January 27, 2020

Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Regulations; Lawsuits; Trade; and Budget Issues

Farm Bill Issues

Rob Reuteman reported yesterday at CNBC Online that, “Farm subsidies, including billions in direct payments that go to many farmers annually regardless of need, are on everyone’s federal budget chopping block this year.

“Prices for most food commodities are at record highs, up 24 percent from February 2010 for all farm products tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

“And the healthy ag economy hasn’t escaped the attention of Congressional budget cutters looking at a projected 2012 deficit of $1.5 trillion.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Regulations; and Budget Issues

Farm Bill Issues

The Associated Press reported yesterday that, “Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow says her committee will hold its first field hearing on the 2012 farm bill in East Lansing next month.

“The Michigan Democrat’s office announced Wednesday that the hearing is set for May 31 at Michigan State University.

“It’s entitled ‘Opportunities for Growth: Michigan and the 2012 Farm Bill.’”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Animal Agriculture; Trade; and Budget Issues

Farm Bill Issues

Ron Hays of the Radio Oklahoma Network reported yesterday at the Oklahoma Farm Report Online that, “The Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee was back in his home district, tending to the folks on a community by community basis. [GOP] Congressman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District held a total of 14 Field Hearings during four days of the Easter Congressional break.

“His last stop was El Reno, the county seat of Canadian County. During the hour session, Congressman Lucas took the first fifteen minutes and talked about the federal debt and the upcoming debt to raise the debt ceiling, about Libya and about the process of his Committee preparing to write the next farm bill. About 50 citizens showed up, and they offered commentary and asked a few questions on subjects like Healthcare, Social Security and Medicare.”

Mr. Hays added that, “After his hour before the folks, we retreated for a conversation about a variety of agricultural issues, including what ramifications the upcoming debt ceiling vote may have on farm program spending- both this year as well as in the future.”

The full audio interview with Mr. Hays and Chairman Lucas, which covered a variety of issues, is available here, while a short clip featuring comments from Chairman Lucas on budgetary and Farm Bill issues can be heard here (MP3- 3:54).


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Regulations; Biofuels; Trade; Climate; and Budget Issues

Farm Bill Issues

Tom Lutey reported over the weekend at the Billings Gazette Online (Montana) that, “The folks who raise the nation’s sugar and the corporations that make sweet treats are squaring off in Washington, D.C., over the amount of foreign sugar sold in the United States.

“The producers favor the regulatory status quo, in which U.S. agriculture policy works like a hand on a faucet, only allowing large amounts of foreign sugar into the country when American sugar struggles to meet demand. Small farms will suffer to benefit confectioners, they say.”

Corporations argue that current rules keep sugar prices artificially high. That above-average price, they say, amounts to a sugar tax paid at the cash register that costs the U.S. $4 billion annually. The issue isn’t ‘big candy,’ they say. It’s about ‘big sugar,’ unreasonably puffed up by government controls.”


Farm Bill; Sec. Vilsack; Ag Economy; Regulations; Biofuels; and Budget Issues

Farm Bill Issues

Peter Harriman reported yesterday at the Argus Leader Online (SD) that, “Farmers and agricultural businesses have enjoyed relative prosperity. Prices for commodities such as corn and soybeans and rice are high. While the cost of doing business also has increased – particularly for fuel and fertilizer – overall farm income has gone up for several years.

It’s against that backdrop that Congress is beginning to write a new farm bill, the massive federal program that both supports farms and supplies food stamps for the poor.

Critics and ag sector interests alike are predicting a serious revamp of how things work in farm country. At issue are direct payments to farmers that prop up the prices for their goods, the insurance system that protects against natural disasters and the degree to which biofuel production drives up the cost of food.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Regulations; and Budget Issues

Farm Bill Issues

Philip Brasher reported earlier this week at the Des Moines Register Online that, “Democrats say cuts in a House-passed budget plan could make it politically impossible to pass a farm bill next year.

“The Democratic-controlled Senate is certain to reject the House budget, but if the two chambers can’t agree on a compromise plan, House GOP leaders could go forward with making the cuts unilaterally, said Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee.”


Budget; Farm Bill; Biofuels; Ag Economy; and Trade

Budget Issues

Kevin Bogardus reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “The Obama administration will likely have the support of major business groups as it works to round up Republican votes for raising the federal debt ceiling.

“Groups such as the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) plan to step up their advocacy for a debt-limit increase as the deadline for congressional action draws closer.”


