The House and Senate will be finalizing committee rosters over the next week or so, clearing the way for the start of hearings on the farm bill and other issues.
Democrats have yet to name their members of the House Ag Committee. Some House committee rosters could be finished this week, but Ag’s may not come until next week, a source says.
The Senate, which has not been in session since being sworn in the first week of January, will be naming committee memberships in coming days as well.
By the way: The House this week is scheduled to take up a GOP energy bill that could provide an early test of the Republican leadership’s ability to manage the narrowly divided House.
The bill, H.R. 21, would require the Biden administration to develop a plan for increasing oil and gas production on federal lands before drawing down the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The bill will be considered under a modified open rule, which would allow for a wide range of amendments.
Justice probing Abbott infant formula plant in Michigan
The Justice Department is investigating Abbott Laboratories’ Sturgis, Michigan, infant formula plant, the company confirmed to news agencies.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news Friday that DOJ’s consumer protection branch is examining conduct at the plant that was shut down for months last year after contaminated baby formula sickened four babies and led to two deaths.
Inspectors found numerous problems at the plant, including the presence of bacteria that can be deadly to infants. Abbott has maintained that the Centers for Disease Control concluded its investigation with “no findings of a link between Abbott formulas and infant illnesses.”
The company told news outlets it was “cooperating fully” with DOJ.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., released a statement saying that since Abbott’s February 2022 recall of contaminated infant formula, “we have seen credible reports that the plant in Sturgis cut corners, falsified records, and instituted shoddy safety practices that generated an infant formula shortage.”
Republicans can pass 2023 farm bill
Passing a farm bill in 2023 should be both a top priority and attainable for House Republicans, former House Speaker Paul Ryan said at the opening session of the International Dairy Foods Association Dairy Forum 2023 in Orlando Sunday night.
Joking that he’s glad he’s not in Congress now, Ryan said Kevin McCarthy “is in for a bumpy ride with a really tight vote margin” that will force him to work with Democrats to get legislation passed. Ryan believes the “food stamp deal with some farm stuff on the side” can get done in 2023.
He offered high praise for House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. “If you’re going to get a bipartisan farm bill done, those two are good at doing it,” Ryan adds.
Former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson are featured speakers on a panel this morning offering an outlook on food and nutrition policy. The dairy conference runs through Wednesday with a record attendance of 1,200.
China starts 2023 with strong US ag imports
The Pacific Ocean has been chock-full of vessels carrying U.S. farm commodities to China in the first two weeks of 2023, according to the latest trade data out of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The U.S. has shipped roughly 2.5 million metric tons of soybeans, 414,000 tons of corn and 134,00 tons of wheat to China from Dec. 30 through Jan. 12.
China didn’t take any sorghum in the first two weeks of the year, but Chinese buyers did commit in the week of Jan. 6-12 to purchase 189,000 tons for delivery in the 2022-23 marketing year.
Take note: Mexican customers continue to purchase and take delivery of U.S. corn as the two countries wrangle over biotechnology issues.
USDA reported export sales of 503,500 tons of corn to Mexican buyers over the first two weeks of 2023 and U.S. exporters sent 494,500 tons south of the border during the 14-day period. A Mexican presidential decree that would ban the import of genetically modified corn is still slated to go into effect in January 2024, which would stop nearly all of U.S. corn exports.
Foundation gives $10.7M to improve school meals and aid farmers
The United Nations World Food Program is praising the Rockefeller Foundation for a $10.7 million grant to improve school feeding programs and help small farming operations around the globe. The funds will be distributed in Honduras, India and the African countries of Benin and Ghana.
“Expanding school feeding programs in ways that promote the procurement of highly nutritious food will make those children healthier even as it catalyzes larger changes in the food system,” said Roy Steiner, senior vice president for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Food Initiative. “Ultimately, food systems that are nutritious, regenerative and equitable will have the biggest impact on ending global hunger and malnutrition.”
Rockefeller says the funds will improve the way that more that 1.3 million kids eat at school.
He said it: “Here we are, out here struggling with rural voters and working class voters and what do they do? They send a message that, as far as the caucuses are concerned, which are very important to rural voters, that middle America just isn’t important. What could be more disastrous? What could be more stupid than doing that?” — Former Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller on a proposal by the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee to remove Iowa’s first-in-the-nation spot on the caucus calendar.
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