Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 6.10

Monday, June 10th, 2019


June 10, 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

  • Congress Explores Reforming Chapter 12 Bankruptcy- Lawmakers are garnering bipartisan support in the House and Senate to raise the debt limit for farms seeking to file Chapter 12 Bankruptcy. The cap would increase from $4.2 million to $10 million. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) expects to advance the legislation, the Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019, out of the Judiciary Committee. There is a companion bill in the House that must be considered by the House Judiciary Committee. Farm groups, like the American Farm Bureau, support the measure because of how capital intensive it is to run and maintain a family farm, saying $10 million better reflects the credit needs of many farmers. Some bankers, however, object to the measure, claiming the number is “arbitrary” and poses a greater risk to lenders.
  • Growing Efforts to Curb Foreign Investment in US Farmland- A recently released report shows that at least 28.3 million acres of farmland are controlled by foreign investors. As the number has grown there are new efforts to limit the ability of foreign investors to purchase US farmland. The Agricultural Foreign Investment Act of 1978 requires foreign investors to report transactions relating to ownership of farmland to the Farm Service Agency. Some states like Iowa, North Dakota and Minnesota have had laws banning foreign ownership of farmland for decades. Others like Ohio and Missouri are now working to introduce similar legislation. In addition to state action on the matter, some Democratic presidential candidates are supportive of nationwide bans of foreign ownership of US farmland. It remains to be seen if such a ban will gain enough traction to be considered at the national level.
  • Outbreak of Virulent Newcastle Disease in California- Southern California is experiencing an outbreak of virulent Newcastle Disease which primarily affects chickens. It is not typically found in the United States, but is endemic in parts of Central and South America, and widely spread in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. There is no treatment for the virus and efforts to limit the spread has resulted in a quarantine for all of L.A. County and parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. So far, over 1.2 million birds have been euthanized. Officials who experienced an outbreak in 1971 and another in the early 2000s are very aware of the threat of this disease and are hoping the methods being taken now prevent further spread of the disease across the US. The 1971 outbreak resulted in the euthanization of 12 million birds, cost $56 million to end and threatened the egg and poultry supply of the entire US.

Nominations & Confirmations

  • Heath Tarbert was confirmed as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Currently he serves as Acting Undersecretary for International Affairs at the Treasury Department. Tarbert is expected to join the CFTC on July 15. His policy agenda is expected to include work regarding international regulatory conflicts in derivatives and completing rules on limiting speculative trading.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, June 11
  • The House Ag Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture will hold a hearing on “The State of U.S. Agricultural Products in International Markets.”
Wednesday, June 12
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Waters, and Wildlife will hold a hearing titled, “A Review of Waters of the U.S. Regulations: Their Impact on States and the American People.”
  • The House Ag Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research will hold a hearing on “Increasing Resiliency, Mitigating Risk: Examining the Research and Extension Needs of Producers.”
Thursday, June 13
  • The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on “Certainty in Global Markets for the U.S. Agriculture Sector.” Witnesses include: Dr. Robert Johansson, USDA’s Chief Economist, Ted McKinney, USDA’s Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, and Gregg Doud, USTR’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator.

A Quick Look Back