Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 4.22

Monday, April 22nd, 2019


April 22, 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

  • Supreme Court to Hear SNAP Data Case- Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the case of Food Marketing Institute (FMI) v. Argus Leader. The case beganwith a 2011 Freedom of Information Act request made by South Dakota newspaper Argus Leader to obtain SNAP-related sales data from USDA. USDA shared some data on the stores where SNAP participants could use their benefits, but refused to disclose information on individual store revenue from the program, arguing that it was confidential and proprietary business information. Argus Leader consequently sued. The Food Marketing Institute took up the case when USDA lost a lower court ruling in 2017 and decided not to appeal. The Supreme Court will ultimately have to interpret the limits of the Freedom of Information Act, which allows the government to withhold “confidential” “commercial or financial information” obtained from third parties.
  • ITC Releases Report on USMCA– The International Trade Commission (ITC) released its highly anticipated report on the economic impact of the new USMCA trade agreement. The report marks an important procedural step in the ratification process and says that the NAFTA replacement would “likely have a positive impact on all industry sectors within the US economy.” USMCA would raise the US GDP by $68.2 billion and create 176,000 US jobs over the next five years. The report also shows US exports to Mexico would increase by 6.7% and exports to Canada by 5.9%. Dairy exports to Canada would increase by $227 million annually under the new agreement. Several lawmakers have indicated that they wanted to examine the independent report before making a decision on how they will vote on the USMCA.
  • Lawmakers Seek to Overhaul Farm Bankruptcy- Lawmakers in the House introduced a new legislation to restructure farms’ eligibility to file for Chapter 12 bankruptcy. The bipartisan bill would expand the debt cap covered under Chapter 12 bankruptcy to $10 million. The proposal was introduced by freshman Congressman Delgado (D-NY) and co-sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sensenbrenner (R-WI), House Agriculture Committee Chairman Peterson (D-MN), and Reps. Cox (D-CA), Armstrong (R-ND), and Johnson (R-SD). Senate Finance Committee Chairman Grassley (R-IA) has introduced similar legislation on the Senate side, also with bipartisan support. Politico reports that the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union have both shared support for the bill.

Nominations & Confirmations

The Senate has not made any recent confirmations as Congress is out of session.

The Week Ahead

Congress is out of session for two weeks due to Easter recess.
Wednesday, April 24-26
  • The National Organic Standards board will meet in Seattle, Washington to discuss substances petitioned for addition to or deletion from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, substances due to sunset from the National List in 2021, and guidance on organic policies.

A Quick Look Back