Michael Regan is officially in place as administrator of the EPA after being sworn in Wednesday by Vice President Kamala Harris. The ceremony took place shortly after another nominee who had strong backing from farm groups, Katharine Tai, was confirmed by the Senate 98-0 to be U.S. trade representative.
House Democrats are gearing up to pass the Farm Workforce Modernization Act to reform the H-2A visa program and legalize undocumented workers. But the path ahead in the Senate for an ag labor bill is as difficult as ever, especially with the surge of migrants at the border.
The Senate is set to OK President Joe Biden’s nominees for Interior secretary and U.S. Trade Representative this week, while the House looks to jump-start a congressional debate over immigration reform and farm labor.
A key Republican says the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill Democrats are pushing through the Senate will lead to automatic cuts in farm programs and other forms of federal spending. Sen. John Boozman, the top Republican on the Senate Ag Committee, is referring to the Congressional Budget Office’s determination that the legislation would trigger the budget sequestration process under the 2011 budget law.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says there is less than a 10% chance that farmers will get more Market Facilitation Program payments this year and that China is sending “signals” it intends to honor its pledges to ramp up purchases of U.S. farm commodities.