Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
More numbers were released this week indicating the nation's economy is rebounding. Industrial activity has picked up, as have orders for the output of those factories.
For Rural America, it has been a week where citizens have been reminded that life is defined by not only what can be coaxed from the soil, but also by marketing innovations, trade disagreements, labor disputes and politics.
The legislation that weaves the financial safety net for much of the nation's agricultural economy remains captive of a joint House-Senate conference committee. The conferees are trying to hammer out not only the differences contained in measures adopted by each house, but new issues that have arisen in recent days.
Squared off across the room, conference committee members are working to finish the farm bill before Congress adjourns for Easter. But the business of reconciling differences between the House and Senate bills has become more problematic.
In recent days, Senate Democrats have taken a couple of blows as they work to advocate their version of the farm bill. First, it was revealed the cost of the Senate-passed farm package was underestimated by $6 billion. Then, California's two Democratic senators withdrew their support of subsidy limitations included in the bill, citing potential financial harm to their state's cotton and rice farmers.
House Republicans, too, oppose the subsidy caps ... and have vowed to assign a "budget posse" to ensure the final version of the farm bill stays within budget limits negotiated last year.