Negotiators working on the omnibus spending bill have included a repeal of the mandatory Country-of-Origin meat labeling law. Debbie Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, who supported a voluntary measure earlier this year said this week that “we have to get this done.” Repeal of COOL would allow the U.S. to avoid retaliatory tariffs from Mexico and Canada that could be imposed as early as next week. The World Trade Organization was expected to meet with Canada and Mexico regarding COOL tariffs on Friday.

USDA Tuesday closed a loophole in farm program payments to just those who are actively engaged in farming. USDA said it has finalized a rule to ensure that farm safety-net payments are issued only to active managers of farms that operate as joint ventures or general partnerships. The action, which exempts family farm operations, closes a loophole where individuals who were not actively part of farm management still received payments. Since 1987, the broad definition of "actively engaged" resulted in qualifying for more payments that did not substantially contribute to management.