Tractor spraying pesticides on vegetable field with sprayer at spring

Major U.S. Congressional Agriculture Actions in 2018circle with line through itGrain glitch fix and cotton support revamp

  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act inadvertently created a large incentive for farmers to sell to co-ops instead of private companies.
  • The omnibus appropriations bill passed in March attempted to fix the “Grain Glitch†but some critics believe it made the problem worse.
  • In the Bipartisan Budget Act, Congress redefined cotton as an “other seed oil†which makes it eligible for crop supports created by the 2014 Farm Bill.

Status: Passed in February and March 2018check mark in circleCongress passes a compromise Farm Bill

  • Congress passed a compromise Farm Bill two months past the October 1 deadline.
  • The passage had previously been held up by debates over changes to SNAP and Freedom Caucus demands for votes on immigration.
  • Democrats created a unified front against adding any stricter work provisions for SNAP.

Status: Signed into law 12/20/18hemp plant in circleHemp legalization

  • Hemp legalization became a major priority for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whose state is expected to be a major producer.
  • Hemp was previously illegal to grow based on its connection to marijuana production, but a USDA pilot program showed that hemp could not be used for drug manufacturing.
  • McConnell’s bill was included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Status: Hemp was legalized with the passage of the 2018 Farm BillSources: National Journal Research, 2018;; Catherine Boudreau and Helena Bottemiller Evich, “Farm Bill compromise primed for passage,†Politico, December 11, 2018.

Containers and Cargo shipTrump Administration Agriculture Recap

Right and LeftTariffs and retaliatory tariffs

  • President Trump declared Sect. 232 national security tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from all countries, with some exceptions granted later.
  • He later declared Sect. 301, unfair trade tariffs against China.
  • Many countries have imposed retaliatory tariffs specifically on agricultural products, especially soy, corn, and alcoholic beverages.

DollarCommodity support programs

  • To help alleviate the pain of retaliatory tariffs on farmers, the Trump administration announced $12 billion in support through multiple USDA programs.
  • The first round of payments totaling $4.7 billion was released in August.
  • The White House has since delayed the second round of payments.

AppleNutrition guidelines

  • The Trump administration has reversed Obama-era requirements on nutrition in school lunches.
  • They decrease targets for salt reduction, decrease whole grain requirements and allow schools to offer non-skim flavored milk.
  • Nutrition providers had complained that the Obama-era rules made school lunches unappetizing and we’re seeing more food disposed of. 

I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. – President Trump

Sources: National Journal Research, 2018; Chad P. Brown and Melina Kolb, “Trump’s Trade War Timeline: An Up-to-Date Guide,†PIEE, August 21, 2018; Chad P. Brown & Melinda Kolb, “Trump’s Trade. War Timeline: An Up-to-Date Guide,†Peterson Institute for International Economics, September 24, 2018.

Potential 2019 Congressional Agriculture Agenda Items

shaking hands in circlePassage of the USMCA

  • President Trump intends to formally withdraw from NAFTA in mid-2019, which places a deadline for USCMA’s passage through Congress.
  • If Congress does not pass the new trade deal and Trump withdraws the US, agriculture trade to Mexico and Canada could be severely disrupted.

shaking hands in circlePotential legislation: USCMA ratification

  • President Trump must secure the support of House Democrats in order to ratify the new trade agreement.
  • Bobby Scott (D-VA), the new chair of the House Education & Workforce Committee, opposes the deal.
  • Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have also been critical of the deal.

magnify glass in circleIncreased oversight of the Trump administration’s commodity support program

  • Incoming House Agriculture Committee Chair Colin Peterson (D-MN) has been critical of the Trump administration’s trade war with China.
  • He could hold oversight hearings on the implementation of the commodity support program for farmers impacted by the trade war.

“I don’t agree with what [Trump is] doing as it relates to agriculture…I don’t see any scenario where agriculture is going to be better off than we were before all this started with Chinaâ€Â â€” Rep. Colin Peterson (D-MN)

Sources: National Journal Research, 2018; Jeff Stein. “He’s an architect in Manhattan. He got $3,300 from Trump’s farm bailout.†The Washington Post. November 19, 2018.

Potential 2019 Trump Administration Agriculture Agenda Items

fork and knife in circleSNAP work requirement rules

  • 36 states currently waive work requirements for parts of their SNAP-eligible populations.
  • USDA plans to issue a rule after the final passage of the Farm Bill to rein in state exemptions.
  • The Trump administration announced this plan separately from the Farm Bill to placate conservative Republicans and allow for smooth passage of the Farm Bill.

Aerial view of a swamp scenery at sunrisewater drop in circleWOTUS

  • The Clean Water Act requires stricter protections of “Waters of the United States,†but defining that term has been controversial.
  • A proposed WOTUS definition was released on December 11, 2018, by the EPA and US Army Corps to replace a controversial Obama-era 2015 rule.
  • The new definition gives more flexibility to individual farmers to determine water rights and federal jurisdiction on their properties.

pine tree in circleForest Service revamps

  • The chief of the Forest Service resigned in March following the revelation of sexual harassment allegations against him.
  • President Trump has also been publicly critical of the forest management after record years for forest fires with over 80 deaths in the California “Camp Fireâ€

“We would have liked to see more progress on work requirements for SNAP recipients and forest management reformsâ€Â â€” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue

Sources: National Journal Research, 2018; USDA; Politico Morning Agriculture; “The Trump administration against healthy eating,†The Economist, December 13, 2018.