FarmPolicy

February 22, 2020

Prospective Plantings Recap

Categories: Farm Bill

A U.S. Department of Agriculture news release from yesterday stated that, “Driven by growing ethanol demand, U.S. farmers intend to plant 15 percent more corn acres in 2007, according to the Prospective Plantings report released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Producers plan to plant 90.5 million acres of corn, the largest area since 1944 and 12.1 million acres more than in 2006.

I. Prospective Plantings
II. Farm Bill Related Reports

I. Prospective Plantings

A U.S. Department of Agriculture news release from yesterday stated that, “Driven by growing ethanol demand, U.S. farmers intend to plant 15 percent more corn acres in 2007, according to the Prospective Plantings report released today [full report] by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Producers plan to plant 90.5 million acres of corn, the largest area since 1944 and 12.1 million acres more than in 2006.

“Expected corn acreage is up in nearly all states, due to favorable prices fueled by increased demand from ethanol producers as well as strong export sales. Illinois farmers intend to plant a record 12.9 million corn acres this spring, up 1.6 million acres – or 14.2 percent – from 2006. Record-high acreage is also expected in Minnesota, North Dakota, California and Idaho. Iowa continues to be the largest corn acreage state with 13.9 million acres, up 1.3 million acres – or 10.3 percent – from 2006.

“The increase in intended corn acres is partially offset by a decrease in soybean acres in the Corn Belt and Great Plains, as well as fewer expected acres of cotton and rice in the Delta and Southeast. U.S. farmers plan to plant 67.1 million acres of soybeans, the lowest total since 1996 and a decrease of 8.4 million acres – or 11 percent – from 2006. Area planted to cotton is expected to total 12.1 million acres, down 20 percent from 2006.”

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Spending Measures Head to Conference – Lula in Today’s Post

Demand for renewable energy, primarily corn-based ethanol, has played a leading role in the tight budget situation facing the Agriculture Committees. As the market price for corn and other program crops has increased, the projected amount of future price-triggered federal payments has significantly narrowed. However, ethanol’s influence will go far beyond the federal budget and will likely have a variety of ripple impacts throughout the agricultural economy.

I. Spending Measures
II. Ethanol-Lula in Today’s Post
III. Doha

I. Spending Measures

Congressional Quarterly reported yesterday that, “The Senate passed a roughly $123 billion supplemental war spending bill today by a 51-47 vote, paving the way for what lawmakers hope will be a speedy conference.”

Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny indicated in today’s New York Times that, “[Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)] promised that negotiators would quickly begin to reconcile the new Senate measure with a version passed by the House last week and have a bill ready to be approved and sent to the president soon after the House returns from its spring break on April 16. The administration has said the military needs the money by April 15, and the White House said Thursday that the Pentagon was already having to juggle accounts, shifting money from one program to another to buy more vehicles better able to withstand mines.

“Dana Perino, the deputy White House spokeswoman, said, ‘This, again, underscores the need to get the show on the road, get the bill to the president, he will veto it, and then, we’ll take it from there.’”

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2007 Farm Bill Proposals

Categories: Farm Bill

A recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, “Farm Bill Proposals and Legislative Action in the 110th Congress” (March 22), provided an excellent overview of the important factors influencing the 2007 Farm Bill debate, as well as a summary and overview of “proposals by national organizations.”

On page two, the CRS set the stage for the Farm Bill discussion by explaining that, “Rapid increases in the futures market prices of corn and other commodities since the summer of 2006 have contributed to a lower March 2007 baseline for farm program spending. Projected spending for government commodity payments under current law is projected to be $42.4 billion for the FY2008-FY2013 period, which is about $30 billion lower than actual spending in the previous six years. Baseline estimates for mandatory conservation and food stamps program for the next six years are higher compared to the previous six years. Funding for mandatory conservation programs under current law is estimated at $26.5 billion and food and nutrition assistance is estimated at $225.8 billion for FY2008-FY2013.”

In addition, the report noted that, “The House and Senate are in the process of completing an FY2008 budget resolution, which will determine budget parameters for the 2007 farm bill. By April 2007, both chambers are expected to complete action on the resolution, which will likely include a specific multi-year allocation to the Agriculture Committees for the new farm bill. Once given the new allocation, the Agriculture Committees will craft changes in policy to fit the new farm bill within the budget allocation. The Senate version of the FY2008 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 21) contains a $15 billion reserve fund for the farm bill (above baseline) but would require the spending to be offset with reductions in other federal spending” (pages 2 and 3).

