September 23, 2019

Climate Change; Trade- Cotton Case; and Animal Agriculture

Climate Change- Administrator Jackson’s Perspective

Reuters writer Timothy Gardner reported yesterday that, “The Environmental Protection Agency chief fought back on Monday against Senate attempts to challenge the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, saying delaying action would be bad for the economy.

“President Barack Obama has long said the EPA would take steps to regulate greenhouse gases if Congress failed to pass climate legislation. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate amid opposition from fossil fuel-rich states.

“Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from oil-producing Alaska, has introduced legislation to stop EPA from taking steps under the Clean Air Act on climate pollution from tailpipes and smokestacks.”


Sec. Vilsack- Trade; Climate Issues; and Crop Insurance

Sec. Vilsack- USDA Perceptions

DTN editor-in-chief Urban C. Lehner noted on Friday that, “Our agriculture secretary has been taking verbal abuse from all directions. When he defended transgenic seeds before a crowd of local-food activists last October, they booed him. When he included organic and local-food speakers at USDA’s annual Outlook meeting in late February, the traditional production-ag types acted as if USDA had been taken over by aliens.”

Unlike his critics in the alternative-ag community, he understands that feeding a growing world population will require increases in agricultural productivity that going local and going organic won’t provide. Unlike his traditional-ag critics, he realizes that agriculture has a role to play in preserving the environment, and to play it well will require adopting the best ideas from a variety of agricultural approaches, including the local and organic movements.

“‘I have two sons, and I love them both,’ Vilsack has said of the competing schools of how agriculture should be practiced.”


Climate Change Issues; Trade; Biofuels; Crop Insurance; Food Safety; and Animal Agriculture

Climate Change- EPA Regulation

John M. Broder reported yesterday at The New York Times Online that, “Coal-country lawmakers moved Thursday to impose a two-year moratorium on potential federal regulation of carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases.

“Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, said the Environmental Protection Agency should refrain from issuing any new rules on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other major stationary sources for two years to allow Congress to pass comprehensive legislation on energy and climate change” [related news release].

“Representatives Alan B. Mollohan and Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia [news release] and Rick Boucher of Virginia [news release], also Democrats, introduced a similar bill in the House.”


House Ag Committee Activity; Senate Appropriations Hearing (EPA-Climate Issues); and Trade Issues

House Ag Committee- Budget

Reuters writer Charles Abbott reported yesterday that, “The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday rejected President Barack Obama’s proposals to reduce crop subsidies to higher-income farmers and federal support for crop insurance.

“There was little discussion as the committee refused farm cuts requested by the president for the second year in a row. With elections in November, the committee approved a letter saying benefits ‘should be maintained’ at current levels.

“‘We are united and I think we have over-whelming support in the House not to open up the farm bill’ enacted in 2008, said Agriculture chairman Collin Peterson, a Democrat.”


Senate Ag Appropriations Hearing; Disaster Payments- Biodiesel Tax Credit; Climate Issues; Livestock Issues; and Trade

Senate Ag Appropriations Hearing

Philip Brasher reported yesterday at the Green Fields Blog (The Des Moines Register) that, “The Obama administration doesn’t want to spend as much money on land conservation as the 2008 farm bill calls for, but the programs would still grow under the president’s budget, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“That was his pushback when fellow Iowan, Sen. Tom Harkin, argued at a Senate appropriations hearing today that the budget would result in a 4-million acre cut to federal conservation programs.

It’s a cut because the administration is asking for less money than Congress authorized, but the total spending and acreage would actually increase from this year to next, which is Vilsack’s point.”


Bill O’Conner Joins McLeod, Watkinson & Miller; Climate Issues; Trade; Disaster Payments; Biotechnology; CFTC; and Herbicide Study

Bill O’Conner Joins McLeod, Watkinson & Miller

Long time GOP staff leader of the House Agriculture Committee, Bill O’Conner, retired on March 1, after nearly 30 years of service in a variety of policy roles on both Capitol Hill and at USDA.

O’Conner, who joins the Washington law firm of McLeod, Watkinson & Miller on March 2, began working on the staff of the House Agriculture Committee in 1983 after Rep. Ed Madigan of Illinois became the Ranking Member of the Committee. Prior to joining the Agriculture Committee, O’Conner had worked as the Executive Director of the House Republican Research Committee under the chairmanship of Rep. Madigan.

During his seven years on the Agriculture Committee, O’Conner provided policy analysis and managed legislative operations for Ranking Member Madigan as the Committee developed the 1985 and 1990 Farm Bills, several disaster assistance and crop insurance bills, Farm Credit System reform bills and Commodity Exchange Act reauthorizations. He worked aggressively to enhance the bipartisan nature of the legislative process to attain greater minority influence on legislation.


Rep. Adrian Smith; Climate Issues; Farm Bill-Ag Economy; and Trade

Five GOOD Minutes- Interview with Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.)

On Friday afternoon (Feb. 26), spoke with Nebraska GOP Congressman Adrian Smith.

Congressman Smith, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, represents Nebraska’s Third Congressional District, one of the largest agricultural districts in the country.

To listen to our discussion, which covered budget issues, crop insurance and biofuels, just click here (MP3- 5:00).


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