What’s ahead for Washington this week: Signing financial reform

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, July 18 – This is the week when, nearly three years after the Great Financial Collapse began unfolding, President Obama will sign the hard-fought Wall Street Reform bill into law. If the critics are anywhere near correct, this week will begin a sharp downward spiral into ruin for the already battered U.S. economy . . . or, according to the bill's boosters, this will be the week when Main Street will begin to escape the greedy talons of Wall Street. We'll see.

Other money concerns likely will surface Monday when AgricultureSecretary Vilsack addresses the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) 2010 Summer Board Meeting and Legislative Conference. One of the remaining legislative priorities for Congress and the administration is passing the postponed re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act to continue USDA's food stamps (SNAP), school meals, WIC, and other nutrition programs. But to find money to increase support for these feeding programs made more important thanks to the recession, Congress seems to favor taking money away from conservation programs. That leaves Sec. Vilsack with a delicate balancing act to explain. We also may hear more about conservation priorities Monday when USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan announces the acquisition of one of the largest Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) easements in the country, in Kissimmee, FL.

Making for a busy day Monday, Vilsack's morning appearance at NACD will be followed by an afternoon in Ohio. The Secretary and Congressman John Boccieri (D-OH) will tour the Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute Dairy Milking Parlor in Apple Creek, then tour the Quasar Renewable Energy System Building at Ohio Agricultural research and Development Center in Wooster, and top off their full schedule with a roundtable discussion with local producers, also in Wooster, OH.

Sec. Vilsack will pack in more heartland visits Tuesday, this time traveling with Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. First they'll visit Poet Biorefining in Marion, OH, followed by touring Nextech Materials in Lewis Center, and finishing their day with a discussion and briefing with local producers at the Rhonemus Swine Farm in Lynchburg, OH. Sec. Vilsack will be talking up renewables in general and biofuels in particular just as the White House pays increasing attention to the need to replace fossil fuels with renewable alternatives – and the need for Congress to attempt one more heavy lift by following healthcare reform and financial reform with a major reform of the U.S. energy system by passing strong energy & climate legislation.

Congressional hearings this week include:

Tuesday, July 20

  • House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to review rural development programs in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill.

  • House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to review livestock and related programs at USDA in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill.

  • House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee oversight hearing on the Feed the Future Initiative.

Wednesday, July 21

  • Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Empowering Rural Communities, the Status and Future of the Farm Bill’s Energy and Rural Development Programs, with witnesses including USDA Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager & Growth Energy Co-chair General Wesley Clark.

  • House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to review specialty crop and organic agriculture programs in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill.

  • Senate Energy Committee markup to consider legislation related to vehicle technologies, solar, nuclear energy and energy research.

  • Senate Banking Committee hearing on The Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress

  • Senate Finance Committee hearing on An Update on the TARP Program

Thursday, July 22

  • House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing to review the state of the crop insurance industry.

  • Senate Banking Committee hearing on Continuing Oversight on International Cooperation to Modernize Financial Regulation

  • House Financial Services Committee hearing on Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy

USDA’s Economic Research Service & National Agricultural Statistics Service reports:

  • Monday, July 19, Catfish Processing, Milk Production, Crop Progress

  • Tuesday, July 20, Wheat Data, Feed Grains Database, Weather-Crop Summary

  • Wednesday July 21, Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook; Broiler Hatchery; Catfish Feed Deliveries

  • Thursday, July 22, Cold Storage

  • Friday, July 23, Dairy Products Prices, Livestock Slaughter, Catfish Production, Cattle, Cattle on Feed, Chickens and Eggs, Peanut Prices, Sheep and Goats

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