Congressional Update

Farm Bill Updates 

The House Agriculture Committee on May 23 reported out the “farm bill” that provides $1.5 trillion in funding for food and agriculture programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The bill was reported out of committee on a party-line vote.

The legislation, H.R. 8467, covers a broad range of agriculture and food programs but is heavily focused on nutrition programs, especially SNAP, which constitutes approximately 80% of the bill’s funding. The farm bill still needs to be voted on by the full House and Senate.

One of NACS’ top priorities for the Farm Bill has been advocating for removal of the SNAP hot foods restriction. As American eating and shopping habits have evolved since the program’s creation in the 1970s, SNAP customers should have the flexibility of purchasing hot prepared foods at authorized SNAP retail stores. NACS supported bipartisan legislation, the Hot Foods Act, which was introduced last year to make this overdue policy change. However, that language was not included in H.R. 8467. Instead, language was included to study the issue.

NACS’ position is that a study is counterproductive as this policy change is already tested and proven to work, because today, hot food sales are permitted during natural disasters when the U.S. Department of Agriculture grants hot foods waivers. During these times, SNAP authorized retailers can sell these foods and have done so successfully and without issue, further supporting the permanent removal of the hot foods restriction.

A provision for a five-year extension of National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) was not included in the bast text of H.R. 8467 but that isn’t necessarily detrimental at this point in the Farm Bill process. The oil heat industry is actively advocating to extend NORA which will in turn provide more certainty for the program that is currently set to expire September 30, 2028. The PPA has previously met with U.S. Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA 15th District) who is the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee to express the importance of NORA and how it positively impacts the association’s trade school (PPATEC). The PPA will continue to work for our state and federal partner’s to advocate for the extension of NORA as a part of the current Farm Bill.

Other Congressional Updates 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) led a Congressional Review Act (CRA) rule to overturn a Biden gas furnace regulation and, this week, it passed the Senate. Given Republican control of the House, it will likely pass there as well. While a CRA vote would be a win for the Texas Republican, eliminating the rule and preventing it from being reissued in similar form by this or any future administration, since it would require President Biden’s signature to take effect, that is unlikely, as it will not be able to achieve the two-third threshold to override a veto.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) introduced an amendment which would change the definition of legal hemp to only include non-intoxicating cannabinoids that are derived naturally from the cannabis plant. The amendment passed the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday by a voice vote. Currently, the definition of hemp — which was legalized in the 2018 farm bill — includes products that contain up to 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC.

Away from Congress, the EPA found a significant ally in Ford as the automaker voiced its support for the Administration’s tailpipe emissions standards. Ultimately, the determination is a business decision as Ford noted it has already taken steps to ensure compliance with the forthcoming standards, so it is not interested in seeing the standards change again. They only weighed in on the emissions component, however, leaving the issue of EV battery standards alone.

Following a long, productive session, we expect this Memorial Day recess to be treated seriously by lawmakers so we’re not expecting much action in the next week. Still, with President Trump’s New York trial possibly concluding, there will definitely be a lot of commentary on which to report. Regardless, we’ll be monitoring Washington to ensure you’re kept aware of any new developments, but, barring anything unforeseen, we hope you and your families are able to unplug and have an enjoyable holiday!

Sources: EMA, NACS