The Supreme Court is expected to announce whether it will hear arguments in three cases important to agriculture, including a challenge to California’s new Proposition 12 requirements for sow housing.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill will put a focus on water infrastructure needs this week, and a House panel will examine the impact that a shift to electric vehicles could have on U.S. agriculture.

Food inflation is likely to get renewed attention this week, too, with the release of the December Consumer Price Index on Wednesday. Grocery prices jumped 0.8% in November and were up 6.4% from the year earlier. The Biden administration, which has been blaming meat processors' market power for much of the problem, on Friday announced an unusual, midyear increase in school lunch reimbursement to help schools cope with rising food costs. 

Elsewhere this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will headline the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual meeting in Atlanta. His speech on Monday will be his first appearance before AFBF since returning last year as ag secretary, a position he held throughout the Obama administration. 

The Supreme Court held a conference on the three ag-related cases Friday, which means that an announcement of whether the justices will hear arguments in the cases is likely to come Monday morning. The votes of four justices are needed to advance a case to full briefing and arguments before the court.

In addition to the pork industry’s challenge to Prop 12, the pending cases involve an appeals court decision that found EPA could not authorize year-round sales of E15 and a dispute between two Idaho landowners and EPA over an area of their property deemed wetlands by the agency. 

Committees in the House and Senate this week will have hearings on waterway projects as the Biden administration prepares to spend funding provided by the bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted last year, and Congress gears up to move a new reauthorization bill for water projects. The infrastructure bill earmarked $2.5 billion for inland waterway projects, which will include the rehabilitation of Mississippi River locks and dams.

A Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Wednesday will focus on the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan for allocating the infrastructure funding; the Corps spending plan is due out this week. 

A House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing will focus on the Biden administration’s plans for a new Water Resources Development Act.

Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Council, said he doesn’t expect a new WRDA bill to make any significant changes important to ag shippers. The industry won a significant victory in the existing two-year WRDA bill with an increase in the federal cost-share for waterway projects.

The House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the implications for agriculture of increasing sales of electric vehicles, a major part of President Joe Biden’s plans to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The hearing witnesses will include Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “There is no doubt that electric vehicles are an important piece of the strategy for decarbonizing the transportation sector, but as I will testify, we can jumpstart decarbonization efforts today by tapping the enormous potential of agriculture and expanding our use of renewable fuels like ethanol,” he said.

Under new auto emissions standards that the Environmental Protection Agency announced in December, sales of EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles are expected to grow from a 7% market share in the 2023 model year to about 17% for 2026.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill provides $7.5 billion to build out a nationwide network of EV charging stations, and the Build Back Better bill that Democrats are trying to push through the Senate contains additional incentives for EV sales.

Also on Wednesday, a pair of Senate committees will vote on several nominations important to agriculture.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is expected to advance the nomination of Robert Califf to head the Food and Drug Administration. Califf, a cardiologist, served as FDA commissioner in the final year of the Obama administration. His nomination is relatively noncontroversial, although he won’t get the vote of senior HELP member Bernie Sanders, who contends he is too close to the pharmaceutical industry. Califf served as FDA commissioner during the final year of the Obama administration.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will consider the nominations of David Uhlmann to be EPA’s assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance and Martha Williams to be director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):

Monday, Jan. 10

American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting, through Tuesday, Atlanta.

11:30 a.m. — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks to AFBF.

Tuesday, Jan. 11

8 a.m. Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant speaks at the Land Investment Expo in Des Moines, Iowa

10 a.m. — Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the nomination of Jerome Powell to chair the Federal Reserve for a second four-year term, 106 Dirksen.

Wednesday, Jan. 12

8:30 a.m. — Bureau of Labor Statistics releases Consumer Price Index.

10 a.m. — House Agriculture Committee hearing on the implications of electric vehicles for agriculture and rural America, 1300 Longworth.

10 a.m. — House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing on the Biden administration’s priorities for the Water Resources Development Act of 2022, 2167 Rayburn.

10 a.m. — Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee meeting to consider the nomination of Robert Califf to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Noon — USDA releases monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, annual Crop Production report and monthly Crop Production report.

2:15 p.m. Agri-Pulse Editor Sara Wyant speaks at MFA's Emerging Leaders in Ag conference, Osage Beach, MO.

2:45 p.m. — Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meeting to consider the nominations of David Uhlmann and Henry Frey to be assistant administrator of EPA and Martha Williams to be director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, 106 Dirksen.

3 p.m. — Senate EPW Committee hearing with the Army Corps of Engineers on implementation of water infrastructure projects, 106 Dirksen.

Thursday, Jan. 13

8:30 a.m. — USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.

Friday, Jan. 14

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