Washington, D.C. Update

November 18, 2022

USRPA Joins Agricultural Transportation Working Group Letter

The US Rice Producers Association joined more than 190 other members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group in sending a letter to Congress urging them to take action to prevent a potential rail strike that would lead to devastating consequences. At the time of the letter, which was sent on November 3, the deadline for the rail “cooling off” period had been set to November 14, 2022. Recently, that deadline was extended. The letter emphasized the urgency at which Congress should be prepared to act, as well as underlined the national security implications a strike could impose.

Read the full letter here.

USDA Announces Additional Emergency Relief and Pandemic Assistance

Secretary Perdue announced plans for additional emergency relief and pandemic assistance from USDA. The Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase Two will assist eligible agricultural producers who suffered eligible crop losses, measured through decreases in revenue, due to wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze (including a polar vortex), smoke exposure, excessive moisture and qualifying droughts occurring in calendar years 2020 and 2021. The Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP) will help producers that experienced revenue decreases in 2020, compared to 2019 or 2018, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information can be found here.’

Senate Ag Working to Move Ag Nominees

The Senate Agriculture Committee is pushing to confirm several agriculture nominees before the end of the year. Those awaiting confirmation include Alexis Taylor for USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, Jose Esteban for undersecretary for food safety, and Doug McKalip for chief agricultural negotiator at USTR.

Several members have voiced concerns about the nominees. Sen. Cory Booker (D-CO) is concerned with Esteban’s answers about which foods can be labeled as “humanely raised.” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has been holding up McKalip’s nomination over concerns about transparency within USTR. Additionally, Sens. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) have raised concerns with other USDA programs. Sen. Hagerty wants to avoid new oversight and regulations of the walking horse industry and Sen. Sullivan is concerned about new logging restrictions in the Tongass.

Farm Workforce Modernization Act

There is renewed interest in moving the Farm Workforce Modernization Act in the Senate. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), an original cosponsor of the legislation in the House, continues to urge Senate leaders to move the legislation in the last few weeks of the 117th Congress.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow recently expressed support for the bill: “I would love to see that pass. I really feel like this is an opportunity, with the House having passed a bill, the president will sign it. I’ve been telling all the agriculture groups that this really is a moment to get something done, but they’re going to have to lean in very heavily to make that happen.”

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