Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 3.16

Monday, March 16th, 2020


March 16, 2020

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

Coronavirus Update– With the outbreak ongoing, President Trump has declared a national emergency. This allows up to $50 billion in funds to become available under the Stafford Act for state and local governments to address their community needs during this time. Early Saturday morning, the House passed a bipartisan coronavirus stimulus bill that includes among other provisions $1 billion in food-related provisions. Click here to read more from the MTA team about the provisions in this bill.

A federal judge also blocked passage of the final rule that proposed SNAP benefit cuts for unemployed able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs), due to the coronavirus outbreak. The rule was set to go into effect in April. The Senate decided to cancel their recess originally scheduled for this week, so they can potentially vote on the House-passed stimulus bill. The federal government is encouraging employees to telework, and a portion of USDA headquarters has closed due to a confirmed coronavirus case amongst employees.

The food industry is beginning to see impacts of the virus on their operations and companies are working hard to ensure stores are stocked, while ensuring their employees are given appropriate sick leave. Consumer and grocery company executives spoke with the President over the weekend. White House spokesman, Judd Deere, says, the food industry is working “hand-in-hand with the federal government, as well as state and local leaders, to ensure food and essentials are constantly available.”

Final Meeting for 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee– The fifth and final meeting for the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) took place over webcast at the end of last week. Committee members reviewed draft conclusion statements on the association between certain foods and nutrients with health outcomes. Overall, most research provided insufficient to limited evidence to determine an association, but the committee stated there is strong evidence that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats will reduce the risk of heart disease for adults. Subcommittees advocated for dietary diversity, whole foods consumption over processed foods, and said the type of milk consumed does not have a clear relationship on adiposity in children. The final conclusions and 2020 DGA Report will be presented to USDA and HHS officials on May 11th.

The Week Ahead

Monday, March 16
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee postponed today’s hearing to examine an emerging disease threat, focusing on how the U.S. is responding to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, part 2.
Unless noted, all times are in Eastern Standard Time (EST).

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