The Washington week ahead: Budget battles continue

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 13 - Tuesday is the 38th National Ag Day, part of National Ag Week which kicks off Monday with the “Agriculture Appreciation Reception” on Capitol Hill courtesy of Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc. featuring the music of Michael Peterson. House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas, R-Okla., will address the Ag Day lunch while Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will address the morning coffee gathering and the  “Celebration of Agriculture Dinner,” both at USDA.

Tuesday will also be noteworthy because the House is expected to pass yet another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) - this time to keep the government in business through April 8. Without this latest extension, with its GOP-pleasing additional $6 billion in cuts for the current fiscal year, the government would close down everything except essential services at midnight Friday. The hope, once again, is that this additional three-week reprieve will give House/Senate/White House negotiators enough time to reach a deal to last until Sept. 30.

If the “Goldilocks theory” is right, since the Senate voted down both the GOP's $61 billion spending cut as too much and the Democrats' $10.5 billion alternative as too little, the party leaders finally will be able to talk their right and left wings respectively into a compromise somewhere between the two extremes. So this week, expect to hear House Republicans make the case for the full $61 billion when they take up the new CR Tuesday - and expect Senate Democrats to be equally vocal in support of a more surgical approach when the Senate takes up the bill once it has passed the House. But expect both chambers to pass the extension.

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack no doubt will enjoy time away from the Washington budget battles. He's in Denver Monday, first addressing the Global Access Forum for Small Business sponsored by the Export-Import Bank of the US and then joining Gov. Hickenlooper at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley for a Rural Economic Development Summit. On Wednesday, the Secretary will be in Los Angeles to help launch the “Share our Strength/No Kid Hungry” campaign at Figeuroa Street Elementary School - and in Long Beach to meet with the trade press.

As noted in the list below, FY 2012 budget hearings continue this week in both the House and Senate - along with House hearings discounting climate change concerns while Senate hearings will highlight potential climate change threats.

Other key events and meetings this week:

Monday, March 14

  • House Energy and Commerce Committee markup of H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act to block EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

  • House Rules Committee considers H.J.Res. 48, Further Continuing Appropriations Amendments, for FY 2011 and Views and Estimates on the President's Proposed Budget for FY 2012.

  • USDA reports: Feed Outlook, Wheat Outlook, Aquaculture Data, Potato Stocks

Tuesday, March 15

  • 38th National Ag Day

  • Farm Foundation forum on Agricultural Biotechnology.

  • House Agriculture Committee business meeting on the Budget Views and Estimates Letter of the Committee on Agriculture for the agencies and programs under jurisdiction of the Committee for FY2012.

  • House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the FY 2012 budget for USDA Food Safety, with Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen.

  • Senate Budget Committee hearing on the report of the Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force, with report co-chairs Sen. Pete Domenici and Dr. Alice Rivlin.

  • USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan participates in the Washington Post's Obesity Summit.

  • USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Islam Siddiqui meets with Illinois Corn Growers Association board members.

USDA reports: Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook, Turkey Hatchery

Wednesday, March 16

  • USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan keynotes the USDA Organic Farming Systems Research Conference.

  • House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing on the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, agricultural conservation practices, and their implications for national watersheds.

  • House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the FY 2012 budget for USDA Research, Education and Economics, with Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Dr. Cathie Woteki.

  • Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee hearing on the EPA's proposed budget estimates for FY 2012, with Administrator Lisa Jackson.

  • House Energy Subcommittee hearing on Made in America: Increasing Jobs through Exports and Trade.

  • USDA reports: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook; Quick Stats Database; Agricultural Chemical Usage - Postharvest Applications - Wheat; Broiler Hatchery

Thursday, March 17

  • House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee hearing on the pending Colombia Free Trade Agreement, with Deputy U. S. Trade Representatives Miriam Sapiro.

  • House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on the Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements: National Security and Foreign Policy Priorities.

  • Senate Energy Committee hearing on current global investment trends in clean energy technologies and the impact of domestic policies on that investment.

  • Senate Environment Committee Subcommittee hearing on the Clean Air Act and Jobs.

  • USDA reports: Meat Price Spreads

Friday, March 18

  • USDA reports: Oil Crops Yearbook Data tables, Dairy Products Prices, Cattle on Feed, Milk Production, Peanut Prices

  • To add your event to our calendar, please e-mail us at: jon@agri-pulse.com

For other Agri-Pulse news stories, go to: www.agri-pulse.com

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