Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 6.4

June 4, 2024

Contents

  • What We’re Watching
  • Notable News
  • This Week’s Legislation
  • Upcoming Hearings
  • Contact the Team

What We’re Watching

Congress 

Farm Bill

Congress was in recess last week and returns this week for legislative business. Following the House Agriculture Committee farm bill markup, it is anticipated that Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) could release his farm bill priorities in the coming weeks.  

Members of Congress Write Letter on WIC

Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Andy Harris (R-MD) wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack regarding the reductions in milk available to families in the “Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Revisions in the WIC Food Packages.” The letter claims that the final rule ignored a Congressional directive in the 2024 Ag-FDA appropriations bill stating that the Secretary will not “reduce the maximum monthly allowance with respect to milk when submitting a final rule.” It is unclear what the next steps will be. 

Administration

HHS Approves FDA Reorganization Plans

The FDA has received approval for its reorganization plans, including creation of the Human Foods Program. The reorganization will allow for the FDA to better prioritize nutrition and food safety, while streamlining decision making under one department. The Human Foods Program will include realignment of functions from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, the Office of Food Policy and Response, and some functions from the Office of Regulatory Affairs. The full reorganization implementation is anticipated for October 1, 2024.

Updates on H5N1

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) conducted a study last week on the ground beef supply, taking samples from grocery store beef, cull dairy cows, and cooked ground beef for the H5N1 viral particles. The study found that grocery store beef did not have any viral fragments, and when beef was injected with viral particles and cooked, found that the virus was deactivated. In the cull dairy cow sample, 95 out of 96 samples did not have the virus, and products from these animals would not have made it to the market, indicating our food safety system is working.

Multi-Agency Collaboration Continues on Food Waste

EPA and USDA are partnering on renewal of the Federal Interagency Collaboration to Reduce Food Loss and Waste (FIFLAW). The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also joined the collaboration. There will be a $4 million allocation to fund projects around food waste, with $1.5 million going to formation of a Center for Research, Behavioral Economics and Extension on Food Loss and Waste and $2.5 million for Pilot Consumer Education Campaign on Food Loss and Waste. Agencies will also build on membership expansion of the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions.

Dietary Guidelines Committee Holds Fifth Meeting

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) Committee held their penultimate meeting. The Committee provided updates from each subcommittee and progress made since the fourth public meeting, including protocol development, evidence review and synthesis, draft conclusion statements, and plans for future Committee work, including development of the scientific report. Topics discussed were findings among diet-related diseases and certain foods, priority nutrients that are lacking in American diets, and whether to include alcohol guidance. Following the meeting, Members of Congress wrote to USDA Secretary Vilsack and HHS Secretary Becerra expressing concerns about alcohol consumption and its inclusion in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Appointments Made to the Seasonable and Perishable Agricultural Products Advisory Committee

The Seasonable and Perishable Agricultural Products Advisory Committee announced the appointment of 11 producers to the Committee last week. The Committee was established to provide advice and recommendations on measures to promote the competitiveness of producers of seasonal and perishable produce in the Southeastern United States.

USDA Growing Climate Solutions Request for Information

The Biden administration released a joint effort from the heads of the Treasury, Energy, and Agriculture Departments as well as the President’ top climate and economic advisers to improve the integrity and set greater transparency for voluntary carbon markets. As part of this effort, USDA published a Request for Information on establishing the new Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third Party Verifier Program, the next step in implementing the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Feedback is being requested for protocol evaluation, information for inclusion protocol, qualifications for covered entities who provide technical assistance to farmers, and qualifications needed by entities that serve as third party verifiers in voluntary environmental credit markets. 

Notable News

This Week’s Legislation

  • Congressman Williams (R-NY) introduced a bill that would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out further improvement of Onondaga Lake, New York, and for the purposes of integrating research, education, planning and restoration of the watershed.
  • Congressman Higgins (R-LA) introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution to disprove the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “New Source Performance Standards for the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturing Industry and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturing Industry and Group I & II Polymers and Resins Industry”.

Upcoming Hearings

Tuesday, June 4

  • 10:00 AM: The House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Environment will hold a hearing on “An Overview of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2025.”
  • 10:00 AM: The House and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate and Grid Security will hold a hearing on “Powering AI: Examining America’s Energy and Technology Future.”
  • 10:15 AM: The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands will hold an oversight hearing on “Examining the President’s FY 2025 Budget Request for the United States Forest Service.”
  • 2:30 PM: The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade will hold a hearing on “Pathways to Farming, Focusing on Helping the Next Generation of Farmers.”

Wednesday, June 5

  •  9:00 AM: The House Oversight and Accountability Committee will hold a hearing on “Oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
  • 10:00 AM: The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on “How Climate is Already Challenging Insurance Markets.”
  • 10:00 AM: The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will hold a hearing on “An Overview of the Budget Proposal for the Department of Energy for Fiscal Year 2025.”

Contact the Team

Feel free to contact Michael Torrey, Tara Smith, Cassandra Kuball, Barbara Patterson, Katie Naessens, Julie McClure, Nona McCoy, Danielle NelsonAshley Smith, Olivia Lucanie, Caroline Snell, Heath Brandt, Tracy Boyle or Matthew Hughes 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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