CONGRESSIONAL FARM NEWS Congress Passes 5-Day Funding Extension to Keep Government Open: On Friday, December 11, Congress passed a five-day extension of the previous 10-week extension of last year’s funding bill in order to keep the government open through midnight on Wednesday, December 16.Congress Reverses Crop Insurance Reform; Agriculture Appropriations and Nutrition Decisions Loom:Last week, Congress voted to reverse several basic reforms to the federal crop insurance program – reforms that both the House and Senate agreed to as part of a two-year budget deal signed into law by the President back in late October.Representative Pingree Takes on Food Waste:On Monday, December 7, Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1) introduced the Food Recovery Act (H.R. 4184) to curb food waste across the entire food system. She publicly announced the bill earlier the same day at the Portland Food Co-op in Portland, Maine.FOOD SAFETY NEWS Understanding FDA’s New FSMA Rule for Produce Farms—Part 2:This is the second in a multi-part series analyzing FDA’s recently released rule that sets standards for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce for human consumption (aka “the Produce Rule”). The first post addressed those farms that may be fully or partially exempt from the Produce Rule.USDA NEWS CSP Overhaul Delayed Until 2017: Late last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service broke the news that the major overhaul (or “makeover”) of the Conservation Stewardship Program scheduled for early 2016 will be delayed one year, and instead rolled out for the 2017 sign-up period.$17.5 Million Now Available for Organic Research:Yesterday, December 11th, the United States Department of Agriculture announced the availability of millions of dollars to help solve some of the most pressing challenges facing organic farmers today.What’s Up With USDA Food Labels? Changes Made to USDA Process Verified Program:This is the first in an occasional series we will be doing to report on some recent and pending changes to USDA food labeling programs. This post focuses on changes to the Process Verified Program by the Agricultural Marketing Service that aim to give consumers more transparency.NEW REPORT United Nations Report Reveals Serious Threats to Soil Health:World Soil Day, celebrated on December 4, marked the end of the United Nations International Year of Soils, but a new report finds that much more work is necessary to boost soil health across the globe.