Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 6.27

June 27, 2023

Contents

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

The House and Senate will be out of session until July 7th. The Torrey Advisory Group newsletter will resume when Congress reconvenes.

What We’re Watching

Congress 

Appropriations 

The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passed their version of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act last week. Overall funding is at $25.993 billion, including full funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), $6.3 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), $3.55 billion funding for the FDA, $3.8 billion for agricultural research programs, and $1.2 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The bill provides $1.215 billion in funding for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and increases in funding for emergency farm loans. The Senate set subcommittee spending allocations last week, and it is expected to continue moving through individual bills in a bipartisan fashion during the July work period. 

The House is continuing to advance appropriations bills—many of which spend well below the levels set by the debt ceiling deal and include partisan policy riders. A House vote on the Agriculture Appropriations bill is likely in mid-July. 

House Agricultural Labor Working Group 

The House Agriculture Committee has appointed a bipartisan working group of 14 members to address agricultural labor challenges with a focus on the H-2A visa program. Representatives Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Don Davis (D-NC) will be co-chairs, and the working group will be equally split with Republicans and Democrats. The group is set to begin work in July, and policy recommendations will be due before January 2024 with a goal of House passage of recommended provisions next year.

Farm Bill 

Ag Committee leadership is continuing to actively listen to farmers, growers, and stakeholders during the 4th of July recess period. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator John Boozman (R-AR) are participating in a farm bill roundtable in Kentucky this week. 

House Ag Chair GT Thompson (R-PA) continues his listening tour, having participated in a listening session in Tennessee on Monday. He discussed allocating unspent infrastructure and American Rescue Plan funding toward the Farm Bill, and increasing funding for crop insurance. He will be participating in a listening session on August 2nd at Farm Fest in Minnesota, as well as another one in Maine. Other listening sessions will be announced as they are scheduled. 

Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act

Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Jim Costa (D-CA) have co-sponsored the Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act, which would underscore the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by designating the Environmental Protection Agency as the single authority on pesticide labeling and packaging requirements. The bill prevents states from contradicting EPA-approved labels.

Administration

USDA Approves Cultivated Chicken

Eat Just/GOOD Meat and UPSIDE Foods are the first two companies to receive approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to produce and sell cell-cultivated chicken meat nationwide in accordance with the 2019 agreement among the agencies. The term “cell-cultivated chicken” was approved for packaging by the USDA last week, and FDA previously indicated that the products raised no concerns related to safety for human consumption. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will be assigning inspectors to the approved cultivated chicken production facilities.  In the months ahead, consumers will be able to find the products available in limited restaurant offerings in Washington, DC and San Francisco. 

Mexico Moves to Protect Domestic White Corn Market

Mexico’s president now has an agreement with tortilla manufacturers to only use non-biotech white corn. U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack downplayed the move, saying it would have little impact on U.S. exports given that the vast majority of U.S. exports to Mexico are yellow corn. The United States and Canada are currently seeking consultations with Mexico within the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in a dispute over biotech corn. 

Prop 12 Implementation Extension 

The state of California has delayed their implementation date for the Proposition 12 compliance from July 1 to December 31. This comes after a court ruling that the proposition must be grandfathered in for whole pork meat in the supply chain prior to July 1. For the remainder of 2023, the California Department of Food and Agriculture will be working to set up a distribution certification system and making sure the program is fully implemented by January 1, 2024.  

India Announces Tariff Elimination  

Following a visit to the United States, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. Trade Representative Secretary Katherine Tai have announced that India will be dropping tariffs on U.S. chickpeas, lentils, almonds, walnuts, and apples. In addition, the United States will be dropping tariffs on Indian steel and aluminum products.  

EPA Announces Biofuel Targets 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the final annual renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2023, 2024, and 2025. As expected, the inclusion of the ability for electric vehicles manufacturers to generate credits (e-RINs) that was included in the proposed rule was eliminated in the final rule due to stakeholder feedback. 

Notable News

Upcoming Hearings

Congress is out of session. Hearings will be updated as they reconvene.

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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