Washington Week Ahead: Drought issue hovering over lawmakers

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2014 - Congress returns from its recess today and many agricultural stakeholders are watching for what lawmakers do to assist with the devastating drought in Southern California.

Both chambers have bills aimed at the issue. The House recently passed drought-relief legislation (H.R. 3964) that would repeal some of California's authority over its Central Valley. The bill, offered by Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., would turn on the Delta pumps this year and next year to capture future rain events, as well as ending restoration flows in the San Joaquin River for this year and next year.

In the Senate, Democrats have introduced legislation to authorize $300 million in emergency funds for drought-relief projects to maximize water supplies for farmers.

For its part, the administration has announced USDA is moving to accelerate $100 million in livestock disaster assistance to producers in California.

The House is set this week to go after the Internal Revenue Service through a series of bills aimed at providing taxpayer protections. The leadership plans to take up H.R. 2531, Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act, and H.R. 3308, Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2014, as well as other IRS-related legislation.

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Hitting the road, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is scheduled to deliver the keynote address to the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday. USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden is expected to be in attendance.

View a full schedule of Commodity Classic events here.

Vilsack also will give the keynote address Thursday at the fifth annual Growth Energy Executive Leadership Conference in Phoenix. Growth Energy chief executive officer Tom Buis is expected to offer a “State of the Industry” address. The theme of the conference is “Taking it to the Streets,” and a major focus, the organization said, will be on building out infrastructure so higher blends of renewables, such as E15, will be available to retailers and consumers.

Meanwhile, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has a meeting on Wednesday with Donnie Smith, president and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods, Inc. Also, Froman is set to meet with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., on Friday.

The week's tentative events include:

Monday, Feb. 24.

2:00 p.m. The Senate will convene to recognize Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, as he reads President George Washington's 1796 farewell address. The Senate will then proceed to a period of morning business.

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Fruit and Tree Nut Data

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Vegetable and Pulses Data

5:00 p.m. The Senate will proceed to an executive session to consider a judicial nomination.

5:30 p.m. The Senate will vote on cloture of the judicial nomination.

Tuesday, Feb. 25.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will participate in an announcement with first lady Michelle Obama about school nutrition at the White House.

9:00 a.m. USDA Report: Food Price Outlook

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

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

2:30 p.m. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing on “Natural Resource Adaptation: Protecting Ecosystems and Economies” in 406 Dirksen.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Poultry Slaughter - Ann.

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Poultry Slaughter

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Livestock & Meat Domestic Data

Wednesday, Feb. 26.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will meet with Alexey Valentinovich Ulyukaev, Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation

Froman will meet with Donnie Smith, president and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods, Inc.

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

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: National Dairy Products Sales Report

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Dairy Data

Thursday, Feb. 27.

Vilsack will deliver keynote remarks at the fifth annual Growth Energy Executive Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Ariz.

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

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

10:30 a.m. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard will hold a hearing on “North Pacific Perspectives on Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization” in 253 Russell.

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

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Chicken and Eggs - Ann.

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Milk Cost of Production Estimates

Friday, Feb. 28.

Vilsack will address the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will be in attendance.

Froman will meet with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

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

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

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Chicken and Eggs

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

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

3:00 p.m. USDA Report: Peanut Stocks and Processing

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