The Associated Press reported on Friday that, “U.S. farm subsidies under the 2002 farm bill have been repeatedly challenged by trading partners, and new bill proposals from Congress would likely worsen the situation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s top economist said.
“‘We are going to face continuing challenges for our domestic support programs’ unless lawmakers make significant changes to their legislation to overhaul the farm bill, USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview Thursday.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released their monthly Agricultural Prices report on Friday. In part, the NASS report stated that, “The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in December, at 151 percent, based on 1990-92=100, increased 5 points (3.4 percent) from November. The Crop Index is up 10 points (6.5 percent) but the Livestock Index is unchanged. The All Farm Index and All Crop Index are at record highs.”
The report also included graphical illustrations of prices received for key program crops, including, corn,soybeans, wheat and cotton.
As the market price of some of these commodities ratchets upward, so does the value of farmland.
An item posted on Wednesday at Farm Futures Online noted that, “When Congress reconvenes in January, a House-Senate Conference Committee will iron out differences between the two versions [of the Farm Bill]. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., says meetings last week with House Ag Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Senate Ag Chair Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Senate Ag Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., were productive. He says they all are confident that details can be worked out and actually they aren’t too far apart on policy.
“However the same may not hold true with the White House. Acting Ag Secretary Chuck Conner has been voicing support for reform, in particular a cap on adjusted gross income. Peterson says he is willing to work with the White House on the Farm Bill, but the proposed cap of $200,000 won’t fly.”
Before getting into today’s summary regarding biofuels, a recent publication regarding EU farm policy should be noted.
Tamsin Cooper, David Baldock, and Martin Farmer, of the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), have published a timely and comprehensive background paper regarding the EU Common Agricultural Policy “Health Check” (“Toward the CAP Health Check and the European Budget Review”), which provides a well-organized overview of the key issues associated with the “Health Check” process.
More specifically, the “paper discusses the prospects for agricultural policy reform in the European Union (EU) arising from the 2008 Health Check of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP ) and the review of the European budget, due to be completed in 2009. Its aim is to locate the expected proposals of the Health Check in recent and potential future evolutions of the CAP; to review the proposals, situate them in a broader context of concurrent political processes and EU policy priorities; to discuss the extent to which they will frame the nature and trajectory of the debate; to consider the key players; and to discuss some of the issues that arise and desirable outcomes for 2013 and beyond.”
This valuable CAP reference guide can be downloaded by clicking here.
John W. Miller reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “The European Union’s dream of using vegetable-based diesel fuel in cars to cut oil imports and the pollution that causes global warming is turning sour.
As attention focuses on House / Senate Farm Bill conference committee activity, and whether or not President Bush will ultimately sign or veto the final Farm Bill product generated by the joint members of Congress, some farm policy observers have implied that the legislation that could have the biggest impact on agricultural producers has already been passed and signed into law: The Energy Bill.
On Wednesday, Acting U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner delivered remarks to the Agribusiness Club in Washington, D.C.
According to a transcript of his speech, Sec. Conner stated that, “The bill that came out of the Senate last week we believe sadly falls far, far short of where we need to be. The versions of the bill passed by the House and the Senate we believe are both fundamentally flawed. Neither one provides the kind of reforms that we believe represent forward-looking farm policy at a time of record strength in our farm economy. If you don’t know the numbers, get hold of those numbers. I won’t recount all of them, but they are remarkable.
Peter Baker reported in today’s Washington Post that, “After a year of partisan combat and legislative stalemate, President Bush and Democratic congressional leaders came together yesterday for a holiday season consensus as they enacted legislation to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Reuters news reported yesterday that, “The United States is not doing enough to bring its support for cotton into line with international trading rules, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said on Tuesday.
Reuters news reported on Thursday (via DTN) that, “Multibillion-dollar subsidies for U.S. farmers will face their widest challenge yet next week as the world trade court convenes a new case against controversial supports critics argue distort global markets.
“The World Trade Organization court is expected to formally set in motion a challenge from Canada and Brazil, who argue that the United States, a major crop exporter, has violated world trade rules with farm subsidies in recent years.
Dan Morgan, writing in today’s Washington Post, reported that, “Ending a six-week impasse, the Senate yesterday approved a $286 billion farm bill that would authorize significant new spending for farm programs, food stamps and conservation but would make only modest changes in the nation’s traditional agricultural subsidy system.
“The 79 to 14 vote came after Southern lawmakers used a procedural maneuver to prevent the approval of tighter limits on subsidy payments to large commercial growers of rice and cotton. The savings from the change would have gone to anti-hunger programs, the protection of fragile grasslands and the settlement of lawsuits filed by black farmers alleging discrimination in government farm programs.
Congressional Quarterly writer Catharine Richert reported yesterday that, “Citing the demise of cotton and rice farms in the South, nearly a dozen senators have been working to kill an amendment to the farm bill that would put strict caps on the amount of money farmers could collect from the federal government.
“The controversy is over a proposal by Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., and Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, that would bar farming couples from making more than $250,000 a year in federal subsidies, down from $360,000.
“The amendment will be the first vote Thursday as debate continues on the farm bill. The tally is expected to be close, with some lawmakers deciding their votes at the last minute.”
Congressional Quarterly writer Catharine Richert reported yesterday that, “Senate progress on the farm bill is expected to be slow again Wednesday as the Democratic leadership calls up amendments that would not make major changes to the legislation.”