Budget; Farm Bill Issues; Regulations; Trade; and the Agricultural Economy

Budget: S&P Report Sparks Optimism on Debt Ceiling Agreement

Damian Paletta and Carol E. Lee reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expressed confidence that Washington would solve its budget problems, seeking to tamp down concern over a credit-rating report that questioned the country’s long-term fiscal health.

“Their efforts came after Standard & Poor’s for the first time lowered its outlook on U.S. government debt from ‘stable’ to ‘negative.’”

Today’s article explained that, “The U.S. government is now within weeks of hitting the $14.294 trillion borrowing limit set by Congress, and Mr. Geithner has launched a public and private campaign to urge lawmakers to raise it as soon as possible. Treasury officials have projected that if Congress doesn’t act, the U.S. could default on its debt after July 8.”


Budget; Farm Bill; Trade; Regulations; and the Agricultural Economy

Budget: S&P on U.S. Treasury Securities- A Potential Catalyst for Budget Talks

Damian Paletta and E.S. Browning reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “A blunt warning Monday from a credit-rating firm about the U.S. government’s mounting debt pushed stock markets lower and intensified political divisions in Washington about how best to tackle growing deficits.

Both the Obama administration and House Republicans scrambled to gain leverage from Standard & Poor’s changing its outlook on U.S. Treasury securities to ‘negative’ from ‘stable.’

“S&P didn’t lower its top-notch AAA-bond rating for U.S. government Treasury securities, and their prices initially fell but later rebounded amid optimism that the report could serve as a catalyst to force both sides in Washington to compromise.”


Budget (Agriculture); Farm Bill; Ag Economy; and Animal Agriculture Issues

Budget: House Passes FY12 Budget; the Debt Ceiling; and the “Gang of Six”

Janet Hook and Naftali Bendavid reported in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal that, “House Republicans voted Friday to adopt a budget blueprint that would cut federal spending by $5.8 trillion over the next decade and fundamentally change the popular Medicare program for people under 55, a move that represents the party’s biggest political wager since winning a House majority in November.

“The measure was approved on a party-line vote of 235 to 193, with four Republicans joining every Democrat in opposing it.

The measure is likely to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But the unified GOP vote is sure to strengthen the hand of House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) as he negotiates with Democrats and Senate Republicans on other major fiscal issues, such as the terms on which his caucus would support a measure raising the nation’s debt ceiling.”


Budget; Farm Bill; Ag Economy; 1099; Regulations; and Trade

Budget: Continuing Resolution Passes House and Senate

Janet Hook reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “Congress on Thursday ended months of political haggling and passed a bill cutting nearly $40 billion from the 2011 budget, taking only a small bite from the burgeoning federal deficit but hitting a milestone in Republican efforts to slow the growth of government spending.

“The House voted 260-167 for the measure. The Senate followed soon after, voting 81-19 for the deal.

“The bill, which is the biggest fiscal measure to pass Congress since voters elected a politically divided government last year, was passed with bipartisan majorities in both chambers that overrode conservative complaints that it didn’t make enough spending cuts. Liberals said the deal cut too much from social programs for the needy.”


Budget; Farm Policy Issues; Regulations; Ag Economy; and Animal Agriculture

Budget: Executive Branch Perspective- Debt Ceiling Vote

Carol E. Lee and Damian Paletta reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “President Barack Obama asked Congress to adopt a mix of revenue increases and spending cuts to tame the nation’s long-term budget deficits, in a combative speech that portrayed Republicans as backing ‘tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires’ while demanding sacrifice from the nation’s seniors, poor and the middle class.

“The speech, which appeared to leave Republican leaders furious, was Mr. Obama’s most substantive step into the debate over the nation’s fiscal future, an issue that both parties say is a matter of national security and which is likely to dominate the 2012 elections. Mr. Obama called for Congress to cut deficits by $4 trillion over 12 years and commit to automatic, across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases if an initial target is not met by 2014.”

(Note that a “Fact Sheet” associated with the President’s proposals stated that, “Outside of health care, comprehensive deficit reduction must include savings in other mandatory programs, including agricultural subsidies;” and a Bloomberg article from yesterday stated that, “Obama would target government spending, from the Pentagon to the Department of Agriculture.”  The New York Times reported today that, “Mr. Obama said he would meet his $4 trillion deficit-reduction target by cutting spending across a range of government programs, from farm subsidies to federal pension insurance.”)


