January 19, 2020

Farm Bill Issues; Regulations; and the Agricultural Economy

Farm Bill: Lawmaker, and Executive Branch Perspectives

Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) was a guest on Friday’s AgriTalk radio program with Mike Adams where part of their conversation turned to last week’s Senate action on the Farm Bill.  In part, Sen. Roberts noted that, “I think that we can talk [Senate Leader] Harry Reid [D., Nev.] into putting this on the floor,” and added that, “I really don’t expect that many amendments.”

The Kansas Republican pointed out that, “We saved over $23 billion for the taxpayer.  We are the first authorizing committee- agriculture led the way- in providing significant deficit reduction to reduce the debt and spending, over $23 billion.”

To listen to the full remarks on the Farm Bill from Sen. Roberts, just click here (MP3- 3:31).


Senate Ag Committee Passes 2012 Farm Bill

Categories: Farm Bill

Sec. Vilsack On Senate Ag Committee Farm Bill Proposal

Categories: Farm Bill

Farm Bill; Appropriations; and Regulations

Categories: Audio /Farm Bill

Farm Bill: Senate Agriculture Committee Advances Legislation

David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “Landmark farm legislation cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday, promising wholesale changes in commodity programs but also opening up a major breach with Southern growers angered by what they see as an unfair tilt toward the Midwest Corn Belt.

“The 16-5 vote—counting proxies — underscored the regional split, with two former Agriculture chairmen from the South and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from the border state of Kentucky joining in the opposition.

“The action followed a long night of final adjustments in what proved a vain attempt to buy unity. Cotton won concessions on its own revenue protection program, including a decision to lift the acreage cap on land enrolled. But the leadership resisted any return to a countercyclical program with target prices, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) bluntly warned that peanuts and rice will take a ‘huge hit’ and are left ‘without any safety net whatsoever.’”  (Note: To listen to detailed remarks from Sen. Chambliss at yesterday’s markup in which he methodically explains some of the unique characteristics of peanut and rice production, and how these differences translate into desired policy options that are separate from Midwestern corn and soybean operations, just click here (MP3- 6:12)).


Farm Bill (Mark-up Today); BSE; House Ag Comm; Animal Ag; Budget Issues; and Food Prices

Farm Bill: Senate Ag Committee Mark-up Today

A press release last night from the Senate Ag Committee indicated that, “Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, will convene a meeting of the full Committee for purposes of considering and marking up the 2012 Farm Bill on Thursday, April 26 at 10:30 a.m. in the Committee’s hearing room, 328-A of the Russell Senate Office Building.”

Recall that today’s hearing was originally scheduled for Wednesday.  With respect to this one-day delay, a daily National Journal Daily Email from yesterday, the Need-To-Know Memo, reported that, “After complaints from Southern farm groups and western corn growers, the Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry has postponed the markup of the Farm Bill.”


Farm Bill (Mark-up Postponed); House Appropriations; and BSE

Categories: Budget /Farm Bill

Farm Bill: Senate Ag Committee Mark-up Postponed

David Rogers reported last night at Politico that, “After a steady drumbeat of Southern grumbling, the Senate Agriculture Committee abruptly announced Tuesday night that it was postponing action on its new draft farm bill, a 900-page giant promising $26.4 billion in savings over the next decade, largely by ending the current system of direct cash payments and reinvesting in new forms of crop insurance.”

A statement from Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) noted that, “‘The Agriculture Committee has made significant progress and have bipartisan agreement on the bulk of the Farm Bill.  We are committed to continuing to work together in a bipartisan way as we come to agreement on a few outstanding issues.  This is a bill that impacts 16 million jobs and a huge sector of America’s economy, and it is important that we move prudently to create the best possible product.’

“A new date and time for the rescheduled hearing will be announced shortly.”

And Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) noted yesterday that, “I support Chairwoman Stabenow’s decision to postpone the Farm Bill mark-up scheduled for tomorrow morning. Significant bipartisan progress has been made on many sections of the bill. Just a few issues remain to be worked out. I have given the Chairwoman my commitment to getting this job done. I’m confident the Committee can move forward in a bipartisan manner in the near future.”


Farm Bill; Budget; IFPRI Report; Ag Economy; Immigration; and Regulations

Farm Bill: Some Groups Seek Delay in Senate Markup

David Rogers reported last night at Politico that, “A draft Senate farm bill would save $26.4 billion over the next 10 years, but it faces resistance from Southern commodity interests who are pressing for a delay in Wednesday’s markup before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“The new cost estimates, released late Monday by the Congressional Budget Office, offer the most complete assessment yet of the 900-page measure that seeks to end the current system of direct cash payments to growers and reinvest more in new forms of crop insurance.”


Senate Farm Bill Draft; Chairman Lucas; Ag Economy; and Regulatory Issues

Farm Bill: Senate Ag Committee Farm Bill Draft

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported on Friday that, “Farmers will have to choose between a commodity program based on their individual farm or one that factors in countywide yield and income.

“Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., on Friday released a 900-page ‘chairman’s mark’ of the farm bill for the full committee to debate or amend. The committee is set to meet on Wednesday to consider the legislation.

“The Senate bill is expected to save $23 billion over 10 years compared to the baseline spending on the current farm and food programs. Stabenow’s bill would eliminate direct and counter-cyclical payments, as well as the Average Crop Revenue Election program, or ACRE. Lawmakers were pushing for farm-program changes that would score at least $15 billion in budget savings over 10 years.”


Senate Ag Committee Farm Bill Draft

Categories: Farm Bill

The Senate Agriculture Committee this afternoon released a draft text of the 2012 Farm Bill, which can be viewed by clicking here.

A summary of the bill has been posted at the Agriculture Committee webpage.

The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to markup the draft text on Wednesday, April 25 at 9:00 a.m.

Also today, the House Agriculture Committee held a Farm Bill field hearing in Dodge City, Kansas.  A brief summary of that hearing is available here.


Quick Take: House Agriculture Committee Field Hearing: Dodge City, Kans.

Categories: Audio /Farm Bill

The House Agriculture Committee held a field hearing on Friday in Dodge City, Kansas where three GOP Members heard testimony from two panels of agricultural producers.

The ten witnesses addressed a variety of issues, but two overriding themes dominated their testimony: The strong desire to keep conservation compliance requirements and payment limitation regulations separate from crop insurance, as well as concerns regarding revenue insurance and price guarantee policy variables that are currently part of discussions associated with Title I of the Farm Bill.

Gary Harshburger from Dodge City, Kansas testified that, “Please keep crop insurance tools purchased by the producer protected from environmental compliance requirements or other payment limit conditions that do not belong tied to insurance.”

Kansas producer Keith Miller indicated that, “Simply put, during the development of the 2012 Farm Bill, crop insurance must be a priority…[A]s you’re well aware, recent cuts to crop insurance and the renegotiation of the SRA [Standard Reinsurance Agreement] have resulted in $12 to $20 billion in savings. Additional cuts will likely result in increased premiums to producers or reductions in the products available or the level of service companies are able to provide. We simply cannot afford additional cuts in today’s high risk marketplace.”

Mr. Miller added that, “In addition, in no case should the crop insurance tools, which are purchased by the producer, be encumbered with environmental regulation, conservation requirements, or other conditions that fall out of the scope of insurance. They should also not be subject to payment limits or means testing, doing so would defeat the purpose of the programs and reduce their effectiveness in ensuring that producers, no matter how small or large have equal access to risk management tools and an equal opportunity to continue to operate their farms.”

Scott Neufeld, a farmer from Oklahoma pointed out that, “I also strongly oppose applying payment limitations and means testing to Crop Insurance. The agricultural economy has driven many producers to become larger to spread risk and investment in equipment. A farmer producing crops on 1,000 acres of cropland has to have adequate capital invested to efficiently farm these acres. A partnership or family corporation that has gone together and is producing crops on 10,000 acres has the same risk per acre as the smaller producer. Why would we penalize the larger producer by restricting the amount of protection they would be allowed? We need to change our mindset to a per acre basis, not a per operator basis.

