Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 1.14

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019


January 14, 2019

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

  • Government Shutdown Continues On- Today is the day 24 of the partial government shutdown over the proposed border wall. The shutdown is now the longest in U.S. history and hundreds of thousands of federal employees missed their first paycheck last Friday. President Trump has sent mixed signals as to whether he will declare a national emergency to circumvent congressional approval. USDA and FDA are among the agencies closed and seeing strain on programs like SNAP and food safety inspections. Negotiations between the administration and Congressional Democrats continue to stay at a standstill.
  • Supreme Court Will Hear Case on SNAP Data– The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that will determine if USDA should release SNAP retailer data to the public. This comes after a multi-year court battle between Argus Leader, a South Dakota Newspaper, and USDA. In 2011, Argus Leader filed a Freedom of Information Act request for a list of names and sales figures for every grocer, retailer, and gas station that participated in SNAP for a five year period. USDA provided store names and addresses, but did not provide sales amounts, arguing that the sales figures are the confidential business information of the retailers. After a district court judge ruled against the USDA in 2016, the Food Marketing Institute filed an emergency appeal to the Eighth Circuit and later an appeal for the Supreme Court, asking them to make a final ruling.
  • Dairy Sees Slowed Production, Surplus- Rabobank’s 4th quarter report shows that the US saw 1% growth in milk production in 2018. This is the lowest year-on-year growth since 2013. Australian and European growth have also slowed and herd numbers are shrinking in the three regions in order to mitigate costs and respond to low farm gate milk prices. Meanwhile, retail sales of dairy have been down in the US since 2017. And the country is seeing the largest cheese surplus in US history, at over 1.4 billion pounds. Because of the decline in liquid milk consumption, suppliers have been turning extra milk into cheese. However, consumers have also shied away from processed cheeses and turned towards specialty types, which are often made outside of the US.

Nominations & Confirmations

The Senate has not made any confirmations in this session yet.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, January 16

  • The Senate Committee for Environment and Public Works will examine the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

MTA In Action

Last Tuesday, Michael Torrey Associates hosted a breakfast meet and greet for newly elected Congressmen Jim Hagedorn (R-MN). Congressman Hagedorn grew up on a grain and livestock farm in rural Minnesota and represents the first district which stretches across the Minnesota-Iowa border and spans 21 counties. The event was held at the Beer Institute and had a stellar turnout, including representatives from American Bakers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, Farm Credit Council, National Cotton Council, American Seed Trade Association, SNAC International, National Grocers Association, North American Millers Association, and General Mills.

A Quick Look Back

Pertinent Timing Ticker