Congress faces a Friday deadline for keeping the government funded, while the Agriculture Department this week will announce a second round of projects that will test approaches to developing and marketing low-carbon commodities.
A continuing resolution that has kept the government funded at fiscal 2022 levels since the new fiscal year started Oct. 1 expires on Friday. As of last week, negotiators were still well short of getting a deal on FY23 spending, so Congress will likely need to pass another, short-term CR by Friday.
“I’m an optimist, and my 30 years of experience has taught me that while we may not see the light right now, we’ll get it done, and it will probably get done before Christmas,” said House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., speaking at the National Rural Lenders’ Roundtable.
“We need to get it done because we need to start on FY24. And we need to get to the farm bill,” Bishop said.
He told the rural lenders Republicans will be seeking “tighter budgets” next year and to be prepared to “fight for every dollar.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, meanwhile, will announce on Monday the second round of Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities projects, using his Commodity Credit Corp. funding authority.
In September, the department announced plans to provide up to $2.8 billion for 70 larger projects. Robert Bonnie, USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation, has said there will be 65 projects awarded a total of $300 million in the second round that Vilsack will announce in Macon County, Alabama.
During a speech at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit last month, Bonnie said the projects in the second funding pool, which are eligible for grants ranging from $250,000 to under $5 million, will be “significantly focused on new innovations and serving historically underserved producers.”
A USDA advisory says those projects “will emphasize the enrollment of small farming and ranching operations, including, but not limited to, underserved producers, as well as measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification activities developed at minority-serving institutions.”
Food and nutrition get a focus this week as Senate committees wrap up their hearings for this Congress.
A Senate Agriculture subcommittee chaired by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., has a hearing Tuesday on “food as medicine,” the concept that proper nutrition can play a critical role in healing and disease prevention. Booker's fellow subcommittee member Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., told Agri-Pulse Newsmakers last week that based on his experience as a doctor before his time in Congress, the approach has “unlimited” potential.
The Biden administration used the White House hunger conference in September to launch an effort to get Medicaid and Medicare, and eventually private health plans, to provide medically tailored meals.
Produce growers hope the initiative will expand the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
A Tufts University study found that a 30% subsidy for fruit and vegetable purchases in Medicare and Medicaid would prevent nearly 2 million cardiovascular events and more than 300,000 premature deaths.
The food is medicine movement has taken off in recent years as Medicare Advantage plans have adopted a broad array of new benefits.
The witnesses at Tuesday’s hearing will include Kevin Volpp, founding director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics and a member of the American Heart Association’s advocacy coordinating committee. The Heart Association teamed with the Rockefeller Foundation and Kroger at the White House conference to announce a $250 million Food is Medicine Research Initiative.
Meanwhile, the Senate Aging Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on promoting healthy and affordable food to the elderly.
Also this week, the House will consider a resolution that would express the House’s commitment to the McGovern-Dole international school feeding program. The resolution is co-sponsored by Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern, no relation, who led the push for the White House hunger conference. Rep. Tracey Mann, R-Kan., is a co-sponsor of the resolution.
Here is a list of agriculture- or rural-related events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (all times EDT):
Monday, Dec. 12
1:45 p.m. — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces second round of Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities projects, Macon County, Alabama.
Tuesday, Dec. 13
8:30 a.m. — Bureau of Labor Statistics releases monthly Consumer Price Index.
10 a.m. — Senate Agriculture subcommittee hearing, “Food as Medicine: Current Efforts and Potential Opportunities,” 328A Russell.
10 a.m. — Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, “Ensuring Solutions to Meet America’s Broadband Needs,” 253 Russell.
10 a.m. — Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Interior Department’s implementation of the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, 366 Dirksen.
Wednesday, Dec. 14
3 p.m. — Agri-Pulse webinar, “Understanding the California regulatory environment and your role in bringing new technology to market.”
9 a.m. — Foreign Policy summit, “Managing Shocks & Strengthening Global Food Systems.
Thursday, Dec. 14
8:30 a.m. — USDA releases Weekly Export Sales report.
10 a.m. — Senate Aging Committee hearing, “Setting the Table: Promoting Healthy and Affordable Food for Older Americans,” 562 Dirksen.
Friday, Dec. 16
Jacqui Fatka contributed to this project.
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