Although not included in the CRS report, the House version of the FY2008 budget resolution contains a $20 billion reserve fund for the Farm Bill, which under pay-as-you-go spending rules, would also require offsets.

Beyond the importance of budget considerations, the CRS indicated on page three that, “Initially, agreement in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations was expected to converge in 2007 with the expiration of the 2002 farm bill, well before the expiration of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which provides for expedited congressional consideration of trade agreements. Many policymakers wanted a Doha Round agreement so that the next farm bill could be made consistent with new farm trade rules. However, progress on the Doha Round negotiations stalled in 2006. Now many in Congress are seeking to write a new farm bill without regard to any future Doha Round agreement. Nevertheless, this backdrop of negotiations and the potential for litigation could potentially influence the choices U.S. lawmakers have in designing new farm policies. EU officials have publicly stated that changes to U.S. domestic support programs suggested by the Bush Administration’s farm bill proposal do not go far enough in meeting Doha Round objectives for farm trade policy reform.”

After documenting Congressional hearing activity, the CRS report focused on the Administration’s 2007 Farm Bill proposal, and noted that, “For all areas in the farm bill, the Administration requests $5 billion more than the 10-year Office of Management and Budget (OMB) baseline, according to its own estimates. Commodity programs would receive $4.5 billion less than the $74 billion 10-year baseline, and conservation would receive $7.8 billion more than the $49 billion baseline. CBO estimates that these proposals would increase spending by $9.9 billion for the FY2008-FY2017 period relative to CBO’s March 2007 baseline budget. This is twice the Administration’s $5.0 billion estimate over the same 10- year period” (page 6).

Beginning on page seven, the CRS report then provided a recap of the following 2007 Farm Bill proposals, or positions (click on link for proposal or position detail).

* National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (brief overview on page seven of CRS report).

* National Farmers Union (Ibid at page seven).

* American Farm Bureau Federation (page eight).

* American Farmland Trust (page eight).

* National Corn Growers Association (page eight).

* National Association of Wheat Growers (page nine).

* National Milk Producers Federation (page nine).

* Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (page nine).

* National Association of Conservation Districts (page nine).

* Defenders of Wildlife (page 10).

* Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group (Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership) (page 10).

* Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group / Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (page 11).

* Center for Rural Affairs (page 11).

* 25 x 25 Renewable Energy Alliance (page 12).

* Renewable Fuels Association (page 12).

* Chicago Council on Global Affairs (page 12).

* National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (page 13).

* Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (page 13).

* Oxfam America (page 13).

The report then highlighted Congressional action beginning on page 14, noting that, “In the House, two comprehensive legislative proposals have been introduced that seek broad-based changes to existing farm legislation.”

* H.R. 1551, Healthy Farms, Foods, and Fuels Act of 2007 (page 14-15). HR 1551- Legislative Recap. Related Bills- S. 919.

* Equitable Agriculture Today for a Healthy America Act (EAT Healthy
Act)
; [press release] (page 15). H.R. 1600- Legislative Recap.


UPDATED May 8, 2007

* Cato Institute– “Freeing the Farm: A Farm Bill for All Americans,” by Sallie James and Daniel Griswold.

* American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)- “Farm Bill: An Investment That is Working.” Additional Information at this AFBF webpage- 2007 Farm Bill Proposal.

* The Farm, Nutrition, and Community Investment Act. H.R. 2144

UPDATED May 11, 2007

* The Food & Agriculture Risk Management for the 21st Century Act (FARM 21) – “Under this proposal, the current system of farm subsidies – counter-cyclical, loan deficiency, income loss, and direct payments – would gradually be transitioned to a more cost-effective and responsive system of farmer- held ‘risk management accounts’ (RMAs) and revenue insurance tools.”

Related Senate action: “New ag direction offered by Lugar and House colleagues.”

