The Crush.March2022 - 3

FEDERAL FOCUS
Federal Legislative Update
Congress finally reached a deal to fund the federal
government through the end of the current fiscal year, which
runs from October 1 to September 30. In addition to funding
the usual federal programs and priorities, the $1.5 trillion FY
2022 omnibus appropriations package includes additional
military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. The package is on
its way to President Biden's desk for his signature.
Specific to winegrape growers, the omnibus package includes
a $1.5 million increase in funding for wildfire smoke research,
for a total of $4.5 million for FY 2022. The bill also directs
the Secretary of Agriculture to provide a report outlining
how USDA is using existing resources to support agricultural
communities to proactively prepare for, recover from, and
build long-term resilience to natural disasters. As part of that
report, the Secretary is charged with providing cost estimates
for necessary expenses related to replenishing the Wildfire
and Hurricane Indemnity Program for crop losses, including
losses from fires, as in the case of smoke-damaged grapes.
The bill maintains current funding levels for a collaborative
research program focused on precision viticulture for
premium grapes and wine. Finally, the bill continues a CAWG
supported provision exempting winegrapes from regulation
under the Food and Drug Administration's " Standards for
the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce
for Human Consumption, " often referred to as the Produce
Safety Rule.
While much of Congress has been preoccupied with funding
issues, the House Agriculture Committee has been focused
on hearings for the upcoming farm bill. Last week, the House
Agriculture Committee held a hearing to discuss Title 1 of
the farm bill, Commodity Programs. Members and witnesses
highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply
chain issues and inflation have had on farm production
costs. The Committee also discussed the relationship of
climate change and crop insurance. Members and witnesses
agreed that crop insurance should be expanded for climate
disasters, and that it had taken far too long to deliver disaster
payments to growers through the Wildfire and Hurricane
Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+), noting farmers have been
waiting for a year and a half to apply for disaster payments.
During committee hearings, congressional members
underscored the importance of fixing discriminatory practices
in farming and promoting diversity in agriculture and food
industries through partnership with minority colleges. This will
likely be a focus for Democrats throughout the entire farm
bill process. The House Agriculture Committee will continue
to hold hearings throughout the Spring; however, legislative
markup will not begin until the start of the next Congress in
2023.
Several items remain on the agenda for the 117th Congress
before members return home to campaign. First, Congress
will push to complete the FY 2023 appropriations process;
however, with the delay of FY 2022 appropriations and the
President's Budget, another continuing resolution is possible.
In addition to appropriations, the Senate will consider
President Biden's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji
Brown Jackson. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled
to hold confirmation hearings of Jackson March 21 through
March 24.
Democratic leadership is
also working on revising
President Biden's Build
Back Better Act with the
hope of winning over
West Virginia senator,
Joe Manchin. Democrats
want to address
prescription drug prices,
supply chain issues, and
supporting production of
semiconductor chips in
the United States, while
trimming the bill's price
tag to a number Senator Manchin is willing to support.
Finally, Congress will try to push a China competition bill
across the finish line. Earlier this year, the House passed
the $350 billion America Creating Opportunities for
Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic
Strength Act (America COMPETES Act) and last year the
Senate passed the $250 million United States Competition
and Innovation Act (USICA). While there are significant
differences between the bills, both aim to bolster investment
in domestic manufacturing, increase funding for scientific
research and development, and make significant trade policy
adjustments.
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The Crush.March2022

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