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Congress averts government shutdown

Rubicon: Don’t Ignore Independent Waste Haulers in COVID-19 Relief
Legislative Watch: Supreme Court action sought on Prop. 12; USDA to invest $3 billion; USDA plans to establish an Equity Commission.

Congress avoided a government shutdown by passing a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through December 3.

This bill contains language to continue the Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR) which was scheduled to expire on September 30.  It also provides $10 billion for agricultural disaster assistance to cover 2020 and 2021 crop years losses through USDA’s Wildlife and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus.  It will cover losses due to droughts, wildfire, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze, including a polar vortex, smoke exposure, quality losses of crops, and excessive moisture.  The funds will remain available until 2023.

Earlier in the week, Senate Republicans blocked a House bill that included a CR and extended the debt ceiling.  Congress will now have to raise the debt ceiling by October 17 according to the Treasury Department.

Pork producers, Farm Bureau seek Supreme Court action on Prop. 12

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to take their case against California’s Proposition 12, which would ban the sale of pork that doesn’t meet California’s production standards. 

NPPC and AFBF appealed to the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in July upheld a lower court ruling against the NPPC/AFBF case.

NPPC President Jen Sorenson said in a press release, “We’re asking the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of one state imposing regulations that reach far outside its borders and stifle interstate and international commerce.  In this case, arbitrary animal housing standards that lack any scientific, technical or agricultural basis and that will only inflict harm on U.S. hog farmers.”

AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “This law takes away the flexibility to ensure hogs are raised in a safe environment while driving up the cost of providing food for America’s families. Small family farms well beyond California’s borders will be hit hardest as they are forced to make expensive and unnecessary changes to their operations. This will lead to more consolidation in the pork industry and higher prices at the grocery store, meaning every family in America will ultimately pay the price for Prop 12.”

Beginning January 1, 2022, Prop 12 will prohibit the sale of uncooked pork from hogs from other states whose mothers (sows) were raised in pens that do not comply with California’s housing standards.  Hog farmers will be required to provide 24 square feet of "usable floor space for breeding pigs."

NPPC and AFBF said that California represents approximately 15 percent of the U.S. pork market, but 99.9 percent of the pork sold in the state comes from sows raised in other states.

USDA to invest $3 billion in agriculture, animal health, and nutrition

USDA announced it would be investing $3 billion to assist producers in meeting challenges in drought, animal health, and market disruptions.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, "American agriculture currently faces unprecedented challenges on multiple fronts.  The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every stage of our food supply chain, from commodity production through processing and delivery."

The funds will be used to provide:

  • $500 million to support drought recovery and encourage the adoption of water-smart management practices. 
  • Up to $500 million to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF).  This would include expansion and coordination of monitoring, surveillance, prevention, quarantine, and eradication activities through USDA's Animal and Plant Health Service.
  • $500 million to provide relief from agricultural market disruption including increased transportation challenges, and availabilty and cost of certain materials.
  • Up to $1.5 billion to provide assistance to help schools respond to supply chain disruptions.  Schools have faced extraorinary challenges during the coronavirus pandemic to ensure children get the food they need.

USDA plans to establish an Equity Commission

USDA announced it will establish an Equity Commission to address "historical discrimination and disparities in the agriculture sector… [through] one or more equity commissions to address racial equity issues within USDA and its programs."

According to USDA, the Equity Commission will advise the secretary of agriculture by "identifying USDA programs, policies, systems, structures, and practices that contribute to barriers to inclusion or access, systemic discrimination, or exacerbate or perpetuate racial, economic, health and social disparities." The Commission is to deliver an interim report and provide recommendations no later than 12 months after inception. A final report will be generated within a two-year timeframe.

USDA is seeking nominations for membership on the Equity Commission Advisory Committee and the Equity Commission Subcommittee on Agriculture.  There will be 15 members who will serve on the Equity Commission.

Sources: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

 

 

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