House Republican leaders will try again this week to satisfy a group of conservatives that effectively blocked GOP bills from getting votes last week.

The group of bills includes the REINS Act, a measure that would allow Congress to block regulations before they take effect, as well as legislation on gas stoves. GOP leaders have added to the lineup a measure that would block new regulations on pistol braces. The House Rules Committee is scheduled Monday to consider a new rule for floor debate on the legislation.  

Also this week: The House Ways and Means Committee will take up a package of tax bills that includes extensions of business expensing and bonus depreciation as well as a new 60% tax on U.S. farmland purchases by individuals and entities in China and other “countries of concern.” The package also takes a shot at President Joe Biden’s climate agenda by rolling back incentives for clean energy and electric vehicles.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the package would provide “tax giveaways to large profitable corporations, while shipping clean energy jobs overseas and raising energy costs on American families by thousands of dollars a year.”

By the way: Few people would be expected to end up paying the farmland tax: The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the tax wouldn’t raise any new revenue.

Neonic-coated seed ban clears New York Legislature

The New York Legislature has passed a bill to prohibit the sale or use of corn, soybean or wheat seed coated with any of five different neonicotinoids unless the state environment and conservation commissioner determines there are not adequate alternatives.

The state Senate approved the bill Friday; Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to sign it. It would go into effect in 2027, making New York the first state in the nation to take such broad action on seed coatings.

Business groups are continuing to oppose the bill. “Farmers did not submit or agree to amendments in the final bill, and we now ask Gov. Hochul to veto this legislation,” said David Fisher, president of the New York Farm Bureau.

Proponents, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, contend neonics harm pollinators and birds.

“While the Birds & Bees Protection Act does not go as far as Europe’s total outdoor neonic ban, and Canada has largely phased out neonic-coated corn and soybean seeds, it is the first law to address neonic seed coatings in the U.S. — far and away the largest and most widespread neonic use nationwide,” NRDC said.

Bill focuses on addressing trade issues amid animal disease outbreaks

A bill being introduced today by Reps. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., would authorize the Agriculture Department to work with the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate regionalization agreements that would allow livestock and poultry products to continue to be exported from unaffected areas of the country during an animal disease outbreak.

While both agencies already work together on the agreements, the bill would “formalize" that relationship, according to a press release. In addition, it would create a notification system in the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Import and Export Library to keep producers aware of trade status changes. 

Take note: A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Tina Smith, D-Minn., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Chris Coons, D-Del.

Milk incentive program launched in Alabama

A Healthy Fluid Milk Incentive Project titled “Add Milk!” launched at 19 stores in Alabama on Friday, providing a dollar-for-dollar match to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants who purchase low-fat and skim milk products.

USDA awarded $3 million through a cooperative agreement in October 2022 to Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute to dramatically expand the footprint of stores and target regions with high SNAP usage and learn from limited store participation in the program’s early years.

The funding will allow the program to expand to 116 more retail locations in Alabama, California, Georgia and South Dakota. HFMI pilot projects will be operating in more than 150 locations in six states by the end of 2023, and Congress increased funding for the program in FY 2023 to increase the number of stores and locations in the coming years, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.

“During this time of chronic food insecurity, it’s critical that we find ways to stretch the SNAP dollar further in support of the purchase of nutrient-dense foods. We’re pleased to see the Add Milk! program expand to support the approximately 1 in 7 Alabama residents who participate in SNAP,” IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes said in a statement.

Nine states have not submitted plans to offer children free summer meals

Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Texas have not submitted summer plans for Pandemic EBT, which provides an Electronic Benefits Transfer card with grocery benefits to families whose children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

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The Food Research & Action Center says if these states don’t submit plans to USDA by July 14, millions of students in those states will lose access to school meals.

“Studies conducted by The Hamilton Project estimated that Pandemic EBT lifted 2.7–3.9 million children out of hunger in spring of 2020 and reduced food insufficiency among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households by 28% in the 2020–2021 school year,” according to a FRAC fact sheet.

Starting next year, states will provide summer benefits to students through the new, nationwide Summer EBT program, established by Congress in December of 2022, which will provide approximately $40 a month per eligible child during the summer months to supplement summer meal sites.  

He said it: “What a farmer is trying to do is make enough money to pay the bank. And, by the way, bankers don’t give a damn about conservation. They give a damn about making sure that they get paid back.” — Family Farm Alliance President Pat O’Toole on the forces shaping farmers’ crop decisions in the Colorado River basin. 

Questions, comments, tips? Email associate editor Steve Davies.