Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 11.16

Monday, November 16th, 2020


November 16, 2020

On Wednesday, November 11, the United States celebrated Veteran’s Day in remembrance of those who have served on behalf of the country. MTA would like to express gratitude to all service men and women for your service and sacrifice in the fight for freedom.

  • Congressional Update
  • Election Update
  • Big Picture Outlook
  • The Week Ahead
  • MTA in Action
  • A Quick Look Back
  • Contact the Team

Congressional Update

The Senate started the appropriations process this week by releasing an omnibus appropriations package while the House of Representatives already passed ten of their twelve bills in the summer. Although the tight timeframe will likely not allow the Senate to mark up on any of their bills, the Senate appropriations package will likely serve as a negotiation tool between both chambers of Congress. The Senate bill totals $1.4 trillion to fund the government beyond December 11, when the Continuing Resolution that was passed in September expires. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said the package came largely about by partisanship among members of the committee and that he looks forward to coming up with a bipartisan spending deal between the House and the Senate.

Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Hoeven (R-ND) said the agriculture bill of the FY21 spending package will fully fund farm loan programs, provide support for rural innovation, maintain crop insurance and other farm bill programs, and continue agricultural research. The agricultural bill provides several billion dollars to research, farm production and conservation programs, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, nutrition programs, international food assistance, and the Food and Drug Administration. The bill provides a total of $23.3 billion in funding for agriculture. For a breakdown of the Senate agriculture appropriations bill, please visit here.

Election Update

On Friday, it was announced that President Trump was projected to win North Carolina after over a week of waiting. President Trump refuses to concede until completion of pending litigations. While Georgia is predicted to be declared for Biden, Secretary of State for Georgia Brad Raffensperger announced that Presidential ballots will be recounted by hand.

On Wednesday morning, the Alaska Senate race was declared in favor of Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan and the North Carolina race was called for Republican Thom Tillis. The GOP now leads Democrats for majority in the Senate 50 to 48. But the final determination of the Senate majority will not be decided until after the January 5 runoff for both Georgia Senate seats.

On the House side, Democrats have officially maintained their majority, claiming an official lead on Wednesday when they hit the 218 threshold, although there are still a few races yet to be called where some will likely go to Republicans. Instead of gaining seats, Democrats have lost several seats and their majority has significantly decreased. There are currently 19 uncalled races for the House including races in California, Iowa, New York, Texas, and Utah

Big Picture Outlook

Speculation Begins for New Agriculture Secretary- While the President-elect begins the process of choosing a cabinet, the agriculture sector actively awaits the announcement for the role of Secretary for the Department of Agriculture. The list contains mostly female leaders in agriculture including California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-MN), former Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH). Fudge, who currently serves as chair of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations, said she would not pursue the chair position of the Agriculture Committee left open by Collin Peterson, but would be interested in the Secretary appointment. Another contender is Delaware Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse, a former USDA Under Secretary during the Obama Administration. Contenders have not been narrowed down and the announcement will likely occur closer to the inauguration in January.

Biden Transition Page Includes Agriculture- President-elect Joe Biden’s transition webpage includes priorities of agricultural and rural broadband expansion, stating access to universal broadband is crucial to economic development. Climate change is also listed on his website with a subparagraph that says, “Agriculture and Conservation: Create jobs in climate-smart agriculture, resilience, and conservation, including 250,000 jobs plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines — providing good work with a choice to join or continue membership in a union in hard-hit communities, including rural communities, reducing leakage of toxics, and preventing local environmental damage.”

Initial review teams, otherwise known as transition teams, have been announced on Biden’s webpage. Former Administrator of the Farm Service Agency, Jonathan Coppess, is on the President-elect’s agriculture team. For a complete list of teams and their members, please visit here.

The Week Ahead 

Wednesday, November 18
  • 2:30 p.m. (EST) The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing to examine “certain wilderness areas, recreation management areas, and conservation areas” in various states.
Thursday, November 19
  • 10:00 a.m. (EST) The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing to “Examine an Essential Part of a COVID-19 Solution, Focusing on an Early at Home Treatment.”

To see a full list of House and Senate Committee business, visit here.

MTA in Action 

Torrey Pays Tribute to Ag Policy Professor- MTA Principal Michael Torrey paid tribute to his long-time friend and agriculture policy professor, Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh. Dr. Flinchbaugh passed away two weeks ago at the age of 78. He was a professor at Kansas State University where he inspired hundreds of students and shared his knowledge with upcoming agriculturalists and future policymakers. Said Torrey, “We talked about the importance of finding common ground not just in the agricultural community but in society at large.” A full reflection on the life of Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh can be found here.

A Quick Look Back 

Contact the Team 

Feel free to contact Michael TorreyTara SmithCassandra KuballJessica KuneyBarbara PattersonPerry Harlow, or Brandon Barnett with any questions or comments.