Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 1.31

January 31, 2022


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

Big Picture Outlook

Ag Hearing with Secretary Vilsack

On January 20, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testified at the House Agriculture Committee hearing entitled “To Review the State of the Rural Economy.” Members spoke to a variety of different concerns regarding the rural economy. There was a consensus among members that the growth and sustainability of the rural economy remain vital to the nation’s success. The conversation included rural broadband, biofuels, fertilizer prices, wildfire, climate, livestock and poultry, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Following the overview of the rural economy, the House Ag Committee is slated to shift focus to preparing for the 2023 farm bill. They will start with a hearing focused on USDA’s conservation programs this week.

“Build Back Better” Budget Reconciliation Package

Democrats eager to enact some form of their climate and safety net package before the November midterm elections are floating strategies for resurrecting negotiations with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. Climate is one area where the Senator has identified a willingness to compromise. President Joe Biden said he’s “confident” some pieces of the existing package will become law before the midterms. “I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, and come back and fight for the rest later,” he said.  However, the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy and potential legislative activity related to the situation with Russian will further complicate any path forward in Congress in the near-term.


Appropriations conversations for FY22 have begun again as the February 18 deadline for the current Continuing Resolution looms. Democratic leaders recently stated that a sweeping funding deal is still within reach as the Appropriations Committee leaders amicably met for the first time in months the week before recess.  Conversations this week will be key in charting a path for a potential deal.  Biden’s presidential budget for FY23, which is typically published each February, likely won’t be released until at least March, after the State of the Union Address on March 1.

Vaccine Mandates

The Biden administration formally withdrew its vaccine and testing emergency mandate for businesses after the Supreme Court blocked the requirements earlier this month.  The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had exceeded its authority. OSHA pulled the emergency testing standard for businesses effective Wednesday, January 26.  However, the agency continues to review comments and consider the proposed rule.  Separately, the Supreme Court recently upheld the federal healthcare workers mandate, and it took effect in several states last Thursday.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, February 2

  • 10:00 AM EST: House Agriculture Committee holds a hearing to conduct a 2022 Review of Farm Bill Conservation Programs

Thursday, February 3

  • 10:00 AM EST: House Agriculture Committee holds a hearing to discuss Sustainability in the Livestock Sector: Environmental Gain and Economic Viability

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

A Quick Look Back

“US EPA Finalizes Rule Extending Refinery Compliance Deadline for Biofuel Laws” Reuters

“California Court Delays Enforcement of Part of Pig Welfare Law” Reuters

“IDFA, Port of Los Angeles, CMA CGM Form Joint Initiative to Advance U.S. Dairy Exports” Dairy Foods

“State Dept. Continues To Fight Diversity Visa Immigrants In Court” Forbes

“US Agriculture Urges Senate Ocean Shipping Legislation” Agriculture Transportation Coalition

“U.S. Helps Fund California Port Project as Export Delays Hurt Food Makers” Reuters

“Proposed Rule for H-2A Wage Differentiation Means Higher Outlays for Farmers” American Farm Bureau Federation

“Increased Flooding and Droughts Linked to Climate Change Have Sent Crop Insurance Payouts Skyrocketing” Inside Climate News

“White House, Congress Urged to Spare Crop Insurance” Agri-Pulse

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

“USDA Announces Partnership to Ease Port Congestion and Restore Disrupted Shipping Services to U.S. Grown Agricultural Commodities” USDA

“USDA Invests $1 Billion to Improve Community Infrastructure for People Living in Rural Towns Across the Country” USDA

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