Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 3.2

Monday, March 9th, 2020


March 2, 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

Ag State Dems Drop, Endorse Biden as Super Tuesday Nears– Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and delegates from 14 states are about to vote for Democratic candidates to receive the Presidential nomination. Included in these states are California and Texas, the two states with the most delegates. Nearly a third of all delegates will vote tomorrow and the candidate pool is experiencing major shifts. On Sunday, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire Tom Steyer suspended their candidacies and Minnesota Senator and Senate Agriculture Committee member Amy Klobuchar ended hers today. Both candidates shared platforms supportive to the agriculture economy. Klobuchar and Buttigieg are now throwing their weight behind former Vice President Joe Biden. The rural vote holds a lot of weight in these states, so knowing what position each candidate takes on agricultural policy is important heading into Super Tuesday. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) issued a report in January that discussed the main candidates’ plans for agricultural policy. One candidate is joining the the ballot for the first time: Mike Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City. Despite the late entry, only 4% of total delegates have been allocated so far, which means that a nomination is not out of reach. Bloomberg officially released his agriculture policy plan last week after receiving criticism for some remarks about the simplicity of farming in 2016.

Disease Outbreaks Top of Mind for Agriculture– In a timely discussion last week, academics, researchers, and policymakers gathered to discuss how recent disease outbreaks are impacting agriculture and livestock production. The recent spread of the coronavirus has farmers worried that agricultural exports to China will not increase this year under the new trade agreement. At two separate events on Tuesday, academics and researchers delved into what prepardness and response methods are in place for infectious disease outbreaks. The Coalition for Epi Response, Engagement and Science (CERES), led by Colorado State University, hosted a symposium on agricultural biosecurity and the Farm Foundation hosted a forum on the same topic.


Nominations and Confirmations

  •  President Trump selected Devon Westhill to be the deputy assistant secretary of civil rights at the USDA. Westhill has ties to The Federalist Society and previously worked in the Department of Labor’s office of public liaison.
  • USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Bette Brand as the deputy under secretary for USDA’s Rural Development.


The Week Ahead

Tuesday, March 3
  • 10:00am: The House Appropriations Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing for Members Day.
  • 10:00am: The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries, and Weather will meet to discuss “Securing US Leadership in the Bioeconomy.”
  • 2:00pm: The House Appropriations Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Department of Energy Applied Energy Programs’ Budget Requests for FY2021.”
Wednesday, March 4
  • 9:30am: The House Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will meet to discuss “The US Environmental Protection Agency Budget Request for FY2021.”
  • 10:00am: The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on “The State of the Rural Economy with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.”
  • 10:30am: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Water and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the impact of invasive species on Bureau of Reclamation facilities and management of water resources in the West.
  • 10:30am: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change will hold a hearing on “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reform: Addressing America’s Plastic Waste Crisis.”
Unless noted, all times are in Eastern Standard Time (EST).

MTA In Action

Last week, MTA staffed the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau’s booth at the 2020 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, TX. At the booth, they shared information on the Crop Insurance Coalition and talked to farmers about the importance of crop insurance. Farmers also had the chance to participate in a raffle by sharing feedback on their experiences with crop insurance.

At the event, Tara Smith also participated on a panel entitled, “Your Vote Matters! Ag and the DC Landscape.” This panel, moderated by Successful Farming’s editor, Dave Kurns, discussed political trends and influences that impact agriculture. Other panelists included Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Lead of Federal Government Relations for Syngenta, and Chandler Goule, CEO of National Association of Wheat Growers.

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Left photo: The CIRB booth did a raffle for a soft Yeti cooler and had cookies for those who stopped by!

Right photo: “Your Vote Matters! Ag and the DC Landscape” panelists from left to right: Chandler Goule, Tara Smith, Mary Kay Thatcher, and Dave Kurns.


A Quick Look Back