Agricultural Economy: Fed Beige Book

The Federal Reserve Board released its Beige Book update today, and with respect to agricultural conditions, the report stated that:

Sixth District- Atlanta– “While rainfall totals in some areas have improved since the previous report, much of the District experienced varying levels of drought. Contacts noted that prices of fuel and feed continued to put pressure on margins, but prices for many of the District’s agriculture products remained strong, particularly cotton, soybeans, and beef.  Reports indicated that continued strong global demand has contributed to elevated prices for some farm acreage in the District.”

Seventh District- Chicago– “Contacts predicted normal timing for the start of planting this year, and that fields were in good enough shape so that planting should proceed quickly. Ground moisture across the District is sufficient for a good start to the crop year, although some areas do not have adequate subsoil moisture to weather dry spells. More corn and fewer soybean acres were expected to be planted this year. Corn, soybean, and wheat prices were volatile, but on net edged lower during the reporting period. With stocks lower than a year ago, contacts saw the potential for upward pressure on corn and soybean prices in coming months. Moreover, feed mills have been actively seeking alternatives to blend into livestock rations.”

Ninth District Minneapolis– “District agricultural producers continued to enjoy strong conditions, in spite of wet weather and spring flooding. Prices for most District agricultural commodities increased since the last report, including wheat, cattle, hogs, poultry, and dairy products. District farmers are expected to increase plantings of wheat and corn in 2011, while plantings of soybeans are expected to decrease slightly. However, some farmers have delayed plantings due to the wet conditions.”

Tenth District- Kansas City– “Agricultural growing conditions worsened in late February and March, but farm income and farmland values strengthened. Winter wheat crop conditions deteriorated further as drought conditions in the southern Plains intensified. While farmers are expected to plant more acres to corn and soybeans this spring, crop prices continued to rise as robust food and bio-fuel demand was expected to strain global supplies. Livestock prices strengthened with rising demand and stronger exports, preserving profits despite higher feed costs. Producers continued to pay off loans, shrinking loan demand. Lenders, however, expected a modest rebound in demand for farm operating loans before spring planting and indicated ample funds were available for qualified borrowers. Farmland prices rose further with strong crop prices and a limited number of farms for sale.”

Eleventh District- Dallas– “Drought conditions became more widespread in March, covering more than 90 percent of the district. Hay production was down and wheat and oat crop conditions were poor. The lack of soil moisture is a large concern for spring crops, although planting was underway and mostly on schedule. Demand for agricultural products remained strong. Commodity and beef prices generally moved up, with scattered reports of rising food prices at the retail level. Input costs such as fuel, fertilizer and feed have risen, pushing up the cost of crop and livestock production.”


Budget (Agriculture); Farm Bill; Biofuels; Trade; and Regulations

Categories: Budget /Ethanol /Farm Bill

Budget: Continuing Resolution- Additional Details (Agricultural Impacts)

Pete Kasperowicz reported yesterday at The Hill’s Floor Action Blog that, “House Republicans early Tuesday morning introduced a six-month spending bill to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, a product of a last-minute agreement Friday that averted a federal shutdown.

“The spending bill itself, H.R. 1473, implements the accord reached between Republicans, congressional Democrats and the White House to cut about $40 billion from current spending through September.”


Budget; Farm Policy Issues (Biofuels); Agricultural Economy; and Regulations

Budget: Continuing Resolution- Details Emerge

Philip Rucker reported in today’s Washington Post that, “More than half of the $38 billion in spending cuts that lawmakers agreed to last week in the 2011 budget compromise that averted a government shutdown would hit education, labor and health programs.

“Funding for federal Pell grants, job training and a children’s health-care initiative would face cuts, senior congressional aides said. A multitude of other programs — from highway and high-speed rail projects to rural development initiativesalso would experience significant reductions.”


Budget Issues; Farm Bill; Ag Economy; and Biofuels

Budget: Deal Reached on Continuing Resolution- Details Remain Murky

Naftali Bendavid and Janet Hook reported in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal that, “Congressional leaders reached a last-gasp agreement Friday to avert a shutdown of the federal government, after days of haggling and tense hours of brinksmanship.

“Word of the deal came just an hour before a midnight deadline, as House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and President Barack Obama made separate appearances before TV cameras to hail what they said were its historically large budget cuts.

“Under the deal, the GOP won budget cuts of $39 billion for the remaining six months of the fiscal year, far more than either party had expected a few months ago.”


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