EPA Administrator Michael Regan is going to take his turn before the House Ag Committee, where he’s certain to face a broad range of questions, from “waters of the U.S.” to biofuel policy and pesticide regulation.
Ag Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., announced during a hearing Tuesday with Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack that Regan had agreed to appear before the committee.
Thompson told reporters later that there is no date set yet for Regan’s hearing. “I'm hoping that we can squeeze it in as soon as we can,” Thompson said.
By the way: Regan told a House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday that the administration’s “waters of the U.S.” rule might have to be modified based on the upcoming Supreme Court decision in the Sackett v. EPA case.
“I think we are ahead of the curve in terms of having the framework for moving forward,” Regan said. "The Sackett case may or may not have some impact on that. Whatever that ruling is, we will build it in and continue to move in addition to those exemptions that we built in."

Thompson won’t commit on SNAP work rules
GOP proposals to tighten SNAP work requirements were a major topic during Tuesday’s House Ag hearing with Vilsack, which came the same day House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., raised the issue of work requirements in a letter to President Biden, demanding talks on the federal debt ceiling.
Thompson still won’t say whether he thinks the existing work requirements should be tightened or expanded. “We have incredibly effective work requirements that are on SNAP right now. But I'm not here to prejudge. We're in a listening mode,” he told reporters.
Keep in mindMcCarthy didn’t specifically say that SNAP work rules should be strengthened, but that’s the program many Republicans have focused on. Biden responded to McCarthy by demanding that Republicans come up with a budget plan. 
By the way: Vilsack suggested tightening the rules would do little to increase employment, given the problems facing the targeted adults, many of whom are homeless.
On tap today: Vilsack is back on the Hill today, this time with the Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf will appear before the House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee.
For more on Vilsack’s testimony, read our weekly Agri-Pulse newsletter. 
Farm groups call for challenge to H-2A rule
Farm groups are urging congressional leaders to allow votes on killing the Labor Department’s changes to the way wage rates for H-2A workers are determined. The rule could require farms to pay higher wages to some H-2A employees.

The new regulation “comes at a time when American farmers are reeling due to record high costs of production that have translated into thin and even negative margins, conditions the new regulation will greatly exacerbate. Moreover, the regulation further complicates an already complex program and creates legal uncertainty for farmers who comply with requirements in good faith,” the Ag Workforce Coalition says in a letter to House and Senate leaders.

Under the rule, the Labor Department will calculate the H-2A wage rates for field workers based on USDA’s Farm Labor Survey of farmworker wages. But wage rates for some occupations, including truck drivers as well as managers and supervisors on farms, will be calculated based on a broader wage survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Brazil ag minister meets with Syngenta in China
Brazilian Agriculture Minister Carlos Fávaro is in China this week, and he says he’s focused on strengthening “technical-scientific partnerships to increase Brazilian production in a sustainable way,” according to a statement released by the ministry.
Fávaro, together with Syngenta China Group officials, visited the China University of Agriculture on Tuesday during the trip.
"We know that China is making great strides in relation to gene editing and Brazil is also beginning this development,” Fávaro said. “Together we can accelerate this very important process."
Former FDA official: WIC can be part of infant formula fix
Former FDA official Frank Yiannas told the House Oversight Committee Tuesday that conditions that created the infant formula crisis have not improved.
He said the sole-supplier contracts established under the Woman, Infants and Children program didn’t create the eventual shortages in infant formula, but that changes in how USDA provides flexibility within WIC could make the supply chain more resilient. The current sole-supplier system saves taxpayers an estimated $1.6 billion.
Half the infant formula consumed in the United States is by WIC participants under 12 months of age. He says that diversifying the contract process is “key to the solution” as well as allowing for formula purchases online.
“I would encourage this subcommittee, Congress and all relevant regulatory agencies to really work hard on how do we create the types of flexibilities and market incentives to create more resilient infant formula supply chain in this country. It can be done,” he said.
Haaland grilled by Republicans on critical minerals
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland sparred with House Republicans Tuesday over U.S. dependence on China for critical minerals. During an appropriations hearing, she said the U.S. Geological Survey is working to identify areas containing critical minerals.
China processes and refines most of the cobalt, lithium, rare earths and other critical minerals in the market, the White House noted last year. Those minerals are “key inputs in clean energy technologies like batteries, electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels.”
By the way: The chairman of the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said that reverting to 2022 funding levels, as proposed by some House Republicans, would mean “devastation” for the departments of Energy and Interior.
He said it. “You can’t define how I answer a question. You can ask a question, but you can’t define how I answer it.” – Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to Rep. Mark Alford, a Missouri Republican who demanded that Vilsack answer a question with just yes or no.

Questions, comments, tips? Email philip@agri-pulse.com.