Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 6.20

June 20, 2023

Contents

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

What We’re Watching

Congress

Appropriations

The House Appropriations Committee passed their Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies bill last week with a party-line vote of 34-27. The total overall funding was cut by about $8 billion to a total of $17.8 billion, which reverts back to FY22 levels of spending. Reductions in the spending can be attributed to claw backs from pandemic-era funding, reductions in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and a $32 billion decrease in mandatory SNAP spending compared to FY23 levels. The House Appropriations Committee also determined their topline spending amounts, which are significantly lower than the caps outlined in the debt ceiling. The House GOP has stated they will rescind $115 billion in funding for the USDA, the EPA, the IRS, and the GSA, and other agencies.

This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee will be marking up the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY24.

Farm Bill

House Agriculture Committee Chair GT Thompson (R-PA) noted that farm bill discussions have begun with a bill set to be drafted in the weeks ahead. He is hopeful that the Committee will consider the farm bill in September and bring it to the full House floor for a vote shortly thereafter. The Chairman also noted that discussions around Title IV, the nutrition programs, are not over, despite Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI) stating that the Senate will not entertain any more discussions on SNAP following the debt ceiling.

Chairman Thompson is continuing his series of listening sessions with farmers and other stakeholders. He was in New Mexico this past weekend and plans to be in Tennessee, Connecticut, and Maine in the weeks ahead. The House Agriculture Committee farm bill portal has closed as of June 16th. 

Legislation

Representatives Josh Brecheen (R-OK), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Laurel Lee (R-FL), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Michael Cloud (R-TX), and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) introduced the House version of the Healthy SNAP Act, which would would place restrictions on the use of SNAP for items such as soft drinks, candy, ice cream, and prepared desserts, while also requiring that USDA Secretary Vilsack re-evaluates the foods eligible for the program every five years. 

Also in the House, Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Max Miller (R-OH), and Abagail Spanberger (D-VA) introduced a bill to form the Specialty Crop Mechanization and Automation Research and Development Program within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It would provide $20 million annually to develop a crop committee from the industry that would consult with USDA on an annual basis to promote opportunity and research in specialty crops.

Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Kat Cammack (R-FL) introduced the bipartisan Fair Access to Agriculture Disaster Programs Act. The bill would aim to reduce barriers that producers face in accessing agriculture disaster assistance.

Meanwhile, Senators Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Representative Lisa Blunt-Rochester (D-DE) introduced the Opt for Health with SNAP (OH SNAP), Close the Fruit and Vegetable Gap Act of 2023The bill would expand the successful Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), which incentivizes SNAP recipients to consume fruits and vegetables.

Administration

FDA Front-of-Package Labeling

The Food and Drug Administration released a 30-day procedural notice on their plans to conduct a research study on front-of-package labeling for all packaged food. The initiative is aimed at incentivizing consumers to choose “healthy” options, a goal of the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health from the September 2022 White House conference. The plan includes a study on 9,000 individuals to study which front-of-pack labeling schemes are the most helpful to consumers when choosing foods based on their nutritional value.

The 30-day comment period will close July 17, 2023.

USDA Animal Production Labeling

The Department of Agriculture will be re-evaluating the definitions of labeling claims regarding animal products, such as “raised without antibiotics” and “free-range.” The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will be working with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to conduct research on products that make these claims to test accuracy.

Renewable Fuel Standard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was expected to release the final annual renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard program for 2023, 2024 and 2025 by Wednesday, June 14, but that deadline has been extended to tomorrow, June 21.

Notable News

Upcoming Hearings

Wednesday, June 21 

  • 10:00 AM: The House Oversight and Accountability Committee will hold a hearing – Clearing the Air: Examining the EPA’s Proposed Emissions Standards 
  • 10:00 AM: The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold hearings to examine reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration, focusing on state and local perspectives. 

Thursday, June 22 

  • 10:00 AM: House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will hold a hearing titled “Review of Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request: Agency Perspectives (Part I).”
  • 10:00 AM: House Natural Resources Committee will hold an Oversight Hearing titled “Examining the Council on Environmental Quality Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request and Related Policy Matters.”  
  • 10:00 AM: The House Energy and Commerce Environment, Manufacturing, And Critical Materials Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Driving Affordably: Preserving People’s Freedom to Buy Affordable Vehicles and Fuel.”
  • 10:00 AM: Senate Finance Committee will hold hearings to examine cattle supply chains and deforestation of the Amazon.
  • 10:00 AM: The House Appropriations Committee will markup the Fiscal Year 2024 Defense and Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Bills.
  • 10:30 AM: The Senate Appropriations Committee will markup the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024.

The rest of the week’s hearings are 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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