What’s ahead for Washington this week: Congress besieged

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Sept. 12 – The House and Senate return to DC for a very full week. Not only is there a very tall stack of must-do legislation. But scores of farmers and ranchers will be descending on Congress with their priority lists for what needs to be done.

Agriculture Sec. Vilsack at least will get a break. He'll be out in North Dakota Monday and Tuesday discussing trade and other issues with farm groups there.

With Vilsack away, USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will be among the officials addressing the National Farmers Union before NFU members fan out across the Hill to buttonhole their representatives during NFU's Sept. 13-15 Fall Fly-In.

Meanwhile, at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Legislative Conference Sept. 14-16, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KN) will be among the dignitaries briefing ranchers before they head out for their Hill visits. The same routine will be observed for Growth Energy's first Fall Legislative Conference running Sept. 13-15 – and for the United Fresh DC Policy Conference Sept. 14-16.

Ambassador Kirk and USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan both will address the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Annual Meeting Sept. 15-20 in nearby Dover, DE.

Back from his round of appearances in North Dakota, Secretary Vilsack will speak Friday at the National Grocers Association's Sept 15-17 Executive Management Conference.

Until now, the expectation was that the Senate stalemate over legislation would continue, with partisan gridlock intensifying as the November mid-term elections approach. But retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) has said he would vote with Democrats to prevent a threatened Republican filibuster of a small business tax breaks bill. As well, seemingly conciliatory comments from House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) over the weekend have raised hopes that there could be bipartisan agreement on extending the Bush tax cuts except for families earning over $250,000 a year. This week could decide the fate of those bills.
Congressional hearings this week include:

Tuesday, September 14

  • House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee hearing on the salmonella outbreak linked to Iowa's massive egg recall.

Wednesday, September 15

  • Senate Agriculture Horticultural and Organic Subcommittee hearing with Deputy Secretary Merrigan.

  • House Ways & Means Committee hearing on China’s Exchange Rate Policy.

Thursday, September 16

  • Second House Ways & Means Committee hearing on China’s Exchange Rate Policy, with Treasury Secretary Geithner.

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

  • Monday, September 13, Aquaculture Data, Cotton and Wool Outlook, Oil Crops Outlook, Rice Outlook, Crop Progress

  • Tuesday, September 14, Feed Outlook, Wheat Outlook, Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook, Weather-Crop Summary

  • Wednesday September 15, Broiler Hatchery, Turkey Hatchery

  • Friday, September 17, Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook, Meat Price Spreads, Dairy Products Prices, Cattle on Feed, Livestock Historical Track Records, Milk Production, Peanut Prices

To add your event to our calendar, please e-mail us at: jon@agri-pulse.com

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