|Farmers launch pro-Green New Deal coalition – POLITICOEditor’s Note: This edition of Morning Agriculture is published weekdays at 10 a.m. POLITICO Pro Agriculture subscribers hold exclusive early access to the newsletter each morning at 6 a.m. Learn …www.politico.com|
By LIZ CRAMPTON
09/18/2019 10:00 AM EDT
Presented by Charter Communications
With help from Helena Bottemiller Evich
— A new pro-Green New Deal ag group is launching today with a splashy press conference that will feature several House Democrats.
— A Senate Appropriations panel approved its Agriculture-FDA spending bill, setting up a showdown with the House over ERS and NIFA relocation funds.
— Meat groups praised USDA’s new swine inspection system while labor, animal rights interests and Democrats slammed it.
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Driving the Day
FARMERS LAUNCH PRO-GREEN NEW DEAL COALITION: Regeneration International, a fledgling regenerative agriculture nonprofit, has teamed up with the Sunrise Movement, a youth-driven climate activist group perhaps best known for once occupying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, to launch a new coalition aimed at getting farmers and ranchers behind the Green New Deal.
Hill debut: The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers for a Green New Deal coalition will hold a press conference on Capitol Hill this morning with a handful of House Democrats, including Reps. Chellie Pingree, Jim McGovern, Earl Blumenauer, Deb Haaland and Peter DeFazio.
“A lot of farmers that I talk to every day, they don’t understand what the Green New Deal is going to be about,” said Sherri Dugger, an Indiana farmer who co-chairs the new coalition, in a promo video. “I’m here to say we need to be involved in this discussion and we need to be at the table and we need to have our voices heard.” (Dugger is also executive director of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network and co-owner of Dugger Family Farm in Morristown, Ind.)
Putting ag in the climate debate: The coalition is delivering a letter to Congress today that calls for farming to have a prominent place in meeting the goals of the Green New Deal, which seeks to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030 to 2050. The coalition says the economy should move away from fossil fuels and transition “toward family farm-based organic and regenerative farming and land-use practices that improve soil health and draw down and sequester carbon.”
Moving beyond ‘cow fart-gate’: No one in agriculture can forget the bungled rollout of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal resolution, which some will forever associate with banning cows despite there being no mention of cows in the resolution. (To refresh: Her office said the fact sheet that referenced eliminating “farting cows” was posted by mistake, but it was too late to prevent widespread mockery.)
Climate strikes coming soon: The coalition’s rollout this week is timed to coincide with the global Climate Strike event on Friday and the upcoming New York City Climate Week.
STOPGAP SPENDING BILL SLOWED BY TRADE AID SPAT: A House short-term spending bill stalled on Tuesday afternoon as leadership continued to debate several outstanding issues, including whether to allow the Agriculture Department to keep writing checks to farmers hurt by the trade war as USDA approaches its borrowing limit.
Senate spending bill inches forward: Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations panel on Tuesday cleared its fiscal 2020 Agriculture-FDA spending bill, sending it to the full committee to consider on Thursday.
ERS, NIFA standoff teed up: Much of the debate among Senate Appropriations members later this week will likely focus on a provision that would give USDA $25 million to relocate the Economic Research Service and National Institute for Food and Agriculture. That’s a Senate stamp of approval for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s controversial plan to move ERS and NIFA to Kansas City.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, ranking member of the subcommittee, said during the markup that he opposes the ERS and NIFA provision and he’s concerned about how the relocation will affect staffing levels.
Remember: The House version of the spending bill includes language that would block Perdue from moving the two research agencies.
Sen. John Hoeven, chairman of the subcommittee, acknowledged there will be a faceoff during House and Senate negotiations.
“We get that the House has a different approach so let’s get to conference and work it out,” he told reporters following the markup.
USDA PUBLISHES FINAL SWINE RULE: The department on Tuesday published a contentious final rule that eliminates line-speed limits in hog slaughterhouses and shifts certain inspection tasks from federal inspectors to plant workers, Pro Employment and Immigration’s Rebecca Rainey and yours truly report.
Democrats and some advocacy groups have slammed the proposal, arguing that allowing plants to raise line speeds will risk the safety of workers and food.
“Increasing pork plant line speeds is a reckless corporate giveaway that would put thousands of workers in harm’s way as they are forced to meet impossible demands,” said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, in a statement. And Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in response to the proposal: “Make no mistake: this is all about corporate profit, not food safety concerns.”
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service says the rule will allow its inspectors to conduct more crucial food safety checks to control harmful pathogens, while permitting companies to determine their own maximum line speeds “based on their ability to maintain process control.”
Meat groups celebrated its release, with National Pork Producers Council President David Herring saying the new system will incentivize investment in new technologies.
The rule will publish in the Federal Register on Thursday or Friday, USDA said.
DEMOCRATS DEMAND MORE CLIMATE ACTION IN USMCA: More than 100 House Democrats are urging the White House to include binding environmental standards in the deal to replace NAFTA, calling for meaningful action to address climate change and a commitment from the U.S. to remain in the Paris climate agreement, Pro Trade’s Megan Cassella reports. Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) is leading the charge.
The demands, which are laid out in a letter that lawmakers plan to send this week, set the stage for a showdown between the Trump administration and House Democrats over the pact’s environmental provisions, which has long been one of the Democrats’ top concerns.
OPTIMISM ON THE U.S.-CHINA FRONT: White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow remained upbeat about the status of trade talks between the U.S. and China, saying “the mood music coming into this is very good” ahead of meetings of deputy-level officials set for Thursday and Friday.
Kudlow said the U.S. would love to get back to where talks were before they broke down in May. “We were pretty close to an agreement,” he said.
China’s vice-minister for finance, Liao Min, will lead a delegation to Washington this week in preparation for next month’s high-stakes meeting with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the South China Morning Post reports.
— A new deputy undersecretary for rural development was sworn in by Perdue on Tuesday. Donald “DJ” LaVoy previously worked at HUD.
— The EPA on Tuesday released a draft proposal intended to reduce the testing of pesticides on birds when conventional outdoor pesticides are registered. Dive into the policy.
— U.S. rice growers will not earn a jump in sales through a trade deal with Japan that’s near completion, Bloomberg reports.
— Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday he feels like an agreement was reached on a biofuels package at a recent meeting at the White House, but he’s waiting to see how the EPA writes specific policies, Pro Energy’s Eric Wolff reports.
— Another Republican candidate has hopped into the race for Rep. Mike Conaway’s seat that will open up when the House Agriculture ranking member retires in 2021. More from CBS7.
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About The Author : Liz Crampton
Liz CramptonLiz Crampton is an agriculture and food policy reporter for POLITICO Pro. Her coverage focuses on conservation, pesticides and agribusiness.
Before joining POLITICO, Liz covered antitrust enforcement for Bloomberg BNA, reporting on mergers and investigations by the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission. She launched a weekly blog, Fair Play, that explored hot topics on the beat.
She’s a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied journalism, political science and UNC basketball. Before coming to D.C., she interned at the Charlotte Observer, Tampa Bay Times and Texas Tribune.