Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 7.22

Monday, July 22nd, 2019


July 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

  • Budget Update- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been negotiating a budget deal, in the hopes of reaching one before the House leaves for the August recess on Friday. Without a deal, Congress will have very little time to complete one in September before hitting the debt ceiling. Pelosi and Mnuchin have reportedly agreed to some aspects of a deal, but full details have yet to be worked out. If negotiations fail to come to fruition in time to vote, it is also possible for lawmakers to pass short-term extension, which would allow more time to negotiate before the country reaches the debt limit.
  • Labor Update- The Labor Department has proposed changes to the H-2A visa program, which farmers can use to bring in foreign ag labor for seasonal use. The proposed changes would impact multiple components of the program, including wages, transportation costs, digitizing the application and hiring restrictions. The changes are intended to help streamline the process and cut farm expenses. The Department of Labor will be soliciting comments on the proposed rule change over the next couple of months.
  • Trade Aid Update- Last week, the Office of Management and Budget completed its review of the second round of trade aid, which was announced last May in wake of the trade dispute with China. USDA is now able to release more details on the program and has already begun to do so. On Friday, USDA announced which organizations will receive funds through the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, which is used to help identify new export markets. $100 million of the $16 billion package was allocated to ATP. All 48 recipients were organizations that had previously applied for the funding during the 2018 Trade Aid program, which allocated $200 million to ATP. Details on the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), which provides direct payments to farmers, are expected to be released sometime this week.

Nominations & Confirmations

  • President Trump announced that he intends to nominate Gene Scalia as the next Secretary of Labor.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
  • The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing on “Oversight of the Enforcement of the Antitrust Laws.”
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
  • The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture will hold a hearing on “International Food Assistance Programs at USDA and USAID.”
  • The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on “The Costs of Climate Change: From Coasts to Heartland, Health to Security.”
Thursday, July 25, 2019
  • The Senate Ag Committee will hold a hearing on “Hemp Production and the 2018 Farm Bill.”

MTA In Action

Michael Torrey Presents at Edge’s Policy Picnics- This past week, Michael Torrey attended Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative’s Annual Policy Picnics. While there, he met with Edge members and gave a legislative briefing, discussing the state-of-play on the budget, trade and ag workforce issues.


Pictured to the right is Michael Torrey addressing attendee’s at Edge’s Policy Picnic in Sun Prairie, WI.

A Quick Look Back