With the government finally funded for fiscal 2022, lawmakers can turn their attention to other policy issues and begin work on funding legislation for FY23.
The $1.5 trillion spending bill, which President Joe Biden was to sign into law on Tuesday, passed more than five months after the fiscal year began Oct. 1.
Looking ahead, farm groups are focusing on several different policy measures including a bill intended to fix port bottlenecks that have slowed shipping of ag commodities and legislation aimed at giving cattle producers more bargaining power with packers.
Tuesday is an important day for farmers who participate in commodity programs and buy crop insurance. It is the last day to make selections of the main farm bill commodity programs, Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, for 2022. And farmers who planted cover crops and have crop insurance have until Tuesday to apply for $5-per-acre premium benefit. For producers who also participate in state programs, there is also a supplemental match benefit available.
Tuesday also is the sales deadline for crop insurance in much of the country. Farmers are eligible for insurance guarantees on major crops that are at record or near-record levels. It also is the first year for corn growers who split their nitrogen applications to purchase the Post Application Cover Endorsement (PACE) that will protect their revenue in case they are unable to make the spring application.
On Capitol Hill this week, the House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on USDA programs related to climate change. It’s the latest in a series of hearings preparing the way for consideration of the next farm bill.
Elsewhere, the Senate’s version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which has provisions to rein in shipping rates and to discourage carriers from refusing to carry American cargo, is awaiting a vote in the Senate Commerce Committee.
Committee members, including Chairwoman Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., say the panel could act as soon as this week on the bill.
At a hearing earlier this month, Cantwell said she will commit to “make this the biggest priority of this committee, if it's what it takes.”
Thune, a co-sponsor of the bill with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told Agri-Pulse Newsmakers “there’s discussion about potentially marking the bill up and reporting it out to the floor, and I just think we need to act.”
Blumenthal recently told Agri-Pulse he’s expecting a markup “sometime in the next few weeks.”
If the bill is passed in the Senate, it will have to be reconciled with the even tougher House-passed version.
Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., and Jim Costa, D-Ca., will host a roundtable discussion Thursday on shipping reform. Johnson was the lead co-sponsor of the bill’s House version.
Meanwhile, enactment of the FY22 omnibus could affect the debate over cattle market reforms.
The omnibus includes funding for a cattle contract library at USDA, and that could make the road even steeper for the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act, a broad package of reforms introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, that included authorization for the contract database. The library is far less controversial than another provision in the bill that is intended to mandate more cash trading of cattle.
Fischer is pushing ahead with the bill anyway. Her office told Agri-Pulse her bill would make the contract library permanent, with the omnibus only funding it for one year. It would also prescribe certain details about what the library must include like contract length, transport arrangements and premiums and discounts.
Also this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and several other cabinet members along with White House adviser Susan Rice will speak Tuesday to the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, being held online again this year.
Staff members representing the House and Senate committees responsible for child nutrition programs - Agriculture in the Senate and Education and Labor in the House - also will talk to conference attendees.
Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):
Monday, March 14
Tuesday, March 15
National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, online through Thursday.
10 a.m. - Senate Finance Committee hearing to “examine the promise and challenge of strategic trade engagement in the Indo-Pacific region,” 215 Dirksen.
2 p.m. - Washington International Trade Association webinar: "The Past, Present and Future of US – Korea Trade and Economic Partnership."
11:30 a.m. - Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., will speak on a World Resources Institute webinar on “The Economic and Societal Benefits of Climate-Smart Investments.”
Wednesday, March 16
10 a.m. - House Agriculture Committee hearing, “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: The Role of USDA Programs in Addressing Climate Change.”
10 a.m. - Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee hearing “to examine the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund formula,” 406 Dirksen.
3 p.m. - Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Heritage Foundation’s B.C. Lee Lecture, focusing on U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific.
Thursday, March 17
8:30 a.m. - USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
10 a.m. - House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing, “Fighting Fire with Fire: Evaluating the Role of Forest Management in Reducing Catastrophic Wildfires,” 2154 Rayburn.
3 p.m. - Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., and Jim Costa, D-Calif., host a roundtable discussion with supply chain industry leaders on the Ocean Shipping Reform Act.
Friday, March 18
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