“As producers already enrolled in the Farm Bill, conservation compliance is already a requirement to participate so I cannot see the need to entangle Crop Insurance with existing requirements and I urge Members of Congress to oppose this effort.”

And Texas farmer Dee Vaughan added that, “I want to add my voice to the chorus and say, whatever you do, please do nothing to harm crop insurance. Proposals to link conservation compliance and to impose a pay limit on crop insurance are thinly veiled attempts to kill insurance for farmers. Period.”

Additionally, producers on Friday expressed some concern about Title I revenue proposals versus price protection policy ideas.

Oklahoma producer Scott Neufeld expressed concern about revenue programs in his opening statement at Friday’s hearing.  Mr. Neufeld walked Committee members through some recent history regarding fluctuating wheat prices and noted that, “All the revenue program ideas floating around out there will not provide the kind of protection farmers need if the depressed prices we just talked about remain in place for several years.”

Mr. Neufeld added, “So, I call on Congress to focus the Farm Bill on providing real price protection for farmers in these periods of prolonged low prices.  Fortunately, thanks to the Chairman and the work of his Committee, the 2011 package to the Select Committee [or Super Committee] would have met this basic test.”

Related audio from Mr. Neufeld available here, (MP3- 1:28).

Also, Chairman Lucas engaged in a colloquy with Texas farmer Dee Vaughan during the “Q and A” portion of Friday’s hearing.  Specifically, Chairman Lucas inquired about a recent letter from several farm groups that was sent earlier this week to the Leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

A news release yesterday regarding this letter from the American Soybean Association stated that, “The groups do not, however, support program alternatives that tie current-year production to fixed price supports, which can distort planting decisions and production between commodities when market prices decline.”

Chairman Lucas asked Mr. Vaughan to comment on the issue of price protection, a portion of this discussion can be heard here (MP3- 3:04).  Mr. Vaughan disagreed with the statement in the letter regarding the lack of support for a price-based protective system.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Tex.), the Chairman of the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, asked Mr. Vaughan about the recent GAO report regarding crop insurance (As DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported last week, “The GAO, Congress’ investigative arm for examining government spending, stated a $40,000 cap on premium subsidies would have saved taxpayers $1 billion last year and as much as $358 million in 2010.”)  To listen to this discussion, just click here (MP3- 1:20).

And also at Friday’s hearing, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R., Kans.) asked Nebraska farmer Zach Hunnicutt, about proposed Department of Labor regulations regarding child labor limitations on the farm- related audio here (MP3- 1:30).


Farm Bill; Senate Appropriations; Budget Issues; and Animal Agriculture

Categories: Audio /Budget /Farm Bill

Farm Bill: Policy Issues

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “With the Senate Agriculture Committee expected to release Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow’s proposed bill as early as Friday, eight major agricultural groups wrote senators on Thursday asking them to avoid cuts in crop insurance and stay away from hikes in target prices.

“Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., are expected to release a joint bill on Friday with anticipation that the Agriculture Committee will debate and pass a bill next week. Still, no official word has come down from the committee regarding a mark-up for the bill.

“The farm groups credited the Senate Agriculture Committee for sticking with the $23 billion in cuts proposed in the failed supercommittee talks last fall. President Barack Obama and leaders in the House Budget Committee have pushed for higher cuts.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Budget Issues; Trade; Transportation; and CFTC

Budget Issues (Farm Bill): House Ag Committee Business Meeting on Budget Reconciliation Instructions

Reuters writer Emily Stephenson reported yesterday that, “A U.S. congressional panel approved about $33 billion in cuts over 10 years from food stamp benefits, in a largely symbolic and highly partisan vote opposed by committee Democrats and by anti-poverty groups.

