Other news from Washington:
- USDA has started making payments to land owners with land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program now that the federal government is up and running again. Direct payments to 1.7 million eligible producers and payments under the 2012 Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program are also being paid. Direct payments will be reduced due to the government sequester cuts that is in effect.
- The House passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act by an overwhelming margin. The bill provides guidance to the Army Corps of Engineers on projects to improve the country’s waterways. This bill sets harder dealings on costs and timing projects, which can now take up to 15 years of planning and studies before any actual physical work on the project begins. The House bill authorizes 23 new projects costing about $8 billion of federal funds and additional $5 billion of state or local matching funds. The Senate passed its version of the bill in May – so the next step is a House-Senate conference committee.
- Canada and the EU have signed a new free trade agreement that will give Canadian cattle and hog producers greater access to more than 500 million EU customers. The agreement still must be approved by the EU Parliament and by Canada’s provincial governments. This agreement puts pressure on U.S. negotiators to make progress on the U.S.-EU discussions on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).