This week in Washington: Feb. 8-12

President to release budget; House Ag plans hearings on CFTC, EPA oversight and FMD preparedness.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

February 10, 2016

4 Min Read
This week in Washington: Feb. 8-12

The House Agriculture Committee continues with its work this week, with three hearings planned ranging from oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), one on the Environmental Protection Agency and one to determine whether the nation is prepared for a foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak.

Also on tap for the week will be the release of President’s 2017 Budget Request. We saw some glimpses of what it may include last week with the announcement that he would be seeking additional funds for agricultural research and some targeted at antimicrobial resistance studies. The House Committee on Appropriations will feature hearings from many divisions impacting agricultural spending throughout the week.

The CFTC hearing will review the 2016 agenda and will feature testimony from CFTC chairman Timothy Massad. Last week, Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) called on Massad to answer for misguided accounting practices. (Click here to read the letter, dated Feb. 3.) Last month, the CFTC Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released an audit report of CFTC’s financial statements showing multiple transgressions and raising serious questions about CFTC’s leasing and accounting practices.

Although House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway (R., Texas) didn’t mention the accounting problems in the release for the hearing, questions on the topic likely will be directed at Massad. Conaway did say he plans to determine how CFTC will bring more order to the markets it regulates and more certainty for the end users that rely on it. “Five years into Dodd-Frank (Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act), end users have fewer service providers, face higher costs to access hedging services and see liquidity fragmented across arbitrary regional lines.

Here’s a snapshot of the hearings and events planned this week.

Here’s a snapshot at planned hearings and events this week.

Monday, Feb. 8:

Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will address the inaugural Southern Region Women’s Agricultural Leadership Summit at University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.

Tuesday, Feb. 9

President Barack Obama will be releasing his FY17 Budget. Secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack will be hosting a media call with all the agricultural details Tuesday. Be sure to watch for updates.

Wednesday, Feb. 10:

House Agriculture CFTC hearing: The full House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. to review the 2016 agenda for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. To watch a live webcast or an archived version following the hearing, click here.

CFTC budget hearing: The Committee on Appropriations will hold a subcommittee hearing featuring Massad at 2:30 p.m.

Secretary Tom Vilsack will give remarks at the National Press Club for the anniversary of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC) in Washington, DC.  Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden will participate in two panel discussions, one on the future of agriculture and another on global food security, at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif.

Thursday, Feb. 11:

House Agriculture rescheduled EPA hearing: The hearing is set for 10 a.m. EPA administrator Gina McCarthy will be called on to explain her agency’s decisions and discuss with members of Congress how Congress and EPA might work together to ensure that future actions by the EPA do not harm American agriculture. This hearing was previously scheduled earlier, but had to be rescheduled due to the snowstorm. To watch a live webcast or an archived version following the hearing, click here.

House Appropriations hearing on ag budget: Secretary Vilsack will testify before the House Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture on the budget. Also on the witness list is Robert Johansson, chief economist, and Michael Young, budget officer at the Department of Agriculture.

House agriculture FMD hearing: The subcommittee on livestock and foreign agriculture will tackle the topic, Foot and Mouth Disease: Are we prepared? The hearing is set for Thursday, Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. To watch a live webcast or an archived version following the hearing, click here.

U.S. Ag Coalition for Cuba press event: The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC) will hold its first press event at the National Press Club on Thursday, February 11 from 8:00-Noon ET. The event will feature Vilsack along with more than five Members of Congress offering remarks, followed by an industry panel. To learn more about USACC and the event, click here

Friday, Feb. 12:

Office of the Inspector General budget hearing: The House Appropriations agriculture subcommittee will feature a hearing at 9:30 a.m. with Inspector General Phyllis K. Fong; Gil H. Harden, assistant inspector general for audit, Office of the Inspector General; and Ann Coffey, assistant inspector general for investigations.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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