December 10, 2019

Climate Issues; Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Animal Agriculture; Food Safety; Trade; and Financial Reform

Climate Issues

John M. Broder reported in today’s New York Times that, “The senators who emerged from a White House meeting with President Obama on energy policy on Tuesday made no effort to paper over the large differences that remain between them.

Democrats continued to insist on putting some sort of price on greenhouse gas emissions; Republicans continued to insist that to do so would be to impose a tax that would smother the economy.”


Farm Bill; Animal Agriculture; Trade; Biofuels; Climate Issues; Ag Economy; and Financial Reform

Farm Bill: Hearings

The House Agriculture Committee held a field hearing in North Carolina yesterday to review U.S. agriculture policy, as the Committee begins the process of writing the 2012 Farm Bill.

A House Ag Committee news release from yesterday pointed out that, “This is the ninth in a series of field hearings scheduled across the country to consider new ideas regarding federal food and farm policy. Four Members of Congress attended today’s hearing and heard testimony from eight witnesses on a variety of farm policy issues.”


Farm Bill; Trade; Competition; and Climate Change

Farm Bill: Hearings

The House Agriculture Committee continues to review U.S. farm policy in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill at a field hearing this morning in North Carolina.

The Committee has been exploring issues regarding the next Farm Bill in a series of hearings that have taken place since late April.

Most recently, on Thursday, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management heard from a number of commodity organizations regarding perspectives on U.S. farm safety net programs, an unofficial transcript of this hearing is available here.

Recall that the Senate Agriculture Committee will also hold the first of four hearings regarding Farm Bill reauthorization on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.


Farm Bill Issues; Competition; Climate Issues; Biofuels; Trade; and Financial Regulation

Farm Bill Issues

Bloomberg writer Alan Bjerga reported yesterday that, “Growers of corn, cotton and other crops may have to accept reduced subsidies in the next farm bill as budget-cutting becomes necessary to contain record deficits, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said.

“‘We’re not going to have any new money; we’ll probably have less money,’ the Minnesota Democrat said today at a hearing in Washington of the House Agriculture subcommittee that oversees commodity programs. ‘We’re going to have to make it work,’ he said.

“The hearing was called to solicit opinion from farmers on U.S. agriculture policy as Congress begins to craft legislation to replace the current farm bill. That measure, passed in 2008, authorized $289 billion over five years for all Department of Agriculture programs, including food stamps for the poor and farm subsidies.”

( Note: To listen to Chairman Peterson’s comments from yesterday in their entirety, just click here (MP3-3:34)).


Crop Insurance (SRA); Biofuels; Trade; Climate Issues; Biotech; and Peanuts

Crop Insurance- Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA)

Dan Looker reported earlier this week at AgricultureOnline that, “Last week members of the crop insurance industry met with USDA officials to try to understand the Obama Administration’s latest proposed reinsurance agreement with the industry. Tuesday, National Crop Insurance Services President Bob Parkerson said the industry has no choice but to accept the $6 billion cut in federal reimbursements for administrative costs over the next 10 years, if certain technical issues can be worked out.

“‘This is an extremely large cut,’ Parkerson said at a press conference Tuesday. It comes on top of $6.4 billion in cuts in the 2008 Farm Bill. Annually, the latest cut amounts to $600 million a year.”

The article added that, “‘A big part of the reduction is going to happen with the agent workforce,’ said Keith Collins, former USDA Chief Economist and now a consultant with NCIS.

“USDA says its reimbursement to the industry for 2009 is likely to be $3.8 billion. Collins and Parkerson said the cuts to the industry might not affect farmers directly yet. Indemnity payments are guaranteed by USDA. But service to farmers might suffer. And, Collins said, the lower returns could affect the industry when another widespread loss occurs.

“‘It limits the ability to build surplus for a really bad year,’ Collins said.”


Crop Insurance (SRA); Animal Ag (Antibiotics); Climate Issues; Biofuels; and Regulation Issues

Categories: Climate Change /Ethanol

Crop Insurance- Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA)

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “Crop insurance agents in the major Corn Belt states are going to take the biggest financial hits in a new contract between crop insurers and USDA. The agreement cuts expense reimbursements and underwriting gains to companies by $6 billion over the next 10 years.

