CFTC Ag Advisory Committee Holds Final Meeting of 2023

Yesterday, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Agriculture Advisory Committee, led by CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam, held a meeting to discuss three main topics: futures margining and the agricultural markets, the impact of Russian-Ukrainian war on wheat futures prices, and global events impact on the futures market. ACSA President and CEO Buddy Allen took the opportunity to thank the CFTC for their focus on Voluntary Carbon Markets and applauded them for their ongoing initiative to bring standards and definitions to this developing market.

ACSA is grateful for the CFTC’s work to make sure out markets are efficient and secure.

More on the hearing here.

Senate Banking Committee Raises Concerns Around the Basel III Endgame Proposal

Yesterday, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing on “Annual
Oversight of Wall Street Firms,” which centered around the Basel III Endgame Proposal. ACSA recently signed onto a letter stating our opposition to the proposal.

Republican Members and witnesses alike generally stated that the proposal’s capital requirement increases will create a burdensome regulatory environment for the American financial system. Republican Members raised concerns that the proposal will reduce banks’ ability to lend to the public and small businesses, negatively impact farmers’ ability to hedge their risks efficiently in derivatives markets, and potentially affect Treasury market liquidity.

Witnesses highlighted the redundancy of the Basel III proposal, saying the banking system is in good health as demonstrated by the numerous stress tests their banks have passed. Witnesses generally clarified that increased capital requirements will limit their ability to engage in public lending and discussed how the increased capital requirements will make hedging more expensive for American farmers. Witnesses said Basel III will put the U.S. financial system at a competitive disadvantage on a global scale.

Democrat Members reasoned that recent bank failures indicate a need to reevaluate our capital requirements and that banks’ negative reaction to increased capital requirements is an overreaction. Most Democrats did not question witnesses on the Basel III proposal specifically, and instead raised issues as to housing affordability for low-income and marginalized communities, AI, and cryptocurrency.

More on the hearing here.

Government Shutdown & Speaker of the House Update

Below, Delta Strategy Group shared an overview on where things stands in Washington, D.C. when it comes to the status of a government shutdown and the recent removal of Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as Speaker of the House.

In September, Congress reached the brink of a government shutdown due to conflicts within the Republican party. Members of the far-right Freedom Caucus clashed with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) over the budget McCarthy agreed to with President Biden during the debt ceiling debate earlier this year. McCarthy struck an accord on budget numbers that allowed him and the President to extend the debt ceiling, but Freedom Caucus Members felt left out of the negotiation process, and they pushed for larger budget cuts. Another major sticking point has been continued funding for Ukraine war efforts. Members of the Freedom Caucus are opposed to further funding for Ukraine, a nonstarter in the Senate. The Senate passed a budget proposal that included $6 billion in further funding for Ukraine with the support of twenty-eight Republicans.

In a surprising turn, Congress managed to avoid the shutdown mere hours before the fiscal year was set to expire on September 30. Speaker McCarthy (R-CA) managed to pass a bill to extend the current budget levels for the next forty-five days, and, after some initial holdout, the Senate passed the bill. The Freedom Caucus has still not expressed a willingness to cave on their demands for further budget slashes or a willingness to support further funding for Ukraine, something that the Senate will undoubtedly push for in future budget debates.

To further complicate matters, this afternoon, Speaker McCarthy was ousted from his position as Speaker, leading the House into the chaos of choosing a new Speaker. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced a motion to remove McCarthy from his position, and it received support from every Democrat as well as Republicans Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Tim Burchett (R-TN), Ken Buck (R-CO), Eli Crane (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Matt Rosendale (R-MT), Bob Good (R-VA), and Nancy Mace (R-SC). Representatives Victoria Spartz (R-IN), Cory Mills (R-FL), and Warren Davidson (R-OH) voted to advance the motion to vacate McCarthy to a vote, but they ultimately voted to keep McCarthy as Speaker.

Now, McCarthy has chosen Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, to act as interim Speaker of the House in his absence. McHenry will be tasked with setting a vote for a new Speaker. It is not clear at this time who the Republicans will push for Speaker, but House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), and interim Speaker McHenry are all top names. It is unclear that the Freedom Caucus wing of the party will be any more willing to support these names than McCarthy.

Any further House business, including passing a budget to stave off a shutdown in forty-five days, will undoubtedly be delayed by the process of determining a new Speaker of the House.

ACSA President and Chairman Participate in CFTC Meeting

On December 7, 2022, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) held an Agricultural Advisory Committee (“AAC”) meeting to discuss topics related to the agricultural economy and recent developments in the agricultural derivatives markets. ACSA President/CEO Buddy Allen and Chairman Tommy Hayden of Louis Dreyfus Company both serve on the committee.

Summary here.

Senate Ag Committee Leadership Introduce Digital Asset Bill

On August 3rd, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) along with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act of 2022 to give the Commodity Futures Trading Commission new tools and authorities to regulate digital commodities. 

Summary here.

ACP Chairman Nathan Reed Testifies

On June 17th, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing in Committee Ranking Member John Boozman’s home state of Arkansas entitled, “2023 Farm Bill: Perspectives from the Natural State.” ACSA would like to thank American Cotton Producers (ACP) Chairman Nathan Reed for sharing his perspectives on important topics going into the next Farm Bill, including supply chains.

More here.