Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 4.16

April 16, 2024

Contents

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

What We’re Watching

Congress 

Appropriations

Last week, Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) was given unanimous support by House Republicans to take over as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee following Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) stepping down from the spot. Cole has been the top Republican on the House Appropriations Subcommittees on Transportation-HUD, Labor-HHS, and Legislative Branch in the past. He has also released a statement on FY25 Programmatic and Language Request Guidance in a Dear Colleague to members. Member request deadlines and Community Project Funding guidance are forthcoming. 

Upon being elected to fill the seat, he has added Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) as Chair of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) as Chair of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) as Chair of the Legislative Branch Subcommittee, and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) as Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee. Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD) remains Chair of the Agriculture-FDA Subcommittee.

Farm Bill

House Agriculture Committee Chair GT Thompson (R-PA) confirmed to the press that he is anticipating a markup of the Farm Bill before Memorial Day weekend. House Agriculture Democrats met last Thursday on the potential of limiting future updates on the Thrifty Food Plan, and released a document on X  with redlines to the GOP proposal. This farm bill will be significant for members in competitive races, forcing them to side with party lines and vote against a farm bill, or vote against party lines to appeal to agricultural stakeholders in their district.  Some members are already making moves, with Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) looking to restart the Congressional Specialty Crop Caucus, and Agriculture Chair GT Thompson (R-PA) openly pursuing the idea of inclusion of a marker bill resembling the EATS Act.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s (D-NY) April 5 letter to colleagues outlining the chamber’s priorities “in the weeks and months ahead” made no mention of a farm bill. Other activity, like the House articles of impeachment for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and a potential supplemental package in response to Iranian drone strikes on Israel, will take time away from farm bill discussions in the coming weeks.

Senators Write Letter to White House on E15

Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote a letter to the Biden administration requesting the sale of E15 fuel through summer 2024 by extending the Ried vapor pressure waiver nationwide. The letter cites that these waivers “helped allow our energy supply chain to ‘address extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances caused by the war in Ukraine that are affecting all regions of the nation,’” especially given continued conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East. This request comes as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will postpone the implementation of 8 state petitions allowing E15 to be sold year-round until 2025. 

Administration

EPA Issues Standard for PFAS in Waterways

The EPA finalized the first national standard to limit PFAS in drinking water after extensive research and studies have found that nearly half of American drinking water has high levels of the chemical. The new standard would require water utilities to filter out PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS and HFPO-DA, and set a limit for mixtures of any two or more of PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and GenX chemicals. The new standard aims to reduce exposure for about 100 million Americans.

HPAI Found in More Cattle Herds

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has now been confirmed in dairy herds across eight U.S. states: Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and South Dakota. This is the first time the virus has been detected in cattle but does not pose a risk to humans or to dairy products. State agriculture officials have restricted dairy cattle imports and are separating infected cows to mitigate exposure. While the long-term supply chain impacts are unclear, officials are emphasizing that egg and dairy products are still safe to consume due to long-standing inspection and pasteurization processes.

FMCSA Extends Emergency Declaration Bridge Collapse

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended its emergency declaration for the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge through May 8 or the end of the emergency, whichever is earlier. The declaration extends the 11-hour maximum driving time for commercial drivers by two additional hours for drivers that directly support the emergency relief efforts. It also relieves drivers from the electronic logging device requirements for records of duty status.

Notable News

This Week’s Legislation

Upcoming Hearings

Tuesday, April 16

  • 9:30 AM: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will hold a budget hearing on the “Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the U.S. Forest Service”
  • 10:00 AM: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a budget hearing to “Examine Proposed Budget Estimates and Justification for Fiscal Year 2025 for the Department of Agriculture”
  • 10:00 AM: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies will hold a budget hearing to “Examine Proposed Budget Estimates and Justification for Fiscal Year 2025 for the Department of Health and Human Services”
  • 10:00 AM: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to examine “The President’s Proposed Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2025 for the Department of Energy”

Wednesday, April 17

  • 9:00 AM: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Legislative Branch will hold a budget hearing on “Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the United States House of Representatives”
  • 9:30 AM: The House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will hold a budget hearing on “Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the Department of the Interior”
  • 10:00 AM: The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing to examine “The President’s 2024 Trade Policy Agenda”
  • 2:00 PM: The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a budget hearing on “Fiscal Year 2025 Department of Health and Human Services Budget”
  • 2:30 PM: The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security will hold a hearing to examine “Feeding a Healthier America, Focusing on Current Efforts and Potential Opportunities for Food is Medicine”

Thursday, April 18

  • 9:00 AM: The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold an Oversight Hearing on “Assessing Solutions to Secure America’s Offshore Energy Future”
  • 9:00 AM: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a budget hearing on “Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Request for the Food and Drug Administration”

Staff Updates

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Torrey Advisory Group (TAG) is pleased to welcome Nona McCoy as a Vice President on the policy team. McCoy’s 25 years of bicameral, bipartisan congressional experience will elevate the firm’s services in appropriations support and provide TAG clients with a strategic approach for engaging Congress and federal agencies.  

Nona has developed an in-depth knowledge of the legislative, budgetary, and appropriations process along with how to successfully communicate and perform outreach to a diverse set of stakeholders. Before joining TAG, McCoy served as a Professional Staff Member (PSM) on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

McCoy also served in senior professional staff roles on both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and as a program specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Nona earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and her master’s from Georgetown University.  

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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