Los Angeles Times writer Lisa Mascaro reported late last week that, "The federal government began shutting down early Saturday after a flurry of dramatic, last-minute negotiations failed to end the congressional deadlock over a spending bill before a midnight deadline." However, a New York Times article from Sunday noted that, "The government shutdown will enter its third day. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, delayed a procedural vote on a stopgap spending bill until noon on Monday, as a bipartisan group of senators appeared to be inching toward a compromise." The ongoing budget standoff could create increased uncertainty with respect to the Congressional to-do list, including the Farm Bill.
An update posted on Tuesday at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) blog indicated that, "Less than two weeks into the new year, and Congress already has an incredibly full plate. Both the House and Senate return to work this week (the Senate has officially been back since last week), and will need to immediately dig in their massive to-do lists, not least of which include finalizing fiscal year (FY) 2018 appropriations legislation, preparing for the FY 2019 budget, and tackling the soon-to-expire 2014 Farm Bill."
At the end of 2017, Congress passed a temporary spending bill to prevent a government shutdown, but failed to complete work on an $81-billion disaster aid package. In addition to assistance for hurricanes and wildfires, the disaster package also included provisions dealing with the cotton and dairy programs. Today's update provides a brief recap of some of the pre-holiday legislative activity, and highlights news articles discussing the legislative agenda in the new year.
Today's update looks at recent news items discussing the Farm Bill, with specific focus on the potential timing of when Congress may take up the legislation. Lawmaker perspectives on provisions in the bill, including CRP issues, payment limits, and SNAP, are also discussed.
Last week, Don Wick, a farm broadcaster from the Red River Farm Network (Grand Forks, N.D.), sat down with several lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss current Farm Bill issues. Notably, he spoke with both the Chairman of the House Ag Committee, Mike Conaway, as well as the Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts. Today's update includes key elements from these lawmaker conversations with the Red River Farm Network.
Jacqui Fatka reported on Friday at Farm Futures Online that, "House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said [on October 25th] that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has sped up its analysis of farm bill provisions that the committee is considering. He told reporters that the committee is still on track to bring out a bill before the end of the year or early 2018."
On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to consider three nominees for key trade positions, while the Senate Ag Committee questioned two nominees for Undersecretary posts at the USDA. Today's update highlights some key points from the hearings, including issues related to agricultural trade and the Conservation Reserve Program.
On Thursday, the Senate Agriculture Committee held its ninth Farm Bill hearing where the panel turned its attention to rural development and energy programs. Recall that a House Agriculture Subcommittee explored similar issues back in March. Today's update provides a brief overview of yesterday's hearing with particular focus on rural broadband Internet access and the opioid epidemic, two issues that were raised by lawmakers.
Last week, the USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) released an analysis of the Federal crop insurance portfolio titled, "The Risk Management Safety Net: Market Penetration and Market Potential." Today's update recaps some of the key findings from the RMA report.
On Thursday, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a Farm Bill hearing that focused on nutrition programs and the 2018 Farm Bill. This was the Committee's eighth Farm Bill hearing, and followed field hearings in both Kansas and Michigan, as well as Committee meetings on the farm economy, agricultural research, conservation issues and commodity, credit, and crop insurance programs. The hearing focused on fraud in the SNAP program (food stamps), and specifically highlighted program payment error rates and misreporting of program costs by some states.