GOP Pushes Farm Bill and Pence Optimistic on NAFTA
**Republicans pushed a farm bill through the House Ag Committee on a party-line vote Wednesday after angry Democrats criticized the legislation's food stamp reforms as unjustified, unworkable and unfair to the poor.
Republican Chairman Mike Conaway, of Texas, says he hopes to debate the bill on the House floor sometime in May after ensuring it has enough votes to pass.
In addition to overhauling SNAP, the bill would also enhance the Price Loss Coverage program, loosen commodity program payment limits, and authorize new loans and grants for rural broadband expansion.
**The European Commission has approved two modifications to the commitments set out as part of its conditional approval of Bayer's takeover bid of Monsanto.
Agrimarketing.com reports, rather than divesting from Monsanto's NemaStrike brand of seed-protection, Bayer will now sell its own seed-treatment assets to BASF.
Bayer will also sell its digital-ag assets to BASF, which will then grant Bayer a license to use the products.
Bayer expects to close the more-than $60 billion deal in the second quarter.
**Vice President Mike Pence says he believes the U.S., Mexico and Canada could wrap up negotiations to rewrite NAFTA within the next several weeks.
According to agrimarketing.com, Pence said at the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, there are still issues unresolved, but he's optimistic a deal will be struck soon.
Meanwhile, Canadian, Mexican and U.S. trade officials met during the summit.