Cicilline: Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act Will Help Hardworking Americans

Cicilline: Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act Will Help Hardworking Americans

Jennifer.Bell2…

Thu, 06/16/2022 - 19:05

WASHINGTON, DC – Before voting to pass H.R. 7606, the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Chair of the Antitrust Subcommittee, spoke on the House floor to urge all his colleagues to support the bipartisan package. The bill will help lower prices for America’s families in the grocery aisle and at the gas pump by giving America’s farmers and ranchers the support they need to thrive.
 
Through various policies and mechanisms, the legislation will reduce America’s dependence on foreign fertilizer production, strengthen competition in the meat and poultry sector and alleviate the supply chain bottlenecks that allows corporate giants to set bad prices for producers and consumers, and expand access to American-made Unleaded 88 fuel.

A transcript of the Congressman’s remarks is below.
 
Mr. Speaker,
 
Thank you, and I thank the Chairman for yielding.
 
I rise today in support of the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act.
 
Across the country, workers are calling out sick because of COVID, truck deliveries and other shipments are facing delays, and people are panic buying—all leading to product shortages and soaring prices.
 
Yet, while we know the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly challenged our nation’s supply chain, we also know there are systemic imbalances in our economy.
 
Decreased competition, driven by market concentration, has allowed companies to further drive up costs and their profits – at the expense of hardworking Americans in one of our most vulnerable moments.
 
In the beef processing market, for example, four dominant companies control 85% of the market.
 
The four largest poultry processing companies made up more than half of the market in 2015, up from 35% of the market in 1986.
 
And we have seen this trend all across our economy, as large corporations have squeezed out independent businesses, eliminating competition.
 
As a result, hardworking Americans throughout this country are paying more as food prices skyrocket, particularly for meat.
 
Provisions included in the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act will help us tackle this very issue and help bring prices down across the board.
 
The Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act and the Butcher Block Act, for example, will help strengthen our investigatory and enforcement tools to address market competition issues while also investing in additional meat processing capacity. 
 
And the PRECISE Act will improve farming efficiency and help ensure farmers’ resiliency to future disruptions in fertilizer supply.
 
The Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act and the Year-Round Fuel Choice Act will help drive down prices at the pump for Americans and increase available fuel supply.
 
These are just a few of the provisions in this comprehensive package that will help ease the economic burden on American families and help create an economy that works for all of us.
 
I urge my colleagues to come together to help hardworking Americans by driving down these costs and supporting this legislation. And I thank the Chairman again for yielding and I yield back.
 
Background
H.R. 7606, the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act is a bipartisan legislative package that includes:

  • H.R. 2518: The Producing Responsible Energy and Conservation Incentives and Solutions for the Environment (PRECISE) Act: This bill expands USDA loans to farmers and rural entities for rural broadband and precision agriculture and technology – to help use fertilizers more efficiently. This provision explicitly allows up to a 90 percent cost share for precision agriculture under the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).  
  • H.R. 7764: A bill to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to provide additional payments for implementation of a nutrient management practice and for other purposes: Includes $500 million in USDA funds to cover 100 percent of the cost of nutrient management plan for farmers to reduce fertilizer use and lower costs while also providing resource benefits including clean water and reduced carbon use.
  • H.R. 7606: The Meat & Poultry Special Investigator Act: Establishes a USDA Special Investigator for Competition Matters with new powers to swiftly crack down on anti-competitive practices by meatpacking conglomerates in violation of the long-standing Packers and Stockyards Act. Better enforcement will lead to greater competition in processing, fairer access to markets for producers, and price stability for consumers.
  • H.R. 4140: The Butcher Block Act: Expands and creates new livestock and meat processing capacity alleviating supply chain bottlenecks and providing producers more options to market cattle.
  • H.R. 4410: The Year-Round Fuel Choice Act: Builds on the recent Biden Administration action allowing for the voluntary year-round sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, known as E-15 or Unleaded 88 – reducing prices at the pump for consumers.
  • H.R. 1542: The Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act: Invests $200 million to help deploy additional storage and dispensing equipment to ensure that higher ethanol blends, biodiesel, sustainable aviation fuel, and other biofuels are more readily available across the country.

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Congress Number
June 16, 2022
June 23, 2022

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