WASHINGTON, July 21, 2014 – The food fight over nutrition requirements in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 will resume Wednesday when Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow holds a hearing on school meal programs across the country.

Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, has assembled a lineup of witnesses who are expected to testify about the benefits of the legislation, and the need to push back against attempts by House Republicans to weaken some of its requirements regarding sodium and whole grain foods in school lunches.

Republicans argue that some school districts find the requirements too expensive, and that many kids won’t even eat the “healthier” meals. Democrats, with the strong backing of first lady Michelle Obama, say the GOP effort would be a step backward in the campaign to fight childhood obesity. According to Stabenow, the nation spends about $14 billion a year to treat obesity and weight-related diseases in children.

Another aspect of the government’s role in nutrition will be reviewed on Thursday when a House Agricultural subcommittee takes a look at the SNAP program and its relation to other federal assistance initiatives. SNAP, an acronym for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, cost taxpayers almost $80 billion last year – or almost half of total USDA outlays -- providing benefits to about 47 million low-income Americans each month.

Also, keep an eye out for Senate action on House-passed stopgap legislation to replenish the Highway Trust Fund, which is projected to run out of money later this summer. Lawmakers have to work fast, as there's less than two weeks left until Congress begins a month-long summer recess. Senate action may be stymied by the two parties' inability to agree on the number of amendments that may be offered. The House bill would keep the fund solvent through May.
Here’s a look at some of the agriculture related events scheduled for the upcoming week:

Monday, July 21

The House is not in session and the Senate is adjourned until 2:00 p.m.

4 p.m. USDA releases weekly Crop Progress report.

Tuesday, July 22

10:00 a.m. The Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing on “The U.S. Tax Code: Love It, Leave It or Reform It!” with a focus on the current U.S. system of international taxation. 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

10:30 a.m. The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on “Leveraging America’s Resources as a Revenue Generator and Job Creator” in 366 Dirksen.

The House meets at 12 p.m. for morning hour and 2 p.m. for legislative business. No votes until 6:30 pm.

3 p.m. USDA releases reports on Cold Storage and Chickens and Eggs.

3:45 p.m. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will deliver remarks at a Longleaf Restoration Initiative event being hosted at USDA. The project is aimed at restoring and conserving America’s Southern Longleaf Pine forests.

In Georgia, David Perdue and Representative Jack Kingston seek their party’s nomination for the seat of retiring Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss in a runoff election.

Wednesday, July 23

9:30 a.m. The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing entitled, Meeting the Challenges of Feeding America’s School Children.” The hearing will examine school meal programs across the country. Witnesses include Betti Wiggins, executive director, Office of Food Service, Detroit Public Schools; Scott Clements, Office of Healthy Schools and Child Nutrition, Mississippi Department of Education; Katie Wilson, executive director, National Food Service Management Institute, University of Mississippi; and Phil Muir, president and CEO, Muir Copper Canyon Farms, Salt Lake City. 328A Russell.

9:30 a.m. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds an oversight Hearing: EPA’s Proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants” with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy testifying. 406 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

8:30-10:10 a.m. Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler, along with other dignitaries, delivers remarks to the Atlantic Council’s “Bridging the Pacific” Conference, focusing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other key trade initiatives in the Asia Pacific region. The Atlantic Council will host the event.

10 a.m. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment holds a hearing on “Modernizing the Business of Environmental Regulation and Protection.” Bill Kovacs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president for the environment, technology and regulatory affairs, and Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the National Resources Defense Council, as well as state environmental officials from Arkansas, Arizona and Massachusetts are among the witnesses. 2322 Rayburn.

10 a.m. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs holds a legislative Hearing on bills including, H.R. 3409 (prohibiting the expansion of a national wildlife refuge unless expressly authorized by statute); H.R. 5026 (prohibiting the closing of any fish hatchery of the Department of the Interior unless expressly authorized by an Act of Congress); and H.R. 5069 (which would increase in the price of Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps to fund the acquisition of conservation easements for migratory birds). 1334 Longworth.

3 p.m. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee holds a hearing entitled, “Building Economically Resilient Communities: local and Regional Approaches, 538 Dirksen.

3 p.m. USDA releases Broiler Hatchery report.

Thursday, July 24

8:30 a.m. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack give welcoming remarks at the White House Rural Council’s Rural Opportunity Investment Conference with speakers from government, industry and academia. At 9:30, Vilsack will hold a press conference along with Robert Engel, CEO of CoBank. After lunch, Vilsack is scheduled to participate in another press conference along with American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will deliver closing remarks starting at 3:45 p.m. Click here to see the complete conference agenda. At the Washington Hilton.

10:00 a.m. The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources holds a hearing to consider the nomination of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall to be Deputy Secretary of Energy.  366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

10 a.m. The House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade will hold a hearing on “Modernizing Agriculture Producer Size Standards.” The hearing will examine the small business size standard for agricultural enterprises and determine whether their unique statutory standard is resulting in the inequitable treatment of these enterprises regarding access to federal assistance and procurement programs. Unlike the size standards established for all other industries by the SBA, the size standard for agriculture enterprises is statutorily established. Subcommittee Chairman Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said the panel will look into whether this inconsistent treatment “is creating an unequal playing field for this industry.” 2360 Rayburn.

2:30 p.m. House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight and Nutrition holds a hearing to examine the role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in relation to other federal assistance programs. 1300 Longworth.

2 p.m. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation holds a hearing entitled, “Threats, Intimidation and Bullying by Federal Land Managing Agencies, Part II." 1324 Longworth.

10 a.m. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee holds a hearing entitled, “Integrated Planning and Permitting Framework: An Opportunity for EPA to Provide Communities with Flexibility to Make Smart Investments in Water Quality.”2167 Rayburn.

3 p.m. USDA releases Livestock and Poultry slaughter reports.


Friday, July 25

3 p.m. USDA releases reports on Catfish Production, Cattle, Cattle on Feed and Peanut Prices.



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