UPDATED May 17, 2007

* H.R.1766
Title: To amend conservation and biofuels programs of the Department of Agriculture to promote the compatible goals of economically viable agricultural production and reducing nutrient loads in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries by assisting agricultural producers to make beneficial, cost-effective changes to cropping systems, grazing management, and nutrient management associated with livestock and poultry production, crop production, bioenergy production, and other agricultural practices on agricultural land within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and for other purposes.

***

Meanwhile, a news release from the House Ag Committee stated yesterday that, “Today the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held a hearing to review proposals to amend the commodity provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill. Congressman Bob Etheridge of North Carolina is Chairman of the Subcommittee.

“‘Today we heard in detail from major commodity groups about what their members would like to see in the next Farm Bill and what they think of other proposals being offered,’ said Chairman Etheridge. ‘In general, the framework of the current farm safety net for program crops enjoys strong support in farm country. Given the declining budget baseline for farm programs, the Subcommittee will have to work in a bipartisan manner if we want to further build upon the strong fundamental structure of that is already in place.’”

The opening statements of all the witnesses are available here.

DTN reporter Chris Clayton noted in an article from yesterday that, “Lawmakers face a tight budget and must fit commodity programs in a framework of about $74 billion in spending or cut funds in other parts of the farm bill if they want more money for commodities. At the same time, many of the major program crop groups say they like the current farm programs — as long as there are changes made to increase the payments for their own commodities. That left the National Corn Growers Association out on an island, alone, with its plan to create a counter-cyclical program based on revenue.”

Mr. Clayton also included this summary in his article; “Some of the various proposals from groups include:

* The American Soybean Association [ASA] wants to raise the target price of soybeans above $5.80 a bushel. With a 44-cent per bushel direct payment, that means counter-cyclical payments are only paid when the price falls below $5.36 a bushel. The ASA wants the target price raised to $6.85 a bushel [related ASA press release].

* The National Association of Wheat Growers [NAWG] also wants a higher target price and increases to the direct payment program. The group wants to see the wheat prices increased to $1.19 a bushel and the target price increased to $5.29 a bushel [related NAWG press release].

* The National Cotton Council wants a ‘modest program’ that would pay U.S. mills some competitive assistance for every pound of cotton they consume.

* The National Corn Growers Association [NCGA] is seeking a revenue counter-cyclical program that would pay farmers when revenue falls below a county average, either due to lower yields or lower county prices. The plan would build on using crop insurance to cover much of the losses [related NCGA press release].

* The American Corn Growers Association is calling for the reestablishment of the non-recourse loan program to provide a floor price for the major, strategic commodities and ‘relieve the burden of tens of billions of dollars in subsidies from the shoulders of America’s taxpayers.’

* The USA Rice Federation wants to raise the loan rate for rice from an average of $6.50 per hundredweight to $7. The federation also wants to make sure all classes of rice, long grain, medium grain and short grain receive the same loan rate instead of three different classes. The rice group also wants to raise the target price from $10.50 per hundredweight to $11 for counter-cyclical programs.

-Keith Good

Farm Bill Issues: Nat’l. Corn Growers Assoc. Notes Revenue Plan

The Hill reported today that, “House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) yesterday unveiled a set of conditions he said must be met before the administration’s trade agenda in the Democratic Congress moves forward.” A Reuters news report added that, “A deal with Democrats would improve the chances of the Bush administration winning another prize — renewal of trade promotion authority, which expires at the end of June.”

I. Farm Bill Issues
II. Ethanol
III. Trade

I. Farm Bill Issues

Reuters writer Christopher Doering reported yesterday that, “The Bush administration ignores the needs of U.S. farmers by opposing efforts in Congress to aid growers and ranchers hit by weather-related disasters, Democratic lawmakers said on Tuesday.

“Three senators said farmers who have been hit by drought, flooding and other disasters since 2005 need urgent assistance.

“U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns ‘is so out of touch with what’s going on in farm country he shouldn’t even use the title secretary of agriculture,’ Senator Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, said in an interview after speaking at a rally for farm disaster aid.”

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“Farm Flex” Bill: Fruit & Veg. Planting Restrictions

Categories: Budget /Ethanol /Farm Bill

Debate over the issue of fruit and vegetable planting restrictions, or “planting flexibility,” involve at least three important angles that could impact the 2007 Farm Bill: Processor concerns about adequate supply, WTO compliance, and the budget. The Bush administration, Midwestern lawmakers, and policy makers representing fruit and vegetable growers, have all contributed to the discussion with specific legislative proposals that will garner more attention as the 2007 Farm Bill is drafted.

