Washington Week Ahead: Lawmakers eyeing USDA, EPA budget requests

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 31, 2014 - The House is keeping up its aggressive schedule this week through a series of hearings to debate the administration's fiscal year 2015 budget request for governmental agencies, including USDA and EPA.

On Wednesday, a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee will hold a budget hearing on USDA's agriculture marketing and regulatory programs. Witnesses include Ed Avalos, under secretary of marketing and regulatory programs; Kevin Shea, administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Anne Alonzo, administrator of the Agriculture Marketing Service; and  Larry Mitchell, administrator of the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration.

Following that, the subcommittee Thursday will look at the budget request for USDA food safety programs. Witnesses include Brian Ronholm, acting undersecretary for food safety; and Alfred V. Almanza, administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Also on Thursday, a House appropriations subcommittee will examine the budget request for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Further, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a joint subcommittee hearing Thursday on the EPA's budget request.

The Senate Finance Committee may release tax extenders legislation as early as today. The committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the administration's trade policy agenda with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Another Thursday event includes Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testifying before the House Agriculture Committee to review the state of the rural economy.

Lets Talk Food

On the international front, the Forum for Agriculture will hold discussions Tuesday in Brussels on several agriculture-related topics, such as sustainable food production and trade. A main focus will be the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is aimed at creating a free-trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. Agri-Pulse Associate Editor Aarian Marshall will provide coverage of the events.

The TTIP session will include the following panelists: Darci L. Vetter, deputy under secretary of agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services; John Atkin, chief operating officer of Syngenta; James Elles, chairman of the Transatlantic Policy Network; and Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Another session will be held on “Environment - Land Use and Natural Resources in EU Policies.” Panelists will include Jurgen Voegele, directors of agriculture and environmental services at the World Bank; Michael Salm-Salm, president of the German Landowners' Association; Ignace Schops, director of Regionaal Landschap Kempen en Massland; and Bob Young, chief economist and deputy executive director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

In addition, House Democrats will continue to shop around a discharge petition to force an up-or-down vote on an immigration reform package (H.R. 15) that would provide undocumented farm workers with a path to legal status. Democrats need about 20 Republicans to sign the petition, who are unlikely to go against the wishes of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The week's tentative events include:

Monday, March 31.

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Grain Stocks

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Rice Stocks

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Prospective Plantings

2:00 p.m. The Senate will convene for a legislative session to consider the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 4302).

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Egg Products

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Oil Crops Yearbook

5:00 p.m. The Senate will proceed to an executive session to consider the judicial nomination of John Owens to serve as U.S. circuit judge for the Ninth Circuit.

5:30 p.m. The Senate will vote on the nomination and then proceed to a legislative session and vote on the Protecting Access to Medicare Act. After that vote, the Senate will vote on a motion to proceed to H.R. 3979, which includes an extension of unemployment insurance benefits.

Tuesday, April 1.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will host a Google+ hangout on access to credit for new farmers and ranchers.

12:00 p.m. The House will meet for morning hour debate.

2:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 2.

8:00 a.m. The Land Trust Alliance will hold a breakfast briefing on the “Future of the Conservation Tax Incentive” in 2168 Rayburn.

10:00 a.m. The House will meet for morning hour debate.

10:00 a.m. The House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on the fiscal year 2015 budget request for USDA's agriculture marketing and regulatory programs in 2362-A Rayburn. Scheduled witnesses include Ed Avalos, under secretary of marketing and regulatory programs; Kevin Shea, administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Anne Alonzo, administrator of the Agriculture Marketing Service; Larry Mitchell, administrator of the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration; and USDA budget officer Michael Young.

10:00 a.m. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Power and Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy will hold a joint hearing on the FY 2015 budget request for the EPA in 2123 Rayburn.

10:00 a.m. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing on the FY 2015 budget request and administration priorities for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2167 Rayburn.

12:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business. 

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Broiler Hatchery

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Announcement of Class and Component Prices

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: National Dairy Products Sales Report

3:30 Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) Dialogues: Panel discussion on the Economic and Ecological Benefits of Agricultural Conservation Systems at the Capitol Visitor Center, Congressional Meeting Room North. USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will make opening remarks. Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant will serve as moderator for the panel discussion.

6:00 p.m. The Land Trust Alliance will hold a Land Trust Advocacy Day Reception to celebrate new farm bill conservation programs in 902 Hart.

Thursday, April 3.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will speak at the Georgia Farm Bureau meeting on farm bill implementation in Washington.

8:30 a.m. USDA Report: Weekly Export Sales

9:30 a.m. The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing to review the state of the rural economy in 1300 Longworth. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is scheduled to testify.

10:00 a.m. The House will meet for morning hour debate.

10:00 a.m. The House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a hearing on the FY 2015 budget request for USDA food safety programs in 2362-A Rayburn. Scheduled witnesses include Brian Ronholm, acting undersecretary for food safety; Alfred V. Almanza, administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service; and USDA budget officer Michael Young.

12:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business.

1:30 p.m. The House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies will hold a FY 2015 budget hearing on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in B-308 Rayburn. Dan Ashe, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, is the scheduled witness.

2:00 p.m. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on President Obama's 2014 trade policy agenda in 215 Dirksen. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is scheduled to testify.

2:00 p.m. The House Natural Resources Committee's Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs will hold a legislative hearing on three fishing-related bills in 1334 Longworth. The bills include: H.R. 69 - the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act, H.R. 2646 - the REFI Pacific Act, and the Pirate Fishing Elimination Act.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Dairy Products

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Latest U.S. Agricultural Trade Data

Friday, April 4.

9:00 a.m. The House will meet for legislative business with last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.

10:00 a.m. USDA Report: Livestock & Meat International Trade Data

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Peanut Prices

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: U.S. Agricultural Trade Data Update

#30

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