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Legislation would prevent China from buying U.S. ag companies

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Legislative Watch: PASS Act blacklists; Senate releases FY '23 appropriations bills; call for action on CAFOs; opposition to prosecutor, cattle pricing bills.

The Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act introduced by Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Elise Stefanick (R-NY) would blacklist China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from buying U.S. agriculture companies.

Representative Johnson said, "China's efforts to influence American agriculture threatens U.S. security – this bill is commonsense. We have experienced numerous black swan events in the past few years, and we can't risk allowing our adversaries closer access to our food and supply chains."

The legislation: 

  • Includes agriculture and biotechnology related to agriculture as critical infrastructure. 
  • Adds the Secretary of Agriculture as a standing member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to consider agriculture needs when making determinations affecting our national security. 
  • Requires reporting from the Secretary of Agriculture on the risk of foreign purchases of agriculture companies to the American agriculture sector.

The House passed FY '23 agriculture appropriations bill would prohibit companies from China, Russia and Iran from buying U.S. farmland.

Senate releases FY '23 appropriations bills
Senate Democrats released their 12 fiscal year 2023 appropriations bills. The bills total nearly $1.7 trillion for fiscal year 2023 which includes $653 billion in non-defense discretionary spending, a 10.1% increase over fiscal year 2022; and $850 billion in defense discretionary spending, an 8.7% increase over fiscal year 2022. 

The agriculture appropriations bill, which funds USDA and the Food and Drug Administration, provides discretionary funding of $27.072 billion, an increase of $2.3 billion or 9% over fiscal year 2022.  

The bill includes $3.9 billion for agriculture research, which is an increase of $248 million over last year. This includes $1.7 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an increase of $100 million. NIFA funds outside research. The Natural Resources Conservation Service would receive $808 million for conservation technical assistance, a $154 million increase. The ReConnect broadband funding program would be funded at $400 million. The Food for Peace Program would receive $1.8 billion, an increase of $60 million.  

It is expected Congress will not be able to pass the appropriations bills by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, and will have to pass a continuing resolution to keep the federal government running.    

Environmental groups want EPA to take action on CAFOs
Over 200 climate and environmental groups want the EPA to take immediate action on concentrated animal feeding operations. The groups are asking the EPA to take action using its existing authority under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

The groups said in a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, "Multinational agribusiness has been vertically and horizontally integrating the meat production supply chain for the past several decades, leading to massive growth of CAFOs. These heavily polluting operations produce immense quantities of waste and pollutants that degrade community air and water resources and destroy the quality of life for the communities where they are deliberately located, which are disproportionately low-wealth and/or communities of color. CAFOs represent an environmental justice crisis that has gone unaddressed by – and has even been exacerbated by – EPA for decades.

"In the U.S., CAFOs generate as much as one billion tons of manure each year, more than three times as much waste as humans. The waste, which is often stored in giant manure pits and periodically applied to spray fields, can contain pathogens, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and heavy metals, leading to death, and poor general health."

Those signing the letter included the Environmental Working Group,  Farm Aid, Food and Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, Humane Society of the United States and Waterkeeper Alliance.

Chamber of Commerce opposes special prosecutor and cattle pricing bills
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce last month announced its opposition to the Meat and Poultry Special Prosecutor Act and the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act.

In a blog Chamber Senior Vice President Sean Heather said, "In a rush to address soaring meat prices and ensure that all parts of the supply chain benefit from those prices, several pending bills would dramatically expand the federal government's role in meat markets. In particular, the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act would create a new office within the Department of Agriculture to police competition. And the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act would give the USDA significant new authority to manage cattle sales around the country. Unfortunately, both bills would harm consumers and reduce competition."

The bills passed the Senate Agriculture Committee in June.  

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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