The beef industry will be scrutinized this week by senators pressured to reduce the pricing power of large meat packers, as the full Senate prepares to vote on a bill to speed up the process. development of agricultural carbon markets.
On Wednesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee will bring together producer representatives as well as experts from the meat packaging industry and livestock markets for a hearing on the industry’s pricing practices.
According to sources, witnesses at the hearing will be Dustin Aherin, animal protein analyst for Rabobank; Glynn Tonsor, economist at Kansas State University; Mary Hendrickson of the University of Missouri, a rural sociologist who studies food systems; Mark Gardiner, Kansas cattle producer; and South Dakota auctioneer Justin Tupper.
Critics in the packaging industry started pushing for such a hearing at the last Congress, but then-President Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Declined to call one.
Committee member Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Said Agri-Pulse the hearing “will educate many of my colleagues about the issues we face, how different segments of the industry relate, especially in my state.”
It is far from clear, however, whether the hearing will result in legislation, although Congress must expand a cattle price declaration law this year.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told senators last week he was working on a plan that could dramatically increase meat processing capacity. He would not provide any details of what the ministry is considering.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act, which the Senate could vote on as early as this week, would allow the USDA to certify credit checkers and farm advisers. The bill, which has more than 50 sponsors in the Senate and broad support from agriculture and agribusiness interests, also includes provisions to protect farmers’ rights and ensure that the needs of beginning and minority farmers are taken into account.
The main GOP sponsor, Representative Mike Braun of Indiana, said he was optimistic the bill would get a vote this week after addressing concerns raised by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., Before that the Senate does not separate from the weekend.
The Chamber has not yet acted on his version. Senior House Agriculture Committee Republican Glenn Thompson questioned the need for the bill, but said Agri-Pulse that he was open to discussing it. âI’m always ready to come to the table and see what we can do,â he said.
He also said he wanted the committee to hold hearings on a series of climate-related bills Republicans announced in April. One measure would encourage private sector funding for USDA conservation programs.
The main sponsor of the GCSA House, Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., Expressed confidence that the committee would take it over fairly quickly. Spanberger chairs the subcommittee that oversees conservation programs.
“I think in the House we should expect to see a similar level of bipartisan support given the value of a program for farmers and producers who would want to use it,” she said. .
Meanwhile this week, briefs are due on Wednesday in a Wisconsin lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the USDA’s minority farmer debt relief program. The judge in the case has issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the USDA from making payments to minority farmers while it reviews the lawsuit.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court will consider a petition from the North American Meat Institute in a lawsuit challenging California’s Proposition 12, which would impose animal containment standards on farms that sell produce in the state. The 9th United States Court of Appeals upheld the law.
On Capitol Hill, Congressional Democrats are moving through a two-track process to pass President Joe Biden’s infrastructure, climate and domestic spending proposals.
A group of more than 20 senators presented a sweeping plan to spend $ 1 trillion over five years on infrastructure, including rural broadband, but last week they still had no agreement. on the payment method. The White House and Congressional Democrats continue to resist GOP proposals to index the gasoline tax to inflation and impose a surtax on electric vehicles.
A member of the Senate group, Ohio Republican Rob Portman said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that progressives were looking for a “bag of progressive priorities. Ours is about basic infrastructure, and it is paid. And so, it is paid for without raising taxes, which is essential. “
Democrats are simultaneously preparing to move up to $ 6 trillion in additional spending as part of the budget reconciliation process. A reconciliation bill could pass the Senate without Republican support as long as all 50 Democrats vote for it, and it’s far from clear that they would.
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Has confirmed that he is considering including provisions on immigration reform in the package on the basis that it will be a source of income to offset expenses of the bill and thus be able to be included in a budget reconciliation bill. . The idea is that legalizing immigrants will increase federal tax revenues.
âYou have heroes and heroines in the undocumented community who have kept this economy going in the midst of the pandemic,â Sanders told reporters.
Here is a list of agriculture-related or rural events scheduled for this week in Washington and elsewhere (All Time EDT):
Monday June 21
4 p.m. – USDA publishes weekly Cultivation progression report.
Tuesday 22 June
9:30 a.m. – Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture audience, âRenewable Energies – Growth and Opportunities for Our Rural Economiesâ, 562 Dirksen.
Wednesday 23 June
10 a.m. – House Natural Resources Committee audience on the Home Office, 1324 Longworth.
1:00 p.m. – House Agriculture Committee audience on the Farm Safety Net, 1300 Longworth.
2 p.m. – Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources audience on the clean energy needs of rural and low-income communities, 366 Dirksen.
2:30 p.m. – Senate Committee on Agriculture audience, âReview of Markets, Transparency and Prices from Livestock Producer to Consumerâ, 562 Dirksen.
Thursday June 24
8:30 a.m. – USDA Publications Weekly export sales report.
10 a.m. – Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works audience, âThe role of natural and nature-based elements in water resource projectsâ, 406 Dirksen.
friday 25 june
9 a.m. – USDA publishes monthly Food price outlook.
Spencer Chase, Ben Nuelle, and Steve Davies contributed to this report.
For more news, visit: www.Agri-Pulse.com