Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 1.13

Monday, January 13th, 2020


January 13, 2020

A quick look at what’s happening in Washington, D.C. that’s impacting food and agriculture. If you would like to subscribe to the receive the updates right to your inbox, please contact Marissa Dake

Big Picture Outlook

Trade Update– President Trump will sign the “phase one” trade agreement with China on Wednesday. The Trump Administration has yet to share details of the agreement. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told Fox News that they’ll be made public this week. US officials report that China has agreed to purchase $200 billion in US goods and services, over its 2017 total import value. China is expected to increase purchases of agricultural goods between $40 to $50 billion annually over the next two years. Click here to read our coverage of a recent White House briefing on the agreement. Last week, the Senate Finance Committee approved the USMCA implementing bill out of committee with a bipartisan vote of 25-3. Six other committees must approve of the bill before it can be considered on the Senate floor. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Grassley (R-IA) has urged Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) to move quickly. However, Speaker Pelosi has signaled she is sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate this week. This leaves a small window for the trade agreement to pass in the Senate.

House, Senate Ag Committee Membership Changes– The Senate Agriculture Committee added newly appointed Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) to the panel last week. She took the seat of Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). Georgia Governor Brian Kemp selected Loeffler to succeed the state’s retiring Senior senator, Johnny Isakson (R-GA). She will also serve on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which holds jurisdiction over the Food and Drug Administration. Senator Loeffler, who grew up on a farm in Illinois, said she, “understand[s] the vital importance of agriculture to [Georgia], and the issues facing rural communities and local businesses firsthand.” Freshman Congressman Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) lost his seat on the House Agriculture Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee. Van Drew, originally a Democrat, switched parties last year over the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. House Republican leadership has not yet announced Van Drew’s new committee assignments.

Nominations and Confirmations

  • President Trump has nominated Brandon Lipps as USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. Lipps has been serving as administrator and acting deputy undersecretary of the division since July of 2017.
  • President Trump nominated Charles Stones to be a member of the board of directors on the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac).

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, January 14
Wednesday, January 15
Thursday, January 16
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the USMCA implementing bill.

MTA In Action

Michael Torrey Associates was recently featured in the Kansas State University “Innovation & Inspiration” campaign for its part in founding the Kansas Food and Agriculture Policy Fellowship Program. The fellowship consists of experiences at the state and federal level where students work with a legislative or congressional office, a state or federal agency or a food- and agriculture-related organization. Fellows have worked with organizations including the Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas Corn Growers Association, national associations and various ag-related lobbying firms.

In the article, Mike Torrey discusses why he founded the program. “Public policy has a role in all of our lives at the local, state and federal level. I think no matter what you decide to do with your career and life, having an understanding of that, and having a hands-on experience with the role of government and what happens in public policy will make you stronger in your career.”

A Quick Look Back