Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 12.17

Monday, December 17th, 2018


December 17, 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 Senate will continue the lame duck session today, while the House plans to reconvene on Wednesday night. Congress has until Friday to pass a spending bill that authorizes funding for USDA and FDA, among other government agencies. Last week, the President offered a partial shutdown if appropriators do not provide $5 billion to fund a border wall.
  • Farm Bill Passes Congress Overwhelmingly  After months of drafting, negotiations, and debate the 2018 Farm Bill has been approved by Congress and is on its way to the President’s desk. The House of Representatives passed the bill with a vote of 369-47 and the Senate approved it with a vote of 87-13. The 807-page legislation authorizes farm and nutrition policy for the next five years and is estimated to cost $867 billion over the next ten years. President Trump is expected to sign the bill this week, though no formal plans have been announced.
  • CBO Report Suggests Cuts to Ag Programs– A newly released annual report by the Congressional Budget Office outlines 121 ideas to decrease federal spending or increase revenues. The study proposes limiting enrollment in conservation programs, eliminating Title I agriculture programs, and reducing subsidies in the crop insurance program. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a non partisan federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government that provides budget and economic information to Congress. You can read the full report here.
  • WOTUS 2.0 Proposal Announced– On Tuesday, the EPA and Army proposed a new definition for “Waters of the United States” or “WOTUS”, overwriting Obama-era regulations on the scope of the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule would tighten guidelines for streams and wetlands considered for potential federal regulation. Ephemeral streams– those caused by rainfall or snow melt– would be removed from federal jurisdiction, as well as farm ponds, log cleaning ponds, and cooling ponds. Ditches would be excluded unless they flow into a “water of the US”. Once published in the Federal Register, there will be a 60 day public comment period, after which the administration is expected to publish a final rule.

Nominations & Confirmations

  • Justin Muzinich was confirmed to be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Dec 19

  • The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing entitled, “A Comparative Look at Competition Law Approaches to Monopoly and Abuse of Dominance in the US and EU.”

Thursday, Dec 20

  • The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing  examining “The Peril of an Ignored National Debt.”

A Quick Look Back

Pertinent Timing Ticker

  • 4 days until funding for USDA expires (Dec. 7, 2018).
  • 17 days until commencement of the 116th Congress (Jan. 3, 2019)