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Government Relations & Washington Update

December 2022

Senate Agriculture Committee Holds Farm Bill Hearing on Agriculture Research
On December 6th, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing entitled: Farm Bill 2023: Research Programs.  The hearing is part of the committee’s ongoing process to prepare for the next Farm Bill.  Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) gave opening statements, both of which highlighted the importance of agriculture research as critical to future success. Multiple Senators and witnesses remarked that the United States is falling behind countries like China in relation to federal investment in agriculture research. It is encouraging that bipartisan support for agricultural research was expressed throughout the hearing.  There was also recognition by witnesses of the significant need to invest in research infrastructure. Work by the Economic Research Service was cited numerous times, reinforcing the importance of economic research. Another key theme was the need for new innovations to help producers feed a growing global population in a sustainable and economically feasible way.

The hearing featured two panels, the first with Dr. Chavonda Jacobs Young from USDA and the second with representatives from academia and industry. It is notable that Dr. Deacue Fields, Vice President for Agriculture at the University of Arkansas, and an agricultural economist, was one of the witnesses, helping ensure that the perspective of agricultural economics was included in the hearing. A detailed listing of witnesses with links to their written testimony is below:

  • Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-YoungUnder Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics and Chief Scientist, United States Department of Agriculture; Washington, DC
  • Dr. Jason Rowntree, CS Mott Chair of Sustainable Agriculture; Director, MSU Center for Regenerative Agriculture; Professor, Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
  • Dr. Felecia M. NavePresident, Office of the President, Alcorn State University, Lorman, MS       
  • Dr. Katy Martin RaineyAssociate Professor, Agronomy, Purdue University; Director, Purdue Soybean Center, West Lafayette, IN
  • Mr. Steven ElaPartner and Manager, Ela Family Farms, Hotchkiss, CO
  • Dr. Deacue FieldsVice President for Agriculture, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Little Rock, AR     

An archived video of the hearing can be found HERE.

Congress Working to Resolve FY2023 Appropriations
House and Senate leaders are working to resolve government funding for fiscal year 2023 ahead of a December 16th deadline when the current continuing resolution expires.  Congressional Democrats plan to release an omnibus government funding package on December 12th.  However, the package is expected to face resistance from Republicans in the Senate, who have stated that negotiations are ongoing and that the parties are still trying to resolve differences on overall non-defense spending levels.  In the Senate, 60 votes would be required to move a package forward.  As a result, lawmakers are also considering additional short-term continuing resolutions, or even a year-long continuing resolution, should an agreement not be reached.