Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 12.7

Monday, December 7th, 2020


December 7, 2020

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

Big Picture Outlook

Bipartisan Lawmakers Release COVID-19 Relief Package- A bipartisan group of Senators and the Problem Solvers Caucus of the House of Representatives released a $908 billion COVID-19 relief package that is gaining support in both chambers, though the future of the bill is uncertain. The bill would provide $180 billion in unemployment insurance, $288 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), $16 billion for coronavirus testing and vaccine development and distribution, and a business liability protection provision. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), one of the Senators who proposed the bill, said $560 billion of the package is repurposed money from the CARES Act with the remaining being new spending. After its release, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed a framework for a different bill that would be just over $500 billion. The Majority Leader and President Trump have not expressed interest in the bipartisan proposal while Democratic leadership in both chambers said the bipartisan bill provides “a good basis.” Additionally, a spending bill will need to pass before December 11 in order to fund the federal government when the Continuing Resolution that was passed in September expires.

House Committee Leadership Selected- Representative David Scott (D-GA) was approved to be the next House Agriculture Committee chairman by the Democratic caucus earlier this week. Scott would be the first African American chair of that committee and the first African American from Georgia to chair any committee. On Thursday, the House Republican conference approved Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania to serve as Ranking Member for the House Agriculture Committee. The Republican conference also approved Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to become Ranking Member of the House Energy and Committee which has jurisdiction over energy policy and oversight of the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.

Peterson Proposes CRP Legislation- In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, outgoing House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) announced the introduction of legislation that will require the Department of Agriculture to put 50 million acres of cropland into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Peterson said this would be the most effective way to reduce the agriculture carbon footprint compared to the Conservation Stewardship Program or paying producers to plant cover crops or other carbon sequestration efforts. The bill would likely face resistance from lawmakers concerned that other countries would take control of agriculture markets left open by these acres being out of production. As of September, there are 21.9 million acres enrolled in CRP.

Farm Income Soared in 2020- The USDA projected that farm income will rise to nearly $120 billion due to COVID-19 aid and other taxpayer subsidies. This would be the highest income level since 2013 with an over 40 percent increase from last year. This year alone, direct payments to producers have totaled approximately $46.5 billion as the cash for commodities have decreased because of trade wars and the pandemic. The projections were a stark contrast to what the Department released in September when they projected that net earnings would be less than $103 billion.

The Week Ahead 

Wednesday, December 9

  • 10:00 a.m. (EST) The House Agriculture Committee will be holding a hearing to discuss “1890 Land Grant Institutions – 130 Years of Building Equity in Agriculture.”

Thursday, December 10

  • 10:00 a.m. (EST) The Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee will be holding a hearing to “Examine Small Business in Crisis, Focusing on the 2020 Paycheck Protection Program and Its Future.”

To see a full list of House and Senate Committee business, visit here.

House Republicans released the schedule for the 2021 calendar year of the 117th Congress. That calendar can be found here.

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.