I. Planting Restrictions
II. Other Farm Bill Issues
III. Ethanol

I. Planting Restrictions

In a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report, (“Farm Commodity Policy: Programs and Issues for Congress” (3.8.2007)), Jim Monke highlighted the current fruit and vegetable planting restriction and the issue of planting flexibility.

Mr. Monke explained the “planting flexibility” concept by noting that, “Planting flexibility was created in the 1990 farm bill to allow farmers to respond to market signals when choosing crops, but has restrictions to protect fruit and vegetable growers who do not receive direct subsidies. Flexibility refers to the ability to receive government payments for a base crop (such as corn) and simultaneously grow a different program crop on those base acres (such as soybeans, but not fruits and vegetables). Farmers who violate the planting restriction on fruits and vegetables do not receive program payments on acres in violation, and they must pay an additional financial penalty based on the market value of the fruits and vegetables planted (page 5)”

As a general proposition, specialty crop growers support the planting restriction policy.

However, the planting flexibility issue contains at least three important angles that could impact the 2007 Farm Bill: Processor concerns about adequate supply, WTO compliance and the budget.

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Budget and Spending Measures on Agenda Again This Week

Last week the Senate passed their budget resolution, a significant development with respect to spending and the 2007 Farm Bill, while the House concluded work on the war supplemental, which contained nearly $4 billion in farm related disaster payments. As Congressional Quarterly noted this morning, “The two chambers switch roles this week, with the full House considering its budget resolution and the Senate debating the war supplemental.”

I. Budget / Spending Issues
II. Land Values
III. Ethanol
IV. Farm Bill Perspectives
V. Food Aid

I. Budget / Spending Issues

Last week the Senate passed their budget resolution, a significant development with respect to spending and the 2007 Farm Bill, while the House concluded work on the war supplemental, which contained nearly $4 billion in farm related disaster payments. As Congressional Quarterly noted this morning, “The two chambers switch roles this week, with the full House considering its budget resolution and the Senate debating the war supplemental.”

Jerry Hagstrom, writing this morning at the AgWeek webpage, reported that, “[Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND)] said he considers the political climate for disaster aid to be more positive since the Democrats control Congress. He noted that the last two times disaster aid has come up, it died in the conference between the House and the Senate, with the Republican House leadership deferring to President Bush’s opposition to it, but that this time, there will be provisions in both bills. ‘This has been a long-running saga,’ Dorgan noted.”

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USDA Conservation Payments Increase as Crop Prices Rise (Des Moines Register)

Both the House and the Senate passed legislation yesterday that could have important implications for U.S farmers. The House passed a bill that contains nearly $4 billion of disaster payments, while the Senate measure includes important budget setting parameters that will impact the 2007 Farm Bill debate. Meanwhile, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy “said Friday he thinks a breakthrough in the Doha round of global trade talks is ‘doable’ before the Bush administration’s fast-track authority expires, although negotiations would continue even if it does lapse.”

I. Conservation Payments
II. Prospective Plantings Report (3.30)
III. Payment Limits
IV. House, Senate Votes on Friday (3.23)
V. Doha

I. Conservation Payments

Philip Brasher reported in today’s Des Moines Register that, “Recent jumps in land prices are forcing the government to pay landowners more to get them to take environmentally sensitive acreage out of production.

“Citing the ‘dramatic increase in commodity prices,’ the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week ordered its offices in Iowa and elsewhere to revise payment rates for the popular Conservation Reserve Program.”

An editorial posted yesterday at the USA Today webpage regarding the Iraq War supplemental, which was passed by the House yesterday, included this breakdown of spending contained in the bill. Approximately $3.7 billion for agricultural disaster assistance was included in the measure.

Mr. Brasher explained that, “Landowners are becoming reluctant to enroll property in the program because the annual payments they would receive are falling far behind what the land will rent for as cropland, according to local Agriculture Department officials and national wildlife organizations.

“‘We are getting reports that rents are taking significant jumps,’ said John Johnson, deputy administrator of farm programs for USDA’s Farm Service Agency. ‘We want to stay competitive.’”

