The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee is set to roll out its fiscal 2025 spending bill as the House GOP makes another run this year at slashing domestic spending programs. The subcommittee is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the FY25 Agriculture bill, which funds USDA and FDA as well as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Last year, the FY24 Ag bill flopped on the House floor because the cuts were so deep some farm-district Republicans joined Democrats to oppose the legislation.

For more on the spending battle and this week’s D.C. agenda, read our Washington Week Ahead.

Grain, dairy prices push FAO index higher in May

An index of global food commodity prices rose nearly 1% in May, led by higher prices for grains and dairy products. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index rose 1.1 points to 120.4 last month but is still down 3.4% from its level one year ago and nearly 25% below the peak reached in March 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Still, the war in Ukraine continues to affect grain prices. The FAO said damage to Black Sea infrastructure contributed to a 6.3% increase in the grain price index in May, although concerns about poor crop conditions in parts of Europe, North America and the Black Sea region were the biggest driver of the rise in prices.

The dairy price index rose 1.8% in May, driven in part by increased demand ahead of the summer season. Prices for beef, pork, sugar and vegetable oils all fell last month.

Looking ahead: The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the Consumer Price Index on Wednesday, which will provide the latest read on U.S. supermarket prices. 

By the numbers: Alaskans spend the most on groceries

About 45% of Americans’ food spending goes toward groceries for home consumption, according to a study from USDA’s Economic Research Service. Americans spent $7,102 on food per capita in 2023, with $3,179 of that going for food eaten at home. 

Alaskans spend the most on groceries at $4,157, with West Virginians spending the least at $2,503 per person. 

Sales of food eaten at home were the highest in the Northwest and Mountain West, with Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Utah following Alaska in the top five. 

Residents of Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and Oklahoma followed West Virginia in spending the least on groceries. The median state was Kansas at $3,130 per person. 

Take note: This won’t be a surprise to many of our readers, but the nation’s capital leads the way when it comes to spending on eating out. People in Washington, D.C., spent $10,644 per person on food away from home in 2023, followed by Nevada ($6,907) and Hawaii ($6,679). USDA economists say in the case of D.C., the numbers likely reflect spending by tourists as well as commuters.

Bayer, plaintiff’s lawyers to keep fighting in Pennsylvania over verdict, damages

Bayer says it will continue to appeal a verdict in a Pennsylvania Roundup case despite winning a reduction in damages from $2.25 billion to a total of $400 million.

“While the court’s decision reduces the unconstitutionally excessive damage award, we still disagree with the ruling on the liability verdict, as the trial was marred by significant and reversible errors that misled and inflamed the jury,” the company said after the judge’s ruling last week in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

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Lawyers for the plaintiff also said they would appeal, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer they planned to seek a reinstatement of the full jury award.

John McKivison developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using Roundup to kill weeds on his property for about 20 years, his lawyers said when the initial verdict was reached in January.

Senate ag economist challenges Stabenow on farm bill spending increases

The economist for Senate Ag Committee Republicans, John Newton, says Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow’s statement that criticized the House farm bill’s proposed Title I spending needs to be put into perspective.

Stabenow said last week of the proposed increases, “We've never had a 70% increase in the farm bill for anything.” She also said most of the benefits would flow to Southern producers.

But Newton told Agri-Pulse’s Jeff Nalley that since the 2018 farm bill, “the baseline for nutrition programs increased by 85% -- that's $585 billion in new nutrition program baseline due to the Thrifty Food Plan, and then the conservation baseline, when you add the [Inflation Reduction Act] dollars, has gone up about 160%.

“Farmers have had to rely on an outdated farm safety net for some time, as evidenced by the amount of ad hoc support we've had to deliver,” Newton said. “The House bill takes a step in the right direction.”

Keep in mind: The committee’s top Republican, John Boozman, will be releasing soon his proposed farm bill framework. He has said it will be very similar to the House Ag bill.