The cuts advanced by the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee on Wednesday would reduce spending on food stamps that help 46 million people buy food by $7.7 billion in the first year, by $19.7 billion in five years, and the balance in the next five years.

The cuts are expected to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But the vote by voice underscored Republicans’ preference for domestic spending cuts over defense cuts or tax hikes as they try to avoid automatic cuts that take effect in January.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Budget Issues; and Oil-Gas Prices

Farm Bill Developments: Timing, SNAP Issues, and Conservation

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday that, “Senate Agriculture Committee leaders are ready to hold a committee meeting next week to adopt and pass a new farm bill.

“Reflecting a bipartisanship not seen recently, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said she and ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., will have a ‘joint mark for the committee,’ meaning they will present one bill to the entire committee under both of their names. The formal mark could be released by the end of this week, she said.

“Stabenow hasn’t officially announced a markup date, but the Senate Agriculture Committee is planning for April 25. It’s possible the mark-up session could take more than one day.”


Farm Bill; and the Ag Economy

Farm Bill and Policy Issues

The “Washington Insider” section of DTN reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “Senate staffers have been meeting to hammer out details of a bill that members can begin to discuss this week. Lawmakers’ main challenge is expected to be to cut overall farm spending, and the Senate committee has talked of cuts of about $23 billion over 10 years, the figure both committees submitted to the super committee last year. However, the Republican-led House is working with two deeper-cuts: a budget reconciliation bill that trims farm bill spending by $33 billion over 11 years, and the annual budget resolution that cuts agriculture by $180 billion over a decade.

“Nevertheless, observers still say they expect Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to propose legislation similar to that drafted last fall. This is thought likely to include a proposal to end direct payment programs, boost crop insurance, and attempt to rewrite dairy policy to protect farmers’ operating margins.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; and Trade

Farm Bill and Policy Issues

Jonathan Weisman reported in Saturday’s New York Times that, “House Republicans return from spring recess next week to face the difficult — some say impossible — task of filling the gaping holes in the House-passed budget, including figuring out how to slash income tax rates without costing the government any money and finding nearly $3 trillion in savings from entitlement programs over the next decade.

“The budget, which passed the House last month and has since become a central focus of the presidential campaign, has faced blistering criticism for steep cuts to federal programs, including a blast from President Obama, who called it ‘thinly veiled social Darwinism.’”

Mr. Weisman pointed out that, “A half-dozen committees will begin drafting legislation to meet a budget-mandated $261 billion in savings over the next decade to stave off scheduled across-the-board cuts to the military in January.”

“The Agriculture Committee must slice $33.2 billion from its programs, most likely focusing on nutrition and food stamps,” the article noted.

An update at the House Agriculture Committee webpage indicated that the Committee Members will meet on Wednesday morning “to consider a proposal to satisfy the Committee’s reconciliation instructions required by H. Con. Res. 112.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Trade; and MF Global

Farm Bill Issues

University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Nick Paulson indicated yesterday at the farmdoc daily blog (“Graphical Illustrations of Proposed Farm Revenue Programs and Crop Insurance”) that, “It is likely the Commodity Title of the next Farm Bill will include a program designed to provide protection against declines in farm revenues from some sort of guarantee based on historical averages. While the specific parameters of such a program will continue to be debated, two distinct program design themes have emerged and been coined ‘deep loss’ and ‘shallow loss’ programs.

“Previous farmdoc daily posts have estimated payments levels and timing associated with these types of programs (here, here, and here) and discussed the differences between the multi-year price protection offered by these revenue programs and the within-year price risk protection offered through crop revenue insurance (here, here, and here). However, based on some recent comments and questions received regarding the outlook for changes to Commodity Title programs, it is apparent that there exists confusion over the basic concepts behind the deep and shallow loss design alternatives. Today’s post provides a simple graphical illustration of how both types of programs address revenue risk, and how they may work with the existing crop insurance program.”


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