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Votes on Spending

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the fiscal 2007 war supplemental, a bill that contains some $3.89 billion in disaster aid for farmers for weather-related disasters in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar resolution yesterday, which also contained additional farm spending provisions. Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that, “A meeting of the Group of 33 developing countries in Indonesia said it had reduced by half the indicators it would use to determine which agricultural products would receive special protection.” The move is expected to “boost the flagging Doha round of global trade talks.”

I. Votes on Spending
II. Payment Limitations
III. Doha

I. Votes on Spending

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the fiscal 2007 war supplemental, a bill that contains some $3.89 billion in disaster aid for weather-related disasters in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The Washington Post editorial board provided this summation of the legislation in today’s paper; “Today the House of Representatives is due to vote on a bill that would grant $25 million to spinach farmers in California. The legislation would also appropriate $75 million for peanut storage in Georgia and $15 million to protect Louisiana rice fields from saltwater. More substantially, there is $120 million for shrimp and menhaden fishermen, $250 million for milk subsidies, $500 million for wildfire suppression and $1.3 billion to build levees in New Orleans.

“Altogether the House Democratic leadership has come up with more than $20 billion in new spending, much of it wasteful subsidies to agriculture or pork barrel projects aimed at individual members of Congress. At the tail of all of this logrolling and political bribery lies this stinger: Representatives who support the bill — for whatever reason — will be voting to require that all U.S. combat troops leave Iraq by August 2008, regardless of what happens during the next 17 months or whether U.S. commanders believe a pullout at that moment protects or endangers U.S. national security, not to mention the thousands of American trainers and Special Forces troops who would remain behind.”

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More Budget Developments

The Senate Ag Committee heard testimony yesterday regarding U.S. food aid programs. Today’s New York Times reported on this development and noted that, “programs are plagued by inefficiencies that have sharply reduced the amount of food being provided and have slowed deliveries, the Government Accountability Office reported to Congress on Wednesday.” Today’s update also takes a look at federal budget activity and farm program payment limitations, key issues in the 2007 Farm Bill debate.

I. Budget-Spending
II. Payment Limits
III. Focus on U.S. Food Aid
IV. Doha

I. Budget-Spending

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report entitled, “An Analysis of the President’s Budgetary Proposals for Fiscal Year 2008.”

On page 13 of the report, under the heading, “The President’s Farm Bill Proposal,” CBO noted that, “ The President’s budget includes an allowance of $5 billion over 10 years for legislation that would revise and extend expiring provisions of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. The Department of Agriculture subsequently announced details of the Administration’s proposals (and estimated their total cost at $3 billion from 2008 to 2017). CBO estimates that the proposals, which would affect commodity, conservation, trade, rural development, nutrition and other programs, would increase spending by nearly $9 billion over the next 10 years, relative to CBO’s baseline projections (which assume continuation of most current farm programs).”

Meanwhile, Reuters news reported yesterday that, “House Democrats will seek a $20 billion reserve fund for new agricultural spending as Congress overhauls the U.S. farm program, the chairman of the Agriculture Committee pledged on Wednesday.

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House Budget & Farm Spending

Today, the House Budget Committee will begin to mark up the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for fiscal year 2008. While the Budget Committees continue to shape the direction of U.S. farm policy by formulating spending parameters, other specific proposals regarding spending for specialty crops and federal farm payment limits have emerged.

I. House Budget & Farm Spending
II. Farm Bill Developments
III. Trade, Doha

I. House Budget & Farm Spending

Today, the House Budget Committee will begin to mark up the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for fiscal year 2008.

Reuters writer Charles Abbott reported yesterday that, “Farm-state lawmakers will have to find spending cuts elsewhere in the budget if they want to spend more on biofuels or other agriculture programs, the chairman of the House Budget Committee warned on Tuesday.

“Rep. John Spratt, Democrat of South Carolina, said there was no guaranteed increase in agriculture funding in his budget blueprint for fiscal 2008 and beyond. But there will be a reserve fund the Agriculture Committee can tap for this year’s overhaul of farm policy if it finds new revenue or a spending cut to pay for new spending.

