Agriculture

Lawmakers unveiled the much-anticipated farm bill compromise Monday night, ending the months-long impasse over whether a critical piece of legislation that provides subsidies to farmers and helps needy Americans buy groceries could pass before the lame-duck session concludes at the end of the year.

The Department of Agriculture will pay $4.7 billion to farmers growing soybeans, cotton and other products hit by tariffs in the Trump administration's hard-line trade war with China, announcing the first batch of payments from a $12 billion government aid package.

Starting next Tuesday, the agency will take applications from farmers who produce corn, cotton, dairy, hogs, sorghum, soybeans and wheat — products that were targeted in China's retaliatory tariffs, after the U.S. imposed a 25 percent levy on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Benji White pulls into a field and honks his horn. Before the shifter hits park and the doors close behind him and his wife Lori, the silver Ford pickup is surrounded by dozens of Red Angus eager for a handout of cattle cake, a protein-dense pellet.

“You definitely don’t want to get in the habit of feeding bulls cake out of your hand because that kind of can create some aggression when you don’t feed them,” Lori said.

Flickr / Jonathan Reyes

Leaders in Congress say they aim to pass a finalized Farm Bill before the Fourth of July recess. If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his way, that bill will include the legalization of industrial hemp. The industrial hemp business is increasingly seen as an economic savior and substitute for vulnerable industries like mining.

By a razor-thin margin, the House of Representatives passed its version of the farm bill Thursday as Republican leadership was able to round up just enough support from members of its conservative wing to clear passage.

The GOP-backed measure, which covers farm and food policy legislation, passed 213-211.

The $867 billion package renews the safety net for farmers across the country, but also includes tougher work requirements for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Program or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

Updated at 6:21 p.m. ET

The House rejected a $867 billion farm bill on Friday — after spending days negotiating with key conservatives in an attempt to pass the bill without the support of Democrats.

The vote was 198-213. Every Democrat voted against the measure, as did 30 Republicans. Many of the GOP lawmakers are members of the House Freedom Caucus and voted no after failing to get concessions on spending and a future vote on immigration in exchange for their support.

If Republicans in Congress have their way, millions of people who get food aid through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) will have to find a job or attend job training classes for about 20 hours each week, or lose their benefits.

Flickr / unitedsoybean

As the United States and China propose tariffs on one another, possibly leading to a trade war, one Oklahoma grain specialist is urging Oklahoma agricultural producers to stay focused on the long-term.

The chief scientist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is typically a low-profile job in any presidential administration. But President Trump's nomination of his former Iowa campaign manager for the post is raising concern in the scientific community and beyond about the politicization of science policy in the Trump administration.

Among the concerns: Sam Clovis isn't a scientist. He holds a doctorate, but it's in public administration and not a scientific discipline.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Trump Administration's recent budget proposal could mean bad news for Oklahoma farmers.

The proposal was introduced last month and, if passed, will reduce the U.S. Department of Agriculture budget by 21 percent.

This could result in higher rates for crop insurance, which could be detrimental to Oklahoma farmers as this farming season has already seen high levels of precipitation following a five-year drought.

Pages