“Fives states classified as the Corn Belt — Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska — are the most profitable states for the crop insurance industry but will take the largest cuts under the new standard reinsurance agreement with about a 30 percent reduction in administrative and operating (A&O) compensation and underwriting gains.

These cuts will be distributed to help boost insurance for companies in the states now considered underserved. That has been described as ‘rebalancing’ the program, said Keith Collins, a former USDA chief economist who is now a crop insurance industry consultant.”


Climate Issues; Nutrition; Biofuels; Biotech; Ag Economy; and Trade

Climate Issues

Bloomberg writer Simon Lomax reported yesterday that, “President Barack Obama, who meets with lawmakers at the White House this week to discuss energy legislation, may have to abandon a pollution-reduction program for the whole U.S. economy and push instead for new laws that target the electricity-producing companies.

“A plan to cap carbon-dioxide emissions from nearly every sector, favored by Obama and many Democrats, is stalled in the Senate and there isn’t enough time this year to get it passed, Eileen Claussen, president of the Arlington, Virginia-based Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said in a telephone interview.”


Farm Bill Issues; Ag Labor Issues; Climate Developments; and Ag Economy

2012 Farm Bill: Trade

Alan Beattie reported on Friday at the Financial Times Online that, “Brazil said on Thursday that it would suspend sanctions on US imports in retaliation for illegal American cotton subsidies, temporarily defusing one of the most contentious disputes in international trade.

“The deal will extend until 2012 a holding arrangement in which the US pays Brazilian farmers $147.3m a year and promises to cut subsidies in future. In return, Brazil will hold off imposing blocks on imports or ignoring patents and copyrights, which it is entitled to do after a World Trade Organisation panel declared the US cotton support programme illegal.

Brazilian officials said they expected permanent reforms to be introduced when US agricultural support was revised in the five-yearly ‘farm bill,’ which is next renewed in 2012. ‘This is not a final solution, but it lays out elements that will allow for consultations and reforms to the farm bill that will take place by the end of 2012,’ Roberto Azevedo, Brazil’s ambassador to the WTO, said. ‘Brazil doesn’t rule out taking countermeasures at any moment.’”


Farm Bill Hearing; Biofuels; Climate Issues; and Animal Agriculture

Farm Bill Hearing: USDA-SRA Crop Insurance Proposal a Prominent Issue

A House Ag Committee news release from yesterday stated that, “House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Chairman Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, today held the Subcommittee’s first hearing to review U.S. farm safety net programs in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill.

“The Agriculture Committee has begun the process of writing the 2012 Farm Bill, holding field hearings in eight states. Today’s subcommittee hearing is the next step in the process.

“The Subcommittee heard from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Jim Miller.”


Crop Insurance (SRA); Conservation Issues; Hearings; Climate Issues; Biofuels; and Ag Economy

Crop Insurance-Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA)

Yesterday on the AgriTalk Radio Program with Mike Adams, Risk Management Agency Administrator Bill Murphy and National Crop Insurance Services President Bob Parkerson, presented different perspectives on USDA’s release of the final draft of the 2011 Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA).

To listen to some of the remarks and comments made yesterday on AgriTalk by Bill Murphy regarding the SRA final draft, just click here (MP3- 5:32) and here (MP3-2:34).

Some observations on the SRA from Bob Parkerson can be heard here (MP3-5:44) and here (MP3-2:36).

A replay of yesterday’s entire AgriTalk program, which includes additional discussion on the SRA, is available here.


Crop Insurance (SRA); Climate Issues; Food Prices (FAO Report); Biofuels; USDA; and Financial Regulation

Crop Insurance- USDA-SRA

Yesterday, the American Association of Crop Insurers issued a statement on the release of the final draft of the 2011 Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA); in part, the statement indicated that, “The draft of the 2011 Standard Reinsurance Agreement (SRA) as released by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) of USDA on Friday, June 10, is said to be the final version and, if implemented as is, it will be a serious blow to the continued effectiveness of the Federal crop insurance program. Despite repeated pleas from across the agriculture sector, this latest proposal from RMA would cut an additional $6 billion from the crop insurance program over the next 10 years. As a result, many farmers who depend on crop insurance to help manage the risks associated with their farming enterprises could suffer a loss of service as companies and agencies contract or consolidate.”

