agriculture

Organic farming elbows through chips, soda for Super Bowl spot
Beer commercial to raise money to aid barley growers

Barley harvest in Reardan, Washington. (VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Organic farmers will get a brief turn in the Super Bowl spotlight Sunday in a commercial that urges beer drinkers to buy more six-packs to help fund efforts to increase the number of certified organic acres in the United States.

The “6 For 6 Pack” ad tells suds lovers a share of money spent on a six-pack of Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra Pure Gold can help a farmer and convert six square feet of conventional cropland into six square feet of organic land. Michelob Ultra Pure Gold sports a Department of Agriculture certified organic seal. 

Wildest Iowa caucus ever?
Political Theater, Episode 110

The Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses could see record turnout and a wild finish for delegates. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just a few days to go, and it’s anyone’s guess who will win the Iowa caucuses. What’s the biggest thing on Iowans’ minds as they decide among a jumbled contest among the Democrats? Impeachment? Electability? Personal likability?

The last time we spoke with caucus expert and political scientist David Redlawsk, he was just starting a six-monthlong sabbatical in Iowa. Amid the electoral hubbub of the Iowa State Fair in August, Redlawsk said Iowans were just not sure what to do with all these candidates, as more than 20 Democrats, and even some Republicans, made their cases in the Hawkeye State. 

Trump signs ‘phase one’ China pact, first of two trade milestones this week
Senate to take up NAFTA replacement before impeachment trial begins

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the first of two significant milestones on trade — an agreement with China that amounts to a ceasefire in his war with the Asian giant.

Trump is expected to get a second win on the issue later this week, with the Senate expected to approve a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Aides say Trump plans to trumpet both as part of his reelection sales pitch that he is a good steward of the economy.

US wine and cosmetic importers fear harm in response to French digital services tax
USTR proposes tariffs up to 100 percent on French products after France imposed 3 percent tax on US tech companies

A worker collects grapes in September 2019 in a vineyard near Rauzan in the Entre-Deux-Mers region near Bordeaux, southwestern France. The U.S Trade Representative wants to impose tariffs on French products from wine and cheese to cosmetics and cookware because of a tax that France imposed on U.S. companies providing digital services. (Georges Gobet/AFP via Getty Images)

Hundreds of wine merchants and other importers delivered a common complaint to the U.S. Trade Representative ahead of a Tuesday hearing on proposed retaliatory tariffs for France’s tax on digital services: Our products should not be collateral damage in a trade war over services.

“I know that both the Digital Tax and the Airbus subsidies are by all accounts unfair, but our business and many, many others right here in the US(!) will be collateral damage to other industries that we have nothing to do with,” Douglas Polaner, a wine importer in Mt. Kisco, New York, complained in comments filed in the pre-hearing docket.

South Dakota tribe clears hemp plan but governor opposes industry
South Dakota is one of three states that don’t allow production of industrial hemp

Hemp flower on display at the Tennessee Grown booth at the Southern Hemp Expo in Franklin, Tenn., in September 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Flandreau Santee Sioux cleared a major hurdle when the Agriculture Department approved its plan for growing industrial hemp on reservation land, but the tribe may face other obstacles in a state where laws still prohibit hemp farming.

Gov. Kristi Noem, a former Republican House member, vetoed legislation in 2019 that would have amended state law to allow South Dakota farmers to grow hemp after Congress legalized the plant and its products in the 2018 farm bill. Federal law had previously treated hemp, like its botanical cousin marijuana, as an illegal substance although hemp has a lower concentration of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Long wait for China tariff exemptions pays off for some
About a third of requests for exemptions from tariffs were granted in first two tranches of tariffs

President Donald Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook, to Trump’s right, tour the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility where Apple’s Mac Pros are assembled in Austin, Texas, in November. Apple has fared better than most companies in winning exemptions on tariffs on Chinese imports. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

The limited scope of the phase one trade deal with China means that the bulk of U.S. tariffs will remain in place for the foreseeable future, leaving U.S. companies hurt by the duties no other choice but to get in line for an exemption if they want to limit the damage.

The record so far shows that it might be worth a shot: on average, importers have a one in three chance of meeting the standard set by the U.S. Trade Representative and getting an exemption or exclusion, according to an analysis by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Lawmakers unveil two mega spending packages
Health taxes to be repealed, tobacco age raised in year-end deal

From left, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., along with Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, not pictured, announced on Thursday that they had reached a deal on a spending agreement before government funding runs out at the end of this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Dec. 16 at 6:05 p.m.

House appropriators filed two mega spending packages for floor consideration Tuesday after hammering out last-minute details over the weekend.

US irks Mexico with a labor detail in trade implementing bill
US oversight of Mexican factories is a sensitive issue

Jesus Seade, Mexico’s top trade negotiator, said he was surprised to find a provision in legislation to implement the USMCA that would post U.S. Labor Department officials in Mexico to ensure his country was complying with the agreement. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

A seemingly small detail in the 239-page implementing legislation for a revised U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement has stirred objections from Mexico as the House prepares to vote this week on the pact. The legislation proposes more than $2 billion in U.S. money to enforce the agreement and to deal with its consequences.

Jesus Seade, Mexico’s undersecretary of foreign affairs for North America, said over the weekend he was surprised to find that the bill calls for posting up to five Labor Department personnel to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to oversee his country’s compliance with labor provisions. Seade said a separate packet of revisions to the proposed USMCA signed by the three countries on Dec. 10 doesn’t note that number.

California water politics complicate House panel’s oversight
Natural Resources chairman wants to investigate Interior secretary’s role in water allocation report that benefited a committee member’s district

California Democratic Rep. Jim Costa represents part of California’s San Joaquin Valley, a drought-prone region where the politics surrounding agricultural and water interests can often trump partisanship. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona wants his committee to give him subpoena authority for multiple possible investigations, but California Democrat Jim Costa may vote against that as the panel considers whether Interior Secretary David Bernhardt improperly influenced a decision to send more water to his district.

Costa told CQ Roll Call he’s not sure he can support giving Grijalva such unlimited subpoena authority. Costa said he discussed the matter with the chairman, who plans a committee vote on the question in January, and said he’d support a “specific subpoena” in the panel’s current investigation into the Bureau of Land Management headquarters relocation. 

Photos of the Week
The week of Dec. 13 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Top row from left, Reps. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, are seen as the House Judiciary Committee hears the House Intelligence Committee’s presentation on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)