Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 5.2

May 2, 2023

Contents

  • What We’re Watching
  • Notable News
  • Upcoming Hearings
  • Contact the Team

What We’re Watching

Congress

Last week, the House passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act by a vote of 217-215. The $4.5 trillion GOP bill would increase the debt limit until March 2024 while cutting federal spending by tens of billions of dollars. The legislation would expand SNAP work requirements for adults as old as age 55, currently the age limit on work requirements is 49. The original draft of the bill repealed the biofuel and clean energy tax incentives enacted in the Inflation Reduction Act, but in an effort to garner additional Republican support, it was later amended to protect three biofuel and renewable fuels provisions. IRA incentives for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) were also maintained for those projects where contracts have already been signed or concrete investments have been made. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it faces major opposition from the Democratic majority, and that will likely be illustrated in a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Thursday.

The House-passed bill is designed to pressure the White House to re-engage in discussions about legislation to address the debt ceiling. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yelleestimated that the U.S. government could default on the $31.4 trillion debt as early as June 1. The potential June 1 date will be key in setting a deadline for any negotiations and congressional action. 

Leaders representing producers of U.S. commodity crops were on the Hill last Wednesday (4/26) to testify about potential improvements to the farm safety net. In a hearing, members of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities, Risk Management, and Credit heard from growers representing ten different commodity crops including: corn, cotton, rice, canola, soybean, sugar cane, wheat, sorghum, peanuts, and dry peas. The groups, while agreeing that protecting crop insurance and increasing reference prices should be a priority for Congress, had different suggestions on improvements to make to Title 1 farm programs. The Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Programs, Credit, and Crop Insurance is set to host a two-part hearing on the farm safety net to hear perspectives from producers and industry stakeholders this week. 

A House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill listening session was held Monday, April 24, in Newberry, Florida. Chairman Thompson (R-PA-15) and Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL-3) heard from producers regarding the upcoming Farm Bill. Growers in the state urged the Committee to address issues of ag labor by investing in mechanization and automation through agricultural research. The Committee also heard several calls from peanut producers to consider a voluntary base acre update for Price Loss Coverage (PLC), and an increase to reference prices, due to growers struggling with access to the program. Other proposals included expansion of crop insurance products for specialty crop producers, expanded market access, and increased trade promotion funding. This week, Chairman Thompson will be joining Rep. Tracey Mann (R-KS-1) at a listening session in Gypsum, Kansas on Tuesday, May 2. 

As the Appropriations Committees near the conclusion of the annual budget hearings process, this Wednesday EPA Administrator Reagan will testify in the Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. On the House side, Appropriations Chair Kay Granger has announced the start of subcommittee markups on FY 2024 funding measures the week of May 15 with full committee markups the week of May 22. Additional appropriations markups are planned for the June work period. This schedule is keeping with the House Chair’s goal of floor action as early as June. 

Administration

Last Friday (4/28), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an emergency fuel waiver for summer E15 sales, citing the ongoing war in Ukraine. The proposal, which came just days before the annual May 1 deadline for refiners and terminal operators to halt E15 sales, was met with support from the biofuels industry. “EPA’s action allowing summertime E15 will help extend gasoline supplies, prevent fuel shortages, protect air quality and reduce carbon emissions,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper in a statement regarding the waiver. The initial waiver will expire on May 20. The EPA stated in their release that, “the Agency expects to issue new waivers effectively extending the emergency fuel waiver until such time as the extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances due to the war in Ukraine are no longer present.” 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the public comment period on its draft guidance for plant-based milk labeling. The extension, which would leave comments open for three additional months, comes in response to requests from industry groups representing stakeholders, both in the plant-based beverages and dairy industries. 

Notable News

Upcoming Hearings

Tuesday, May 2

  • 9:00AM EST: Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade Hearing to examine commodity programs, credit, and crop insurance, focusing on producer perspectives on the farm bill safety net.
  • 9:30AM EST: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Hearing to examine the President’s proposed budget request for fiscal year 2024 for the Department of the Interior.  

Wednesday, May 3 

  • 10:00AM EST: Senate Environment and Public Works Hearing to examine the 2024 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget and implementation of Water Resources Development Act of 2022.
  • 10:00AM EST: Senate Appropriations Interior-Environment Subcommittee Hearing on the fiscal 2024 budget request for the EPA.

Thursday, May 4

  • 10:00AM EST: Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade Hearing to examine commodity programs, credit, and crop insurance, focusing on industry perspectives on risk management and access to credit.
  • 10:00AM EST: Senate Budget Hearing: The Default on America Act: Blackmail, Brinkmanship, and Billionaire Backroom Deals.

Contact the Team

Feel free to contact Michael Torrey, Tara Smith, Cassandra Kuball, James Glueck, Barbara Patterson, Katie Naessens, Caroline Snell, Danielle Nelson, Julie McClureAshley Willits, Perry Harlow, or Tracy Boyle 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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