March 7, 2022
- Big Picture Outlook
- Thoughts from Team Torrey
- The Week Ahead
- A Quick Look Back
Big Picture Outlook
State of the Union Address
Last Tuesday, President Biden gave his first State of the Union address. The speech sought to demonstrate unity by focusing heavily on the war in Ukraine. There were minimal direct mentions of agriculture issues, however related topics included competition, supply chain problems, and infrastructure. Agriculture was an example as Biden advocated to address inflation by focusing on lowering costs for Americans. Anticompetitive practices among the livestock and meatpacker industries were cited as a driver of increased food costs. The president addressed issues with ocean carriers moving goods in and out of the U.S. There was a call to end immunity for ocean shippers from federal antitrust laws and he announced a new DOJ role to focus on pandemic fraud.
Ocean Shipping Reform Bill
On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on the Ocean Shipping Reform Act introduced by Senators Thune (R-SD) and Klobuchar (D-MN). The Federal Maritime Commission testified, expressing strong support of the legislation and any support the Congress would provide regarding unfair carrier practices and fees. The conversation focused on port congestion, greater transparency, the definition of unfair practices and unreasonable fees, and supporting agricultural shippers to ensure their products are transported in a timely manner.
The House Agriculture Committee met last week to discuss “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Commodity Group Perspectives on Title 1.” Representatives from soybeans, corn, wheat, rice, cotton, sugar, sorghum, dry pea and lentil, barley, canola, sunflower, and peanut commodity groups testified. The majority of the conversation revolved around ARC (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and PLC (Price Loss Coverage) programs, the difficulties of rising costs for farmers, and ways to improve the 2023 farm bill so that the farm safety net may be more accessible and effective for all farmers. Among other suggestions, several commodities, including ASA, called for increasing reference prices for their given commodities. House Ag Committee has also announced another farm bill hearing for March 8, focused on rural development programs.
Russia and Ukraine
It is the second week of Russian attacks in Ukraine, Europe’s largest ground war since WWII. Towns and cities along the eastern border have been demolished, and the nation’s capital, Kyiv, has faced significant assaults. At last week’s National Farmers Union conversation in Denver, Secretary Vilsack addressed the situation in Ukraine. On the impact on agriculture, Vilsack repeated his earlier statements that it is still too early to tell but added that if food production does not occur in Ukraine “then the world community has another set of issues to cope with.” USDA’s March 9 WASDE report might offer some additional perspective on potential impact to commodity markets. Congress heard directly from President Zelenskyy on Saturday, and action in Washington is expected this week to support $10 billion in emergency assistance for defense and humanitarian efforts related to Ukraine as part of the omnibus appropriations bill that must pass by March 11. Congress is also looking at strengthening sanctions on Russia and a repeal of normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus. Other key items to watch are the discussion of a no-fly zone in the Ukraine and a U.S. ban on imports of Russian energy.
The Week Ahead
Tuesday, March 8
- 10:00 AM EST: House Agriculture Committee holds a hearing on “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Rural Development”
- 3:00 PM EST: Senate Committee on Foreign Relations holds a hearing to Examine Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, Focusing on Assessing the U.S. and International Response, Immediately Following the Business Meeting
To see a full list of House and Senate Committee business, visit here.
A Quick Look Back
“President Biden and USDA Invest More Than $166.5 Million in Infrastructure to Protect American Communities” USDA
“USDA Announces Supplemental American Rescue Plan Funding Available through the Local Agriculture Market Program, Including Funding to Expand Farm-to-Institution Opportunities” USDA
“FDA Urged to Let Cities, States Innovate on Nutrition and Menu Labeling” Center for Science in Public Interest
“Ethanol Producers, 16 States Challenge EPA U.S. Vehicle Rules” Reuters
“U.S. Farm Incomes Could See Boost from Grain Rally – Chicago Fed” Reuters
“Biden Administration Studying Whether Biofuel Waiver Could Ease Food Inflation” Reuters
“Consumers Want Food Made from American Crops” DRG News
“H-2B Cap Reached for Second Half of FY 2022” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service
“Dairy Groups Slam Canadian Proposal on USMCA Dairy Market Access” Ag Daily
“EPA and Army Corps Announce Regional WOTUS Roundtables” CAWA