Weekly Food & Agriculture Update 9.16

Monday, September 16th, 2019


September 16, 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

Trade Update– On Friday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer addressed House Democrats concerns with the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by sharing a counter-proposal on the trade agreement. The counter-offer showed an amenable effort from USTR to work with the House concerns regarding labor, pharmaceuticals and environment provisions as well as enforcement of the pact. Further negotiations are expected before the House and Senate will consider the legislation for a vote. Meanwhile, Chinese buyers purchased 204,000 metric tons of soybeans, and China will be exempting American pork and soy from additional tariffs this month. USDA also reported that China purchased over 10,000 tons of US pork last week, the most in a single week in over three months. This move has been largely interpreted as a goodwill gesture, as negotiators prepare for another round of trade talks in the coming weeks.

WOTUS Repealed– Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the repeal of the 2015 “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) definition under the Clean Water Act. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the next step for the EPA is to “develop a new definition “that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, home builders, and developers nationwide.” The Administration hopes to finish this new regulation by the end of the year and narrow down the types of streams and wetlands subject to the Clean Water Act requirements. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) said that the decision will “alleviate regulatory burdens that farmers, ranchers, and landowners faced.” Ag industry groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Milk Producers Federation and the American Forest & Paper Association also praised the repeal. Some environmental groups have pushed back against the decision, citing that it will compromise water quality and public health.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
  • The Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture and Transportation/HUD will meet to markup their respective FY20 appropriations bills.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
  • The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing entitled, “Improving American Economic Competitiveness through Water Resources Infrastructure.”
Thursday, September 19, 2019
  • The House Agriculture Subcommittees on General Farm Commodities, Risk Management and Livestock and Foreign Agriculture will hold a joint hearing, “To Review the Implementation of Federal Farm and Disaster Programs.”
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a markup for three FY20 spending bills: Agriculture, Transportation/HUD and Financial Services.

MTA In Action

Raising Voices Program and Fly-In– MTA Policy and Communications Coordinator, Marissa Dake, joined NFU for their inaugural Raising Voices forum. The program is a joint initiative with NFU, Future Farmers of America and the Professional Agricultural Student organization. Students heard from NAWG President Chandler Goule, an Agricultural Policy Panel, and NFU leadership and they met with Congressional offices as a part of the NFU fly-in.

A Quick Look Back