The chairman of the House Agriculture subcommittee that oversees SNAP is committed to keeping nutrition and farm programs together in a new farm bill.
“We have to first and foremost make sure we're protecting and keeping the bill together in regards to keeping the nutrition title a part of the farm bill, because that brings folks to the bill and to the table,” Rep. Brad Finstad, R-Minn., says in an interview with Agri-Pulse Newsmakers.
Take note: A big question heading into the committee’s farm bill debate is whether Republicans will try once again to cut the cost of SNAP by tightening eligibility.
Finstad said the committee needs to have a “conversation” about the waivers that states regularly get to the program’s work requirements. The Trump administration tried to tighten the waiver process, but the plan was blocked in the courts and ultimately scrapped by the Biden administration.
Newsmakers will be available today at Agri-Pulse.com.
FDA leader defends food program
A senior FDA official who’s playing a major role in reorganizing the agency’s human foods program is pushing back against critics of the agency’s recent record.
“It isn't as if this program has failed. It's that it is struggling against a lot of organization obstacles that we think can be streamlined,” Janet Woodcock, FDA’s principal deputy commissioner, said during a stakeholder webinar Wednesday hosted by the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.
What’s next: Over the next several months, an implementation and change management group Woodcock is leading will determine how the different organizational changes should be done.
One workstream will focus on mapping the budget of different components of the restructuring and shed additional light on how money is spent at FDA, which has been criticized for a lack of transparency. Another workstream will identify elements to pull into the integrated food safety system. Other workstreams will focus on laboratories and inspection processes.
EPA to get earful on E15 plan
The Biden administration should expect to receive a slew of messages from ethanol proponents as a result of its decision to wait until 2024 to make year-round E15 a permanent feature.
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In his state of the industry address to the National Ethanol Conference Wednesday, Renewable Fuels Association CEO Geoff Cooper pointed to last year’s grassroots lobbying effort to gain emergency waivers for the summer, which included photos on social media showing the price of E15 was in many places significantly lower than conventional gasoline.
Cooper and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who appeared at the conference Thursday, both said they would continue fighting to secure E15 for this summer. “The bottom line is, if Congress or the administration fails to act before summer, consumers will lose access to the lowest cost fuel right at a time when you're going to need it most,” Cooper said.
Lawmakers join NCBA in sounding alarm on Brazilian beef
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is calling on the Biden administration to re-impose a ban on Brazilian beef in the wake of another case of BSE.
“I believe recent concerns with Brazil’s food safety practices justify the immediate suspension of Brazil’s fresh beef imports until USDA can ensure livestock producers that Brazilian beef does not pose a risk to spread BSE or other potentially dangerous livestock diseases,” Daines says in a letter to President Biden.
In a separate letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., says Brazil has repeatedly failed to timely report BSE cases.
“Brazil has already halted their beef exports to China, and I am concerned that Brazilian beef will be re-directed to the U.S. market where Brazilian beef imports have spiked in recent years,” Miller writes.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association raised similar concerns in a letter earlier this week.
EPA agrees to deadline for packing plant pollution standards
EPA would have to update water pollution control standards for slaughterhouses and animal rendering facilities by Aug. 31, 2025, under a proposed consent decree.
The consent decree comes after nine environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Food and Water Watch and the Humane Society of the United States, filed a complaint against the EPA in December accusing the agency of failing to adhere to statutory deadlines under the Clean Water Act.
Under the proposed agreement, the EPA would need to sign a notice of proposed rulemaking by Dec. 13.
He said it. “People will agree pretty much border to border all across this country that the farm bill that we have right now is a good starting point. So we have to really lean in and listen to where there are opportunities to tweak, massage the edges, and make this just even more user-friendly for the farmers and those in rural America.” – Rep. Brad Finstad, R-Minn., on Agri-PulseNewsmakers.
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