Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 5.30

May 30, 2023

Contents

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

What We’re Watching

Congress

Debt Ceiling 

Discussions around the debt ceiling continued over Memorial Day weekend, with President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reaching a deal, the Fiscal Responsibility Act. The bill will raise the debt ceiling for two years until 2025, with a defense limit of $868.349 billion and a nondefense limit of $703.651 billion in FY24. For FY2025, growth is capped by one percent. 

The bill also rescinds $28 billion in unspent COVID-19 emergency funding, as well as about $1.4 billion in funding for the IRS that was allocated in the Inflation Reduction Act

In addition, this agreement, includes less strict work requirements than the previously passed Republican debt ceiling bill. The deal includes a phase-in approach to increase the age limit for work requirements to 54 by 2025 – excluding veterans, those who are homeless, and individuals leaving foster care. 

The agreement also designates “a single lead agency” to develop and schedule environmental reviews and simplifies some of the requirements for environmental reviews. Energy permitting was a priority issue for both Democrats and Republicans, so it is expected that a broader discussion could still be on the table as Congress moves forward.  

Next, the House Rules Committee will hold a vote on the bill tonight (5/30). This will determine whether the bill is heard on the full House floor. If it passes, it will go to the House floor tomorrow, and then for votes in the Senate in the hopes of passage before the June 5th default date (X-date) set by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. 

Appropriations

Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) postponed appropriations markups citing ongoing negotiations around the debt ceiling.  

Farm Bill

GT Thompson (R-PA-15), will host a farm bill listening session this week in Albany, Oregon with Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR-05) and Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-OR-06), along with bipartisan members of the committee. The event will take place on Friday, June 2 at 1:30 PM ET and can be watched here

Nutrition Task Force 

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) launched a Congressional Task Force on Agriculture and Nutrition to focus on the party’s messaging around proposed cuts to food assistance programs in the debt ceiling, but also to come up with priorities ahead of the Farm Bill. In his statement, Leader Jeffries noted that the task force will also focus on other agricultural policy areas from crop insurance to commodities and trade. Appointed members include: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) as Chair, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Lou Correa (D-CA), Sharice Davids (D-KS), Josh Harder (D-CA), Jahana Hayes (D-CT) and Kim Schrier (D-WA).

Cover Crop Legislation

Reps. Sean Casten (D-IL-6), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-7), and Michael Bost (R-IL-12) have introduced the Conservation Opportunity and Voluntary Environment Resilience (COVER) Act in the House. A companion bill has also been introduced in the Senate by Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The bill would amend the Federal Crop Insurance Act to create a $5 per acre discount on crop insurance premiums, nationwide, for farmers who plant cover crops. 

Supreme Court

Waters of the United States Ruling

The Supreme Court made a final decision on Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency reducing the scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Based on the decision of the Court, to fall under CWA jurisdiction, the wetland has to be indistinguishable with the body considered a Water of the United States (WOTUS). More specifically, it must be a relatively permanent body of water connected to traditional interstate navigable waters and there must be a continuous surface connection, making it difficult to determine where the water ends and the WOTUS begins Now, it is expected that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will go back to the drawing board to rewrite the rule that went into effect in March 2023. President Biden criticized the decision, saying that it will “upend the legal framework that has protected America’s waters for decades. ”However, many in the agriculture community, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, supported the Court’s decision and put pressure on EPA to rewrite the rule based on the ruling.

Administration

Regional Conservation Partnership Program

The Biden Administration announced $500 million in funding to advance conservation efforts on agricultural land through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). USDA believes that program improvements, in the form of streamlining and simplifying the process, will enable the agency to implement the additional $4.95 billion allocated to RCPP through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), while also improving the experience for stakeholders.  

RMA Seeks Crop Insurance Feedback 

The USDA’s Risk Management Agency is considering changes to prevented planting crop insurance coverage, specifically calculations related to the Harvest Price Option, the “1 in 4” rule, reinstating the 10 percent additional coverage option, and contract pricing. As part of that process, they are seeking producer feedback through in-person and virtual listening sessions over the summer.. The first virtual session will be on June 8. In addition, a public comment period will be open through Sept. 1. For more details, click here.  

DOE Announces Clean Fuels and Products Shot

The Department of Energy announced the Clean Fuels and Products Shot, an initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) from the transportation industry, specifically for long-haul travel via air, water, and rail. Building on the earlier released Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge (SAF), this announcement outlines DOE’s commitment to expanding the use of low carbon feedstocks and developing technologies to maximize clean fuel conversion. This is the seventh in a series of Earthshots initiatives from the Department of Energy (DOE) that focus on decarbonization. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm made a statement estimating that this initiative will prevent over 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year by 2050, and that it “would be a boon to farmers and the municipal solid waste industry.” 

Notable News

Upcoming Hearings

May 30 

  • 3:00 PM ET: The House Committee on Rules will take votes on H.R. 3746 – Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023

May 31 

  • 9:45 AM ET: The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a Committee Business Meeting on Jeffery Martin Baran to be a Member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and S.1111, Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy Act of 2023
  • 10:00 AM ET: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on From Farm to Table: Immigrant Workers Get the Job Done

June 1 

  • 10:00 AM ET: Senate Energy and Natural Resources will hold a full Committee hearing to Examine the Reliability and Resiliency of Electric Services in the U.S. in Light of Recent Reliability Assessments and Alerts

The rest of the week’s hearing can be found here

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 Smith, Olivia Lucanie, 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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