Legislative Activity

Farm Bill Conference Progress

This past week, progress on the farm bill seemed to stall. Conferees are no longer close to finding a compromise on the issue of tying crop price guarantees to planted or base acres, and dairy provisions remain on the negotiation table. Earlier this month, the chairwoman had commented that she thought a farm bill is “doable” before the Thanksgiving break, but public comments by conferees about negotiation struggles suggest otherwise.

Farm Bill in a Budget Deal

The approach to finding a moving legislative vehicle to attach the farm bill to is becoming more complicated. Over the past few weeks, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has stated that a farm bill will definitely be included in a larger congressional budget deal despite opposition from House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN). It appears, though, that Rep. Peterson may have an unexpected supporter in his effort to push against the chairwoman’s efforts. Last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) expressed publicly that he does not support the inclusion of any farm bill cost-savings in a congressional budget deal. Chairwoman Stabenow has yet to comment publicly on the speaker’s remarks.

Regulatory Activity

Food Safety Modernization Act Proposed Rules

Due to technical difficulties with the website www.regulations.gov, stakeholders now have until Friday, November 22 to submit comments on the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rules for produce safety and preventive controls for human food under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Department of Agriculture Departure

Last week, Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen announced that she will step down from her position in mid-December to pursue opportunities in the private sector, although she did not share further details on her future plans.