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Administration proposes incentives to increase crop production

Ukraine wheat 2022.jpg
Legislative Watch: Wheat, oilseeds and rice needed; beef industry hearings; SHIP IT Act.

The Biden administration sent to Congress a $33 billion supplemental spending request to provide increased security, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. 

In the request, the administration is proposing to spend $500 million to encourage farmers to increase production of wheat, edible oilseeds including soybeans, and rice to address world food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.

The proposal would provide for temporary increases in marketing assistance loan rates for wheat, edible oilseeds including soybeans and rice. It would also provide incentive payments through crop insurance to encourage farmers to double-crop wheat. 

Hearings focus on the beef industry
This week the Senate and House Agriculture Committees held hearings continuing their focus on the beef industry. There have now been six hearings on the beef industry held during this Congress. 

The Senate hearing considered the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act by Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act by Senator John Tester (D-MT). 

The Fischer-Grassley bill would require that beef packers that process more than 5% of fed cattle purchase a certain percentage of their kill from "open, competitive markets" or cash market. The percentage level would be determined by the Secretary of Agriculture. Also, the Secretary would establish up to seven regions of the country for cash cattle trade. The bill would establish a cattle contract library.

Proponents of the bill said legislation was needed to promote price discovery and transparency and to curb the influence of the largest beef packers. Stephen Koontz, Colorado State University, cautioned the committee in passing the legislation. Koontz said, "Research is also clear in that there is no evidence that mandating cash trade will improve prices in the fed cattle market upstream to cattle producers. There is no research nor documented evidence that there is any benefit, much less a benefit similar to well-documented costs."

The Special Investigator bill would establish a political appointee at USDA to increase enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. 

The House Agriculture Committee hearing, "An Examination of Price Discrepancies, Transparency, and Alleged Unfair Practices in Cattle Markets," included producers and the CEOs of the largest four beef processing companies, JBS, Tyson, Cargill and National Beef.   

During the hearing, the four CEOs were asked by Chairman David Scott (D-GA) if there was an agreement to "cooperate together on issues impacting supply or pricing." Each of the CEOs said no. 

In an effort to deal with inflation due to supply chain backlogs, Representatives Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) and Byron Donalds (R-FL) have introduced the "SHIP IT Act" to address the issue of supply chain backlog at shipping ports. The legislation would suspend the hours-of-service requirements for truckers transporting goods to ports, allow 18-year-olds to drive commercial trucks to U.S. ports, and provide a temporary waiver of the requirement that all shipping between U.S. ports be carried out by U.S. ships. It also calls for the modernization of ports. 

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

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