Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 3.1

Monday, March 1st, 2021


March 1, 2021

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

Big Picture Outlook

House Democrats Pass COVID Relief Bill with No Republican Votes– The 219-212 vote on Saturday, February 27, allows the American Rescue Plan Act to move to the Senate. Before passage, House democratic leaders stripped language that would have authorized federal payments to farmers who lost crops to natural disasters, including “high winds or Derechos.” A provision that would increase the federal minimum wage is unlikely to be included in the Senate bill after the Senate parliamentarian ruled it was not permissible under budget reconciliation procedural rules. The package includes $16.1 billion for agriculture spending in areas such as USDA support to food supply chains, funding for land grant institutions and other groups that assist farmers of color, an extension of the 15 percent SNAP benefits increase, and funding for rural hospitals and communities to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and food assistance.

Senate Confirmed Agriculture Secretary Nominee Tom Vilsack – On February 23, the Senate voted to confirm Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack with a vote of 92-7. He has stated that USDA will immediately begin to work on climate policy, but big-ticket policy moves like creating a carbon bank are likely a ways off. He is also reviewing farm relief payments after concerns that the various programs under the previous administration tilted unfairly toward larger, wealthier farms.

House Agriculture Committee Held Hearing on Climate Change in Agriculture and Forestry – The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on February 25 titled “Climate Change and the U.S. Agriculture and Forestry Sectors.” Major discussion points during this hearing included how a carbon bank could be created to help farmers instead of middlemen, the need for agricultural extension, additional funding for universities for research, benefits of regenerative agriculture (no-till, cover cropping, etc.), and a general desire for any new policy to be voluntary, incentive-based, and market-based for farmers.

The Week Ahead 

Monday, March 1
  • 1:00 PM EST: Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a business meeting to consider committee rules and designation of subcommittees for the 117th Congress and the nomination of Merrick Garland to be Attorney General.
To see a full list of House and Senate Committee business, visit here.

A Quick Look Back 

Contact the Team 

Feel free to contact Michael TorreyTara SmithCassandra KuballJessica KuneyBarbara Patterson, Trey Forsyth, Perry Harlow, or Brandon Barnett with any questions or comments.