Washington Week Ahead: Senate on verge of farm bill passage

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2014 - This should finally be the week Congress sends a five-year farm bill (H.R. 2642) to the White House.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday night on a procedural motion to move the legislation to a final vote on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed a cloture motion Thursday that requires 60 votes for passage, and the votes are widely expected to be there.

The nearly $1 trillion Agriculture Act of 2014 would eliminate direct payments in favor of enhanced crop insurance, revise commodity supports, create a new dairy program, and make several other changes to agricultural policy, including an approximate $8 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Some opposition exists in the Senate, specifically from Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Roberts has said the bill falls short of making needed reforms to farm programs and of getting rid of burdensome regulations.

Still, the bill is expected to clear the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., recently said, “This really is a farm bill for the future, not the past…You shouldn't get a check just because you plant something.”

Meanwhile, Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, is scheduled to testify Tuesday before a House subcommittee on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's regulatory agenda.

Lets Talk Food

Also, on Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing to discuss the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Further, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Operations will hold a hearing Tuesday to discuss the administration's policy on marijuana.

The week's tentative events include:

Monday, Feb. 3.

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

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Amber Waves magazine

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

2:00 p.m. The Senate will convene and resume consideration of the farm bill conference report (H.R. 2642).

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Agricultural Trade Multipliers

5:30 p.m. The Senate will hold a cloture vote on the farm bill.

Tuesday, Feb. 4.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will participate in a PolicyLink panel discussion and address the winter policy conference of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

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

10:00 a.m. The House Education and the Workforce Committee's Subcommittee on Workforce Protection will hold a hearing on “OSHA's Regulatory Agenda: Changing Long-Standing Policies Outside the Public Rulemaking Process” in 2175 Rayburn. Witnesses include Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, and Maury Baskin, speaking on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers and the Associated Builders and Contractors.

10:00 a.m. The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act” in 1324 Longworth. The committee will discuss legislation to improve and strengthen provisions of the current Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

10:00 a.m. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing in 366 Dirksen to receive testimony from Rhea S. Suh to be assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Interior Department.

10:30 a.m. The Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on “The 2014 Outlook: Moving from Constant Crises to Broad-Based Growth” in 608 Dirksen. Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, is a scheduled witness.

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

1:30 p.m. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on Government Operations will hold a hearing on “Mixed Signals: The Administration's Policy on Marijuana” in 2154 Rayburn.

2:30 p.m. The Senate may vote on final passage of the farm bill conference report.

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

Wednesday, Feb. 5.

Vilsack will deliver remarks at Oregon State University.

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

10:00 a.m. The House Budget Committee will hold a hearing on “The Congressional Budget Office's Budget and Economic Outlook” in 210 Cannon. Douglas W. Elmendorf, CBO director, is a scheduled witness.

10:00 a.m. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing on “Examining the Implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act” in 2322 Rayburn.

10:00 a.m. The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on “The Impact of the Volcker Rule on Job Creators, Part II” in 2128 Rayburn.

10:00 a.m. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing on “Examining the Science of EPA Overreach: A Case Study in Texas” in 2318 Rayburn. Kenneth Dierschke, president of the Texas Farm Bureau, and Elena Craft, health scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, are among scheduled witnesses.

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

2:00 p.m. The House Natural Resources Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold an oversight hearing on “Energy in America: BLM's Red-Tape Run Around and its Impact on American Energy Production” in 1334 Longworth.

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

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

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

Thursday, Feb. 6.

Vilsack will attend an event with Business Forward and highlight agricultural research at the University of Washington.

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

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

10:00 a.m. The House Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade will hold a hearing on “Duplication Overlap and Fragmentation in Federal Financial Assistance Programs” in 2360 Rayburn.

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

Friday, Feb. 7.

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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