigration court backlog crisis. In addition to meeting at least half of the deadlines for specified types of cases, judges will have to complete at least 700 cases-a-year to receive a “satisfactory” performance rating. They currently average 678 cases-a-year. The National Association of Immigration Judges opposes the performance goals.

USDA orders volume controls on cranberries

Cranberry handlers were ordered by the USDA to withhold from U.S. consumers 15 percent of the 2017 crop to raise prices that farmers receive. The reduction applies to cranberries grown by approximately 1,100 farmers in 10 states, including Oregon and Washington. Growers and handlers petitioned the USDA for volume controls to chip away at a huge surplus.The USDA projects the order will divert as many as 110 million pounds of cranberries to charities, animal feed or foreign markets.

USDA offering funding to address opioid crisis in rural communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting applications to a pair of grant programs that aim to address opioid misuse in rural communities. The federal agency is setting aside $5 million in the Community Facilities Grant program and is giving priority to Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program applications that propose innovative projects addressing the issue."The opioid epidemic is dramatically impacting prosperity in many small towns and rural places across the country," said Anne Hazlett, the assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development.

Alleged employment tax violations at heart of ICE-raided plant issues

The owner of a Tennessee meat plant where immigration officials conducted a raid last week is being accused of “willfully” attempting to skirt federal employment tax rules and filing false federal tax returns, according to the IRS search request that led to the raid. The affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court , Eastern District of Tennessee, Greenville Division, accused Southeastern Provision President James Brantley and others at the family-owned company of the tax charges in addition to employing “illegal aliens” in violation of federal laws.

USDA Prioritizes Investments to Address Opioid Crisis in Rural America

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is giving funding priority in two key grant programs to address opioid misuse in rural communities. “The opioid epidemic is dramatically impacting prosperity in many small towns and rural places across the country,” Hazlett said.

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