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Agricultural Trade Factors

As the Doha talks continue, Financial Times writer Alan Beattie has provided a more in-depth look at issues associated with a potential shift away from negotiation and towards litigation in the context of world trade disputes. Mr. Beattie noted that, “To its defenders, this trend represents rule and reason constraining power politics. To its critics, it means runaway jurists subverting democracy.”

I. Closer Look at Trade Litigation
II. Report on a More Market Oriented Farm Bill
III. Farm Policy Issues: Spending & Ethanol

I. Closer Look at Trade Litigation

Alan Beattie reported today at the Financial Times Online that, “As the so-called Doha round of World Trade Organisation global trade talks sputters, more and more of the work of trade relations has shifted away from negotiation and towards litigation and arbitration. To its defenders, this trend represents rule and reason constraining power politics. To its critics, it means runaway jurists subverting democracy.”

Mr. Beattie indicated that, “A series of cases has highlighted the ability of a country – and increasingly, at the Icsid [International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, housed at the World Bank in Washington, which rules on disagreements between governments and private foreign investors] and similar ‘investor-state’ tribunals, a company – to force a government to act in politically sensitive areas. A succession of cases brought by WTO members including Brazil, the European Union and even tiny Antigua and Barbuda (population 83,000) has forced the US Congress to rewrite corporation tax law, reform subsidies to cotton farmers and revise bans on internet gambling.”

The FT article explained that, “WTO panels comprise three from a roster of part-time panellists that includes trade officials, diplomats and academics. Some, oddly, are moonlighting from day jobs as national ambassadors to the WTO, meaning they are negotiating over trade deals one day and ruling on their meaning the next. They do not have to be lawyers, though there is a separate appellate body whose members must have legal expertise. Panels rely heavily on advice from the WTO’s small secretariat to interpret legal questions.”

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Farm Bill Developments

Categories: Budget /Ethanol /Farm Bill

As the Senate and House Budget Committees move forward with budget resolution proposals over the next couple of weeks, the Agriculture Committees will sharpen their focus and consider just exactly how to spend their designated allotment. Issues to watch include new emphasis on what the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls specialty crops, as well as federal farm conservation measures.

I. Budget Issues
II. Policy Priorities
III. Des Moines Register Highlights Ethanol

I. Budget Issues

Jerry Hasgtsrom, in an article posted this morning at the AgWeek webpage, reported that, “Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., included $15 billion in additional funding for agriculture from 2008 to 2012 in his proposed budget released last week, but the money would have to be found either by cutting other government programs or by raising taxes.

“The new money most likely would be spent on conservation and biofuels research and development.

“In writing what is known as the ‘chairman’s mark’ for debate by the Senate Budget Committee and Congress, Conrad provided for continuation of current programs and a $15 billion ‘deficit-neutral reserve fund’ for expanding such agricultural programs as research in renewable energy. If the full Congress adopts the budget with the $15 billion for additional agriculture spending it, that means that members of Congress cannot raise a budget point of order against it. Under the pay-as-you-go rules, Congress still has to say where the money would come from for additional programs.”

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Focus on the EU

Categories: Doha / Trade /EU /Farm Bill

While traveling earlier this month in India, Mariann Fischer Boel, Member of the European Commission responsible for agriculture and rural development, highlighted recent reforms in the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, as well as the EU’s role in the Doha Round of WTO trade talks.

I. EU Farm Policy Perspectives
II. Doha
III. Washington Times, “Johanns sees farm bill aiding trade talks.”

I. EU Farm Policy Perspectives

Earlier this month, Mariann Fischer Boel, Member of the European Commission responsible for agriculture and rural development, delivered a speech in New Delhi entitled, “EU-India trade and Doha Round of WTO.”

In part, the EU Agriculture Commissioner noted that, “In respect of the agricultural section of the [Doha] talks, a lot of the muscle-stretching has actually taken place at home rather than at the negotiating tables of Geneva – and over a period of years. What I mean is this: it’s because the European Union has carried through far-reaching reforms to its domestic agricultural policy that we have been able to play such an active game in the Doha Round.”

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Ag Spending

A news article from yesterday noted that, “When Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) was asked to list his top three issues for the farm bill Thursday, he didn’t hesitate.

“‘Money, lack of money and lack of money. That’s the top three,’ he joked.

