Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2015, thus avoiding a government shutdown. The Department of Homeland Security will only be funded until early next year to allow the Republican-controlled Congress next year to address President Obama’s executive order on immigration. There were a number of agricultural policy provisions attached to the bill. They include:
- COOL – The Secretary of Agriculture must send to Congress proposed changes to the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) statute no later than May 1, 2015, or within 15 days of the World Trade Organization’s final determination on COOL.
- Beef checkoff – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would be prohibited to proceed with a new beef checkoff program.
- FSA offices – The legislation does not allow the Farm Service Agency to close county offices.
- Livestock and greenhouse gas – Prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from requiring livestock producers to report greenhouse gas emissions.
- Whole-grains and schools – The USDA will allow schools to substitute alternatives to whole-grains if the latter are too expensive or unappealing to students.
- WIC and white potatoes – White potatoes will be eligible to be purchased by Women, Infant and Children program recipients.
- Processed chicken – Does not allow for U.S. chicken processed in China to be used in school feeding programs.