Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 12.10

Monday, December 10th, 2018


December 10, 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 continue the lame duck session today. Last week, Congress adjusted its legislative schedule to accommodate for the ceremonies honoring the life of former President George H.W. Bush.  Lawmakers approved a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through December 21, adding a week onto the lame duck session and avoiding a government shutdown last Friday. This leaves twelve days remaining for Congress to pass a government spending bill which will authorize funding for USDA and FDA.
  • Farm Bill At Last?-  In a scramble to pass the final law by Friday, lawmakers expect a Farm Bill Conference Report will be signed by conference committee members today, with a public debut of the legislation on Tuesday. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has listed the bill as one of several expected to receive a vote in the House this week – some expect will be Wednesday. This would allow a Senate vote as soon as Thursday, though it could roll into next week. The legislation expired over 70 days ago and there are few opportunities left to hold a vote as the 115th Congress draws to a close.
  • USDA Publishes Ruling on School Meals–  USDA has announced a final rule on school meals that provides local flexibility for milk, whole grains, and sodium requirements. The ruling allows schools to offer flavored, low-fat milk, requires half of the weekly grains in school meals to be whole grain-rich, and provides more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals. The change affects nearly 99,000 schools that feed 30 million children each year through USDA’s school meal programs. USDA Secretary Perdue said, “We will continue to listen to schools, and make common-sense changes as needed, to ensure they can meet the needs of their students based on their real-world experience in local communities.”
  • Lohr to Serve as NRCS Chief- USDA Secretary Perdue has appointed Matthew “Matt” Lohr as the next Chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. This role oversees over 3,000 offices that resource farmers, ranchers, and forest owners in voluntary conservation efforts. Lohr is a full-time farmer from Virginia and a former VA agriculture commissioner.

Nominations & Confirmations

  • Bernard McNamee was confirmed to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, Dec 4

  • The House Committee on Energy and Commerce will hold a hearing on the 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act. The hearing was postponed from last Wednesday due to services honoring the late President Bush.

Wednesday, Dec 5

  • The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will discuss “Mandating a $15 Minimum Wage: Consequences for Workers and Small Businesses”

A Quick Look Back

Pertinent Timing Ticker

  • 71 days since farm bill expiration (Sep. 30, 2018).
  • 11 days until funding for USDA expires (Dec. 7, 2018).
  • 24 days until commencement of the 116th Congress (Jan. 3, 2019)