“Harkin has asked for an additional $20 billion to be added back into the Agriculture Committtee’s baseline, or spending projection, for its five-year farm bill. When the Senate Budget Committee passed its 2008 budget resolution today, the non-binding blueprint for spending includes an extra $15 billion.”

I. Ag Spending- Ethanol’s Impact
II. Lawmakers Unveil Farm Bill Proposal
III. Doha

I. Ag Spending- Ethanol’s Impact

Reuters writer Donna Smith reported yesterday that, “A Democratic-written budget plan that seeks to eliminate deficits by 2012 and throws into doubt the future of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts advanced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday after a panel approved the measure along party lines.

“The Senate Budget Committee voted 12-11 to send the $2.9 trillion fiscal 2008 budget blueprint to the floor for action next week. The budget committee in the U.S. House of Representatives is set to begin work next week on its version.

“The budget plan sets up overall spending and revenue goals, but it will be up to individual committees to determine where the money goes.”

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Budget: More Money For Agriculture

Yesterday, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad released the Committee’s budget resolution, officially entitled, “Chairman’s Mark: Text of Resolution.” A news report describing the report stated that, “U.S. agricultural programs would get a $15 billion boost in funding through fiscal 2012 under a proposal unveiled by the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday.”

I. Budget & Other Farm Bill Issues
II. Doha

I. Budget & Other Farm Bill Issues

Yesterday, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad released the Committee’s budget resolution, officially entitled, “Chairman’s Mark: Text of Resolution.”

The complete document is available here; however, beginning at the bottom of page 54, the document stated that, “The Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget may revise the allocations, aggregates, and other appropriate levels and limits in this resolution for a bill, joint resolution, amendment, motion, or conference report that-

(1) reauthorizes the Food Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002;
(2) strengthens our agriculture and rural economies;
(3) provides agriculture-related tax relief;
(4) improves our environment by reducing our Nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy through expanded production and use of alternative fuels; or
(5) combines any of the purposes provided in paragraphs (1) through (4);
by the amounts provided in that legislation for those purposes up to $15,000,000,000 over the total of fiscal years 2007 through 2012, provided that such legislation would not increase the deficit over the total of the period of fiscal years 2007 through 2012.”

Reuters writer Charles Abbott reported yesterday that, “U.S. agricultural programs would get a $15 billion boost in funding through fiscal 2012 under a proposal unveiled by the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday.

“Farm groups and their allies in Congress say new funding is necessary because crop support spending will fall by 40 percent, to around $8 billion a year, under the formulas that determine spending limits for federal programs.

“Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad told Reuters that he included a $15 billion reserve fund for agriculture in his proposal to set U.S. spending limits. Lawmakers would have to find offsets in federal spending in order to use the money.”

(more…)

Lawmakers Express Farm Policy Opinions

Yesterday, The Hill webpage included several short opinion pieces and perspectives on the future direction of U.S. farm policy from influential lawmakers. Today’s FarmPolicy update provides a brief overview of some of these opinion items and also looks at other factors that will influence the development of the Farm Bill including: the market environment, ethanol, conservation concerns and the budget.

I. Farm Policy Opinions – From The Hill Online
II. Market Environment
III. Ethanol
IV. Conservation Concerns
V. Budget

I. Farm Policy Opinions – From The Hill Online

* Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) “Energy opportunities create new farm-policy possibilities.” –“[A]s we begin debate on a new farm bill, we have a chance to produce better alternatives to the farm income safety net, thanks to important changes that have occurred in agricultural economy over the past five years. Higher commodity prices, generated in part by new demand for energy crops, point the way toward a new safety net that is fairer, cheaper, conservation-minded, export-promoting and market-oriented.

“Substantial budget savings can also be realized. I praise Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns for leading the debate on equities with the very constructive farm bill he has proposed, one that includes payment caps. There is no good reason to continue large federal payments to millionaire farmers.

“Much of agriculture’s growth during the last three decades has come by expanding exports. That must continue. Congress must ensure that farm programs don’t intentionally or accidentally limit our possibilities for trading growth.

“That’s a danger now. Because of our farm subsidies, cases are being filed before the World Trade Organization that threaten our future exports. We can avoid this by adopting alternative strategies for a farm safety net.”

(more…)


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