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Sonny Perdue to Testify Before Senate Agriculture Committee; USDA Funding Under President Trump’s “Skinny Budget”

Legislative Activity

Sonny Perdue to Testify Before Senate Agriculture Committee

It’s official; Sonny Perdue is scheduled to testify before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee on Thursday, March 23 – exactly nine weeks following President Trump’s formal announcement naming Perdue as his pick to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Over the past nine weeks, 13 members of President Trump’s official Cabinet have proceeded through the Senate confirmation process while Perdue’s process was reportedly stalled by paperwork delays. Nevertheless, the race is now on between two of President Trump’s final Cabinet nominees: Perdue and Alexander Acosta for the position of Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has scheduled a Wednesday, March 22, hearing for Mr. Acosta.

USDA Funding Under President Trump’s “Skinny Budget”

President Trump last week released his “Skinny Budget,” which outlines the administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 funding proposals for discretionary programs. A comprehensive budget request is expected in April or May. The FY 2018 USDA budget request intends to support “core Departmental and mission critical activities while streamlining, reducing, or eliminating duplicative, redundant, or lower priority programs where the Federal role competes with the private sector or other levels of government.” The president’s budget request would fund USDA at $17.9 billion, which is a $4.7 billion or 20.7 percent decrease from its current funding level. The president’s “skinny budget” eliminates the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program, the Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant Program, and the Rural Business and Cooperative Service’s discretionary activities. However, several other USDA programs and activities were fully funded under the president’s proposal, including the Food Safety and Inspection Service, which employs more than 8,000 workers across more than 6,000 U.S. slaughter and processing facilities; wildland fire preparedness and suppression activities; and the Department’s flagship competitive research program.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, March 21, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition has scheduled a hearing titled “The Next Farm Bill: Nutrition Distribution Programs.” The witnesses will be announced.

  • On Tuesday, March 21, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture has scheduled a hearing titled “The Next Farm Bill: Livestock Producer Perspectives.” The witnesses will be announced.

  • On Wednesday, March 22, the House Agriculture Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “The Next Farm Bill: Dairy Policy.” The witnesses will be announced.

  • On Thursday, March 23, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee has scheduled a hearing to consider the nomination of Sonny Perdue for the position of USDA Secretary.

© Copyright 2017 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

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About this Author

Public Policy Advisor

Natasha “Tash” Eckard Hammond is a member of the firm’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Local Government Public Policy Practice. Utilizing her in-depth knowledge and longtime policy experience working in both congressional and leadership offices on Capitol Hill, Tash will advise clients on pertinent policy issues in several areas, including transportation and agriculture.

Prior to joining Squire Patton Boggs, Tash served as a Policy Assistant to former US Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and was an integral member of the Speaker’s...

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