Washington Week Ahead: Focus on farm bill implementation and trade

By Daniel Enoch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 5, 2014 - Agricultural stakeholders are expected this week to focus on USDA implementation of the farm bill and international trade negotiations.

On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is scheduled to address the Senate Agriculture Committee about USDA progress on the farm bill. Vilsack has released several implementation dates for farm programs, and has said he expects “everything to be in place” for the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and the Agricultural Risk Coverage programs by the fall. Vilsack also will likely address commodity title program rules during the hearing.

Vilsack has said that some crop insurance provisions, like conservation compliance rules, may be delayed until 2015. And, the definition of “actively engaged” producers is likely to be actively discussed at the hearing. “This is a very difficult issue to provide the kind of clarity and certainty that people would like to have,” Vilsack said at a recent hearing. USDA began the application process for the livestock disaster assistance program recently, and senators will certainly want to know how that is progressing.

On trade, USDA is kicking off a mission to promote U.S. agricultural goods in northeast China. The mission, which runs through May 13, is being led by Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse. Leaders from state departments of agriculture in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Washington are participating, as are representatives from 28 agriculture-related companies and organizations, including the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the U.S. Grains Council, the National Farmers Union, Growth Energy and the U.S. Rice Producers Association.

Lets Talk Food

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will be making his rounds to press for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) during visits to Berlin and Paris.

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler will deliver a keynote address Wednesday on the Obama administration's trade policy agenda and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at a trade policy conference organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council. 

The week's tentative events include:

 

Monday, May 5.


The National Association of Farm Broadcasting holds its annual Washington Watch meeting through May 7 at the Washington, D.C. Holiday Inn Capitol.

Froman will give remarks in Berlin during a T-TIP stakeholder event on Opportunities for Germany and Europe, at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

10 a.m. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife will hold a field hearing in Conowingo, Maryland, to examine environmental concerns with the Conowingo Dam in relation to the health of the Chesapeake Bay

2:00 p.m. The Senate will convene for a period of morning business.

4:00 p.m. USDA Report: Weekly Crop Progress.

5:30 p.m. The Senate will vote on judicial and ambassador nominations.


Tuesday, May 6.

Froman will participate in a mini-Ministerial WTO meeting and a dinner with G-7 trade ministers in Paris.

12:00 p.m. The House meets for morning hour, and at 2 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.

 

Wednesday, May 7.

Froman will participate in a WTO ministerial meeting in Paris hosted by Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb.

Cutler will deliver a keynote address in Washington on the Obama administration's trade policy agenda and TPP at a trade policy conference organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council. 

9:00 a.m. The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on implementation of the 2014 farm bill in 328-A Russell. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack is scheduled to testify.

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

10:00 a.m. The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on “Keeping the Lights On and Reducing Catastrophic Forest Fire Risk: Proper Management of Electricity Rights of Way on Federal Land” in 1324 Longworth.

12:00 p.m. The House will meet for legislative business. Members will begin considering a measure, H.R. 4438, to extend the research and development tax credit.

1:30 p.m. Congressional opponents of proposed “fast-track” authority for the TPP trade deal will address a rally in the Upper Senate Park outside the U.S. Capitol. Speakers include Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Mike Michaud, D-Maine. Afterwards, activists opposed to the trade deal will be visiting congressional offices.

2:30 p.m. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing on “Surface Transportation Reauthorization: Progress, Challenges, and Next Steps” in 253 Russell.

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

 

Thursday, May 8.


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

10:00 a.m. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing on “Mixed Signals: The Administration's Policy on Marijuana, Part Three” in 2154 Rayburn.

10:00 a.m. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will hold a hearing on “Potential Impacts of Proposed Changes to the Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Rule” in 2167 Rayburn.

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


Friday, May 9.

 

9:00 a.m. The House will meet for legislative business.

12:00 p.m. USDA Report: Crop Progress and WASDE reports, plus annual report on Cotton Ginnings.

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

 

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