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Stung by trade wars, US farmers hope for quick progress on Farm Bill



U.S. soybean farmer Mike Schlosser does not expect President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, the single biggest headwind to his business, to end any time soon. But he is among many in farm country who expect at least some good news this year – in the form of a new Farm Bill.

Congress comes back on Tuesday for the lame-duck session after Democrats in last week’s mid-term elections gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Lawmakers have said passing the critical piece of agricultural legislation is their highest priority.

That would provide some comfort to farmers who for the past several months have been crushed by the loss of export markets due to the trade wars and are keen for a legislative backstop if the trade disputes linger.

“It’s our safety net,” Schlosser, of North Dakota, said. “We could use all the help we can to eliminate any uncertainty in times like this,” he said.

The Farm Bill provides funding for an array of programs important to farmers, including crop subsidies, rural development programs and support accessing export markets. The latest bill, passed in 2014, expired on Sept. 30 after talks over its replacement broke down.


At issue was a bitter partisan debate over a provision in the draft of the new bill that would have imposed stricter work requirements for recipients of food stamps. The Republican-led House of Representatives passed an $867 billion bill in June with the tougher requirements, over the objections of Democrats. The Senate, meanwhile, passed its own bipartisan version that excluded them.

With Democrats in control of the House, the deadlock could be resolved, several senior lawmakers said last week, even as Trump reiterated his desire for stricter work requirements in the bill.

Curt Mether, a corn and soybean farmer from Iowa, said he hoped Trump would back down. “I think President Trump will be willing to step down on the work requirements issue in the end as he understands the House will be Democrat-controlled,” he said.


He noted a new farm bill could help farmers survive the ongoing trade dispute, which has driven China, traditionally the biggest buyer of U.S. agriculture exports, mostly out of the market.

“Some of our export programs are funded through the Farm Bill. While we are negotiating with China, it is really important that we get all the trade we can with other countries,” he said.

Bob Hemesath, an Iowa corn and hog farmer, agreed. “I’m hopeful… Amid the trade tariffs, without a farm bill, we would not have access to market development programs, and these are crucial,” he said.


Dairy farmers, whose trade with Mexico and Canada was hit by tariffs over the summer and have yet to recover despite a new North American trade deal, have also called on lawmakers to settle the deal on the Farm Bill.

“Given the sustained low prices dairy farmers have faced, coupled with uncertainty in agricultural trade policy, it is more important than ever that Congress quickly enact the 2018 Farm Bill before adjourning for the year,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Dan Grebler

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Jeffrey Epstein’s IT consultant reveals he saw girls who ‘couldn’t have more than 15 or 16’ on private island



ABC News broke a story just after midnight Thursday about a former IT consultant of Jeffrey Epstein's who resigned because he couldn't take some of the things he was seeing on Epstein's private island compound.

The island, which has been called "pedophile island" by locals, had "topless women everywhere.

"There were photos of topless women everywhere," said contractor Steve Scully, who began working for Epstein in 1999 and continued for six years. "On his desk, in his office, in his bedroom."

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Stephen Colbert mocks Eric Trump in a way that must be seen to be believed



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The moment came after Colbert played a clip of the young Trump child saying that 95 percent of the United States supports him, the camera cut to Colbert doing his Eric impression.

"I've got big gums, and I cannot lie," Colbert said.

"Yeah, 95, guys, I'm tellin' ya," Colbert said, pretending to be Eric with his lips curled up.

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Black Pennsylvania Trump voter wonders if he’s still welcome in the GOP



Tuesday, CNN released interviews with Texas Trump supporters who defended his racist attacks on four Congresswomen of color. Wednesday night, Van Jones showed his panel of supporters of both President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama. But things got tense when a Black Trump supporter was asked about the president's racially charged statements.

Two men, one white one Black, in the group said they supported Trump and probably would again because business was good. Two women in the group lamented that Trump's racism was hurtful for the country.

"I just go back to values," the older women said. "I value treating people with dignity. And if there is anything that is incongruent with those values, then I'm not for that. So I'm not going to put profit over my values."

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