Today's update looks at recent spending and budgetary issues impacting agriculture and the Farm Bill. The House Appropriations Committee this week passed the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill for USDA. Meanwhile, recent reporting from Politico indicated that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R., Tex.) reached a "handshake agreement" with House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black (R., Tenn.) on potential cuts to ag and nutrition programs. And, the Congressional Budget Office recently released its latest baseline for farm programs.
On Thursday, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a Farm Bill hearing that focused on conservation and forestry issues. This follows previous Farm Bill field hearings in both Kansas and Michigan, as well as Committee meetings on the farm economy and agricultural research. Today's update highlights issues associated with the Conservation Reserve Program, a subject that lawmakers discussed in some detail at last week's hearing.
The Senate Ag Committee held a Farm Bill hearing yesterday that focused on agricultural research. Recall that the Committee convened its first Farm Bill discussion back in February in Manhattan, Kansas, and conducted an additional hearing on Farm Bill related issues last month in Frankenmuth, Michigan. And on May 25th, the Committee heard testimony from the USDA Chief Economist as it examined the state of the farm economy. Today's update highlights some of the issues that lawmakers focused on at yesterday's hearing, including the extension service, animal related diseases, and the Trump administration's agricultural budget proposal.
The House Ag Committee of the 115th Congress has conducted full Committee and Subcommittee Farm Bill hearings over the past few months on a variety of issues, including: the farm economy; conservation; rural development and energy programs; specialty crops; livestock and dairy issues; farm policy and farm credit, and cotton. In addition, the Committee also heard perspective on the farm economy and farm policy last month from Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Last week, the House Ag Committee continued its policy work by holding two hearings: one, which covered SNAP (food stamps) technology and modernization issues, and another that underscored the importance of international food aid. Today's update focuses on the developments related to the SNAP program.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue testified before the House Agriculture Committee yesterday at a hearing on the “State of the Rural Economy.” Today's update includes an overview of the testimony provided by the former GOP Governor of Georgia, as well as as some of the issues lawmakers addressed during the hearing, which lasted over three hours.
The Senate Ag Committee held its second Farm Bill hearing on Saturday in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kans.) pointed out that, unlike when the last Farm Bill was drafted, the U.S. agricultural economy is struggling right now. At a press briefing at the conclusion of the hearing, he indicated that trade was an important variable in assisting with the current low price environment. A variety of important issues were discussed by witnesses on Saturday, in two separate panels; today's update highlights remarks that were made on trade, crop insurance, the Conservation Reserve Program, the dairy program, and the SNAP program.
A deal reached on Sunday to fund the federal government through September, did not include assistance for programs sought by cotton and dairy producers. House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R., Tex.) expressed disappointment with this result and reassured farmers and ranchers that he and many of his colleagues "are fully committed to correcting this wrong and seeing them through their current economic challenges.”
A recent article from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis discussed the downward economic trajectory that has impacted the U.S. farm economy in recent years. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, in remarks this week to USDA employees, noted that trade is an area that could help provide relief for surplus stocks. News reports yesterday indicated that President Trump could sign an executive action withdrawing the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement; since NAFTA's implementation, U.S. agricultural trade has grown significantly. However, subsequent news developments explained that Trump had decided not to pull out of NAFTA. Many in the agricultural sector are already anxious about U.S. trade policy, yesterday's executive branch actions on trade may not alleviate ongoing concerns.
After a two week break, lawmakers returned to Washington, D.C. this week to face a variety of issues, including a Senate confirmation vote for Sonny Perdue to be the new Secretary of Agriculture, as well as a looming federal budget deadline on Friday. While on Easter recess, several lawmakers had the opportunity to discuss the next Farm Bill and agricultural policy issues with constituents. Topics included: cotton support, dairy, trade, crop insurance, and conservation policy.
The House Ag Committee's Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held its second policy related Farm Bill hearing on Tuesday, as lawmakers continue their examination of agricultural programs in advance of the next Farm Bill. Following a farm policy related hearing last week that focused mostly on perspectives from corn, soybean and wheat growers, lawmakers on Tuesday heard perspectives from representatives of the cotton, rice, peanut, sunflower and sugar industries. Today's update focuses on the cotton issues that were discussed on Tuesday.