Congressional Calendar Full for Fall
September 4, 2019
Members of Congress are returning to a significant slate of work in D.C. following their August recess.
Trade is one promising area of activity on Capitol Hill. House Democrats and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are working to address several issues relating to USMCA in advance of the deal coming before Congress for a vote. NMPF continues work to build support for USMCA because the negotiated agreement maintains the U.S. dairy industry’s current access to Mexico and increases access to the Canadian market while also addressing Canada’s egregious Class 7 pricing policy. NMPF encourages cooperatives and dairy farmers to use its grassroots tool to quickly and easily send letters to elected officials.
Members of Congress will also be weighing in on the results of the US-Japan negotiations once details are made public.
In addition to trade, Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations work will be a priority now that Congress has enacted a two-year budget deal. NMPF will continue to focus on building bipartisan support for programs authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, including the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) and Dairy Business Innovation (DBI) Initiatives.
Further, discussions regarding immigration reform will likely continue in the House, including on legislation that could address dairy’s unique workforce challenges. Beginning earlier this year, NMPF has been working closely with House Immigration Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and other members and agriculture leaders to develop bipartisan legislation aimed at addressing the labor crisis currently crippling American agriculture.
While work continues on this bipartisan bill, Congressmen Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Dan Newhouse offered an approach to provide short-term relief to the dairy industry’s labor crisis by spearheading an amendment to the House’s Fiscal Year 2020 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill. Should it become law, the amendment will allow dairy farmers to access workers through the H-2A temporary worker visa program for the 2020 fiscal year.
Dairy producers currently cannot hire workers through the H-2A program because dairy employment is year-round, as opposed to the seasonal nature of jobs in other agriculture sectors. NMPF is working with the amendment’s sponsors to press for its inclusion in a final appropriations bill.
Additionally, Congress may continue work on other issues this fall including the reauthorization of child nutrition and surface transportation programs.
- On child nutrition, Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) have made clear their plans to move a strong, bipartisan reauthorization bill through the Senate Agriculture Committee sometime this fall. NMPF is focused on ensuring that kids have access to a wide range of healthy dairy options and is working to expand the varieties of milk allowed in school meal programs.
- On transportation, NMPF is working to provide the dairy industry with flexibility on issues relating to both truck weight and hours of service.