Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 6.13

June 13, 2022


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

Big Picture Outlook

Farm Bill – Crop Insurance

Last Thursday, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held a hearing on Title 1 and Crop Insurance where four economists testified about the risk management tools available to farmers in the current market environment. Several witnesses and Members of Congress talked about crop insurance as the primary risk management tool available to farmers. Dr. Ron Rainey from the University of Arkansas did note that some producers, particularly socially disadvantaged farmers, lack full understanding of crop insurance programs and urged Congress as well as crop insurance companies and agents to address this need. Congressman Mann (R-KS) asked about recent improvements and changes to crop insurance and what else can be done to make positive changes. Dr. Joe Outlaw from Texas A&M noted that the program is very successful and that the only possible changes he has heard could be necessary are around the A&O cap for agents. He also noted that crop insurance has a good system in place already to allow growth and improvement.  This coming Friday, the Senate Agriculture Committee will continue their farm bill preparation with a field hearing in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

House Legislative Activity Related to Inflation and Shipping

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to consider the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, a package of bills related to food and fuel costs, this afternoon, June 13. Included in the package is text from the Butcher Block Act (HR 4140), Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022 (HR 7606), HR 7675 to establish an Agricultural and Food System Supply Chain Resilience and Crisis Response Task Force, HR 7764 where $500 million is authorized for FY22 and FY23 to provide environmental quality incentive program payments to producers who implement a nutrient management practice or adopt a precision agriculture practice, and provisions from the PRECISE Act (HR 2518). Additionally, the bipartisan Year-Round Fuel Choice Act (HR 4410) and the Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act (HR 1542) are in the package. The biofuels provisions would result in a permanent waiver for the year-round sale of E15 and higher blends and provide $200 million in grants to address biofuels infrastructure (pumps, storage, and distribution) needs.

While many of the standalone provisions have bipartisan support, Republicans have questioned whether any of the policies would have a direct impact on food and fuel costs. House Ag Committee Ranking Member GT Thompson (R-PA) pointed to the “Biden Administration’s self-inflicted supply chain and inflationary crisis” and “harmful policies that are stymieing domestic agriculture production and harming our economy.”  In addition, the House has announced plans to consider S. 3580, the Senate-passed companion to the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, this week. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) highlighted that the “legislation will address continued supply-chain problems and ensure the fair and expeditious flow of goods in and out of our ports, helping lower costs for American consumers and bolstering our domestic agriculture exports.”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Nutrition Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing last Wednesday to consider stakeholder perspectives on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as lawmakers gear up to begin work on the next farm bill. Grocers and food assistance experts testified at the hearing, discussing the important role SNAP and other federal nutrition programs play in efficiently and equitably providing food to those in need. The hearing presented diverging viewpoints from House Democratic and Republican lawmakers, with subcommittee Chair Jahana Hayes (D-CT) and her Democratic colleagues praising the effectiveness of the SNAP program throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans on the subcommittee voiced concern about expansion of federal food assistance programs and warned of the increasingly higher costs of those programs. The arguments preview what could shape up to be a divisive issue in the upcoming farm bill, with negotiations expected to begin in earnest by early 2023.  This Tuesday, the House Agriculture Committee will consider Non-SNAP USDA Nutrition Programs in a hearing.

USTR Chief Ag Negotiator 

President Biden announced his intent to nominate Doug McKalip to serve as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. McKalip currently serves as a senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and has nearly three decades of public service in ag policy and trade. McKalip is well-respected by Republican and Democratic lawmakers and received praise from leaders across the food and agriculture sector.

The Week Ahead

Tuesday, June 14

  • 10:00 AM EDT: House Agriculture Committee holds a hearing to discuss “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Stakeholder Perspectives on Non-SNAP USDA Nutrition Programs”
  • 10:00 AM EDT: Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources holds a hearing to examine short term and long terms solutions to extreme drought in the western United States
  • 1:00 PM EDT: House Select Committee on the Climate Climate holds a hearing to discuss “State Perspectives on Cutting Methane Pollution”
  • 2:30 PM EDT: Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety holds a hearing to examine strengthening our workforce and economy through higher education and immigration

Wednesday, June 15

  • 10:00 AM EDT: House Agriculture Committee holds a hearing to discuss “The Role of Climate Research in Supporting Agricultural Resiliency”
  • 2:30 PM EDT: Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights holds a hearing to examine the impact of consolidation on families and consumers, focusing on baby formula and beyond
  • 3:00 PM EDT: 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

Friday, June 16

  • 10:00 AM EDT: Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry holds a field hearing to discuss 2023 Farm Bill: Perspectives from the Natural State

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

A Quick Look Back

“U.S. Department of Agriculture to Invest up to $65 Million in Pilot Program to Strengthen Food Supply Chain, Reduce Irregular Migration, and Improve Working Conditions for Farmworkers” USDA

“Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Intent to Nominate Doug McKalip to Serve as Chief Agricultural Negotiator” USDA

“USDA Offering Nationwide Waiver for Infant Formula” USDA

“New Bill Wants to Ban Mergers in Ag and Food Sectors” The Daily Yonder

“Ukraine Southern Odesa Region Starts 2022 Grain Harvest” Reuters

“Lower Snake River Dams: Benefit Replacement Draft Report” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

“Advocacy Groups Call on Biden to Make Migration Commitments at Summit of the Americas” The Hill

“Why the Fertilizer Market Could be Russia’s Hidden Leverage” The Hill

“Senate Confirms Jacobs-Young as USDA Undersecretary” The Fence Post

“Hybrid Grocery Shopping Is Transforming the Food Retail Landscape, New Survey Finds” Business Wire

“Russia is Weaponizing Food Supplies to ‘Blackmail the World’” CNBC

“White House Announces International Efforts to Combat Climate Change at Americas Summit” NBC News

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