These additional $6 billion in cuts are being imposed by the Administration before the full implementation of the more than $6 billion in cuts imposed by the 2008 Farm Bill. Furthermore, this second $6 billion in cuts will be imposed in a period of time when RMA is implementing major administrative changes to the management of the program. The RMA should have completed these administrative changes and fully implemented the cuts mandated by the 2008 Farm Bill before placing additional financial and regulatory pressure on the delivery system. Instead, the Administration is abandoning caution and moving ahead with a second round of huge reductions in financial support and implementation of concepts not provided for review in the months and months of negotiations on the 2011 SRA.”


Crop Insurance; Farm Bill; Ag – Rural Economy; Water Issues; Climate Issues; Biofuels; and USDA

Crop Insurance: Standard Reinsurance Agreement

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “Crop insurers are upset that USDA officials are not yielding on contract negotiations that would reduce payments to insurers by $6 billion over 10 years, but the leader of a trade association for crop-insurance companies appears resigned to the fact payment cuts are coming.

“Bob Parkerson, president of the National Crop Insurance Services [NCIS], said USDA officials have informed insurers that the new standard reinsurance agreement is USDA’s final offer.

“‘I’m going to have to tell you at this point I believe this is the contract we are going to have to accept,’ Parkerson said, ‘or not accept, up to the individual company.’”


Farm Bill Issues; Ag Econ (Peanuts); and Climate Issues

Farm Bill: Nutrition

Carolyn Lochhead reported on Friday at the San Francisco Chronicle Online that, “Rep. George Miller enlisted the help of San Francisco chef Charles Phan as he proposed legislation Thursday that would spend $8 billion more on school lunches and other food programs in the next decade, opening a tug-of-war between farm subsidies and child nutrition as tight budgets force Congress to choose between the two.

“‘One of our goals is to adopt one school and start cooking, because what I see in the school program is so bad, it’s just amazing,’ said Phan, the executive chef of Slanted Door and other restaurants in San Francisco and the father of three young children who attend schools in San Mateo.”


Crop Insurance: USDA-SRA; Climate Issues; Farm Bill; Biofuels; and Trade

Crop Insurance: USDA-SRA

Bloomberg writer Alan Bjerga reported yesterday that, “Wells Fargo & Co., Ace Ltd. and other companies that provide crop insurance to farmers will receive $6 billion less in federal funding over 10 years under a proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Payments for administrative costs subsidized by the government would be capped at $1.3 billion next year with the limit rising to $1.37 billion in 2015, according to the final draft of the USDA’s offer to companies. Insurers have 30 days to negotiate technical details before the plan is adopted, said Bill Murphy, head of the department’s Risk Management Agency.

“The plan, the result of negotiations that began in December, ensures ‘a fair and reasonable return’ for companies while reducing profits the USDA considers excessive, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters today in Washington. ‘We have the framework for a stronger program.’”


Climate Issues; EPA; Ag Economy; Farm Bill; and Financial Regulation

Climate Issues: Senate Legislative Alternatives

An update posted yesterday at CQPolitics reported that, “In a move that threatens Democratic efforts to advance a climate change bill, two influential Senate Republicans are throwing their support behind competing legislation unveiled Wednesday by Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind. [bill text, outline, two-page summary, and additional analysis].

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the point person on energy matters in her caucus, signaled her support Wednesday.

“‘I talked to him very briefly at lunch yesterday and I’m looking forward to supporting it,’ she said.”


Climate Issues; Food Safety; Biofuels; Ag Economy; Farm Bill; and Political Notes

Climate Issues: Senate Action on EPA Regulation Authority

Meredith Shiner reported yesterday at Politico that, “Senate Republicans on Tuesday pushed to rein in what they say is an overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency, but a lack of significant Democratic support and a veto threat from the White House seemed likely to thwart their efforts.

“Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, ranking Republican on the [Energy and Natural Resources Committee], wants the Senate to approve a resolution blocking the agency’s regulations on greenhouse gases. She and 11 GOP colleagues — ranging from Jim Inhofe who believes climate change is a ‘hoax’ to Lindsey Graham, the one-time cosponsor of bipartisan climate change legislation — spoke to reporters about the measure in a Capitol Hill news conference.”

Video clips from yesterday’s news conference are available here (Sen. Murkowski), here (Sen. Graham), and here (Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota).

Printed remarks regarding the Senate resolution from yesterday are available here (Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee) and here (Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri).


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