Many within the ag industry have mixed feelings when it comes to the $1.1 trillion omnibus package that was approved by the Senate this last weekend. Several important programs to agriculture were given increased funding, while others were cut even further. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association found many reasons to applaud the spending bill, not the least being the provision that withdraws the Environmental Protection Agency’s interpretive rule on the Waters of the U.S., and the provision directing USDA Ag Secretary Vilsack not to implement a second beef checkoff. Other victories included language in the package that prohibits a sage grouse endangered species listing, something that could have a severe impact on farmers and ranchers in the western United States. The bill also provides a 3% increase in funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. Disappointingly though the package allows for further cuts to voluntary conservation programs that have proven successful in helping to improve soil and water health. Ah well… as with all things federal - you win some, you lose some.