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Congress passes $1.5 trillion bill to fund the government

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Legislative Watch: Aid for Ukraine; cattle contract library; end PNTR with Russia; USTR releases 2022 Trade Policy Agenda.

Congress passed a bipartisan $1.5 trillion spending package that will fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2022 (Sept. 30). The government has been funded for the last five months by continuing resolutions.

The 2,741 page bill provides $730 billion for domestic programs, a $46 billion, or 6.7%, increase in nondefense spending over FY '21. It provides $782 billion for defense, a $42 billion increase, or 5.6% over last year.

The bill includes $13.6 billion in emergency funding for defense, aid and humanitarian efforts for Ukraine. 

It now goes to President Biden for his signature.

Cattle contract library
The $1.5 trillion spending package includes $1 million for USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service to establish a cattle contract library as a pilot project. The new program is to be similar to the swine contract library currently at AMS. The House of Representatives last December passed legislation authorizing a cattle contract library. 

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association in a statement called the pilot program a win for cattle producers. NCBA said, "The pilot program marks a win for the U.S. cattle industry as it equips producers with the market data they need to make informed business decisions and work to capture more value for producing the highest quality beef in the world."

However, the North American Meat Institute stated their dissatisfaction with the lack of public input in the process. NAMI President Julie Anna Potts said in a statement, "Congress and the Administration say they value transparency in the beef and cattle market yet they bury this rider without debate in a giant spending bill and direct USDA to create the pilot program without any feedback from beef companies or cattle producers. There will be no opportunity for companies to provide valuable perspective on what information should be included or how it should be reported."

Other agricultural provisions include:

  • An additional $550 million for rural broadband.
  • $3.5 billion for agricultural research, a $217 million increase over FY 21. 
  • $783 million for various climate-related initiatives.
  • $834 million for increased purchasing of fruits and vegetables for participants in the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.
  • USDA is directed to produce a report "regarding data on foreign-owned agricultural land trends including land owned, or partially owned, by the governments of China, Russia, Iran or North Korea over the past decade and projections for the next decade based off of previous trends, and the potential impacts on the American agricultural sector, food security, and rural economies."
  • Extends the Livestock Mandatory Reporting program.

End PNTR with Russia
There is growing support in Congress to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine by repealing "permanent normal trade relations."

Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) have introduced legislation that would end PNTR with Russia and begin the process of expelling Russia from the World Trade Organization. 

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) have introduced the "No Trading with Invaders Act," which "would allow the president to revoke Permanent Normal Trading Relations for any Communist, or formerly Communist, country that commits an act of aggression against another member of the World Trade Organization."  Sen. Portman said, "Free trade with the United States is a privilege not a right. Countries who wantonly invade others — and democracies no less — do not deserve the benefits of unlimited access to our economy."

The House of Representatives passed legislation this week that would ban Russian oil, coal and natural gas imports and calls for Russia's removal from the WTO.

USTR releases 2022 Trade Policy Agenda
The United States Trade Represenative released President Biden's 2022 Trade Policy Agenda and 2021 Annual Report to Congress.

Key elements according to USTR are:

  • Standing up for workers' rights
  • Accelerating decarbonization and promoting sustainable environmental practices
  • Supporting U.S. agriculture
  • Bolstering supply chain resiliency
  • Combatting the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Re-Aligning the U.S.-China trade relations
  • Engaging with key trading partners and multilateral institutions
  • Promoting confidence in trade policy through enforcement

Regarding agriculture the report said, "Through our commitment to creating sustainable economic growth and establishing a level playing field, USTR is preserving and building on those gains. The Biden Administration is also focused on creating new opportunities for American agriculture, including using our existing Trade and Investment Framework Agreements and Free Trade Agreements to support U.S. agriculture exports."

A copy of the full report can be found here.

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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