Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 11.23

Monday, November 23rd, 2020


November 23, 2020

Programming Note: The MTA Newsletter will break for the Thanksgiving Holiday and will be back in your mailbox on December 7. Have a wonderful holiday!

  • Big Picture Outlook
  • The Week Ahead
  • A Quick Look Back
  • Contact the Team

Big Picture Outlook

Coronavirus Relief at a Standstill- Negotiations around the next coronavirus aid package continue to be at a standstill despite the election being over and the national COVID-19 death toll reaching 250,000. President-elect Joe Biden urged Republicans and Democrats to pass a bill before the inauguration, stating things will “get worse before they get better.” Biden urged members of Congress to pass a relief bill such as the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion dollar package, but Republicans in the Senate have insisted a deal can only be reached with a lower cost. Democrats say they are willing to come down to $2.2 trillion while Republicans say a good bill can be done with $500 billion. Along with no discussion on coronavirus aid relief, Congress has not yet reached a deal to fund the government after December 11 when the Continuing Resolution expires.

New Agriculture Bill Introduced in House- Representative Dusty Johnson (R-SD) introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would seek to improve pricing of cattle in the United States as well as allow the planting of a second crop on prevent plant acres without penalty under specific circumstances. This would occur when there is a shortage of feed and the second crop will be hayed, grazed or chopped for animal feed on farm or donated by the producer. The bill was introduced in October prior to the Congressional recess.

Senate Reauthorizations Grain Standards Act- The Senate passed the Grain Standards Act reauthorization and now the legislation heads to the House for a vote. Typically, the legislation would go to the Agriculture Committee before heading to the floor of the House; however, the current Grain Standards Act expires on December 11, so the House plans to skip committee and immediately vote on it. The reauthorization includes customers and applicants for inspection or weighing services in the list of people that must be notified in writing when a state agency intends to temporarily discontinue official inspection or weighing service. The reauthorization provides $23 million per year for the act to be carried out from FY21 through FY25.

Biden Environmental Plan to Include Agriculture- President-elect Joe Biden plans to embed climate change into federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, in order to cut national emissions. Climate change was a large campaign point for Biden and that includes measures such as sequestering carbon, rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, and decarbonizing the United States energy system. While the President-elect will be able to enact some environmental policies independently, he would likely face resistance in a, potentially, Republican controlled Senate and a conservative-leaning Supreme Court. Biden’s repeated campaign goal is to put the United States on a trajectory of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Some in the environmental community have suggested that insurers can include incentives for conservational agriculture practices in an effort to reduce harm and risky farming practices. Other suggestions include paying producers to sequester carbon and federal financing for agriculture conservation practices.

The recent fires on the West Coast have served as reminder for agriculture, particularly grape orchards, of the importance of crop insurance and addressing climate change. A recent report released by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) called for agricultural action in addressing climate change. CFTC Commissioner Rostin Benham said of the report, “Extreme weather events continue to sweep the nation from the severe wildfires of the West to the devastating Midwest derecho and damaging Gulf Coast hurricanes. This trend — which is increasingly becoming our new normal — will likely continue to worsen in frequency and intensity as a result of a changing climate.” The report suggests financial assistance for farmers desiring to make climate-smart business decisions and having agricultural banks look at financial implications of climate change. A copy of that report can be found here.

Federal Maritime Commission Improves Rule- The Federal Maritime Commission promulgated an order that expands the authority of Fact Finding 29. The rule expansion will allow the Commission to have more authority and investigative power over export violations. In their announcement, the Commission said, “The potentially unreasonable practices of carriers and marine terminals regarding container return, export containers, and demurrage and detention charges…present a serious risk to the ability of the United States to handle trade growth.” The rule change seeks to improve performance for carriers, terminals, importers and exporters, truckers, and those engaged in freight delivery.

The Week Ahead 

Congress will be in recess for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

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.