Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 5.9

May 9, 2023

Contents

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

What We’re Watching

Congress

Debt Ceiling Debate Continues 

House and Senate leadership are set to meet with President Biden today (5/9) regarding legislative action to address the looming debt default . This meeting comes after 43 Senate Republicans signed a letter calling for budget reform and spending cuts, echoing the same message as the recently passed House bill led by Republicans. This effort demonstrates a united Republican effort to block a potential attempt by Senate Democrats to push through a “clean” increase of the debt limit. 

Last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen estimated that the U.S. government could default on the $31.4 trillion debt as early as June 1. Separately, Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi testified in the Senate Budget Committee last week that the likely date for the Treasury to run out of money, or the X date, could be anywhere between June 1 – August 8, but likely will be June 8. He warned of an economic recession should the debt ceiling not be raised. However, he did note in his testimony that the U.S. was on an unsustainable spending path, but deficit reduction should be worked on separate from raising the debt ceiling.  And, today, the Bipartisan Policy Center has estimated the X date as between June to early August depending on May tax receipts. More specifically, if tax receipts come in strong than the government is estimated to be able to make it to June 30 when additional money will become available through “extraordinary measures,” allowing the X date to be extended through mid-July.  

CBO to Release Updated Estimates 

On Friday , the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is set to release updated 10-year baseline forecasts regarding government spending and revenue, and specifically farm programs. These estimates will help decision makers as they continue with Farm Bill negotiations and consideration of potential changes to programs, especially as it relates to reference prices for Title 1 programs and the supplemental nutrition assistance program. Updates will be posted here. 

Administration 

Vilsack Announces USDA Research Strategy 

The AIM for Climate Summit, taking place May 8-10 in Washington, DC, brings together the public and private sectors to support innovation focused on climate solutions for agriculture and food systems. It was launched at COP 26 and is led by the United Arab Emirates and the United States.  At the opening of the Summit, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a new initiative, the USDA Science and Research Strategy, 2023-2026: Cultivating Scientific Innovation. The strategy encompasses five main areas to drive USDA action: Accelerating Innovative Technologies & Practices, Driving Climate-Smart Solutions, Bolstering Nutrition Security & Health, Cultivating Resilient Ecosystems, and Translating Research into Action. 

Federal Health Emergency Flexibilities to Expire 

On May 11, the Covid-19 federal public health emergency will end. With that, Federal activities will be scaled back including the purchase and availability of tests, vaccines, and treatment, which will shift to insurance plans in many cases.  And, several pandemic-related flexibilities will expire, including many emergency allotments and flexibilities for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). More details can be found in USDA’s notice here

Team Torrey in Action

Vice President James Glueck recently appeared on Agri-Pulse Newsmakers to provide perspective on the current debate around the debt ceiling and how it will impact appropriations and the upcoming Farm Bill process. Click here to watch.

Vice President Katie Naessens spoke to participants at the Western Ag Law Conference along with representatives from The Russell Group and Western Growers. Naessens shared her perspective on how current Congressional dynamics will impact the outcome of potential changes to Farm Bill programs, including food programs such as SNAP. 

Notable News

Upcoming Hearings

Wednesday, May 10  

  • 9:30AM ET: House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Markets, Digital Assets, and Rural Development Hearing: The Future of Digital Assets: Measuring the Regulatory Gaps in the Digital Asset Markets  
  • 10:00AM ET: House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Hearing: Freight Forward: Overcoming Supply Chain Challenges to Deliver for America 
  • 10:00AM ET: House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Hearing: Fiscal Year 2024 Environmental Protection Agency Budget Request  
  • 10:00AM ET: Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Hearing: examine the nomination of Xochitl Torres Small, of New Mexico, to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture 
  • 10:30AM ET: Senate Budget Hearing: Lessons Learned: Leadership Perspectives and Experience on the National Costs of Climate Change  

Thursday, May 11  

  • 10:00AM ET: House Subcommittee on Nutrition, Foreign Agriculture, and Horticulture Hearing: Stakeholder Perspectives on Agricultural Trade 
  • 10:00AM ET: House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Hearing: Preparing for and Responding to Future Public Health Security Threats 
  • 10:30 AM ET: Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Hearing: “Examining the Root Causes of Drug Shortages: Challenges in Pharmaceutical Drug Supply Chains” 
  • 2:00PM ET: House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Hearing: Getting Back on Track: Exploring Rail Supply Chain Resilience and Challenges   
  • 2:00PM ET: House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services Hearing: FDA Oversight Part II: Responsibility for the Infant Formula Shortage  

For additional hearings, click 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 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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