Weekly Food and Agriculture Update – 7.25

July 25, 2023

Contents

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

What We’re Watching

Congress 

Appropriations 

The House Appropriations Committee has passed their Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration FY24 legislation out of committee with major cuts to spending included. The deadline to file amendments on the bill was last week, with over 150 amendments being submitted. Some of the amendments submitted included cuts to notable programs, like the McGovern-Dole Program and the Food for Peace program, while other amendments would prohibit funding to areas such as climate change initiatives, the World Health Organization, polystyrene packaging, and electric vehicle purchases. You can see a full list of amendments here

The House Rules Committee will be meeting on Wednesday, July 26 at 2:00 PM on the FY24 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which will ultimately decide which amendments get considered on the House floor. There has been disagreement within the GOP about how much funding to cut, since Freedom Caucus members are looking for increased cuts despite the bill already cutting $8 billion in spending. President Biden has threatened to veto the legislation since the spending levels dip below the amounts that the President and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) agreed on during debt ceiling negotiations.  

CBO Responds to Scoring on Farm Bill 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has responded to a letter written earlier this month by House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership questioning the timeliness of farm bill scoring. The response states that the CBO expects to finalize hundreds of additional estimates in the coming weeks for farm bill reauthorization, in addition to the 1,000 estimates that have already been completed. The letter also notes that additional staff in the Budget Analysis Division are supporting the farm bill scoring requests, specifically analysis around nutrition programs and that they will not be reorganizing or hiring additional staff. 

Genome to Phenome Initiative Reauthorization Introduced 

Representatives Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Zach Nunn (R-IA), and Deborah Ross (D-NC) recently introduced the Genome to Phenome Initiative Reauthorization Act of 2023, which would reauthorize the program at $40 million for research around genomes and phenomes of crops and animals. The bill would also incentivize research at Iowa State University to increase crop yields with a focus on corn.  

Administration

CFTC Voluntary Carbon Market Convening 

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) held a listening session to discuss their role in carbon markets. This listening session follows allegations of fraud and credit manipulation, and therefore multiple federal agencies convened to discuss their roles in emissions reduction and monitoring. There will be a public comment period that closes on August 18.  

USDA Allocates Funding for Urban Agriculture Innovation 

The US Department of Agriculture announced they will be investing $7.4 million to go toward 25 grants for urban agriculture and innovative production. Grants were disbursed to both planning and implementation projects that aim to increase food production and food access, bolster economic development, and initiates or expands farming operations. 

FDA Reopens Comment Period for Food Packaging Labels 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made an announcement opening the comment period again for the “Quantitative Research on Front of Package Labeling on Packaged Foods” study. The portal reopened this week on Monday and will close at 11:59 PM on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. You can submit comments here

USDA Prepares for Dairy Pricing Overhaul 

The USDA will begin hearings on August 23 to hear stakeholder feedback on modifying pricing formulas for milk and dairy products under the federal milk marketing order system. The first hearing will take place in Carmel, Indiana and will continue until the presiding administrative law judge announces the conclusion of the hearings. The next hearing session will be announced after the end of the first one, and farmers will be able to testify either in-person or virtually. USDA will be issuing a recommendation at the end of the hearings.  

DOL Announces Expansion of Submission Requirements on Injury, Illness 

The US Department of Labor published a final rule that requires eligible organizations to submit injury and illness information to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Food manufacturers, including those in fruit and tree nut farming, sugar and confectionary, crop farming, cattle ranching, animal production, bakeries and tortilla, beverages, and in animal food manufacturing, would all fall under this new rule. OSHA will publish some of the data collected on its website to allow potential and current employees and the public to use information about a company’s workplace safety and health record to make informed decisions. The final rule will take effect on January 1, 2024. 

Notable News

Upcoming Hearings

Wednesday, July 26

  • 9:30 AM: The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on “Examining the Fiscal Consequences of Climate Change on Infrastructure.”
  • 9:30 AM: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on “Opportunities for Congress to Reform the Process for Permitting Electric Transmission Lines, Pipelines, and Energy Production on Federal Lands.”
  • 10:00 AM: The House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on “Rural Entrepreneurship: Examining the Challenges and State of Rural Small Businesses.”
  • 2:00 PM: The House Rules Committee will meet on H.R. 4368 – Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024. 
  • 2:30 PM: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on “Cleaner Trains: Opportunities for Reducing Emissions from America’s Rail Network.”

Thursday, July 27

  • 9:45 AM: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on “Solutions For Single-use Waste, Focusing On Expanding Refill And Reuse Infrastructure.”
  • 10:00 AM: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on “Safeguarding American Jobs and Economic Growth: Examining the Future of the Offshore Leasing Program.”

The rest of this week’s hearings can be found 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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