NOTE ON PROGRAMMING: We will be off for Thanksgiving this Thursday and Friday but will return to our normal schedule on Monday, November 28.
With help from Marcia Brown
– Meet the representative.
– Nineteen bipartisan senators have signed a letter urging the Department of Agriculture to extend the comment period for a rule aimed at increasing competition in the chicken industry.
HAPPY MONDAY NOV. 21. Welcome to Morning Ag. I’m your host, Garrett Downs, and your POLITICO ag team has a lot of news this morning. Send tips to [email protected] and @_garrettdownsand follow us on @Morning_Ag.
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LEADERSHIP MOVEMENTS: Democrats are considering how to fill the newly vacant No. 3 position among Senate Democrats. Stabenow, who is currently No. 4 in leadership, told Meredith last week, “I like what I do with their political committee. So I think the policy and communications position is a great position.
She also confirmed to Garrett last week that she still “absolutely” plans to stay on as chair of the Senate agriculture committee. “We have a five-year farm bill to write. This is probably one of the greatest things Congress will accomplish in the next two years,” she added.
A climb up the leadership ladder could help bolster Stabenow ahead of a likely tough re-election campaign in 2024.
GT rumbles towards the hammer: Prominent House Ag Committee Republicans appear to be lining up behind Thompson, with no one challenging his quest for the hammer so far.
MA got a glimpse of the new majority’s plans at the launch of the new Congress.
Incoming surveys: According to a House Republican aide with knowledge of the plans, House Ag GOPers are planning a series of investigations into the Biden administration. They relied on letter-based oversight and investigation by the Government Accountability Office during the first two years of the Biden administration, but will now have the ability to conduct oversight hearings themselves.
This will likely include an investigation into the USDA’s $3.5 billion partnerships for climate-smart raw materials program. Thompson is concerned that this amount of money is being spent “without any input from Congress,” the aide said. He previously criticized the use of the Commodity Credit Corporation to fund climate programs at the USDA.
Majority also hope to lure Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan for testimony and harassing him about EPA pesticide policy. Republicans, as well as some Democrats, have been frustrated as the EPA has sought to limit the use of certain pesticides, such as the now-banned chlorpyrifos.
You can also expect them to probably hold a hearing and review food assistance fraud what was happening during the pandemic.
Do the IRA shuffle: The aide said Republicans will likely seek to reallocate some of the $20 billion to USDA conservation programs if possible.
This money is seen by the House GOP as “additional discretionary funds targeted to certain practices,” which farm bill drafters have never received from a reconciliation bill before. They do not count for or against the bill’s baseline. But it’s not yet clear what the effect would be if they reallocated those dollars — either adding to the baseline or creating a funding cliff.
Either way, House Republicans say the Congressional Budget Office found that the USDA would not be able to withdraw the $20 billion — meaning the funding would be lost — adding more pressure to move the money.
A potential target for moving that money is elsewhere in the bill’s conservation title, for example, moving money from programs that have been “greater increased” beyond need to programs that have not. received so much boost, the aide said. Another option could be to allocate funds to the safety net, one of the most common concerns of farmers who want a wider and faster safety net to cover the increase in natural disasters, droughts and floods. .
However, any attempt to do so would likely have to be bipartisan, given Democratic control of the Senate.
MEET THE MAJORITY: We speak with Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) about the priorities and goals of his farm bill for next year.
This is part of a series of conversations we’ll be featuring over the next few weeks with House Ag GOP members as they plan for the next Congress, when they have a majority. If you’re not a subscriber, you missed rep Austin Scott last week.
Bacon, fresh from a tough re-election race, is currently the top Republican on the House Ag Nutrition Subcommittee. Here’s an excerpt from his recent conversation with Meredith.
Bacon’s farm bill priorities include:
Crop insurance: “My first priority is to make sure that we have a very good crop insurance bill. That’s the first thing I hear from farmers. … So we’ll have to see what kind of adjustments make sense.
To research: “I’m also a big believer on the research side. We have done good work in the area of foot-and-mouth disease prevention and vaccines. We still have a lot of work to do on African swine fever. We need to be able to avoid that if it ever happens here, which would devastate our pork industry.
Trade Promotion Authority: “In Nebraska, we are a huge export state. We don’t really see this administration working trade as it should. … So we have to put pressure on the trade administration, and the trade promotion authority in the Farm Bill will be very important.
NUTRITION DEBATE: As we reported, Republicans are considering a series of reforms to federal food assistance programs in the farm bill. Republicans mostly agree that they would like to restore and potentially add new work requirements to federal food aid programs, but the idea is hotly contested by Democrats.
Sen. John Boozman (Ark.), the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee who generally supports labor demands, told Meredith last week that he thought it “would be difficult” for such a measure passed with 60 votes in the Senate. “You look at the [GOP] margin in the House, it might be difficult to pass in the House,” he added.
The nutritional aid cliff: Beyond work requirements, GOPers are considering efforts to try again to address the “cliff edge effect” that occurs when people who use federal assistance programs, including SNAP, are no longer eligible for hundreds of dollars in benefits when they only earn a dollar more than the qualifying income. threshold. Republicans, including Bacon, argue that the cliff is “deterring” some people from leaving federal aid and getting full-time jobs. (As we reported, General Secretary Tom Vilsack argues that many people who use the program also work.)
TIC Tac: But, notably, Bacon told Meredith that he wasn’t sure there would be enough time to have some of those big conversations about nutrition programs because time is running out to pass the massive legislation before it expires. at the end of 2023.
Bacon: “I don’t think we’ll get it in this farm bill, but maybe, maybe not. I wanted to find a way to mitigate or minimize the cliff effect in SNAP. …I’d love to see how we can scale these benefits and help people get full-time jobs and maybe only lose a small portion of their SNAP. ‘Cause if you tell somebody, you win [another] dollar, you’re going to lose $600, which discourages you from getting that raise or getting that full-time job. How do you keep Republicans united on nutrition programs, especially when members of the House Freedom Caucus are already pushing their own plans on work requirements and other reforms?
Bacon: “I think Republicans are generally unified on the demands of the job. But it is important to say that there are exceptions, of course.
“We’re not asking for someone who’s retired or someone with young children or someone who has a disability, but if someone is eligible there should be work requirements. In recent years, Democrats have given up on that, especially with Covid. And I understand that with Covid, but we’re out of Covid now. So we have to get back to normal.
SENATORS CALL ON USDA TO EXTEND PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD FOR DEVELOPING COMPETITION RULES: Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Co-Chairs of the Senate Chicken Caucus, are asking the USDA to extend the 180-day public comment period to give “stakeholders and voters” more time to study the rule. A bipartisan group of 17 other senators also signed the letter.
The rule, issued under the authority of a 1921 agricultural antitrust law, is the second of three rules the USDA plans to implement in order to make livestock markets more competitive.
If implemented, the rule is intended to provide producers with greater protection against deception, retaliation, and discrimination, as well as to require better USDA record keeping on these matters. The first competition rule, if finalized, aims to make poultry contracts more transparent and fair.
— Bill Gates’ philanthropic foundation pledges $7 billion to boost health and agriculture in Africa, Bloomberg reports.
— USDA and EPA plan to roll out new climate-smart programs and clean water regulations very soon, Reports from Hannah Pagel of Agri-Pulse. This includes the second phase of the climate-smart commodity program.
— Significant portions of Ukraine’s corn crop could remain in the ground over winter, Reuters reports.
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