Rural Broadband Gets White House Attention; Chinese Chicken Safety
**The need for high-speed internet in rural America is getting increased attention from the White House and Congress as they look at passing a sweeping infrastructure initiative next year.
But rural communications carriers are trying to draw attention to a huge hurdle toward expanding rural broadband, a shortfall in financial help from the Universal Service Fund run by the FCC.
An infusion of capital from the infrastructure bill would be welcome, but small rural carriers say that’s not enough, that ongoing rate subsidies are needed to make rural broadband affordable.
**The House Appropriations Committee advanced a fiscal 2018 funding bill for the Ag Department to ensure the safety of imported chicken from China before shipments can begin.
An amendment directs USDA to bar the imports until it produces assurances China can provide the same carcass-by-carcass inspection that USDA does through the Food Safety and Inspection Service. They also want China to report all poultry recalls and disease outbreaks in a timely fashion.
The Trump administration wants to allow imports of Chinese chicken as part of an agreement under which China resumed imports of U.S. beef.
**Witnesses and lawmakers at a House Ag Committee hearing last week showed broad support for immigration reform and mechanization research to address labor shortages faced by specialty crop producers.
Ranking Democrat, Collin Peterson says consumer demand is increasing but natural resources remain fixed and the labor supply is shrinking.
Witnesses say until mechanization eliminates the need for people to hand-pick crops, immigration reform is a top priority.