Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 11.26

Monday, November 26th, 2018


November 26, 2018

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

  • Schedule- The House and Senate will return to the lame duck session today. Meanwhile, newly elected members will be continuing with orientation.
  • Farm Bill Talks Push On- Committee staff and the “Big Four” continue to work on a final agreement for the farm bill. The legislation expired nearly two months ago.
  • Senators Urge Vote on USMCA–  12 Republican Senators sent a letter to President Trump last week, urging him to submit the trade agreement proposal for Congressional approval by Friday. Leaders from the three nations were originally scheduled to sign the new agreement on November 30th, but it must first be ratified by their respective legislatures. In the letter, the legislators explained they are “concerned” that waiting until the 116th Congress will make the agreement “significantly more difficult” to pass. However, there are few legislative days remaining in the lame duck session and other Congressional leaders like Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) say it’s “not realistic” to expect the agreement to pass on such a short timeline.
  • Romaine E. coli Outbreak Continues– Last week, the CDC issued a broad warning about an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce. At the time of the announcement, 32 people in 11 states were effected by contaminated romaine; 13 of them were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. The recall included salad mixes, hearts of romaine, boxes of precut lettuce, and whole heads of lettuce. Earlier this year, the US saw another outbreakin romaine lettuce, which was traced to Yuma, Arizona. On Friday, FDA Commissioner Gottlieb tweeted that the contaminated vegetable is “likely from California”.

Nominations & Confirmations

  • Senate Leadership has filed cloture on the nomination for Stephen Vaden to be General Counsel of the Department of Agriculture. The vote is expected to take place next week.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Nov. 28

  • The Senate Agriculture Committee will examine nominees for three USDA positions. Dr. Mindy Brashears to be Under Secretary for Food Safety, Naomi Earp to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, and Dr. Scott Hutchins to be Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.
  • The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing on Addressing America’s Surface Transportation Infrastructure Needs.

MTA In Action

Tara Smith Joines Ag Delegation in Cuba-  Representing Illinois Soybean Association Tara Smith joined other ag industry stakeholders in Havana, Cuba for the US-Cuba Agriculture Business Conference. The event was hosted and facilitated by the United States Agriculture Coalition for Cuba.

The summit featured officials from the Cuban Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs, the US Embassy in Cuba, leaders in the biotech community, and local farmers. The delegation covered a broad swath of subjects concerning potential agricultural trade between the two nations. Speakers briefed the delegation on Cuba’s current ag imports, barriers to trade, access to technology and other input resources, credit, risk management, and opportunities for the future.

The delegation included representatives from the soybean, corn, wheat, poultry, potato, rice, sorghum, and barley industries. Click here for the official press release from Kansas Wheat.


A Quick Look Back

Pertinent Timing Ticker

  • 57 days since farm bill expiration (Sep. 30, 2018).
  • 5 days until the USMCA Signing (Nov. 30, 2018).
  • 11 days until funding for USDA expires (Dec. 7, 2018).