Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 4.30

April 30, 2024

Contents

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

What We’re Watching

Congress 

Appropriations

This week Congress is in session and will continue work on FY25 Appropriations. The House set the deadline for programmatic and language requests for May 1, which is this Wednesday. The Senate deadline is May 8.

Farm Bill

The House Agriculture Committee continues to work toward a mid-May introduction and markup of a farm bill. Overall funding for the bill has been the central debate, with a focus on proposed updates to the Thrifty Food Plan, the primary mechanism to determine SNAP funding. Underscoring their opposing viewpoints, both Chair Thompson (R-PA) and Ranking Member Scott (D-GA) have written dueling op-eds in Agri-Pulse with different opinions on Thrifty Food Plan revisions and farm bill timing. Democrats have reportedly released a counteroffer document outlining their priorities, including use of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to supplement nutrition, farm safety net programs, and Federal Crop Insurance.

Other Updates

With the FY2024 appropriations and the supplemental packages passed, other priorities that will take up legislative days this month will be the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization and likely issues related to foreign affairs. However, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) introduced a motion to vacate for Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), which has not been brought to the floor yet, but if it does, could take time away from movement of other efforts. 

Administration

GAO Publishes Food Purchases Report

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report to provide Congress with data on how many procurement purchases are made from businesses and local sources. The report found that while agencies, try to buy local, but lack a mechanism to track the source of the products. They also found that about 45% of purchases had been made using contracts with small businesses. This report comes after the GAO was asked to examine issues related to federal purchases of food. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) within USDA, and the Defense Logistics Agency, within the Department of Defense, are the two largest federal purchasers. The agencies are generally required to buy domestic food, but they aren’t required to buy locally grown food.

Department of Labor Releases Overtime Rule

The Department of Labor finalized the Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales, and Computer Employees final rule, which changes the threshold for overtime protections. Effective July 1, 2024, the salary threshold will increase to the equivalent of an annual salary of $43,888 and increase to $58,656 on January 1, 2025. Starting July 1, 2027, salary thresholds will update every three years, by applying up-to-date wage data to determine new salary levels. 

USDA Releases School Nutrition Program Updates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) unveiled the final rule for school nutrition standards. The rule, titled Child Nutrition Programs: Meal Patterns Consistent With the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, makes changes to sodium, added sugars, whole grains, dairy, and a number of other requirements. Specifically, the rule provides for a reduction in sodium, a reduction in added sugars in breakfast and lunches, changes in the percentage of what constitutes a “grain rich” product, and changes to plain and flavored milk standards. The rule takes effect on July 1, 2024, but schools will have additional time to implement changes.

FTC Votes on Noncompetes Ban

The Federal Trade Commission issued a final rule to promote competition by banning noncompetes nationwide. The rule states that existing noncompetes for the vast majority of workers will no longer be enforceable after the rule’s effective date, 120 days after publication in the federal register. Existing noncompetes for senior executives can remain in force under the FTC’s final rule, but employers are banned from entering into or attempting to enforce any new noncompetes, even if they involve senior executives. 

USDA Requires HPAI Testing for Cattle

USDA and FDA have been monitoring the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in cattle as well as viral fragments in the milk supply. USDA put announced a Federal Order requiring that cattle moving across state lines must receive a negative test for HPAI, and any positive tests must be reported to the agency. The agencies have continued to reiterate that the milk supply is safe, and that pasteurization kills any live pathogens that could be present.  

Salmonella Declared an Adulterant for Breaded Poultry

USDA Food Safety Inspection Service announced its final determination that not ready-to-eat (NRTE) breaded stuffed chicken products that contain Salmonella that exceed a specific threshold are considered “adulterated.” FSIS is also announced that it intends to carry out verification procedures, including sampling and testing of the raw incoming chicken components used to produce NRTE breaded stuffed chicken products prior to stuffing and breading. The final rule will be implemented one year from publication in the federal register.  

Department of Labor Issues H2-A Worker Protections

The Department of Labor issued a final rule regarding Improving Protections for Workers in Temporary Agricultural Employment in the United States, which goes into effect August 29, 2024. The rule would broaden the scope of what is considered unfair treatment by employers. This protects collective action and the ability to decline to attend employer speech regarding protected activities without fear of retaliation. It also permits workers to invite or accept guests to worker housing. It also creates new disclosure requirements to increase transparency, adopts an immediate effective date for each updated adverse effect wage rate (AEWR), and creates minimum productivity standards.

USDA, USAID Deploy $1 Billion for Emergency Food Assistance

USDA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced $1 billion in funding to purchase U.S.-grown commodities to provide emergency food assistance to people in need throughout the world. Approximately $950 million will support the purchase, shipment, and distribution of U.S. commodities that align with traditional USAID international food assistance programming. A separate pilot project, of up to $50 million, will also be set up to utilize U.S. commodities that have not traditionally been part of international food assistance programming, but that are shelf stable and suitable for use in feeding food-insecure populations.

Notable News

This Week’s Legislation

  • Senators Sanders (I-VT), Booker (D-NJ), and Welch (D-VT) introduced the Childhood Diabetes Reduction Act, which would create a federal ban on junk food advertising targeted to children and would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement nutrient warning labels on certain foods.
  • Senator Rubio (R-FL) and Congressman Bean (R-FL) introduced the Maintaining Cooperative Permitting Act of 2024which would protect the ability of states to continue 404 permitting programs.
  • Senator Warren (D-MA) and Congressman Khanna (D-CA) introduced the Future of Water Act to prohibit the trading of water and water rights in commodity futures contracts.
  • Congressman Vasquez (D-NM) has co-sponsored HJ Res. 115 to overturn the Administration’s decision to allow beef imports from Paraguay over concerns with Foot-and-Mouth disease.
  • Congressman Espaillat (D-NY) introduced the Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling Grant Program (SWIFR) Reauthorization Act, which would increase funding for the Save Our Seas 2.0 grant programs through 2035. 

Upcoming Hearings

Tuesday, April 30

  • 10:00 AM: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on “Fiscal Year 2025 Request for the Environmental Protection Agency”
  • 10:15 AM: The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on “Examining the Influence of Extreme Environmental Activist Groups in the Department of the Interior”
  • 10:30 AM: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies will hold a Member Day hearing
  • 10:30 AM: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce will be holding a hearing on “Preserving Americans’ Access to AM Radio”

Wednesday, May 1

  • 10:00 AM: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on “Examining the President’s FY 2025 Budget Request for the Department of the Interior”
  • 10:15 AM: The House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing on “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Department of Labor”
  • 1:00 PM: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on “Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Production and Conservation Mission Area”
  • 2:00 PM: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies is holding a hearing to examine budget estimates and justification for fiscal year 2025 for the Environmental Protection Agency

Thursday, May 2

  • 10:00 AM: The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will hold a Member Day hearing
  •  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 the Interior
  • 10:00 AM: The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will hold a hearing on “How Shrinkflation and Technology Impact Consumers’ Finances”

Contact the Team

Feel free to contact Michael Torrey, Tara Smith, Cassandra Kuball, Barbara Patterson, Katie Naessens, Julie McClure, Nona McCoy, Danielle NelsonAshley Smith, Olivia Lucanie, Caroline Snell, 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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