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President Joe Biden proposes bypassing the Bipartisan Presidential Debate Commission and leaving it to the two campaigns to devise debate formats, times, and places to meet, debating twice before November. The Biden team proposes the first debate be held in June, well in advance of Party Conventions and formal nominations, and the other debate in September. This early scheduling could influence voters, who may forget poor performances by the November election.

The House Agriculture Committee is set to mark up the Farm Bill text on May 23, 2024. This timeline suggests that the committee is actively working towards reauthorizing the Farm Bill. The Senate's lack of a similar timeline and its release of overview documents indicate significant differences. A consensus may not be difficult to reach in the coming weeks.

IBA is very upbeat on sugar reform in this Farm Bill. The house bill includes language to Modernize the Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ). This is a complex formulation of what countries may export sugar to the United States at reasonable duties. Furthermore, the bill calls on USDA and The United States Trade Representative to better study and further define “refined” sugar. A lot of “refined” sugar imported must be subjected to additional processing before use.

Having Sugar Reform language in the bill text is significant.  In the past five Farm Bills, sugar reform proposals had failed because they weren’t inserted into base text, which opened the door to much larger forms of opposition such as close Amendment fights on the House and Senate Floor debates.  In terms of compromises with the growers,  the growers will receive an increase in loan rates.  The increase is modest, considering the actual domestic price for sugar is well above double the loan rate.

In other areas, the administration is moving both fast and slow.  We expect the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release Front of Pack (FOP) labeling proposals in June.  This is another holdover from 2023 proposals.  The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee meets publicly again in late May and early June.  We are anxious to see new assessment protocols and the role of grains in the diet.  The activist agenda of DGAC seems to be driving grains to the indulgent foods and significant attention to the role of ultra-processed foods.

Finally, on a personal note, my chronic back issues will require surgery this summer. Scheduling such is in play right now.  This may cause a timing shift for the virtual June meeting.  We’ll keep you posted.  Nick

IBA on the Hill: Services
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