Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 5.23

May 23, 2022


  • Big Picture Outlook
  • Thoughts from Team Torrey
  • The Week Ahead
  • A Quick Look Back

Big Picture Outlook

Ukraine Supplemental Spending

On Thursday, the Senate passed the $40 billion supplemental spending bill to address the war in Ukraine, with an 86-11 vote, and it was signed into law by President Biden over the weekend. In addition to military support, the new law includes $4.3 billion for USAID for international food and humanitarian assistance, as well as $20 million to replenish USDA’s Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (BEHT).  It does not include specific provisions to incentivize domestic production of food crops.  Earlier this month, President Biden and Secretary Vilsack announced efforts to expand crop insurance eligibility for double cropping, to increase technical assistance and streamlining of application processes for programs that encourage precision agriculture and nutrient management, and to double funding for the grant program to encourage innovation in domestic fertilizer production.

Infant Formula Shortage

Last week, the President announced additional actions to increase the supply of baby formula in the U.S. and onto store shelves in the wake of the formula shortage caused by a manufacturer’s recall and temporary plant closure. The White House actions include invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) and launching Operation Fly Formula.  DPA will help ensure that manufacturers have the necessary ingredients to make safe, healthy infant formula domestically by requiring suppliers to prioritize and direct needed resources to infant formula production. Operation Fly Formula aims to speed the import of infant formula and ensure it is available in stores as quickly as possible. This is a multi-agency effort between the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Defense, and the Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, the FDA and Abbott Nutrition are working on next steps to reopen the facility in Sturgis, Michigan that was closed due to bacterial contamination concerns.

House Agriculture Committee Markup 

The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday advanced a package of legislation, including a number of bills on conservation and climate. H.R. 7764 would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to provide additional payments under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for implementation of a nutrient management practices. The PRECISE Act (H.R. 2518) would increase cost share and practice payments under EQIP and Conservation Stewardship Program for the purchase of precision agriculture equipment and systems. The SUSTAINS’ Act (H.R. 2606) authorizes specific accounts at USDA that allow for private sector donations and incentivizes private funding by awarding sponsorship of targeted conservation initiatives.

Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

Today, the U.S. announced the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) with Asian partners including Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. It is a broad plan designed to help expand U.S. economic leadership in the Indo-Pacific region. The group wants to set international rules on the digital economy, supply chains, decarbonization and regulations applying to workers. Biden faces political pressure from both the left and right in the U.S. to avoid free trade deals, such as the IPEF. U.S. officials have been careful to avoid mentioning China in discussions about the IPEF and has denied that it’s a “closed” group, as China has claimed.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, May 24

  • 10:00AM EST: Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources holds a hearing to examine the President’s proposed budget request for fiscal year 2023 for the Forest Service
  • 12:00PM EST: House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis hold a hearing to discuss Climate Smart from Farm to Fork: Building an Affordable and Resilient Food Supply Chain

Wednesday, May 25

  • 11:00AM EST: House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations holds a hearing to discuss “Formula Safety and Supply: Protecting the Health of America’s Babies”
  • 1:00PM EST: House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry holds a hearing to discuss “Supporting Careers in Conservation: Workforce Training, Education, and Job Opportunities”
  • 3:00PM EST: Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness holds a hearing to examine supply chain resiliency, focusing on alleviating backlogs and strengthening long-term security

Thursday, May 26

  • 10:00AM EST: Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry holds a hearing to examine opportunities and challenges facing farmers, families, and rural communities

To see a full list of House and Senate Committee business, visit here.

A Quick Look Back

“USDA Announces Additional Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Directors” USDA

“Statement from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on President Biden’s Actions to Address Infant Formula Shortage” USDA

“Ukraine Says May Grain Exports Down More Than 60% Compared To 2021 In Latest Alarming Sign Of International Food Crisis” The Fence Post

“Russian Blockade Hits Exports of Ukrainian Agricultural Products” Reuters

“Wheat Prices Hit Record High as India’s Heat Wave-Driven Export Ban Compounds Ukraine War Supply Woes” CBS News

“Economic Impact Study of USDA Export Market Development Programs: Update of Previous 2016 “Economic Impact of USDA Market Development Programs” Study” U.S. Grains Council

“H-2A Program Sees Double-Digit Gains in Positions Filled” The Packer

“US Announces $215 Million in New Food Aid to Ukraine” The Hill

“New FDA Chief Says Food Agency Lacks Resources, “Consistent Leadership”” Industry Update

“Experts Say Ukraine War Shows We Need a New Way to Feed the World” Politico 

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