Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 12.12

December 12, 2023

Contents

  • What We’re Watching
  • Notable News
  • This Week’s Legislation
  • This Week’s Hearings
  • Contact the Team

What We’re Watching

Congress 

Farm Bill

Last week, the House Agriculture Committee held a Member Day hearing where any Member of Congress could submit testimony  on issues within the Agriculture Committee’s jurisdiction. Topics ranged across the entire scope of the agriculture and food system, with multiple Members commenting on Inflation Reduction Act conservation dollars, crop insurance, food assistance programs, farmer safety net programs, and agricultural resilience. You can watch the full hearing here.

Representative Chip Roy (R-TX) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) co-led a letter to House and Senate leadership outlining a series of farm bill reforms. The letter urges leadership to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by returning to pre-pandemic levels and addressing high error rates and overpayments. It also requests Congressional control over the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) and pushes for prohibitions on foreign agriculture land ownership.

Retirements

As the 2024 elections get closer, a number of lawmakers have announced their retirements, with former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) formally announcing that he will retire at the end of this year. This creates the potential for an even smaller GOP margin heading into 2024 as the House faces a shutdown deadline on January 19.   

Administration

Fall 2023 Unified Agenda Released

The Biden Administration Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) released its Fall Regulatory Agenda, which directs the Administration to release upcoming specific regulatory priorities. The USDA agenda items can be found here, and the FDA items can be found here.

Supply Chain Competitiveness Committee Nominations

The International Trade Administration will be looking for potential nominations for its advisory committee on supply chain competitiveness. The summary describes the committee as having a number of priorities, including addressing global supply chain challenges, identifying bottlenecks, coming up with solutions to bottlenecks, and coming up with long term solutions for resiliency, among others. The announcement was made in the federal register last week, and the deadline is January 2, 2024.

COP28 Highlights Agriculture

The role of food and agriculture in addressing climate change had an increased role in COP28, with December 10 as the first-ever day at a United Nations Climate Change Conference dedicated to food and agriculture. The US had several key ag representatives in attendance including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDA Undersecretary for Research, Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, and a delegation of Senate Ag Committee staff.   Secretary Vilsack announced President Biden’s climate initiatives in the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as other initiatives like the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities, the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, the Food System Transformation, and the Draft National Strategy to Reduce Food Loss and Waste.

UN Food and Agriculture Releases Roadmap to Reduce Emissions

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a roadmap to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The roadmap aims to reduce methane emissions 25% by 2030, achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, and transform agrifood systems growing harvesting from net emitters to into a carbon sink by 2050. It also identifies 10 priority areas – such as livestock, soil and water, crops, diets and fisheries – to help achieve the goal of zero hunger.  

Notable News

This Week’s Legislation

  • Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Timely Review of SNAP Online Retailer Applications Act, which would require USDA to approve or deny applications for online-only retailers to accept SNAP benefits within 180 days of submission.
  • The House Rules Committee will meet today to prepare for a floor debate around the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2023, which would prevent whole milk from being counted toward fat restrictions in school meals.
  • Representatives Greg Pence (R-IN), Jim Baird (R-IN) Kim Schrier (D-WA) and Angie Craig (D-MN) introduced the House version of the Innovative Feed Enhancement and Economic Development Act (IFEED), which would establish a zootechnical animal food substance category for the FDA to consider new products. The bill was introduced in the Senate in June.
  • Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) introduced a bill to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to guarantee investments that will open new markets for forest owners in rural areas of the United States.

Upcoming Hearings

Tuesday, December 12

  • 8:00 AM: The House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party will hold a Committee Business Meeting
  •  2:00 PM: The House Natural Resources Committee Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Left in the Dark: Examining the Biden Administration’s Efforts to Eliminate the Pacific Northwest’s Clean Energy Production” 
  • 2:00 PM: The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability will hold a hearing titled “Part II: U.S. Export Controls in an Era of Strategic Competition”

Wednesday, December 13

  • 2:00 PM: The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing titled “Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2024: Stakeholder Priorities”

Thursday, December 14

  • 10:00 AM: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a hearing titled “What is Fueling the Diabetes Epidemic?”

Contact the Team

Feel free to contact Michael Torrey, Tara Smith, Cassandra Kuball, Barbara Patterson, Katie Naessens, Caroline Snell, Danielle Nelson, Julie McClureAshley Smith, Olivia Lucanie, Heath Brandt, Tracy Boyle or Matthew Hughes with any questions or comments.

Food and agricultural organizations that need the right results in Washington, D.C. can trust Torrey Advisory Group to put its relationships, reputation, and expertise to work on your issue. Since 2005, the firm has successfully provided legislative and regulatory guidance, issues management, and association management services to a wide variety of clients. Learn more about us at torreydc.com. 

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