A central Illinois farmer harvests his crop shortly before sundown on Sept. 24, 2015. U.S. agricultural exports reached a record level in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Controversial trade deal draws heavy lobbying from U.S. agribusiness

A new trade deal aimed at cutting thousands of taxes and opening markets with 11 Pacific Rim nations has drawn heavy lobbying from some of America’s largest agribusinesses.

The deal – known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership – was reached in early October. It is designed to ease the flow of goods between partner nations by lowering restrictive trade policies and regulations.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, middle, listens to a researchers on Sept. 10, 2015. Vilsack was visiting the Energy Farm just south of Urbana, Ill. From left: German Bollero, head of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's crop science department; Tim Mies, director of the Energy Farm; Robert Hauser, ACES dean; Patrick Brown, assistant professor in plant breeding and genetics

Ag Secretary Vilsack announces major USDA biofuel investment

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced on Thursday that his department will award nearly two dozen states with millions of dollars to build the gas pumps and other infrastructure needed to supply American drivers with more renewable fuel.