Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 11.18

Monday, November 18th, 2019


November 18, 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

Senate Democrats Highlight Trade Aid Disparities– Senate Democrats, led by Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, are challenging the “flawed formula” used by USDA to make Market Facilitation Program payments in a report released last week. Democrats say USDA is “picking winners and losers in their attempt to aid farmers,” and that Southern farmers have received the highest payment rates, even though Midwest and Northern Plains farmers have been most affected by the trade war. According to the report, 95% of the top payment rates have gone to southern farmers, and payments have tilted favorably towards certain commodities, such as cotton. The report also found that payments have been made to foreign-owned companies, such as JBS, a Brazilian-owned packer who was awarded $90 million in pork sales from USDA’s food purchase program. USDA responded to the report in a statement, saying, “While we appreciate feedback on this program, the fact of the matter is that USDA has provided necessary funding to help farmers who have been impacted by unjustified retaliatory tariffs.”

Appropriations Clock Continues to Run Down– With just a handful of legislative days left to pass fiscal 2020 spending bills before the November 21 deadline, negotiators in the House and Senate are far from reaching an agreement on spending levels in their respective bills. Congress is looking to another short-term fix, and is expected to pass another stopgap funding bill this week. This Continuing Resolution (CR) is expected to keep the government open through December 20. The deadline closer to the holidays is meant to encourage negotiations as lawmakers will be feeling the pressure to leave town. It is clear that both parties do not want a repeat of last holiday season, which resulted in the longest government shutdown in history.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
  • The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit will host a hearing entitled, “Review of Credit Conditions: Report from the Farm Credit Administration.”
  • The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations will review the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.
  • The House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will hear testimony on “Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act: Promoting Resiliency of our Nation’s Water Resources Infrastructure.”
  • Politico will host a discussion on how to improve resiliency, mitigation and relief efforts around flooding disasters.
  • Farm Foundation will host a forum entitled, “Global Agricultural Productivity & Hunger, Are We Doing Enough?”
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
  • The House Committee on the Judiciary will hold a full markup the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019.
  • The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis will host a hearing, “Creating a Climate Resilient America: Reducing Risks and Costs.”
  • The Senate Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities will discuss, “Biological Threats to US National Security.”
  • The Senate HELP Committee will review the nomination of Dr. Stephen Hahn to serve as the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

MTA In Action

Earlier this month, MTA’s Barbara Patterson and Andrew Jerome attended the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense Meeting hosted by Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. The meeting featured a lineup of top leaders in the agricultural and biodefense space, including Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Former Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who addressed biological threats to our nation’s agricultural systems. Topics discussed included: catastrophic risks to all components of agriculture, land grant university contributions to national security, public-private partnerships for agrodefense and challenges to agricultural surveillance, detection, response, and recovery across all levels of government and throughout the private sector. Click here to read the press release from Colorado State University.

Left: The Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, which includes former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (center).

Right: MTA’s Barbara Patterson (third from right) with members of the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense.

Bipartisan-Commission-on-Biodefense Commission on Biodefense 2 2019


Mike Torrey joined Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention in Kansas City, Missouri last week. Torrey presented in Edge’s booth, sharing insights on trade and ag workforce challenges with broadcast professionals, industry leaders and students focused on the agricultural industry.

MTA’s Michael Torrey speaking with Spencer Chase of Agri Pulse Communications.
MT NAFB Interview

A Quick Look Back