USDA will be in the crosshairs this week as House Republicans try to satisfy demands from their right flank.

Unable to reach a deal last week on a stopgap spending bill, the GOP leadership is looking to move four individual annual spending bills for fiscal 2024, including the measure that funds USDA and FDA.

Spending levels in that and other bills already were reduced below levels in this spring’s debt limit agreement. Now, a manager’s amendment to the Agriculture bill would cut spending by another 14% —with the exception of the WIC nutrition program — while also slashing the Food for Peace program by $1.2 billion to just over $530 million.

GOP hard-liners also are in line to get floor votes on even deeper cuts to some programs. One amendment set for debate would cut the Natural Resources Conservation Service budget to its FY16 level, while another would roll back the CFTC budget to its FY18 level, for example.

Take note: Other amendments that the House Rules Committee has approved for debate would gut the price support program for sugar, block states from getting waivers from SNAP work requirements, and bar President Joe Biden from carrying out his climate-related orders. 

American Sugar Alliance Chairwoman Cassie Bladow said Pennsylvania Republican Scott Perry’s sugar amendment “threatens American farm families who provide Americans with a reliable, domestic sugar supply - risking 11,000 farmers, more than 151,000 jobs, and over $23 billion in economic activity.” 

Getting personal: Yet another amendment targets a single USDA official: Stacy Dean, a deputy undersecretary who oversees the SNAP program, would see her salary reduced to $1.

For more on the Ag measure and the partial government shutdown that’s looming if lawmakers can’t agree on a stopgap spending bill, read our Washington Week Ahead.

FAS says Vietnamese shoppers love US food products

Vietnamese shoppers want more of what they’re getting from the U.S., and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service says it has proof.

The agency says it held a marketing campaign at grocery stores in Hanoi in July that included giving away samples of U.S. cherries, blueberries, beef, pork, poultry, nuts, milk, cheese and other products, and sales jumped significantly for most goods.

Vietnam is just one of the Southeast Asian nations that farm groups say they believe is ripe for market expansion and increased agricultural trade. The country is participating in the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. Chief U.S. Agricultural Trade Negotiator Doug McKalip says he expects the trade pillar of the deal to be complete by November.

House Financial Services OKs Agricultural Security Risk Review Act

A bill to make the Agriculture Secretary a permanent member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. was approved 42-0 by the House Financial Services Committee last week.

Oklahoma Republican Frank Lucas, one of the champions of the Agricultural Risk Review Act, said the bill could now go to the House floor on its own or be added to a larger package, such as the National Defense Authorization Act.

Lucas said growing lawmaker concern over foreign purchases of land near military bases helped fuel the committee's recent approval for the legislation, which he first introduced in 2019.

"Sometimes in the legislative process, you've got to get enough attention to create the political, the legislative mass to move it — and now we have it,” Lucas told Agri-Pulse.

Nearly half of states restrict foreign land investment in some way, center says

An additional 10 states passed laws in the 2023 legislative session restricting foreign investments in land, bringing to 24 the number of states with such restrictions, the National Agricultural Law Center said Friday.

The center noted that the laws vary widely, with some states limiting only certain purchases. Most of the foreign ownership laws enacted in 2023 “seek to restrict investments from specific countries, particularly China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia.”

USDA seeks input on making research available to public

USDA wants to figure out the best way to share its research with the public.

Don't miss a beat! Sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in agriculture in Washington, D.C. and around the country, click here.

At two virtual listening sessions, including one on Wednesday, the department’s National Agricultural Library will hear how to “enhance policy, infrastructure, and outreach to make results of the research it funds more readily available and accessible by the public,” the library said in the Federal RegisterThe Sept. 27 session will run from 2 to 5 p.m. The Oct. 12 session will go from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The department released a plan in June to increase public access to its research.

Agri-Pulse reporting from Chile

Look for reports throughout the week from Agri-Pulse’s Spencer Chase, who will be embedded with the U.S. trade delegation visiting Chile. 

Dozens of U.S. agricultural companies, state ag officials, and commodity groups promoting American ag products are taking part in the USDA trade mission in Santiago, Chile, led by USDA Trade Undersecretary Alexis Taylor.

It’s the fourth trade mission this year; previous stops included Panama, the Netherlands and Japan.

She said it: “Seems like halal went through. It might be a fantastic 2019 all the way around.” That was a text from Nadine Menendez to her husband, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. Both were indicted last week on federal charges of bribery, fraud and extortion. The Justice Department alleges the couple helped an associate secure a monopoly certifying U.S. beef exports to Egypt through the company IS EG Halal. DOJ alleges the company was used to funnel money to Sen. Menendez.