Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 12.9

Monday, December 9th, 2019


December 9, 2019

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

USDA Announces SNAP Ruling– USDA published a final ruling that will tighten work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDS) participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and limits states’ ability to administer waivers for the program. The rule will reduce the areas that qualify for waivers, by requiring an unemployment rate of at least 6% or more before waivers are administered. “This rule lays the groundwork for the expectation that able-bodied Americans re-enter the workforce where there are currently more job openings than people to fill them,” said USDA Secretary Perdue in an agency press release. The rule, set to take effect in April, is expected to reduce SNAP participation by 688,000 participants. The move has been widely criticized by Democrats and groups like the Food Research & Action Center, Share our Strength and National Farmers Union.

House to Consider Farm Workforce Modernization Act– House Majority Leader Hoyer announced that the House will likely vote on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R.5038) this week. The legislation is focused on addressing the shortage of agricultural labor in the US by expanding and simplifying the H-2A program and allowing for agricultural workers in the US to earn legal status through continued ag employment and contribution to the ag economy. The bill has received widespread support from hundreds of food and agricultural organizations. The House Judiciary Committee considered and approved the legislation just before Thanksgiving. The House Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday to decide procedural conditions on consideration of the bill, such as allotted debate time and amendments.

Congressional Republicans Urge USMCA Vote– On Monday, 159 Congressional Republicans, led by House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Conaway (R-TX), sent a letter to House Speaker Pelosi, urging her to pass the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) this year. “Nearly every agriculture group in America has called on Congress to pass USMCA, which significantly improves trade relations with our two largest trading partners that together purchase about one-third of all U.S. agricultural exports,” the letter reads. “Expanding U.S. agriculture exports through truly free and fair trade agreements will help put American agriculture back on its feet.” Meanwhile, recent reports have claimed that an agreement appears close between House Democrats and the Trump Administration on the USMCA, providing a glimmer of hope that the trade agreement could see ratification before the end of 2019.

The Week Ahead

Monday, December 9
  • The Federal Communications Commission will hold the first meeting of a special task force to review the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States.
Tuesday, December 10
  • The Farm Foundation will host a forum entitled, “Exploring Outcome-Based Pricing in Agriculture.”
  • The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture will review, “The Implementation of Farm Bill International Food Assistance and Development Programs.”
  • The House Rules Committee will meet to formulate a rule regarding H.R. 5038, The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019.
Wednesday, December 11
  • The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit will discuss a “Review of Credit Conditions: Report from Agricultural Lenders.”
  • The House Agriculture Committee will hold a Member Day.
Thursday, December 12
  • Resources for the Future will hold a forum on recent regulatory changes for the Endangered Species Act.

MTA In Action

Michael Torrey Associates was recently featured in the Kansas State University “Innovation & Inspiration” campaign for its part in founding the Kansas Food and Agriculture Policy Fellowship Program. The fellowship consists of experiences at the state and federal level where students work with a legislative or congressional office, a state or federal agency or a food- and agriculture-related organization. Fellows have worked with organizations including the Kansas Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas Corn Growers Association, national associations and various ag-related lobbying firms.

In the article, Mike Torrey discusses why he founded the program. “Public policy has a role in all of our lives at the local, state and federal level. I think no matter what you decide to do with your career and life, having an understanding of that, and having a hands-on experience with the role of government and what happens in public policy will make you stronger in your career.”

A Quick Look Back