The House Agriculture Committee resumes its work on the next farm bill this week, with hearings that will cover commodity programs, crop insurance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Congress returns from a weeklong break to a conversation that will be dominated by the recent mass shootings and negotiations in the Senate on a legislative response. It is a critical work period for President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats with sights on getting their priorities passed ahead of the midterm elections.
Inflation will be a major issue for both parties. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday and then the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.
Then on Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the Consumer Price Index for May, providing the latest reading on inflation, including trends in food prices. Supermarket prices rose 1% in April and were up 10.8% over the previous 12 months. Yellen told CNN last week that she was wrong in 2021 about the threat that inflation posed.
At some point in June, the Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to take up a pair of cattle-market reform bills that backers claim would be an answer to high beef prices. One bill would mandate cash trading in cattle while another would create a special investigator for USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division.
The House Agriculture Committee will have a subcommittee hearing Wednesday on SNAP, which has grown significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Congressional Budget Office released new estimates for farm bill spending last month that project SNAP will cost $1.1 trillion from 2023 through 2032. A year ago, CBO had estimated SNAP would cost $815 million from 2022 to 2031.
Thursday’s hearing will feature a panel of agricultural economists talking about the farm economy and how commodity programs and crop insurance are working for farmers, according to a congressional source.
Leaders of major commodity groups told the full committee in March that the commodity programs won’t adequately protect their margins at a time of skyrocketing input costs, but it’s not clear where lawmakers could find money to modify the programs.
Also this week, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers on Monday will hold the latest of a series of virtual roundtables on the definition of “waters of the U.S.,” which determines the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.
Monday’s event, which will be focused on the cattle industry, was proposed by the Kansas Livestock Association, an affiliate of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
According to EPA, the events “are an important mechanism for the EPA and the Army to consider the regional issues and variation in implementation of WOTUS, given the diverse water quality and quantity conditions in different parts of the United States.”
Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):
Monday, June 6
10:30 a.m. — Brookings Institution webinar, “Taiwan’s path forward: A conversation with KMT Chairman Eric Chu.”
3 p.m. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers virtual Midwest-focused roundtable on the “waters of the U.S.” rule.
4 p.m. — USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.
Tuesday, June 7
10 a.m.. — Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the Western water crisis, 562 Dirksen.
10 a.m. — Senate Finance Committee hearing with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, 215 Dirksen.
Wednesday, June 8
10 a.m. — House Ways and Means Committee hearing with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, 1100 Longworth.
10:15 a.m. — House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, 1300 Longworth.
10:30 a.m. — Brookings Institution webinar, “The future of the US dollar: Are its days as the world’s dominant currency numbered?”
11 a.m. — Cato Institute webinar, “The (Updated) Case for Free Trade.”
Thursday, June 9
8:30 a.m. — USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
9 a.m. — House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on farm bill commodity programs and crop insurance, 1300 Longworth.
10 a.m. — Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing with Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, 366 Dirksen.
2:15 p.m. — Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing on agricultural trade, 215 Dirksen.
Friday, June 10
8:30 a.m. — Bureau of Labor Statistics releases monthly Consumer Price Index.
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