Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 1.10

January 10, 2022


  • Big Picture Outlook
  • Thoughts from Team Torrey
  • The Week Ahead
  • A Quick Look Back

Big Picture Outlook

“Build Back Better” Budget Reconciliation Package

This week, the Senate and the White House are focused on voting rights legislation instead of the stalled $1.8 trillion spending compromise proposed to the White House in late 2021 by Senator Joe Manchin.  Manchin is no longer involved in discussions with the White House and has signaled privately that he is not interested in approving any legislation like Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Package. Without Manchin’s vote, the 50-50 split in the Senate means the $1.7 trillion bill cannot move forward.

Farm Bill

With the House back in session this week, the House Agriculture Committee has a packed schedule this month with several bills set to move through the committee and a hearing slated for Wednesday, January 12, on what the push for more electric vehicles means for the agriculture industry and rural America. It’s unlikely the committee will hold its first farm bill hearing before the end of January as previously planned, though it is still possible. The bulk of the early farm bill process — which usually includes a series of oversight hearings with USDA officials, farmers and other stakeholders to discuss what is and isn’t working in the current farm bill — is likely to get underway in February.

Vaccine Mandates 

The Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers may not survive the conservative-leaning Supreme Court. The court heard arguments Friday on a petition to delay the OSHA mandate, which applies to businesses with at least 100 employees. Fully vaccinated and mostly masked, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority appeared skeptical of the Biden administration’s authority to impose a vaccine-or-testing requirement on private employers. The court seemed more open to a separate vaccine mandate for health care workers employed at facilities that receive Federal funding.  Despite the uncertainty of the litigation, OSHA is “exercising enforcement discretion with respect to the compliance dates of the ETS.” The agency “will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the private sector ETS before January 10 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard.”

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, January 12

  • 10:00 AM EST: House Agriculture Committee holds a hearing to discuss the Implications of Electric Vehicle Investments for Agriculture and Rural America
  • 12:00 PM EST: Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions holds a business meeting to consider the Nomination of Robert Califf to be Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services

To see a full list of House and Senate Committee business, visit here.

A Quick Look Back

“Agriculture Department and Justice Department Issue Shared Principles and Commitments to Protect Against Unfair and Anticompetitive Practices” USDA

“USDA Announces Additional Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Directors” USDA

“USDA Announces Increased Funding to Support School Meals and to Help Continue Serving Healthy Meals to Kids” USDA

“Supreme Court Wrestles with Biden’s COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements as Omicron Cases Surge” CBS News

“2022 The Year Ahead: Forces That Will Shape the U.S. Rural Economy” CoBank

“Biofuels Industry Testifies on Proposed RFS Reset” Feedstuffs

“Biden Administration Reimposes ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy” ABC News

“Off-season ‘Cover’ Crops Expand as U.S. Growers Eye Low-Carbon Future” Reuters

“Global Food Prices Climb 28% in 2021” Farm Policy News

“Dicamba 2021 Report on Dicamba Incidents” EPA

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