Washington Update

September 8, 2023

Senate Agriculture Leadership Urges USDA to Invest in Trade Promotion and Food Assistance

On Wednesday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) sent Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack a letter encouraging USDA to invest in trade promotion and global food assistance under the Department’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act authority. In the letter, the Senators noted the importance of trade promotion programs, which include MAP and FMD, in opening new markets and strengthening presence in existing markets for American producers. They also say the war in Ukraine is affecting supply chains and perpetuating humanitarian crises, elevating the need for increased in-kind food assistance. A copy of the letter can be found here.

Senate Announces Plans to Consider Agriculture Funding Bill

On Wednesday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) and Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) announced plans to move the first package of fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills to the Senate floor as early as next week. This package will include the funding bills for the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

OMB Identifies the Farm Bill as Needing to be Extended

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent Congress a list of bills expiring at the September 30 end of the fiscal year in anticipation of the possible consideration by Congress of a continuing resolution. Included in OMB’s list is the extension of the entire 2018 farm bill, which OMB says needs to be extended or included in any continuing resolution unless the current farm bill is extended or a new farm bill is passed before September 30. To date, no new farm bill has been introduced or considered by either the House or Senate Agriculture Committees. For context, in 2018 the House and Senate Committees had both reported their versions of the farm bill, and these bills had passed both the House and Senate by late June. OMB’s full list of expiring authorities can be found here.

EPA and USACE Release Updated WOTUS Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued a final rule to amend the definition of waters of the United States (WOTUS). EPA and USACE were directed to update the WOTUS definition to conform with this spring’s Supreme Court decision on Sackett v. EPA from this spring. The new definition eliminates the “significant nexus” test, which had allowed streams and wetlands adjacent to larger bodies of water to be covered by Clean Water Act regulations. It also clarifies that wetlands must have a continuous surface connection to navigable waters to be protected under the Clean Water Act. The new rule revises the standard EPA and USACE released in January 2023. More information on the new final rule can be found here.

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